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Chronology of News on Operation Fast and Furious

Links to other Fast and Furious resources:
- Contempt of Congress & Attorney General Eric Holder
- Justice Department refuses to prosecute Eric Holder
- When Who Knew What (pdf)

April 8, 2016: Breitbart News: Obama backs down over Fast and Furious Documents, Drops Executive Privilege Claims
The President, after years of fighting to hide Operation Fast and Furious documents, finally relented and officially dropped his claim of executive privilege over them.  “Four years after asserting executive privilege to block Congress from obtaining documents relating to a controversial federal gun trafficking investigation, President Barack Obama relented Friday, turning over to lawmakers thousands of pages of records that led to unusual House votes holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt in 2012,” Politico reported on Friday. 
Fast and Furious remains the only scandal over which this president has used executive privilege power to hide documents from congressional investigators. Obama did not use the highly controversial power in any other scandal, including the following: Benghazi, IRS, Department of Justice phone-tapping, Pigford, General Services Administration (GSA), Solyndra, LightSquared, or EPA administrator email aliases.

January 19, 2016: Politico: Judge Rejects Obama's Assertion of Executive Privilege
over Fast and Furious Records

A federal judge has rejected President Barack Obama's assertion of executive privilege to deny Congress access to records pertaining to Operation Fast and Furious, a gunrunning probe that allegedly allowed thousands of weapons to flow across the border into Mexico.  U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled Tuesday that the Justice Department's public disclosures about its response to the so-called "gun walking" controversy undercut Obama's executive privilege claim.

"There is no need to balance the need against the impact that the revelation of any record could have on candor in future executive decision making, since any harm that might flow from the public revelation of the deliberations at issue here has already been self-inflicted," Jackson wrote. "The Department itself has already publicly revealed the sum and substance of the very material it is now seeking to withhold. Since any harm that would flow from the disclosures sought here would be merely incremental, the records must be produced."

January 20, 2016: Fox News: Fast and Furious rifle capable of taking down a chopper
found in El Chapo Weapons Cache

A .50-caliber rifle found at Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's hideout in Mexico was funneled through the gun-smuggling investigation known as Fast and Furious, sources confirmed Tuesday to Fox News.  A .50-caliber is a massive rifle that can stop a car or, as it was intended, take down a helicopter.  After the raid on Jan. 8 in the city of Los Mochis officials found a number of weapons inside the house where Guzman was staying, including the rifle, officials said.

When agents from the ATF's Firearms and Explosives checked serial numbers of the eight weapons found in his possession, they found one of the two .50-caliber weapons traced back to their Fast and Furious program, sources said.  Federal officials said they are not sure how many of the weapons seized from Guzman's house actually originated in the U.S. and where they were purchased, but they are investigating.  Out of the roughly 2,000 weapons sold through Fast and Furious, 34 were .50-caliber rifles that can take down a helicopter, according to officials.

See Contempt of Congres | Personal Interest Story




September 25, 2014: Townhall.com: Judge Denies DOJ Request to Delay Release of Fast and Furious Document List:
U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates has denied a request from the Department of Justice to delay the release of a list of Operation Fast and Furious documents being protected under President Obama's assertion of executive privilege.   The list, better known as a Vaughn index, was requested through a June 2012 FOIA filing by government watchdog Judicial Watch. When DOJ didn't respond to the FOIA request in the time law required, Judicial Watch sued in September 2012, seeking all documents DOJ and the White House are withholding from Congress under executive privilege claims. President Obama made the assertion on June 20, 2012 just moments before Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt. In July 2014, after two years of battling for information, Judge Bates ordered the Department of Justice to release the Vaughn Index by October 1. DOJ responded by asking for a month long delay in releasing the list with a deadline of November 3, just one day before the 2014-midterm elections. That request has been denied. A short delay was granted and DOJ must produce the Vaughn index by October 22. 

"The government’s arguments for even more time are unconvincing," Bates said in his ruling. "[S]eventy-five days—plus another twenty-one, based in part on Judiciary Watch’s consent—is enough time for the government to prepare the index that this Court has ordered, given that this matter has been pending for over two years. The Court will therefore extend the Department’s Vaughn index submission deadline to October 22, 2014—and no further." 

