Written by Roger Aronoff
Katie Pavlich, who literally wrote the book on Operation Fast and Furious, delivered a very timely talk to the Accuracy in Media “ObamaNation: A Day of Truth” conference on September 21st. It was the day after the Justice Department’s Inspector General issued a report on the scandalous gun walking operation that resulted in the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, and ICE agent Jaime Zapata, plus hundreds of Mexicans. She points out that it was mainly blogs that broke this story, but that Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News, who AIM honored this year with a Reed Irvine Award, had done an “amazing” job covering the story.
Pavlich, who is the news editor for Townhall.com, said that the President lied about the origins of Fast and Furious. “You had President Obama go on Univision,” she told the crowd, “which was interesting, because Jorge Ramos, who has asked about President Obama’s involvement in Fast and Furious in the past, did the job that the regular mainstream media in America won’t do and asked him some tough questions about Fast and Furious. In particular, ‘Don’t you think that Eric Holder should be fired, whether he knew about this or not, whether it’s incompetence or he lied about his involvement?’ And then President Obama lied. He straight up lied on Univision and said that Operation Fast and Furious was a Bush administration program. Well, considering Fast and Furious started in September and October 2009, long after President Bush left the office, it’s not a Bush administration program.”
Fast and Furious is back in the news this week, as Univision, a Spanish language network, partnered with ABC News, filed a devastating report showing some of the tragic consequences of this operation which sent some 2,000 guns into the hands of Mexico’s notorious drug cartels. The report, which appeared on the ABC News website, but did not air on their evening news shows, said, “As part of Operation Fast and Furious, ATF allowed 1,961 guns to ‘walk’ out of the U.S. in an effort to identify the high profile cartel leaders who received them. The agency eventually lost track of the weapons, and they often ended up in the hands of Mexican hit men, including those who ordered and carried out the attack on Salvarcar and El Aliviane, a rehabilitation center in Ciudad Juarez where 18 young men were killed on September 2, 2009.”
This AIM conference where Pavlich spoke was the same conference where Patrick Caddell said that the media have become “the “enemy of the American people.”
You can watch highlights of Katie Pavlich’s talk here:
Or you can watch the full-length talk, along with Q&A here; or you can watch it here along with the transcript.
KATIE PAVLICH: I assume, by now, that everyone in this room knows about the Fast and Furious scandal. Essentially, a short version is, the Obama Justice Department funneled 2,000 AK-47-style, .50 caliber-rifle-style weapons into Mexico, didn’t tell the Mexican government about it, and then two of those weapons showed up at the murder scene of one of our border patrol agents. From the beginning the administration has tried to cover up every aspect of this, down to the fact of the connection between Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder being connected to this government program. This investigation has been going on for eighteen months now. Because we’re here with Accuracy in Media, I’m going to focus a little bit on the media angle of how this has been handled.
Essentially, the Fast and Furious scandal was broken online by bloggers. It wasn’t broken by mainstream media reporters, it wasn’t broken by more mainstream or bigger outlets online—it was broken by small bloggers who were doing citizen journalism. Ever since that point, we’ve had a little bit of coverage from the mainstream media. Sharyl Attkisson has been amazing at her job, Jake Tapper’s covered it a little bit, but, overall, it’s one of those situations where you ask, “What would the media do if President Bush was in office?” and it would be completely the opposite.
