House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has issued his much-anticipated subpoena to Attorney General Eric Holder regarding Operation Fast and Furious, the “gun walking” program that sent American guns across the border into the eager hands of Mexican drug cartels. Some thought the subpoena would go out yesterday, but apparently it took Issa a while to finish writing it. It’s the double-meat foot-long subpoena.
“Top Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Holder, know more about Operation Fast and Furious than they have publicly acknowledged,” Issa stated. “The documents this subpoena demands will provide answers to questions that Justice officials have tried to avoid since this investigation began eight months ago. It’s time we know the whole truth.”
To that end, Holder is required to produce virtually every communication anyone associated with the Justice Department or ATF ever sent to anyone regarding Operation Fast and Furious, or “any Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force firearms trafficking case based in Phoenix, Arizona.” The subpoena specifically names no less than 16 DOJ officials, including Holder, his deputy James Cole, Assistant Attorneys General Lanny Breuer and Ronald Weich, and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco, among other names familiar to students of the Fast and Furious scandal.
Also specified in the subpoena are communications with Acting ATF Director Ken Melson, United States Attorney Dennis Burke, and ATF Special Agent in Charge William Newell. House Oversight wants all communications to or from Newell from 12/14/10 – 01/25/11 and 03/16/19 – 03/19/09. It looks like they’re trying to pin down exactly what Newell might have shared with his White House pen pal, national security staffer Kevin O’Reilly.
They’re also keenly interested in documents relating to the murder of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata, whose death has long been suspected of links to gun walking… but not Operation Fast and Furious, which ran out of the Phoenix, Arizona ATF office. The Zapata murder weapon was traced back to Dallas, Texas. Further documentation relating to the death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, whose murder scene produced two Fast and Furious guns plus a third “mystery weapon” that might also point back to Texas, is also sought.
The House Oversight subpoena dwells at length upon the increasingly notorious Lone Wolf Trading Company, a key location in the Fast and Furious saga. Big-time straw buyer Manuel Fabian Celis-Acosta, who dropped a lot of money at Lone Wolf, is name-checked. Surveillance tapes from within the store are sought. A number of interesting conversations have taken place before those cameras.
One intriguing line item in the subpoena demands “all communications between DOJ employees and Executive Office of the President employees referring or relating to the President’s March 22, 2011 interview with Jorge Ramos of Univision.” In that appearance, President Obama declared neither he nor Eric Holder authorized Operation Fast and Furious.
It will be interesting to watch the Attorney General respond to this massive request for information. Office supply stores in the D.C. area should brace themselves for a run on black markers. The sound of a bus rumbling to life beneath the White House may well be heard, and Eric Holder’s family should prepare for the possibility that he’ll be spending a lot more time with them.