Feb. 5: Fox News: New court docs reveal final moments of border agent Brian Terry’s life:
Three years after the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry -- a tragedy which exposed and ultimately ended Operation Fast and Furious -- the public is finally getting a glimpse into Terry's final moments.   Federal court records released Tuesday provide the first official account of the firefight along the Arizona-Mexico border that killed Terry in December 2010. Among other details, they reveal two of four federal agents at the scene that day actually fired bean bags -- not bullets -- at a violent drug gang carrying assault rifles. Weapons from the botched anti-gun trafficking program were found at Terry's murder scene. 

Documents show that on Dec. 14, 2010, Terry's team was on a hill above a ravine. A ground sensor went off alerting them to the approaching smugglers. When agents yelled "police" in Spanish, the smugglers turned and fired. According to the documents, this happened at 11:08 p.m. Just 52 minutes later, Terry would have been relieved by a second BORTAC team and gone home for Christmas.  "I saw some members of the group point their weapons at us," Agent Gabriel Fragoza declared to the court. "Agent Castano and I deployed less lethal bean bag rounds as the individuals began to shoot at us. I saw muzzle flashes coming from the individuals, then heard Agent Terry say 'I'm hit! I'm hit! I can't feel my legs'." 

Nov. 26: The L.A. Times: Gun dealer in Fast and Furious case could be freed
The New Mexico store owner gets a new hearing because of errors made when he was sentenced. But prosecutors say they have new evidence that he knew firearms he sold were being smuggled into Mexico.  A firearms dealer convicted during the fallout from the government's failed Fast and Furious gun-tracking program may soon be set free after winning a court battle for a new sentencing hearing.

A federal magistrate has ruled that Ian Garland deserves a new hearing because of errors made when a judge initially sent him to prison for five years.  Prosecutors, while acknowledging mistakes, plan to oppose early release for Garland. They hope to present new evidence at the Dec. 13 hearing that he knew many of the 190 firearms he sold to city officials in Columbus, N.M., were being smuggled into Mexico.

Nov. 18: Politico: Judge won’t allow Holder to appeal now in Holder contempt of Congress case:
A federal judge has refused Attorney General Eric Holder's request that he be allowed to proceed now with an appeal in a case where the House of Representatives is seeking to enforce subpoenas for documents related to the controversial Operation Fast and Furious gun investigation.  In a ruling Monday afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said her September 30 ruling rejecting Holder's request to dismiss the lawsuit was not such a close call that it deserved immediate review from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. 

Jackson's latest ruling means it is likely the Justice Department will have to produce a detailed log of what was withheld from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and why.  Rounds of protracted litigation over the legitimacy of the withholdings seem all but certain, unless the sides come to an agreement which has heretofore eluded them.

Nov. 16: Fox News: Holder asks for appeal in the Fast and Furious case holding him inn contempt of Congress
Attorney General Eric Holder wants to appeal a recent judge’s ruling that allows the House to continue with its contempt case, related to Holder’s refusal to turn over documents concerning the Justice Department’s failed Operation Fast and Furious gun-tracking program.  Holder made the request Friday night to U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, asking that the Justice Department be allowed to put the case in front of a federal appeals court before Jackson makes any final decisions.In September, Jackson rejected the Obama administration’s request to have the case dismissed.

The GOP-led House voted last year to put Holder in contempt of court after President Obama invoked executive privilege and Holder refused to turn over the documents.  The appeal filed Friday, reported first by Politico, makes essentially the same argument as the request-to-dismiss case -- that courts shouldn’t get involved in trying to settle disputes between the Executive and Legislative branches.  "Participating in such proceedings will cause harm -- to the Defendant, the Executive Branch, and the separation of powers -- that cannot be reversed if the D.C. Circuit ultimately rules in Defendant’s favor on the threshold questions presented," the 14-page motion states.  Jackson still hasn’t ruled on the legality of Obama invoking executive privilege.