So after ignoring the scandal for about eighteen months, the media is now taking an Inspector General’s report that came out yesterday as the bible of what the scandal is all about, despite this being a report of the Justice Department, by the Justice Department. We saw this report come out yesterday. It’s a credible report, there’s a lot of interesting and good information in it. But what people aren’t getting is the full story as to who wrote that report. The Inspector General’s name is David—Michael Horowitz, David Horowitz is a conservative activist—Michael Horowitz, and he’s only been on the job for about five months. Thirteen months prior to that, the Inspector General was Cynthia Schnedar. Now, Ms. Schnedar worked for Eric Holder during his time as U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C. in the ’90s, and ever since then she’s had a long-term personal and professional friendship with him. So she’s the one who did the bulk of the work on it, yet, on its face—and what the media’s reporting—this is a report by Mr. Horowitz, which, partially, is true, but the bulk of the work was done by her. Not to mention—this is something the media has decided to gloss over as well—the Inspector General report this time was allowed to be edited and looked at by all of the people involved in Fast and Furious, meaning people like Eric Holder, and all of the people named in this report, had a chance to take a look at it, comment on it, and ask for revisions and things that weren’t factual in the report. This is something that didn’t happen under the Bush administration. [J.] Christian Adams, who is a former DOJ attorney and whistleblower, wrote a good piece about this. He said, “Look, I’ve worked under the Obama and the Bush Justice Departments, and there in no way was any opportunity, during the Bush administration, to be editing Inspector General reports that are supposed to be following the evidence and the facts where they lie.” So one of the things that I found most interesting yesterday was that the Inspector General told Congressman—he was asked, specifically, “Out of all the documents that you’ve seen throughout your eighteen months of investigation, are there any of those documents that you believe Congress shouldn’t be able to see?” and the answer from the Inspector General was, “No”—meaning Eric Holder and Barack Obama, in not turning over their documentation, are in the wrong.
You had President Obama go on Univision yesterday, which was interesting, because Jorge Ramos, who has asked about President Obama’s involvement in Fast and Furious in the past, did the job that the regular mainstream media in America won’t do and asked him some tough questions about Fast and Furious—in particular, “Don’t you think that Eric Holder should be fired, whether he knew about this or not, whether it’s incompetence or he lied about his involvement?” And then President Obama lied. He straight up lied on Univision and said that Operation Fast and Furious was a Bush administration program. Well, considering Fast and Furious started in September and October 2009, long after President Bush left the office, it’s not a Bush administration program. Of course, he would lie in front of a Hispanic audience on Univision, because, of course, he needs their vote, and exposing a scandal that resulted in the cold-blooded murders of 400-plus Mexicans would be quite a problem for him, I think.
So let’s look a little bit at the DOJ’s response to this. The Department of Justice has a Public Affairs office, like many departments in our federal government, and you pay for that office. Taxpayers pay for the government to give us information, to be transparent in what their departments are doing. The Department of Justice’s Public Affairs office is headed by a woman named Tracy Schmaler, who makes $160,000 a year, base salary, and then she gets some benefits. Well, it turns out that the Daily Caller, which has been doing some great work on this as well, and Matthew Boyle in particular, did an exposé and FOIA’d some E-mails between Tracy Schmaler and Media Matters. It just so happens that the Department of Public Affairs at the Department of Justice is working with a left-wing, George Soros-funded media attack dog to smear journalists like myself, to smear whistleblowers like J. Christian Adams, and is working with Media Matters, in the sense of telling them, “Hey, I don’t like what I’m seeing on Fox News, why don’t you write a story about it? Why don’t you investigate this reporter?” So the Justice Dept.—and this is what happened with my book. When my book first came out, there was a reporter from the Free Beacon who E-mailed the Justice Department to ask a specific question about something in the book, and the Justice Department responded, with an official DOJ E-mail address, and said, “We’re going to have to refer your questions to the FBI, but in the meantime I’ve been instructed to give you this link,” and the link was to a Media Matters hit job on the entire book, and didn’t even address the specific question that the reporter asked.
So here we have an administration who promised to be very transparent with the press, and yet their top person in the Department of Justice, of all places, is working with an outside leftist-funded group to smear reporters who are exposing and embarrassing their corruption—as if we can embarrass them any more than they already embarrassed themselves, right? I think that really goes to show where this Justice Department is. President Obama asserted Executive Privilege over these documents that the Inspector General has said should have been released to Congress. [Obama] went on Univision yesterday and said, “Look, this was a low-level field operation, and Eric Holder knew nothing about it.” Well, if that’s the case, then why is the Executive Privilege from the President of the United States necessary in this case? He’s either abusing his power, or there’s more there with the White House that we don’t know. You go back to the testimony yesterday—the Inspector General said it was impossible to get any information from the White House about their role in Fast and Furious. As a flashback, there were senior advisors on the national security team at the White House receiving E-mails about Fast and Furious—in particular, one of them, his name is Kevin O’Reilly, and we found out about his involvement about a year ago, in July, at the end of July, 2011. As soon as that became public knowledge, that he was receiving E-mails about this, guess what happened? They shipped him off to Iraq, and made him unavailable for comment to the press, unavailable for comment to the Congressional oversight committee, and unavailable to the Department of Justice Inspector General for a full report.
