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Facts are STUBBORN Things...Having their Cake and Eating it, Too. PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 12 December 2011 13:52

Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing with Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer Questions for the Record received December 2, 2011 and letter from Attorney General Eric Holder, October 7, 2011

The February 4th Response - The Justice Department can’t have it both ways

  • Attorney General Holder letter to Senator Grassley, Congressman Issa, October 7, 2011: “Senator Grassley has suggested that I was aware of Operation Fast and Furious from letters he provided to me on or about January 31, 2011 that were addressed to the former Acting Director of ATF.  However, those letters referred only to an ATF umbrella initiative on the Southwest Border that started under the prior Administration -- Project Gunrunner -- and not to Operation Fast and Furious.”
  • Senator Grassley: “Did your Deputy Assistant Attorney General (DAAG) Jason Weinstein review the Department’s February 4, 2011 letter to me?”

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, December 2, 2011: “Yes, DAAG Weinstein reviewed the letter; he also participated in its drafting.”

“Based on the documents being produced by the Justice Department, I understand that two emails attaching drafts of the letter were sent to me by DAAG Weinstein on February 2, while I was in Mexico (February 1-3), and that I forwarded one of those emails to my personal email account on that day; I also understand that on February 4, after I had returned from Mexico, I received two emails attaching signed versions of the letter, including the final version, and that on February 5, I forwarded both emails to my personal email account. However, as I testified, I cannot say for sure whether I saw a draft of the letter before it was sent to you.”


The letter which Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein participated in drafting, and which Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer was sent drafts of, stated: “ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.”  Weinstein knew this was clearly false because he knew about gunwalking in Operation Wide Receiver, which he brought to Breuer’s attention in April 2010.  Had Breuer read this letter (he is unclear if he read it), he would have known this sentence was false as well.

Like Senator Grassley’s January 27 letter, the Justice Department’s February 4 letter applied to all of Project Gunrunner, of which both Operation Wide Receiver and Operation Fast and Furious were a part.  The Attorney General can’t simultaneously claim that Senator Grassley’s January 27 letter was too broad for him to be aware that Grassley was talking about of Fast and Furious but that their response was so narrow as to only apply to Fast and Furious, which is never specifically named in the Justice Department’s February 4 letter.

Documents supporting the FACTS.

Why DIDN'T Holder and Napolitano Know about the Connection between Fast and Furious and Agent Terry's Murder? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 12 December 2011 10:25

Prepared Floor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley

Why Didn’t the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security know about the Connection between Fast and Furious to Agent Terry’s Death?

Thursday, December 1, 2011


***Click here for video of Grassley’s speech.***


For nearly a year, I have been investigating the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Operation Fast and Furious.


I have followed up on questions from that investigation as the Senate Judiciary Committee held oversight hearings over the past few weeks with both Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder.


Each of them testified about the aftermath of the shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.  And I have sought to clarify with FACTS some of the half-truths that were said during those hearings.


Each claimed that they were ignorant of the connection between Agent Terry’s death and Operation Fast and Furious until my letters with whistleblower allegations brought the connection to light.


However, documents that have come to light in my investigation draw those claims into question.


I’d like to address a couple of those discrepancies.


Secretary Napolitano went to Arizona a few days after Agent Terry’s death.


She said that she met at that time with the FBI agents and the assistant U.S. attorneys looking for the shooters.


She also said that at that point in time, nobody knew about Fast and Furious.


Yet documents show that many people knew about Fast and Furious on December 15, the day Agent Terry died.


Secretary Napolitano referenced the FBI agents looking for the shooters.


The head of that FBI field division was present at the December 15 press conference about Agent Terry’s murder.  At that very press conference, the FBI head told a chief Assistant U.S. Attorney about the connection to an ongoing Phoenix ATF investigation.


That same night, U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke confirmed that the guns tied back to Fast and Furious.


These connections were made days before Secretary Napolitano’s visit.


The very purpose of her visit was to find out more about the investigation.


That leaves a very important question.


The Department of Homeland Security oversees the Border Patrol.  Why wouldn’t the Phoenix FBI head have told Secretary Napolitano that the only guns found at the scene of Agent Terry’s murder were tied to an ongoing ATF investigation?


