WASHINGTON, DC – The report on Operation Fast and Furious released today by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General says a member of the White House National Security staff declined to be interviewed for the inspector general’s investigation and that the White House itself did not produce internal documents for the investigation because the White House said it was “beyond the purview” of the inspector general.
The report said that gun traffickers purchased more than 2,000 weapons during Fast and Furious and that U.S. law enforcement officers eventually only recovered about 100 of these because “of a strategy jointly pursued by ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office that deferred taking overt enforcement action against the individual straw purchasers while seeking to build a case against the leaders of the organization.”
Two AK-47 rifles purchased by one of the traffickers ended up–11 months after their purchase–at the scene of the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
The report said that an official with the White House National Security Staff declined an interview with the inspector general’s office about his communications with Wiliam Newell, who the report said was the Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Phoenix Field Division.
“We also sought to interview Kevin O’Reilly, an official with the White House National Security Staff, about communications he had in 2010 with Special Agent in Charge William Newell that included information about Operation Fast and Furious,” says the IG report. “O’Reilly declined through his personal counsel our request for an interview.”
“We sought to interview O’Reilly in light of e-mail communications he had with Special Agent in Charge Bill Newell in 2010,” the IG report said in a footnote.
“Newell told us that he had known O’Reilly during previous field office assignments and that the two shared information about firearms trafficking issues relevant to their geographic areas of responsibility,” the report said. “According to Newell, O’Reilly was also friends with ATF’s White House Liaison and through that relationship O’Reilly would be included on some information sharing between Newell and the ATF Liaison about ATF’s efforts on the Southwest Border, and that O’Reilly eventually communicated with Newell directly.
“Newell told us that he did not have direct contact with the White House other than through O’Reilly,” said the report. “We requested from the White House any communications concerning Operation Fast and Furious during the relevant time period that were sent to or received from (a) certain ATF employees, including Special Agent in Charge Newell, and (b) certain members of the White House National Security Staff, including Kevin O’Reilly. In response to our request, the White House informed us that the only responsive communications it had with the ATF employees were those between Newell and O’Reilly. The White House indicated that it previously produced those communications to Congress in response to a similar request, and the White House provided us with a copy of those materials.
“The White House did not produce to us any internal White House communications, noting that ‘the White House is beyond the purview of the Inspector General’s Office, which has jurisdiction over Department of Justice programs and personnel,'” said the report.
“The records the White House produced did not contain any communications between Newell and O’Reilly that referred to Operation Fast and Furious by name, and the communications that referred to the ‘large OCDETF case’–which was Operation Fast and Furious–did not include any information about the case strategy or the tactics agents were using to conduct the investigation.
“We were unable to further investigate the communications between Newell and O’Reilly because O’Reilly declined our request for an interview,” said the IG report.