So, just to wrap up real quickly, because I want to take a couple of your questions, if you have them: The DOJ Inspector General report yesterday provided us with decent information, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. It didn’t talk to the White House—they couldn’t get any information from them. Homeland Security and Janet Napolitano refused to provide an [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agent who was working side by side with [Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms] on Fast and Furious. A lot of the people involved in this lied to Congress, and I really don’t expect them to tell their Inspector General the truth when it comes to what their actions were. So, with that, I’ll take your questions. I hope that I gave you a little bit of an update. Obviously it’s a huge story that I can’t really talk about in fifteen minutes. Any questions that you have, I would be happy to take them.
ARONOFF: Lanny Breuer was one of the people—named in there. Doesn’t part of the case that Holder didn’t know anything about this hinge on the fact that he didn’t read memos or E-mails from his his deputy?
PAVLICH: He apparently doesn’t know how to read. So Eric Holder, twenty, thirty minutes after the Inspector General report was released on Wednesday, released his own football-spiking kind of statement, essentially saying, “I’m clean, everyone else is guilty, I’m going to have to let some people go. It’s so sad, but they were great employees, and here are why they are such great employees of the Justice Department, and why you should uphold them and thank them for their service.” In that statement he said, “As I’ve been saying for eighteen months in Congressional testimony, the Department of Justice never attempted to mislead Congress”—which, on its face, is a lie. There was a letter sent to Senator Grassley’s office in particular, on February 4, 2011, denying gun-walking was happening—flat-out—and telling Senator Grassley, essentially, that the whistleblowers who were bringing these allegations were crazy and disgruntled employees—which, by the way, I want to mention, the IG report completely vindicates whistleblowers while it holds their supervisors accountable. That letter was E-mailed back and forth with Lanny Breuer, between his DOJ E-mail address and his personal E-mail address, between lower-levels—but also, at the same time, senior DOJ officials, because they’re editing it: They were coming up with their message, what they were going to say. The E-mails between say, “We need to craft our message, how are we going to deny these gun-walking tactics are happening?” They submit their letter to Congress, and it takes them ten months to retract it—which is something that doesn’t happen. You don’t just retract letters. Why was it retracted? Because it was so misleading, and full of falsehoods, that it couldn’t stand as truth in the Congressional record. And yet you had the Attorney General coming out on Wednesday and saying, “I knew nothing about it, the report says so, and, by the way, we didn’t ever mislead Congress or attempt to give them false information.”
AUDIENCE MEMBER 1: Apparently there are fourteen employees that are going to have to take the fall for this—I thought that’s what I read in the paper. Is it fair to say there might be someone like yourself, those would be disgruntled employees who might want to share information—kind of even the score?
PAVLICH: Yeah, I think it’s going to get—you know, some people are saying that this is going to be the end of this investigation when really, in my opinion, it opens up a whole other can of worms. The reason is because, once they start getting into criminal prosecutions, that’s when they’re going to start looking at plea deals. That’s when they’re going to start looking at who really knew what and when. I think we’re going to see these lower-level officials, who have already came out, by the way, and said that a lot of what the report is saying isn’t necessarily true, in terms of what are told. I don’t want to blame the Inspector General for this, because he is simply telling us what people told him. He can’t help if, you know, people are not exactly telling him the truth within the Department of Justice. So I think it’ll get really interesting to see what people are willing to share from this point forward, when they starting facing the consequences for someone else’s actions.
AUDIENCE MEMBER 2: Did you say that actual author, not the Horowitz guy, but the author, was a personal friend of Holder’s?
PAVLICH: Yes, sir.
AUDIENCE MEMBER 2: His girlfriend?
PAVLICH: No. They worked together in the ’90s, and they’ve just had a friendship ever since then.
AUDIENCE MEMBER 2: I see. And what you’re saying [unintelligible] the willingness in [unintelligible].
