The second in what promises to be a series of hearings on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ controversial 'Operation Fast and Furious' has been announced for next Wednesday, June 15, and Sen. Charles Grassley will testify.
In addition, according to Becca Watkins, spokesperson for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, family members of murdered Border Patrol agent Brian Terry will appear, along with ATF whistleblower John Dodson and other ATF agents.
Possibly the most heated testimony and questioning may come when Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich appears before the committee.
This announcement comes just hours after the Wall Street Journal reported that at least five guns recovered from a Mexican police raid in Ciudad Juarez several weeks ago have been linked to suspects in the Fast and Furious operation. This operation, run out of the Phoenix, AZ office of the ATF, is an off-shoot of Project Gunrunner. In addition to the five “Fast and Furious’-linked guns, authorities also recovered anti-aircraft weapons, grenades and a large cache of ammunition, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Dodson, the agent who became a whistleblower, appeared in a CBS interview earlier this year that blew the lid off the investigation. The Project Gunrunner controversy erupted after two guns found at the scene of Brian Terry’s slaying were linked directly to one of the Fast and Furious suspects. It now appears that the operation allowed thousands of guns to be “walked” into Mexico and into the hands of battling drug cartels. In early 2009, after taking office, Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, pointed blame for Mexican drug war violence at gun shops in the Southwest.
It is now alleged that the ATF deliberately allowed gunrunning suspects to purchase thousands of firearms, often in bulk quantities and after gun dealers had expressed their concerns that these guns were falling into the wrong hands. The transactions were encouraged by ATF officials, despite the concerns of field agents.
Grassley and Issa began independent probes earlier this year and have complained that their efforts have been stonewalled by Justice Department officials. One of those officials is Ronald Weich, Assistant Attorney General, Department Of Justice, who had initially urged Grassley to stop contacting ATF field agents in his Gunrunner probe.