Nov. 16: Politico: Slain border agent’s family loses suit against the Feds
A federal judge has dismissed the bulk of a lawsuit brought by the parents of a Border Patrol agent killed in 2010 at a crime scene where weapons linked to Operation Fast and Furious were found.  U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell dismissed claims the family of agent Brian Terry made against various federal employees. The federal government had stepped into the case to assume any liability on the part of the workers. The judge said payments to officers like Terry are governed by federal laws covering employee retirement and law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

As a result, Campbell said, Supreme Court precedent discourages courts from recognizing a remedy for constitutional violations like the lawsuit's claim that Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives personnel and a federal prosecutor violated Terry's rights by allowing guns to be sold to straw purchasers in a controversial practice that has come to be known as gunwalking.

Oct. 22: Fox News: Dept. of Justice faces questions about Grenade maker linked to Mexican murder
In a case that is prompting comparisons to the botched Operation Fast and Furious, police believe explosives found at a murder scene in Mexico may have come from an American bomb-maker whom the U.S. attorney in Arizona refused to prosecute.  According to an internal U.S. Department of Justice memo, a "Kingery grenade" was among the 10 explosives found at the scene of a shootout between police and drug cartels in Guadalajara on Oct. 10 in which three officers were killed.  The "Kingery grenade" refers to those manufactured by Jean Baptiste Kingery, a California resident who made grenades in Mexico from parts sourced in the U.S. He also converted AK-47s from semi- to fully-automatic weapons.

ATF agents arrested Kingery in 2010, but the assistant U.S. attorney in Arizona at the time, Emory Hurley, referred to the grenades as harmless toys and told the ATF the case "lacked jury appeal," according to the ATF supervisor in charge, Pete Forcelli. Forcelli had handled the case until the U.S. attorney declined to prosecute.  Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) compared the situation to Fast and Furious, in which U.S. officials let weapons "walk" across the U.S.-Mexico border; weapons from the program were later found at the murder scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.  "These aren't the only deaths that undoubtedly will come from weapons being allowed to walk and an individual allowed to escape justice for more than 18 months after he was in our hands and released," Issa said.  Kingery continued making some 2,000 bombs for the cartels until Mexican federal police raided his Sonora factory in 2011. Such grenades have been used in cartel attacks in public streets, bars and nightclubs.

Oct. 7: Fox News: ATF tries to block Fast and Furious whistle-blower from publishing book:
The ATF agent who blew the whistle on Operation Fast and Furious has been denied permission to write a book on the botched anti-gun trafficking sting "because it would have a negative impact on morale," according to the very agency responsible for the scandal.   After first trying to stop the operation internally, ATF Agent John Dodson went to Congress and eventually the media following the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010. Two guns found at the murder scene were sold through the ATF operation. 

Dodson's book, titled "The Unarmed Truth," provides the first inside account of how the federal government permitted and helped sell some 2,000 guns to Mexican drug cartels, despite evidence the guns killed innocent people.  Dodson, who is working with publisher Simon & Schuster, submitted his manuscript to the department for review, per federal rules. However, it was denied. 

Greg Serres, an ATF ethics official, told Dodson that any of his supervisors at any level could disapprove outside employment "for any reason."   Serres letter said: "This would have a negative impact on morale in the Phoenix Field Division and would have a detremental effect [sic] on our relationships with DEA and FBI."  The national office of the American Civil Liberties Association is representing Dodson as he fights the decision. ACLU attorney Lee Rowland says the agency's restriction is overly broad. 

Sept. 12: Fox News: Decision Looms in Holder’s Fast and Furious Contempt Case
While most of Washington has moved on, legal scholars expect a decision soon in a potentially landmark case in one of the federal government's most damaging scandals -- Operation Fast and Furious.  Republican lawmakers, after holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for failing to turn over records they had subpoenaed, are still waiting for a judge to rule on their case.  But they have not forgotten.

After a lengthy investigation and contentious hearings on Capitol Hill, the House of Representatives held Holder in contempt. President Obama stepped in and claimed executive privilege over the documents, but House lawyers went to a federal judge seeking to force the administration to turn over records they believe show a cover-up.

"When you consider that the attorney general himself may very well have been complicit in knowing that was a false statement and insisting they continue to stand by it for 10 months -- you do have a serious question if Congress can fairly evaluate these individuals staying in office and staying in their jobs if in fact they can't be counted on to tell the truth," House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) told Fox News.