PAVLICH: Well it is—this is where it gets a little complicated: The Inspector General can only refer names to the Attorney General for discipline of Eric Holder’s subordinates, which, Eric Holder said on Wednesday, because of privacy acts he wasn’t going to disclose exactly what was going to happen to those people. But it’s my understanding—and I’m not an attorney, but it’s my understanding that the oversight committee can bring criminal charges against those involved for actions they took in Arizona through Fast and Furious, and also for possible perjury charges and obstruction of justice, things like that. So in terms of what Congressman Issa is doing, it’s my sense, based on what came out yesterday—and I talked to him, actually, in Tampa, during the RNC—he doesn’t care who gets elected in November: This isn’t going away. Yesterday they scheduled another hearing with the Inspector General, who’s going to continue looking into this, for January, 2013. His understanding—he’s put too much into this, and we still don’t have enough answers to quit now. He still has two new reports that are coming out. The previous one that they gave us—it was in August, I believe—was around 400 pages, with total 2,000 pages because of all the attachments and documentation. So it’s not going away. He said yesterday that they still have a lot of work to do despite the fact that they got some new information with this OIG report.
AUDIENCE MEMBER 2: [Unintelligible].
PAVLICH: Well, not necessarily, because the reason they took two votes is because they took a civil contempt vote, and a criminal contempt vote. Now, the criminal contempt vote is dead in the water; it was before they even took the vote. The civil side is moving forward. That means, in August the Oversight Committee served Attorney General Eric Holder directly a contempt of Congress citation, and unless Eric Holder turns over the documentation—which has been the deal all along, even before he was voted in contempt—they’re going to move forward with their court case. They’re also moving forward with their court case to question the Executive Privilege claim, because there’s a lot of information they can’t see unless that is retracted, or if it’s held up by a judge as legitimate. So they’re moving forward with their lawsuits in the court system.
AUDIENCE MEMBER 3: [Unintelligible] criminal contempt proceeding?
PAVLICH: Because the criminal side goes straight to the U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C. isn’t going to prosecute his own boss. The way that went down is—what you should know, because this is another example of how the Justice Department really isn’t interested in looking at things objectively—before the House even took their votes—which were bipartisan, by the way, Democrats and Republicans held Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt on both counts, more for the civil side, which had more teeth—the U.S. attorney in D.C., and the Department of Justice, had decided, before the votes were even tallied, that they weren’t going to even look at the charges, and they were going to drop them. So they were not interested at all in looking at what actually went on here.
ARONOFF: And your opinion? A lot of people speculate that the motive behind the operation in the first place was to sort of pave the way for greater gun control? Your opinion of that, and the best evidence?
PAVLICH: I think that still stands. Yesterday the Inspector General said he didn’t necessarily look for a motive or find a motive, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s like you get into the definition what “is” is. If you go through the report you can highlight, multiple times the long-gun reporting measure that they keep talking about, the discussion of changing gun laws. That’s gun control. The long-gun reporting measure, which they now have in Southwest border states—which they justified because of what was happening through Fast and Furious—is gun control. So they can talk all they want about how it doesn’t exist, but the fact is, the E-mails show them pushing for it. There are multiple instances in the Inspector General report, in the documentation from the Congressional reports, and from all the sources that I’ve talked to—whether it’s whistleblowers or DOJ attorneys—who are saying, “Yeah, the goal was to regulate out of business, not legislate out of business.” So I think that still stands.
ARONOFF: One last thing. Because we also had “Solyndra” in your title, just as sort of symptomatic of greater corruption in the administration.
PAVLICH: Yes, I have stuff on Solyndra, too—Well, Solyndra. I mean, when the taxpayers are being nicknamed the “Bank of Washington” by Solyndra executives, these green energy companies—I don’t think this President understands that government is only funded through the hard work of the American people. The “Bank of Washington” doesn’t exist. It’s the “Bank of the American People,” and, in that case, they knew Solyndra was going to fail before they issued the loan, they issued the $500 million loan anyway. They went bankrupt, taxpayers are out $500 million. They made excuses for it, and then there was another Congressional fight when Congress subpoenaed the White House for information and E-mails about Solyndra, which shows that they’re not very open, not transparent, like the President promised he would be, and they think that they’re above the law in the sense that they don’t feel like they have to comply with Congressional subpoenas like the rest of us do. So it is a systematic problem, whether it’s with the Justice Department, the White House—they don’t feel like they have an obligation to Congress, and for Congress to really be the balance of power, which is the way it was set up, and for a reason.
PAVLICH: Thank you so much, I appreciate it. Sorry for the rush.