House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) made headlines this week by issuing a subpoena for documents from Attorney General Eric Holder about a botched weapons investigation, but Holder is apparently not Issa’s only target.Team Obama must be thanking God their orchestrated Occupy Wall Street protests have diverted so much media attention from their criminal scandal. Perhaps some day someone other than Sharyl Attkisson will be reporting on this.
A little-noticed provision of the subpoena targets the White House, specifically naming Eric Schultz, a communications aide who was hired in May to respond to media inquiries on oversight matters.
Issa issued the subpoena as part of his investigation into a program called Fast and Furious, which whistle-blowers have described as allowing assault weapons and military-grade sniper rifles to transfer into criminal networks.
The subpoena demands “all communications” to or from Holder and 15 other top Justice Department officials on Fast and Furious, as well as every weekly update memo to Holder on any topic over a nearly two-year period. Issa contends that Holder may have learned about the program much earlier than he has acknowledged, and the California Republican been conducting a blitz of media interviews making that point.
The subpoena also requires Holder to produce “all communications between and among Department of Justice (DOJ) employees and Executive Office of the President employees, including but not limited to Associate Communications Director Eric Schultz, referring or relating to Operation Fast and Furious or any other firearms trafficking cases.”
“We know there were communications that did go to the White House on Fast and Furious. We’ve been told that they were personal communications that just happened to occur. We wanted an official assurance on that,” Issa told Roll Call on Wednesday, jokingly referring to Schultz as “my friend.”
But a GOP source familiar with the committee’s investigation said there was more to the request.
“The question is whether the White House has been instructing the Justice Department on what [documents] to release,” the source said.
The source added that recent allegations by a CBS reporter that Schultz yelled at her over her coverage of Fast and Furious in part prompted Issa’s questions on the matter, but the source maintained that the inquiry is unrelated to Schultz’s communications with reporters.
CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, who has reported on this story from the beginning, said on "The Early Show" that the investigation into the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)'s so-called "Fast and Furious" operation branches out to a case involving grenades. Sources tell her a suspect was left to traffic and manufacture them for Mexican drug cartels.
Police say Jean Baptiste Kingery, a U.S. citizen, was a veritable grenade machine. He's accused of smuggling parts for as many as 2,000 grenades into Mexico for killer drug cartels -- sometimes under the direct watch of U.S. law enforcement.
Law enforcement sources say Kingery could have been prosecuted in the U.S. twice for violating export control laws, but that, each time, prosecutors in Arizona refused to make a case.
Grenades are weapons-of-choice for the cartels. An attack on Aug. 25 in a Monterrey, Mexico casino killed 53 people.
Sources tell CBS News that, in January 2010, ATF had Kingery under surveillance after he bought about 50 grenade bodies and headed to Mexico. But they say prosecutors wouldn't agree to make a case. So, as ATF agents looked on, Kingery and the grenade parts crossed the border -- and simply disappeared.
Six months later, Kingery allegedly got caught leaving the U.S. for Mexico with 114 disassembled grenades in a tire. One ATF agent told investigators he literally begged prosecutors to keep Kingery in custody this time, fearing he was supplying narco-terrorists, but was again ordered to let Kingery go.