And let’s not forget the U.S. Attorney’s office.


Secretary Napolitano said she met with the assistant U.S. attorneys looking for the shooters.

The chief assistant U.S. attorney for the Tucson office, which coordinated the Terry investigation, found out about the ATF connection directly from the FBI.


So, a very important question comes up.  Why would they conceal the Fast and Furious connection from Secretary Napolitano days later?


The Tucson office was overseen by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, Dennis Burke, who confirmed to Tucson that guns came from Operation Fast and Furious.


When Ms. Napolitano was Governor of Arizona, Mr. Burke served as her chief of staff for five years.  Secretary Napolitano acknowledges that she had conversations with him about the murder of Agent Terry.


So, a very important question comes up.  Why would Mr. Burke conceal the Fast and Furious connection from Secretary Napolitano?


Even before Secretary Napolitano came to Arizona, emails indicate Mr. Burke spoke on December 15 with Attorney General Holder’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Monty Wilkinson.


Before finding out about Agent Terry, Mr. Burke emailed Mr. Wilkinson that he wanted to “explain in detail” about Fast and Furious when they talked.


So, a very important question comes up.  On that phone call, did U.S. Attorney Burke tell Mr. Wilkinson about the case’s connection to a Border Patrol agent’s death that very day?


The next day, the Deputy Director of the ATF made sure briefing papers were prepared about the Fast and Furious connection to Agent Terry’s death.


He sent them to individuals here in Washington, D.C., in the Deputy Attorney General’s office at the Justice Department.


Within 24 hours, they were forwarded to the Deputy Attorney General.


They were accompanied by a personal email from one of the Deputy Attorney General’s deputies, explaining the situation. Two weeks later, that Deputy Attorney General, Gary Grindler, was named the Attorney General’s Chief of Staff.


Yet a month and a half after Agent Terry’s death, Attorney General Holder was allegedly ignorant of the Fast and Furious connection.


So, a very important question is unanswered.  Why wouldn’t Mr. Grindler bring up these serious problems with Attorney General Holder, either as his Deputy Attorney General or as his Chief of Staff?


It’s clear that multiple highly-placed officials in multiple agencies knew almost immediately of the connection between Operation Fast and Furious and Agent Terry’s death.


The Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security have failed to adequately explain why Attorney General Holder and Secretary Napolitano allegedly remained ignorant of that connection.  Whether it’s the Attorney General or the Secretary, or members of their staff, somebody wasn’t doing their job.


In the case of Secretary Napolitano, either she was not entirely candid with me and others, or this was a gross breach on the part of those who kept her in the dark.


The Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security lost a man.


It was their right to know the full circumstances surrounding that.


No one likes the unpleasant business of having to ’fess up, but the FBI, ATF, and U.S. Attorney’s Office owed it to Agent Brian Terry and his family to fully inform the leadership of the Department of Homeland Security.


This was the death of a federal agent involving weapons allowed to walk free by another agency in his own government.


Let me explain walking guns.  The federal government operates under the rule of law just like all of us have to live under that rule of law.  There are licensed federal gun dealers.  Federal gun dealers were encouraged to sell guns illegally to straw buyers and supposedly follow those guns across the border to somehow arrest people who were involved with drug trafficking and other illegal things.  And, two of these guns showed up at the murder scene of Agent Terry.


And, if that’s not serious enough to brief up to the top of the department, then I don’t know what is.



Senate approves Boxer-Grassley amendment to limit contractor salary reimbursement PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 12 December 2011 10:01

Thursday, December 1, 2011

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley said today that the Senate has accepted an amendment he offered with Senator Barbara Boxer of California to limit taxpayer reimbursement for defense contractor salaries. The legislation will be included in a larger bill to authorize $662 billion in Pentagon spending for the next fiscal year.

Grassley said their reform amendment is aimed at runaway federal spending on contractor salary reimbursements.  Cost-reimbursement type contracts are used extensively by the Department of Defense.

“We can’t afford to waste increasingly limited defense dollars,” Grassley said.

Between 1998 and 2010, the benchmark for reimbursing executive salaries – separate from what these executives are paid by their private-sector employers – grew 53 percent faster than the rate of inflation.

Here is Grassley’s statement to the Senate regarding the Boxer-Grassley amendment.