The documents sought by the House involve communications between the White House and the Department of Justice, as well as internal reports and emails among 18 senior level DOJ officials. The documents relate almost entirely to a Feb. 4 letter in which the Justice Department denied knowing anything about the gun-running operation. That turned out to be false, and Republicans want to know who was responsible. 

The House vote was the first time Congress held an attorney general in contempt, and the case marked the first and only time Obama has asserted executive privilege.  "The American people were lied to on national TV that no guns were allowed to be walked and they (the Justice Department) kept to that statement for 10 long months while the Terry family suffered questions over the loss of their son," said Issa. "Those who were involved in knowing that it was false, communicating that it was false and perpetuated that false statement need to be held accountable or at least exposed."  Lawyers expect the judge to rule in the next three weeks. Regardless, either side is likely to appeal and those involved say it is possible the case won't be resolved until Obama has left office.

Apr. 24: Politico: Judge Skeptical of Obama in Executive Privillege Fight:
A federal judge gave a skeptical reception Wednesday to the Obama administration’s arguments that the courts should stay out of the dispute over the Justice Department’s refusal to turn over some Operation Fast and Furious-related documents to a House committee. Last June, the fight led President Barack Obama to assert executive privilege over the records of the controversial gun trafficking investigation, and to House votes finding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson spent most of an hour-and-a-half hearing Wednesday sharply questioning Deputy Assistant Attorney General Ian Gershengorn about the administration’s assertion that a lawsuit the House panel filed last year should be dismissed and the legislative and executive branches of government left to work out their differences by themselves.Jackson, an Obama appointee, repeatedly suggested that Gershengorn was giving the judiciary short shrift. “You keep talking about the two [branches] as if the third one isn’t there,” she said.

Apr. 9: The House Government Oversight and Reform Committee has posted a pdf document showing which government officials knew about Operation Fast and Furious and the timeline of when they learned about it. We have posted that document on this Website for your information.

Mar. 22: The Hill: ICE Slammed over Fast and Furious by Top House Leaders from both parties:
Top House lawmakers criticized a division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Friday for its role in the failed gun tracking operation "Fast and Furious," after a new report detailed the agency’s involvement. At the urging of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), officials with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit did not pursue leads on potential weapons smugglers, according to the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) inspector general report released on Friday.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-TX) and Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said the 84-page report was “troubling.”"This report once again demonstrates the obvious flaws in the Fast and Furious Operation,” said McCaul. “While it makes clear that the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement leadership were initially unaware of the operation, it is troubling that those ICE and DHS personnel in Arizona who knew of the problems did not take immediate action.”

Mar. 16: FoxNews:
House panel tells judge: Justice's offer in Fast & Furious settlement a 'grave disappointment':
The Justice Department and a congressional committee disagree on the pace of their talks to settle a lawsuit over congressional efforts to get records related to Operation Fast and Furious, a bungled gun-tracking operation. In a joint filing Friday night, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee told the judge in the case that a settlement offer it received from the Justice Department this week was a "grave disappointment" and that a settlement is not possible.

"The parties are very, very far apart," lawyers for the GOP-led committee wrote. "Indeed, they are not even conceptually on the same page. After nearly four months of negotiating in good faith, the committee reluctantly has concluded -- principally as a result of the department's settlement document -- that the attorney general is not serious about settlement." The committee added that it didn't think court-ordered mediation would help.

Jan. 21: FoxNews: [Opinion Piece] The Ship of State Obama is sailing forward Monday on the next leg of its journey amidst battles over guns, immigration, debt and pretty much everything else. The big question is whether the media will continue to serve as crew for another four years. For the first four years it didn’t matter whether it was taxes, Libya, Fast & Furious or gun control (er, “gun violence”), the media have followed Obama like he is their personal master and commander-in-chief.

Jan. 17: ABC News: A Mexican national claims to be the man who shot and killed U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, whose death is tied to the "Fast and Furious" gun-walking scandal. Gustavo Cruz-Lozano, who says he killed Terry, turned himself in on Wednesday on charges related to a separate incident where he threatened to kill Hidalgo County, Texas Sheriff Lupe Treviño.

