Key Fast and Furious Documents
Senator Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, has been investigating the government law enforcement strategy of allowing guns to “walk” across the Mexican border to drug traffickers for the past 18 months. He and his staff have obtained several key documents through their investigation. Links to key documents with a description of the importance of each follows here.
1. October 27, 2009, Draft DOJ Strategy for Combating Mexican Drug Cartels: Provided the policy guidance to ATF that “merely seizing firearms through interdiction will not stop firearms trafficking to Mexico.”
2. January 8, 2010, Briefing Paper: ATF briefing paper that explicitly states ATF’s strategy to “allow the transfer of firearms to continue to take place.” It is unknown how high up in ATF and/or the Justice Department this briefing paper was provided. A source other than the Justice Department provided it long after Senator Grassley started asking questions. The Justice Department didn’t produce it until June 13, 2011.
3. January 27, 2011, Letter from Senator Grassley to ATF (initial letter): Senator Grassley’s initial letter to DOJ asking if ATF was allowing gunwalking in any case, as whistleblowers had alleged.
4. January 31, 2011, Letter from Senator Grassley to ATF: Senator Grassley’s letter making clear that ATF whistleblowers had the right to talk to Congress and not be retaliated against.
5. February 3, 2011, ATF Special Agent Memo: A memo from an ATF agent in Dallas who had previously been a part of Group VII in Phoenix, the ATF group responsible for Operation Fast and Furious. The agent had substantiated the claims of other whistleblowers to Senator Grassley’s staff, and the agent produced the memo to document what he had told staff. It is known that some in ATF leadership received the memo but not known who else in ATF or the Justice Department received it. The memo should have served as a red flag to the Justice Department not to send its February 4, 2011, letter the next day. A source other than the Justice Department provided the memo to Senator Grassley long after he started asking questions. The Justice Department has never produced this memo, only making it available to view in camera in November 2011.
6. February 4, 2011, Letter from DOJ to Senator Grassley: Justice Department denied that ATF walked guns.
7. March 9, 2011, Deputy Attorney General Cole reiteration of gunwalking policy: The Deputy Attorney General email represents the Justice Department’s policy change that supposedly ended gunwalking, but doesn’t necessarily address the problem of ATF’s failing to seize guns that agents have probable cause to interdict based on information from cooperating gun dealers providing ATF with contemporaneous notice of sales.
8. April 13, 2011, Letter from Senator Grassley to DOJ regarding gun dealer emails: This letter quoted and attached emails from a gun dealer who expressed concerns to what ATF had been asking him to do and, because he had “some very close friends that are US Border Patrol agents in southern AZ,” wanted reassurances that the guns he had been encouraged by ATF to sell wouldn’t “ever end up south of the border or in the hands of bad guys.” The emails show ATF assuring the gun dealer that ATF was monitoring the suspects, and organizing a visit of the Assistant U.S. Attorney to the gun dealer’s store to “put [him] at ease.” This gun dealer was not the main gun dealer in Fast and Furious, but corroborated that gun dealer’s testimony. Senator Grassley’s letter attaching these emails also asked, in light of these emails, if the Justice Department stood by its February 4, 2011, denial of gunwalking allegations.
9. April 14, 2011, floor speech from Congressional Record with gun dealer emails: Introducing the above gun dealer emails into the Congressional Record.
10. May 2, 2011, Letter from DOJ to Senator Grassley: The Justice Department’s response doubling down in its denials of ATF gunwalking.
11. June 15, 2011, testimony to the House in front of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee: Senator Grassley’s testimony of his investigation to that point. Summarizes details about the underlying Fast and Furious case.
12. PowerPoint presentation from June 15, 2011, House Testimony: Detailing the amount of guns sold in Fast and Furious.
13. December 2, 2011, DOJ Letter to Senator Grassley and Chairman Issa – Retraction of DOJ’s February 4, 2011 Letter: Letter finally withdrawing the Justice Department’s assertion that gunwalking had not taken place, ten months after its initial denial and seven months after its reiteration of the denial.
14. List of documents not produced by DOJ: On June 21, 2012, White House press secretary Jay Carney stated, “[W]e have provided Congress every document that pertains to the operation itself.” This list indicates just a sampling of documents that the Justice Department has never produced but that investigators are either aware exist or have confidentially obtained copies of from whistleblowers.