Politics
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DOJ deflects Gunrunner, Fast and Furious blame to local officials

Photo of Matthew Boyle
Matthew Boyle
Investigative Reporter

President Obama’s Justice Department is trying to deflect responsibility over decisions in the Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious investigations, which are being spearheaded by House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican. Last Wednesday, Issa released new Project Gunrunner documents, including an approved wiretap application bearing Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer’s name. Though Breuer didn’t sign it, his Deputy Assistant Attorney General (DAAG), Kenneth Blanc, did.

Now the DOJ says Blanc’s signature and Breuer’s name doesn’t imply any federal-level responsibility. Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler told The Daily Caller that the Obama administration’s DOJ officials routinely approve thousands of wiretap applications without knowing the specifics of the cases they’re signing off on.

“The review process for wiretap applications is a narrow assessment of whether a legal basis exists to support a surveillance request that ultimately goes before a judge for decision,” Schmaler said in an email. “These reviews are not approval of the underlying investigations or operations.”

House Oversight Committee spokesman Frederick Hill told TheDC he thinks it’s disturbing that the DOJ is routinely approving wiretap applications like this one. “The assertion that the Justice Department has a robo-signing process for wiretap applications is a deeply troubling defense,” Hill said in an email. “Applications for wiretaps generally include detailed descriptions of law enforcement activities, sworn statements and explanations for why invasive wiretaps are crucial to an investigation. Claiming ignorance on an operation where wiretaps were approved by high level officials raises even more concerns about irresponsible and reckless decisions by Justice officials that contributed to the deaths of two federal agents.”

Former federal prosecutor and Foundation for the Defense of Democracies Center for Law and Counterterrorism co-chair Andrew McCarthy told TheDC Schmaler is right in that Justice Department officials don’t have time to review facts and details of every wiretap application they sign. But, McCarthy said, that doesn’t absolve top officials of responsibility when something goes awry.

“Nobody would expect the Deputy Attorney General to know the details like the prosecutor on the case, but if your name is on something and it’s a screw-up, you’re going to end up being responsible for it not in the sense that anyone expects you to know all the facts, but if you’ve been relying on someone who isn’t doing a good job to vet these things, then that is your responsibility,” McCarthy said. “The reason that Congress put this requirement in the statute is because they wanted Justice Department oversight on the district offices because wiretaps are so invasive.”

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  • Mark Matis

    When will people bother to recognize that it is “Law Enforcement” who enable this evil to run the country? TWO OF THEIR OWN are dead due to the crimes and treason committed by Holder, Clinton, Napolitano, and The One, yet NOT ONE “Law Enforcement” officer will honor their oath and arrest this swill.

    The stench is overwhelming. And it smells like pig.

  • weneedhonesty

    The mantra in the past 2 years was also from Hillary Clinton & Obama admin. saying we needed more gun control because, America was supplying guns to the Mexican Drug Cartel, while Mexico supplied us with drugs.
    We come to find out this Administration is the one’s supplying the guns to kill Border agents and civilians. Can’t throw these people out of office fast enough!

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  • savage24

    Well at least he didn’t blame G W Bush for this administrations screw up. This bunch of clowns playing games that got people killed, and don’t have the guts to stand by their decisions are enough to turn our stomachs.

  • Mr.ManZ

    WOW, the thugs of this administration can’t seem to cover their tracks fast enough. As corrupt as they come.

  • callipygian1

    According to the Peter Principle the 2012 Democratic ticket wil be Obama/Holder

  • Miroco

    I once had a teenager like this, first she lied about everything, then when she once told the truth she cried her eyes out because nobody believed her. Strange thing lying, some people seem to prefer it, got a few hours, I will prove the racist Holder and of course Oscama are this ilk.

  • oletech

    I’m suprised that they haven’t blamed Bush yet. Holder makes me sick. He runs the DOJ like a 60′s civil rights activist agency . If Holder was a Republican the Democrats would be screaming for his resignation and I wonder when the Repubs are going to grow a pair and start screaming for Holder to step down.