Yesterday in a Congressional hearing, ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix office, Bill Newell, told investigators he had told his good friend, Kevin O’Reilly, the White House National Security Director for North America, about the Fast and Furious operation. Newell says he told O’Reilly about F&F, because O’Reilly asked for information, however, there is confusion about whether O’Reilly was asking about Project GunRunner or Operation Fast and Furious. The White House said O’Reilly asked about GunRunner.
Note that the graphic of the email says “1 of 2 emails.” Clearly this is about Fast and Furious, because GunRunner is perceived as a successful, above-board program.
It’s the first time anyone has publicly stated that a White House official had any familiarity with ATF’s operation Fast and Furious, which allowed thousands of weapons to fall into the hands of suspected traffickers for Mexican drug cartels in an attempt to gain intelligence. It’s unknown as to whether O’Reilly shared information with anybody else at the White House.
Congressional investigators obtained an email from Newell to O’Reilly in September of last year in which Newell began with the words: “you didn’t get this from me.”
“What does that mean,” one member of Congress asked Newell, ” ‘you didn’t get this from me?’ ”
“Obviously he was a friend of mine,” Newell replied, “and I shouldn’t have been sending that to him.”
Newell told Congress that O’Reilly had asked him for information.
“Why do you think he asked for that information,” Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) asked Newell.
“He was asking about the impact of Project Gunrunner to brief people in preparation for a trip to Mexico… what we were doing to combat firearms trafficking and other issues.”
Today, a White House spokesman said the email was not about Fast and Furious, but about other gun trafficking efforts. The spokesman also said he didn’t know what Newell was referring to when he said he’d spoken to O’Reilly about Fast and Furious.
CBS says the content of what Newell shared with O’Reilly is unclear, but note above they say it is the first time the White House is connected. We have to ask, if the White House knew about GunRunner and sanctioned it, why would they not know about Operation Fast and Furious? When these two friends were discussing gunwalking via email, were the words “Fast and Furious” used, and why would Newell say he shouldn’t have given his friend information, if the information concerned only GunRunner, when GunRunner is common knowledge throughout government? Nice Deb has more, including videos (and thanks to her for the graphic).
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