But before he surrendered himself, Cruz-Lozano said in an exclusive interview with Univision News' daily news magazine show "Primer Impacto" that he murdered Terry during a firefight on Dec. 14, 2010, while the agent was on patrol near the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona. Two AK-47 rifles found at the scene were linked to the botched Operation Fast and Furious in which the U.S. government sought to track firearms sales to violent drug cartels. But it remains unclear whether those weapons were used to kill Terry.

Jan. 15: The Hill: Fast and Furious shows gun control should start with administration: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said Tuesday that if the President Obama wants to impose new restrictions on gun ownership, he should start with his own administration, given how it handled the Fast and Furious gun-walking operation. "We have a president who makes speeches and an attorney general that makes speeches about how they're going to go after illegal gun sales, and yet there is blood on the hands of people in this administration, and we can't even find out who they are," Gohmert said on the House floor Tuesday night.

Jan. 15: The Daily Caller publishes an editorial on Operation Fast and Furious and Gun Control: Let’s get this straight: Guns are too dangerous to be left in the hands of ordinary Americans. But guns in the hands of unknown rebels, who may turn out to be violent extremists, are just fine. There is no evidence of a connection. But what happened in Benghazi seems like a good reason to refrain from encouraging the distribution of weapons without knowing where they will end up or who will start firing them.


Dec. 28: The Washington Times:Chairman Darrell Issa of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee praised the proposed House rules package for the 113th Congress that will keep in place the legal obligations on Attorney General Eric Holder and others at the Department of Justice. This action will keep in place the subpoena that requires the Department of Justice to produce Fast and Furious documents. Attorney General Holder's refusal to turn over these documents is also the basis for the House of Representatives Contempt of Congress civil suit.

Dec. 20: The Los Angeles Times: Two of the weapons found after a drug cartel gunfight last month in Sinaloa, Mexico, that killed five people have been traced back to the U.S. — one lost during the ATF's Operation Fast and Furious, the other originally purchased by a supervisory ATF agent who helped oversee the botched gun-tracking operation.

Dec. 19 Fox News: How did a gun belonging to a former assistant special agent in charge at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives end up at a crime scene in Mexico where five died, including a Mexican beauty queen?

Nov. 27: Business Week: Justice Department is seeking a settlement of the Contempt of Congress Citation against Holder as it negotiates with House Republicans.

Nov. 2: Breitbart.com: Report: Operation Fast and Furious was part of a DOJ "deliberate strategy"

Oct. 29: The Daily Caller: Congressional Fast and furious report places blame on high ranking Just Department officials.

Oct. 25: Politico: Judge Speeds Contempt Lawsuit over Operation Fast and Furious

Oct. 2: FrontPageMag.com: Operation Fast and Furious and the Massacre of Mexican Children

Oct. 1: FoxNews: Finally, the media is showing the staggering human cost of Operation Fast & Furious. But the news broadcast wasn't in English

Oct. 1: The Blaze: Five things you did not know about Operation Fast and Furious [be warned this has graphic images]

Sept. 22: Daily Caller: Atlantic Columnist, '60 Minutes' Analyst: IG Report Proves Eric Holder Must Resign over Fast and Furious.

Sept. 19: Fox News: Representative Issa interviewed by Fox News about the DOJ Inspector General's report on Fast and Furious. Said report faults Justice for bad judgment and management.

Sept. 19: Washington Post: Republicans hail DOJ Inspector General's report as a huge step forward.

Sept. 18: Fox News: Tax exempt Media Matters closely involved with Holder's Justice Department to "spin" stories on Fast and Furious, the Daily Caller reports. Sixty nine pages of email reveal released by the Department of Justice under a Freedom of Information Act request sheds light on the connection between DOJ and the taxpayer funded Media Matters.

Sept. 18: Terra.com: Relatives of a U.S. Border Patrol agent whose murder in the line of duty was linked to a botched U.S. operation to track guns smuggled to Mexico on Monday called for accountability for the government officials who approved the program

Sept. 11: FoxNews: Long awaited Inspector Generals report is expected to blame ATF and the Justice Department for the botched Fast and Furious operation