Grassley Statement

The Congressional Record

Thursday, December 1, 201

At a time when the national security budget is under immense pressure, it is vitally important that we spend our defense dollars more wisely.  The Boxer-Grassley amendment will contain runaway spending in contractor salary reimbursements.  Notice that I said “salary reimbursements” not salaries.  Someone not familiar with government contracting might ask why it’s any of our business what government contractors get paid, and I would agree if we’re talking about what their company pays them out of its own pocket.

When most people hire a contractor to renovate their bathroom or re-shingle their roof, they find the one that does the best work for the least cost.  Having done that, you’re not likely to ask or care what their cut is or what they pay their crew.  To the extent that government contracts work the same way, the same principle applies.  Unfortunately, not all government contracts do work that way.

A large proportion of government contracts actually reimburse the contractor directly for the costs they incur, including for the salaries of their employees.  These types of contracts are risky because contractors lose the incentive to control costs.  They are only supposed to be used when a fixed price contract is not possible, for instance if the scope or duration of the work is not possible to determine at the outset.

Nevertheless, cost-reimbursement type contracts are used extensively by federal departments and agencies.  The Defense Department alone accounted for over $100 billion in cost reimbursement type contracts in fiscal year 2010.  President Obama has criticized the widespread use of these types of contracts and has set a goal of slowing the growth and ultimately reducing their use.  He’s made a little progress.  However, we’re talking about a small dent in a large bucket.  It’s clear that cost type contracts are going to account for a major proportion of the dollars spent on federal contracting for the foreseeable future.  As a result, we must take steps to limit unreasonable expenditures under these types of contracts.

Senator Boxer and I worked together to try to head off this problem back in 1997.  At that time, we proposed capping salary reimbursements at the salary level of the President of the United States.  However, a compromise was ultimately enacted that capped how much the top 5 highest earning contractor executives could charge the federal government for their salaries.  The cap was set at the median salary of the top 5 executives at companies with annual sales over $50 million, which must be recalculated annually.  Since that time, the cap has more than doubled from $340,650 to $693,951.  That’s 53 percent faster than the rate of inflation.

The House-passed version of the National Defense Authorization Bill expands the current cap to all contractor employees, not merely the top 5 executives, closing a loophole that was being exploited.  The version of the National Defense Authorization Bill before the Senate extends the cap only to the top 10-15 executives.  However, Senator Boxer and I think it’s time to reconsider a fixed cap at the level of the President’s salary, which I should add was doubled by Congress to $400,000 since our previous proposal.  That’s more than generous.  Surely the taxpayers shouldn’t be asked to pay the salary of a contractor more than the President makes, which is twice what any cabinet secretary makes.  Keep in mind that this cap just limits how much Uncle Sam can be billed for, which is on top of whatever the company chooses to pay its employees out of its own pocket.

Not only would our straightforward cap save man-hours in the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, which has to gather the data every year to determine the current convoluted cap, but it would save millions of dollars that need not be spent.  Again, we cannot afford to go on wasting our increasingly limited defense dollars.  We have to be more aggressive in weeding out waste in defense spending and this is one unnecessary expenditure that we can easily eliminate in favor of higher priorities.  I urge my colleagues to join us in this commonsense cost cutting measure.

Facts are STUBBORN Things...Connecting the Dots between Fast and Furious and Wide Receiver PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 12 December 2011 09:58
Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism Hearing with Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, Nov. 1, 2011

Connection Between Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious


Assistant Attorney General Breuer to Senator Grassley: “I regret that in April of 2010 that I did not draw the connection between Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious.”


In the spring of 2010, Criminal Division staff considered Operation Wide Receiver and Operation Fast and Furious related components of the same case.

On February 22, 2010, Gang Unit prosecutors Laura Gwinn and Joe Cooley, assigned respectively to Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious, emailed back and forth with each other about the connection between the two cases when some of the guns being trafficked in Fast and Furious were tracked to a stash house of one of the targets in Wide Receiver.

Because of those overlapping targets, Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious were considered associated cases.  When the ATF Phoenix Field Division assembled a PowerPoint presentation on Fast and Furious in March 2010, one of the slides listing “Associated Cases” with Fast and Furious listed Operation Wide Receiver.  This same PowerPoint was presented at ATF headquarters on March 5, 2010.  According to a March 11, 2010, memo from Gang Unit Chief Kevin Carwile, Gang Unit member Joe Cooley attended that briefing.

Concerns about those overlapping targets also led to delay in unsealing the indictments in Wide Receiver, as the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona had concerns that when the Wide Receiver indictments were unsealed it would tip off targets in Fast and Furious.  As the department wrote in its October 31, 2011, letter to Senator Leahy:

The documents produced today reflect that the Gang Unit prosecutor was ready to indict the Wide Receiver cases and unseal them beginning in the spring of 2010, but that the Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona handling Fast and Furious believed that if the Wide Receiver indictments became public at that time they would negatively impact his case.  The Assistant U.S. Attorney therefore requested that the indictments and/or the unsealing of the indictments in Wide Receiver be delayed.  As a result of that request, Wide Receiver 1 was indicted under seal in May 2010, Wide Receiver 2 was indicted under seal in October 2010, and both cases were unsealed in November 2010.

In a July 1, 2010, memo to DAAG Weinstein and others, Gang Unit Chief Kevin Carwile described Fast and Furious as “a gun trafficking case with apparent ties to the Tucson case already indicted by [the Gang Unit],” which was a reference to Wide Receiver.

Finally, an October 18, 2010, memo under Assistant Attorney General Breuer’s name that is addressed to the Attorney General and Acting Deputy Attorney General reads: “On October 27, the Organized Crime and Gang Section (OCGS) plans to indict eight individuals under seal relating to the trafficking of hundreds of firearms into Mexico.  The sealing will likely last until another investigation, Phoenix-based ‘Operation Fast and Furious,’ is ready for takedown.”

Given all this evidence that the cases were seen as related by Criminal Division staff, Breuer’s claim that he failed to “draw the connection” between the cases is not credible.  Since Breuer knew of gunwalking in Wide Receiver, if he knew that the cases were related then it’s difficult to understand why he would not have prevented gunwalking in Fast and Furious.

Documents supporting the FACTS.

Coast Guard Cutters Bertholf, Boutwell nab drugs, smugglers on high seas PDF Print E-mail
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Written by U.S. Coast Guard   
Monday, 12 December 2011 09:53

WASHINGTON — The Coast Guard announced Thursday the interdiction of more than 2,470 pounds of cocaine, and the detention of 12 suspects, during three separate missions in the Eastern Pacific the week of Nov. 21.

The Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf, a national security cutter, and the Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell, a Secretary Class high endurance cutter, were on counter-drug patrols in  the Eastern Pacific Ocean.  Boutwell’s crew intercepted a drug-laden fishing vessel more than 200 miles west of Ecuador while Bertholf’s crew recovered cocaine jettisoned from a speed boat they were pursuing near the coast of Panama.

Of the 771 metric tons of cocaine known to be bound for the U.S. in 2011, more than 85 percent was transported on the high seas.  In 2010 the U.S. Coast Guard kept 73.9 metric tons of cocaine, interdicted in the maritime transit zone between South America and Central and North America, from reaching our shores, nearly double the amount seized by one million federal, state, local and tribal officials located on our land borders and in communities across the U.S.

“The pervasive threat of maritime drug smuggling that we witnessed in fiscal year 2011 is a good example of why we need modern capabilities like the national security cutter to protect our nation, ”  said Coast Guard commandant Adm. Bob Papp.  “Dollar for dollar, the best investment of taxpayer money for ensuring U.S. security, defending our borders from threats, enforcing sovereignty, and guarding marine resources is in capabilities that enable Coast Guard persistent presence at sea where we can meet threats before they reach our shores.  With counterdrug operations, this strategy has enabled us to seize bulk quantities of narcotics at sea before they are offloaded ashore, separated between dealers, and then broken down for sale on our streets and in our neighborhoods.”

The Coast Guard executed 120 drug interdiction cases in fiscal year 2011, keeping 75.6 metric tons of cocaine and 17.3 metric tons of marijuana from reaching U.S. shores.  More than 23 metric tons of cocaine have been seized since Aug. 29.  The Coast Guard also seized 40 vessels and detained 191 suspects in fiscal year 2011, which ended Sept. 30.

