Three major, new allegations have fed increasingly frenzied speculation of a widespread government cover up:
- 1) At least one senior White House official knew about the program
- 2) An ATF official tried to hide the connection between "Fast and Furious" and murdered US Border Agent Brian Terry
- 3) Many more guns that were allowed to "walk" were involved in crimes than was first reported.
On the first allegation, a series of emails between ATF and White House officials have indicated that there was high level administration contact regarding Operation Fast and Furious, according to the LA Times, but those senior officials did not have knowledge of the specific tactics and procedures (such as "gunwalking") that the program was utilizing.
The second charge claims that senior Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms officials allegedly wanted to shield the operation from public view to prevent its connection with the death of murdered U.S. Border Agent Brian Terry. On these recently unearthed emails, Fox News claimed Friday that:
"Just hours after the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, federal officials tried to cover up evidence that the gun that killed Terry was one the government intentionally helped sell to the Mexican cartels in a weapons trafficking program known as Operation Fast and Furious."
And finally, as to the third revelation, Sen. Charles Grassley's office revealed in a letter Thursday that 21 Fast and Furious guns have been found at violent crime scenes in Mexico, which is up 11 weapons since the ATF's estimate last month. As roughly 1,000 (though some say 2,000 now) weapons were reportedly involved in the program, it appears highly likely that more weapons will be found at Mexican crime scenes going forward. And maybe even in the U.S.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-IA) have claimed the Justice Department and the White House obfuscated their role and knowledge of the program in the past, and the congressmen refuse to back down. In light of evidence that the White House was at least nominally informed of the operation, and that there was some form of ATF cover up, the congressman are ratcheting up demands for answers from the Department of Justice.
Fox News has more on the expansion of Grassley and Issa's investigation:
"In a strongly worded letter to Anne Scheel, the new U.S. attorney for Arizona, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee requested interviews, emails, memos and even hand-written notes from members of the U.S. attorney's office that played key roles in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) program.
Issa and Grassley said they want to speak with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emory Hurley and Michael Morrissey, along with Patrick Cunningham, chief of the office’s Criminal Division.
Not only do congressional investigators want to "make sense" of details of the operation that allowed more than 2,000 guns to "walk" and later turn up at crime scenes on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, but they want to known why Hurley -- who knew almost immediately the guns found at Terry's crime scene belonged to Fast and Furious -- tried to "prevent the connection from being disclosed."
You can watch a recent interview with Congressman Issa here, courtesy of Fox News: