Thursday, June 21, 2012
DEA Administrator Testifies on Fast and Furious
Last night, I was watching the Holder contempt hearing on C-SPAN (re-run). It was then followed by the testimony of DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart before the House judiciary committee headed by James Sensenbrenner (R-WI). There were several issues on the table; the incident in San Diego, where a suspect was accidentally left in a DEA office holding cell for 5 days, the allegations of sexual misconduct involving prostitutes by DEA agents in Cartagena, Colombia during the presidential visit, medical marijuana, and, of course, Fast and Furious. I will concentrate on the last issue.
Below is the video of the testimony. You will note that no Democrat asked about Fast and Furious. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and John Conyers (D-MI) all but called for drug legalization. Scott decried the "fact" that drug enforcement disproportionately incarcerates more blacks and Latinos then whites. Conyers, never too fast on his feet in the best of times, clearly showed that it is time for him to retire. But I digress
Since the Fast and Furious operation involved multiple agencies to one extent or another (Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force-or OCDETF), Leonhart was asked about the extent of DEA's involvement. Specifically, former DEA Tucson agent-in-charge Tony Coulson, now retired, has alleged that DEA agents in Arizona, specifically Phoenix, knew about ATF's methods in Fast and Furious, but were told by local DEA supervisors to "back off", or that it was "being taken care of".
When asked about Coulson's charges, Leonhart stated that it was her understanding that Coulson had recently recanted those statements or said that he had been misquoted. (As of this morning, I am unable to find any reports to that effect on the Internet.) Leonhart went on to state that DEA was cooperating fully with the (DOJ) Inspector General's Office, which is conducting the investigation. Sensenbrenner told her that her answers (to him) regarding all three of the issues were "inadequate" and that she would be called back to testify again in the future.
Here is how I would interpret Coulson's statements: If true, that would support my theory that ATF agents at the local enforcement level or even their local supervisors could not have been acting on their own without approval (or orders) from Washington. Had this involved a local rogue operation, and other agencies became aware of it, that would have resulted in a notification thorough DEA's own chain of command/inspectors to Justice inspectors/ATF inspectors in Washington. If Coulson's allegations are true, that is a strong indication that people in Washington were calling the shots on Fast and Furious. That, of course, is just my personal opinion.