Congressional investigators say that Ogden then took that memo and disseminated it to the department heads for the ATF, FBI and DEA, among others. “The deputy attorney general also formed a Southwest Border Strategy Group, which he headed, responsible for implementing the new strategy,” the report reads. “The strategy group’s first meeting was on October 26, 2009, when it assembled to discuss the new strategy.”
“The meeting invitation included Deputy Attorney General Ogden and his deputies Ed Siskel and Kathryn Ruemmler (both of whom would later leave the Justice Department for the White House Counsel’s Office); Assistant Attorney General Breuer and his deputies, Jason Weinstein, Kenneth Blanco, and Bruce Swartz; ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson and Deputy Director William Hoover; the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, Dennis Burke; and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, B. Todd Jones, then serving as chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee,” the report continues, adding that the congressional committees investigating Fast and Furious “were unable to ascertain any further details regarding this meeting.”
From that memo, ATF’s Phoenix Field Division was mostly interested in “key language” on page seven. That language reads, “Thus, given the national scope of this issue, merely seizing firearms through interdiction will not stop firearms trafficking to Mexico. We must identify, investigate, and eliminate the sources of illegally trafficked firearms and the networks that transport them.”
The congressional investigators then quote ATF Phoenix Field Division Assistant Special Agent in Charge George Gillett as saying “that this specific language became the blueprint for Operation Fast and Furious.”
“The content of that plan specifically addressed wanting ATF not to focus on straw purchasers, but to focus on cartels and larger complex conspiracy type investigations,” Gillett said.
“So this strategy in October 2009 handed down by the DAG’s office, actually from the Phoenix perspective, was well-timed and provided us with direction on how to proceed in these types of firearms trafficking investigations,” he added.