TeamObama's ATF In Technical Contempt Of Congress Over Withholding Of Subpoenaed Documents On Project Gunrunner

April 20, 2011 - San Francisco, CA - - While Mr. Obama and the anti-Second Amendment crowd are attempting to gin up public support for draconian firearms restrictions because of alleged gun running from the U.S to Mexico, in a little known operation this administration's ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] has - unbelievably - engaged in that very activity which may have resulted in hundreds of deaths on both sides of the border.

According to a statement by Congressman Daryl Issa, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, "reports have raised questions about the handling of operations involving gun trafficking into Mexico - specifically the allegation that ATF has had a policy of permitting - and even encouraging - the movement of guns into Mexico by straw purchasers. This practice may have contributed to the deaths of hundreds on both sides of the border, including federal law enforcement agents..." [source, Chairman Issa Subpoenas ATF For 'Project Gunrunner' Documents]

Mr. Obama, the acting Dir. of ATF Kenneth Melson and the DOJ are all stonewalling the oversight investigation and failed to provide the documents requested by the due date of April 13.

Some of the documents which the ATF has been asked for and which failed to provide include:

1. Documents and communications relating to the genesis of Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious, and any memoranda or reports involving any changes to either program at or near the time of the release of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General report about Project Gunrunner in November 2010.

2. Documents and communications relating to individuals responsible for authorizing the decision to "walk" guns to Mexico in order to follow them and capture a "bigger fish."

3. Documents and communications relating to any investigations conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) or any other DOJ component following the fatal shooting of Agent Brian Terry, including information pertaining to two guns found at the crime scene that may have been connected to Project Gunrunner.

4. Documents and communications relating to any weapons recovered at the crime scene or during the investigation into the death of Agent Brian Terry.

5. Documents and communications between ATF and the Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) who sold weapons to Jaime Avila, including any Report of Investigation (ROI) or other records relating to a December 17, 2009 meeting "to discuss his role as an FFL during this investigation."

6. A copy of the presentation, approximately 200 pages long, that the Group 7 Supervisor made to officials at ATF headquarters in the spring of 2010.

7. Documents and communications relating to Operation Fast and Furious between and among ATF headquarters and Special Agent in Charge William D. Newell, Assistant Special Agents in Charge Jim Needles and George Gillette, Group Supervisor David Voth, or any Case Agent from November 1, 2009 to the present. The response to this component of the subpoena shall include a memorandum, approximately 30 pages long, from SAC Newell to ATF headquarters following the arrest of Jaime Avila and the death of Agent Brian Terry.

8. Documents and communications relating to complaints or objections by ATF agents about: (1) encouraging, sanctioning, or otherwise allowing FFLs to sell firearms to known or suspected straw buyers, (2) failure to maintain surveillance on known or suspected straw buyers, (3) failure to maintain operational control over weapons purchased by known or suspected straw buyers, or (4) letting known or suspected straw buyers with American guns enter Mexico.

The pattern of stonewalling information requests by this administration is unprecedented. In addition to rebuffing Congress' Constitutionally mandated oversight responsibility, we have heard of dozens of reports that FOIA requests are similarly being ignored.

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