In a late Friday night document dump, the White House has turned over new information to the Congressional investigators looking into the ATF “Fast and Furious” gunwalking scandal. The documents show extensive contacts between the then Head of the ATF’s Phoenix division, Bill Newell, and the then White House National Security staffer, (and Political Rasputin), Kevin O’Reilly.
This is another huge exclusive for CBS reporter, Sharyl Attkisson:
Emails indicate the two also spoke on the phone. Such detailed, direct communications between a local ATF manager in Phoenix and a White House national security staffer has raised interest among Congressional investigators looking into Fast and Furious. Newell has said he and O’Reilly are long time friends.
ATF agents say that in Fast and Furious, their agency allowed thousands of assault rifles and other weapons to be sold to suspected traffickers for Mexican drug cartels. At least two of the guns turned up at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry last December.
The email exchanges span a little over a month last summer. They discuss ATF’s gun trafficking efforts along the border including the controversial Fast and Furious case, though not by name. The emails to and from O’Reilly indicate more than just a passing interest in the Phoenix office’s gun trafficking cases. They do not mention specific tactics such as “letting guns walk.”
Among the documents produced: an email in which ATF’s Newell sent the White House’s O’Reilly an “arrow chart reflecting the ultimate destination of firearms we intercepted and/or where the guns ended up.” The chart shows arrows leading from Arizona to destinations all over Mexico.
In response, O’Reilly wrote on Sept. 3, 2010 “The arrow chart is really interesting – and – no surprise – implies at least that different (Drug Trafficking Organizations) in Mexico have very different and geographically distinct networks in the US for acquiring guns. Did last year’s TX effort develop a similar graphic?”
Some records were not included, the White House Counsel explained, because of “significant confidentiality interests.” I can well understand why they’d be wanting to keep their blood stained interests, “confidential”.
Also included are email photographs including images of a .50 caliber rifle that Newell tells O’Reilly “was purchased in Tucson, Arizona (part of another OCDTF case).” OCDTF is a joint task force that operates under the Department of Justice and includes the US Attorneys, ATF, DEA, FBI, ICE and IRS. Fast and Furious was an OCDTF case. An administration source would not describe the Tucson OCDTF case. However, CBS News has learned that ATF’s Phoenix office led an operation out of Tucson called “Wide Receiver.” Sources claim ATF allowed guns to “walk” in that operation, much like Fast and Furious.
Mike Vanderboegh of Sipsey Street Irregulars notes this is not the first he’s heard of “Wide Receiver”
We heard about “Wide Receiver” a while ago and were asked not to break the story. Knowing that it would come out one day, we agreed. Can you say, “national policy to allow weapons to walk”? I knew you could. And the frigging White House is asking about it. Tsk, tsk, tsk.
Congressional Investigators, Darrell Issa, and Charles Grassley have been trying to pin down O’Reilly for an interview, but inconveniently enough, he’s been
hiding out until this blows over “on assignment” in Iraq.
One administration source says White House national security staffers were “briefed on the toplines of ongoing federal efforts, but nobody in White House knew about the investigative tactics being used in the operation, let alone any decision to let guns walk.”
Well, it’s not like I don’t trust these boy scouts we have running our country, but I do think investigators need to see all of the records, including the ones with “confidentiality interests.”
And Mr. O’Reilly needs to get his butt on a plane back to Washington, and start answering some questions.