“The nation relies on the Coast Guard to protect against seaborne threats,” Papp said.  “Our cutters are stationed in waters vital to U.S. interests and provide the law enforcement and military capability to respond to, interdict and deal with these threats.”

The primary method of maritime drug smuggling remains the “go-fast” boat, which accounted for 58 percent of interdiction cases.  Self-propelled, semi-submersible vessels, commonly referred to as drug subs, accounted for 19 percent, while fishing vessels accounted for four percent of maritime drug smuggling activity.

Boutwell’s interdiction began Nov. 23 when the cutter approached the Ecuadorian-flagged fishing vessel El Soberano, approximately 230 miles west of Ecuador.  The Coast Guard crew observed suspicious packages on board, saw there was no fishing gear on the deck and noted the El Soberano was towing a smaller launch.  The Boutwell’s boarding team conducted a search of the fishing vessel, discovering 40 bales of cocaine weighing between 50 to 56 pounds each.  The boarding team detained all nine individuals aboard the two vessels and brought them aboard Boutwell.

"I couldn't be prouder of my crew for their vigilance and decisive actions during this interdiction," said Capt. Matthew J. Gimple, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell.  "For more than 42 years, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell has safeguarded America’s maritime interests – at home and around the world – saving those in peril, defending our maritime border, and protecting the maritime transportation system, natural resources and the marine environment.  We’ve had three interdictions this month, all of which were 200 miles or more offshore;  the ability to operate multiple, over-the-horizon boats and aircraft from our cutter for sustained periods is key to success.”

Bertholf’s action began five nautical miles west of Punta Caracoles, Panama, while the cutter was on patrol in Panamanian waters under the authority of an embarked Panamanian shiprider.  Bertholf was alerted by a maritime patrol airplane that a “go-fast” drug smuggling speedboat was in the area.  The crew of the Bertholf located the “go-fast” using the ship’s Forward Looking Infrared sensor and radar.  The cutter’s over-the-horizon boat was launched and its crew intercepted the suspect boat.  The “go-fast” fled, jettisoning about nine bales, one of which was recovered by the crew of the pursuing Bertholf over-the horizon boat.  The suspect boat eluded law enforcement using the cover of coves and islands in the area of the chase.  The pursuit ended as the chase neared the territorial seas of Colombia.  The marine patrol airplane identified a debris field from which seven bales and one kilo of cocaine were subsequently recovered.

Two nights prior, the crew of the Bertholf intercepted another “go-fast,” netting two bales of cocaine and three suspects who were turned over to SENAN, the Panamanian Maritime service.

"My crew's response was exceptional during the prosecution of this case, and I'm proud to report we foiled these drug smugglers and kept the narcotics from reaching their ultimate destination - the United States," said Capt. Thomas E. Crabbs, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf.  “The Bertholf is one of the Coast Guard's newest cutters, unique to the United States and uniquely equipped to respond to all threats; it served the nation well during this case.”

The Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf is on a 70-day patrol conducting counter-narcotics operations in the Eastern Pacific.  Cutters like the Bertholf routinely conduct operations from South America to the Bering Sea where their unmatched combination of range, speed, and ability to operate in extreme weather provides the mission flexibility necessary to conduct alien migrant interdiction operations, domestic fisheries protection, search and rescue, counter-narcotics and homeland security operations at great distances from shore keeping threats far from the U.S. mainland.

The Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell is on a 60-day deployment for counter-drug operations in the Eastern Pacific.  So far in this patrol they have been involved in three law enforcement cases resulting in the seizure or jettison of 3,800 pounds of cocaine worth $40 million.  The Boutwell and the Coast Guard's current fleet of cutters is from 30 to 45 years old, constituting one of the oldest fleets in the world while being one of the busiest.

The Boutwell and the 11 other original Secretary-class, high endurance cutters, are being replaced by eight Legend-class, national security cutters like the cutter Bertholf. The NCSs are faster, better equipped, more durable, safer and more efficient than their predecessor, and will allow the Coast Guard to continue and build on the proud history of service provided by their predecessor class, delivering a unique blend of military capability, law enforcement authority and lifesaving expertise wherever needed to protect American interests, today and for decades to come.

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