In separate interviews this week, Congressman Darrell Issa has repeatedly accused the White House of interfering with his investigation of Operation Fast and Furious by not allowing a potentially key witness to testify about what he knew, and perhaps who he told, during his time on the White House’s national security staff.
The allegation comes as Northwest gun rights activists have shown renewed interest in the gun trafficking scandal. They are following the controversy closely at GunRightsMedia.com, WaGuns, Shooters Northwest, Northwest Firearms and Seattle Guns forums. Many are NRA members. Most of them, perhaps all of them, will vote this fall, and the Fast and Furious scandal, run by an administration that blamed gun owners, gun dealers and gun laws for violence in Mexico, has their blood pressure up.
In an interview with NRA News, Issa discussed his interest, and that of Sen. Charles Grassley, to interview former national security staffer Kevin O’Reilly. This column discussed O’Reilly’s potential value in the investigation, because he traded e-mail with former Phoenix, AZ Special Agent in Charge William Newell about Fast and Furious.
But O’Reilly is now in Iraq, and despite Issa’s insistence that his attorneys are willing to let him talk, the Obama White House is blocking that.
“The real bottom line is that the only thing that would legitimately cause them trepidation is that he spoke to the president or the vice president the only thing that would do it is exactly what they’re saying that we don’t have a right to.”—Congressman Darrell Issa to NRA News
That remark came one day after Issa appeared on a live Fox News interview, during which he said this:
“…we don’t know what we don’t know and this individual, Kevin O’Reilly’s attorneys have said they will talk. The only reason they’re not talking is the White House is ordering them not to, even though he’s a former employee.”—Congressman Darrell Issa to Fox News
Issa, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has been dogging Fast and Furious for more than a year, along with Grassley. Both maintain that they have been systematically stonewalled by the Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder.
“When a witness wants to cooperate and the White House is saying ‘no,’ that tells you the White House is covering up.”—Darrell Issa to NRA News
Issa renewed the threat of pursuing a Contempt of Congress citation against the embattled attorney general, but he also held out an olive branch, noting:
“We don’t want to play tough, we want to play fair.”
However, to hear Issa tell it in both interviews, during which his comments were remarkably similar, the White House has no intention of playing at all, much less fairly. For an administration that promised total transparency, since Fast and Furious erupted following the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in December 2010, there has been an undeniable cloak of secrecy shrouding the operation.
“We want to know who authorized this program at the political level (and) who knew about it because as you know, Eric Holder has said he didn’t klnow anything about it at all and he’s not held any of his high ranking political appointees accountable for it.”—Darrell Issa to Fox News
Recent revelations about two key government informants and their involvement in the gun trafficking scandal raised the interest of gun owners because it appears that these informants – identified by Fox News as Eduardo and Jesus A. Miramontes-Varela. These guys are described as Mexican nationals who became FBI informants about three years ago. Here’s what Fox News reported about these men:
According to DEA and Congressional reports, the two men were the primary cartel contacts used to finance the illegal gun trafficking ring. Jim Needles, the assistant Agent in Charge of the Phoenix ATF office estimated the brothers spent $250,000 on guns tracked by his agency while conducting Operation Fast and Furious. Needles called it “a disappointment” the FBI didn’t bother to tell his agency of the connection.
These men may have been the “big fish” that ATF was theoretically pursuing, but when it was learned they were FBI informants, they got a pass.
Now, instead of just ATF being bunglers, the FBI may have some explaining to do, provided Issa’s committee ever gets all the information it has requested. Presently, that is easier said than accomplished. As Issa noted to NRA News:
The constitution should get in the way of this White House, but so far, they’ve played pretty fast and loose with the Constitution; the First and the Second Amendment, and ultimately, what we are in a position to do is go past the White House and deliver a lawful subpoena, and deliver it by U.S. Marshal.
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