I happen to have a congressman, Paul Gosard (R) who serves on the Governmental oversite committee. I wrote him a letter expressing my concern over the direction of the Fast and Furious investigation.
Following is his response:
October 12, 2011
Dear LTC Gray,
Thank you for contacting me about Operation Fast and Furious, a failed operation within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). I appreciate hearing from you on this grave issue, and I share your concerns.
To help combat firearms trafficking into Mexico, ATF initiated Project Gunrunner as a pilot project in Laredo, Texas, in 2005 and expanded it as a national initiative in 2006. Project Gunrunner is also part of the Department of Justice's broader Southwest Border Initiative, which seeks to reduce cross-border drug and firearms trafficking. However, officials in the ATF Phoenix Field Office and likely their supervisors employed the tactic now known as Operation Fast and Furious. The operation permitted the exchange and transportation of firearms into Mexico and into the hands of felons and drug cartels. It is because of the lack of proper government oversight that this operation allowed these criminals to possess firearms which were ultimately used to take the life of a Border Patrol agent, and the brother of a Mexican law enforcement official. It is tragic that a government bureau tasked with protecting Americans and supervising gun smuggling allowed this operation to continue without alerting the proper authorities and signaling the risks that would be involved. Even more chilling, Congressional investigation has found that thousands of guns ushered into the hands of these criminals are still out there. It is likely that that they will be found at crime scenes for years to come.
It is important to clarify that ATF never sold a gun in the course of this investigation, but instead supervised the operations of gun dealers that did sell guns. The real problem is that dealers repeatedly approached ATF agents about some obvious "straw purchases" occurring in their stores. "Straw purchases" refer to those made by one individual with the intent to transfer purchased items to another individual—in this case, someone who is banned from purchasing firearms because of a criminal record or immigration status. Here again, ATF showed malfeasance by falsely assuring these dealers that the process—surveillance, questioning, and subsequent arrests—was being followed. The evidence shows that in some cases, ATF would follow the purchased weapons for a short time, but then end surveillance well before the weapons reached the border, which left thousands of unaccounted weapons in the hands of criminals and drug cartels in both Mexico and the southern portion of our great State of Arizona.
As a member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations, I have been in a unique position to question the Obama Administration's Department of Justice (DOJ) on what they knew, how much they knew, and when they knew it. There have been multiple hearings by the committee on this subject to date, and I have been actively pursuing the answer to the tough questions. At the hearings, we heard testimony from law enforcement that they were compelled to participate in an operation which they knew in their hearts was likely to result in the unnecessary loss of life. We also heard from a grieving family who lost one of their own in the prime of his life and in the defense of his country which he loved. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry chose to serve his country as a border agent along the American-Mexican border, knowing full well the risks and dangers associated with his job. It is therefore unfortunate that an operation the federal government monitored and oversaw ultimately cost Agent Terry his life on December 14, 2010.
Logic leads us to believe that ATF Director Melson could not have acted alone—not without the advice and consent of someone at the DOJ. I am therefore asking Attorney General (AG) Holder, Deputy Attorney General Weich, and all DOJ officials involved to stop burying their head in the sand, comply with the subpoena from Congress, and work with us to craft a better policy for the future. With the volatile situation on the southern border, we cannot afford the continued path of avoidance, denial, and non-compliance with the law. I feel that it is unconscionable that the federal government is, on one hand, completely neglecting its responsibility to protect our Southwest border, and on the other hand, making the problem worse with dangerously ill-advised law enforcement tactics.
Furthermore, there is a conflict of interest in the investigation at the DOJ: the Acting Inspector General (IG) at DOJ, Cynthia Schnedar, has been assigned to investigate AG Holder. This is an obvious conflict of interest in as much as Schnedar is an Obama political appointee. Political appointees should never be tasked to investigate other political appointees. This is evidenced by the fact that the IG issued two reports in late 2009 and early 2010 that suggested the change in ATF strategy that led to Fast and Furious, meaning that she is implicit in the beginning of this program. She also, in multiple instances, disregarded the concerns of the whistleblower in this case, John Dodson. Proper oversight and common sense can help prevent these grave mistakes in the future, and the Obama Administration must comply with Congress' subpoena. It starts with a truly impartial investigator, not someone intent to sweep things under the rug.
I plan to continue to pound away at these agencies until justice is served. Feel free to visit www.gosar.house.gov
to see clips of the hearings and keep checking back for progress in the investigation. You can also sign up for my e-newsletter at the website. Again, I appreciate your thoughts and concerns. It is an honor to serve as your United States Congressman. Your suggestions are always welcome, and if ever I may be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S.
Member of Congress
I am not sure this investigation is going to the level it needs to go.