Six court-sealed wiretaps used in the botched Fast and Furious sting operation were intended to allow investigators in Arizona to eavesdrop on the phone calls of suspected drug traffickers in an attempt to find evidence of involvement by high-level Mexican cartel associates. Citing “non-interdiction and minimal surveillance techniques” this latest revelation of the contents of the wiretaps by the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) exposes the fact that senior Justice Department officials knew in advance that government agents were using reckless gun walking methods which wound up getting people killed contrary to the denials from the DOJ and Attorney General Eric Holder himself. Denials which came under oath.
“The [Justice] Department has consistently denied that any senior officials were provided information about the tactics used in Operation Fast and Furious. The wiretap applications obtained by the committee show such statements made by senior department officials regarding the wiretaps to be false and misleading.”
In a letter to Holder, Issa stated that the wiretaps (which are not public domain) “discussed – in no uncertain terms – the reckless tactics used” in the Fast & Furious operation, which included “conscious decisions not to interdict weapons that agents knew were illegally purchased by smugglers taking weapons to Mexico.” According to Rep. Issa those wiretap applications were authorized and approved by such DOJ officials as Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco in March, April, May, June and July of 2010.
Holder stated before a congressional committee on November 8, 2011:
“I don’t think the wiretap applications – I’ve not seen – I’ve not seen them. But I don’t know – I don’t have any information that indicates that those wiretap applications had anything in them that talked about the tactics that have made this such a bone of contention and have legitimately raised the concern of members of Congress, as well as those of us in the Justice Department. I – I’d be surprised if the tactics themselves about gun walking were actually contained in those – in those applications. I have not seen them, but I would be surprised if that were the case”
“Because of the wiretap applications, we now know which senior Department officials made these serious mistakes. It is time for you to honor your commitment to Congress and the American people by holding these individuals accountable.”
Tracy Schmaler, Justice Department spokeswoman, responded to Issa’s communication, stating that DOJ officials were not aware of the sloppy methods incorporated into the operation until those details became public in early 2011, and the testimony of A.G. Holder and others given since then at numerous hearings, briefings and interviews was true and accurate according to the information that was available at that time.
“Unfortunately, Chairman Issa continues to distort the facts and ignore the law,” Schmaler told the Washington Times. She also stated that she was “very concerned that such documents relating to ongoing criminal cases have been leaked” adding that unauthorized disclosure of court-sealed materials was illegal.