tv Today in Washington CSPAN July 30, 2011 2:00am-6:00am EDT
these are americans through and through. your father would be so proud and he would be looking down to say the boy has done a good. end you have. . .ks volumes about your competency and professionalism. colleagues, matt has already accomplished so much. and now the president has asked him to assume one of the most important and demanding jobs in the intelligence community. the director of the national counterterrorism center. we all know that the nctc's mention is vital to combat terrorism at home and abroad by
analyzing the threat, sharing the information with our partners and integrating all instruments of national power to ensure unity of effort. there is no doubt in my mind that matt has the experience and the character to lead the nctc. but don't just take my word for it. admiral mike mcconnell served as the director of national intelligence and president bush's administration and director of the nsa and the clinton administration. here's what the admiral mcconnell had to say. and i quote. having known and worked with mr. olsen for over four years, i have observed him to be the utmost professional, dedicated to the security of the nation. he understands the intelligence community in the law and the process needed to keep us safe. he has great respect for the law, our values and the activities needed to ensure the
safety of the nation. i have every confidence that if confirmed, mr. olsen will serve the nation, the congress, the administration, and the intelligence community at the highest level of service and performance. colleagues, matt is smart, honest, and he is a true professional and absolute patriots. i can't put it much better than admiral mcconnell. i hope very much this committee will move quickly on his confirmation and our colleagues in the senate will follow suit. it is really my honor to be here with matt olsen. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. appreciate the remarks. i know you have a busy day. much is happening. so feel free to stay or leave, whichever you wish. >> thank you. thank you very much.
mr. olsen, we will now turn to you. part of your remarks senator conrad did this to some extent, but perhaps he would go able further and even ask them to stand up. >> thank you very much, madam chairman and vice-chairman chambliss. i want to thank ev committee for taking the time to consider my nomination this morning. i especially want to thank senator conrad for that very warm and personal introduction. i really appreciate that, and i am grateful to the many members of the committee that i've had the opportunity over the last two weeks to meet and have conversations with. i really appreciate the thoughtful consideration the committee has given to my nomination. at the outset, i want to thank the president for having the confidence to nominate me for this position and director of national intelligence for supporting me. i am tremendously honored and humbled to be considered for this position. let me also if i may take a
moment to express my condolences to the people of norway in the aftermath of the tragic attacks in oslo last week. my grandfather immigrated to north dakota from norway at the age of 16. i have extended family that lives in oslo. i think that these heartbreaking events serve as a reminder to all of us of the importance of working together in the international community to prevent these sorts of fact that terror. i appreciate very much, madam chairman of the opportunity to introduce my family. i sit here today before you because of the support of my family and my friends and my colleagues many of whom are here today. my wife is directly behind me. my children, my daughter elizabeth, my oldest son, nate, my youngest son, will are all here with me. i especially want to acknowledge my mother, merna sitting here on the end, my father, van who is
warmly remembered and senator conrad's remarks along with their love and guidance my parents, my mother and father have provided, my sister susan and jennifer, with an example of how to live like beef with honor and integrity and devotion to others and i couldn't be more grateful for them being here today. >> madam chairman and members of the committee, today as we approach the tenth anniversary of al qaeda's attacks on september 11th, it is appropriate to reflect on that day that the nation suffered the single most devastating attacks in the nation's history. it was in the aftermath of that attack on that date that the congress established the national counterterrorism center. nctc is the primary organization and the federal government for analyzing, integrating and sharing all source intelligence
information pertaining to terrorism and counterterrorism. in my view, no other organization is as singularly focused on preventing acts of terrorism. a decade after the september 11 attacks, we remain at war with al qaeda and its affiliate's triet thanks to the leaders of this committee and congress and thanks to the work of thousands of dedicated men and women in the intelligence committee including as well as our men and women in uniform across the globe, al qaeda has weakened. at the same time al qaeda and its and gerrans are around the world as well as other terrorist organizations continue to post a very significant threat to our country. confronting this threat and working with focus and resolve to prevent a terrorist attack is nctc's mission first and foremost. to fulfill the responsibility nctc brings together the wide an array of dedicated and talented
professionals, this diverse work force is in my view the greatest asset. in addition, nctc embodies the principle that we all must serve as one team to protect the nation. we must work colavita fi and use every element of the national power to bring a relentless and focused pressure against al qaeda and its adherents as well as other terrorist network some of the globe. i have been privileged to serve as a number of comments made this morning in the leadership positions ticket to the national security during my almost 20 years of a career, government service. as a general counsel of the national security agency i have guided and supported nsa intelligence operations and has ensured that the agency's activities adhere to the constitution and the laws that govern. -- government's activities and
protect liberty and privacy of americans. at the fbi, i was privileged to serve as counsel to director mueller and to a world-class intelligence organization focused on preventing and disrupting potential terrorist plots. as a career official in the department of justice to closely have this committee and in the congress of stand the new national security division of justice and manage the implementation of the landmark changes to the intelligence surveillance act the congress passed in 2008. i also supervised at the guantanamo task force bringing together the national security professionals from across the government to compile a and analyze intelligence information on detainee's. finally, i served for about ten years in the district of columbia as a federal prosecutor. in that role i learned the value of working as a team with investigators and operators and i learned the fundamentals importance of finding and
following the fact wherever they lead. if i'm honored to be confirmed to this position, i can assure you i am committed to forging a strong and cooperative relationship with congress. i believe that based on the years of experience in the career of the government official the congressional oversight is essential to nctc and the conduct of intelligence activities. members of congress and particularly of this committee were in a little perspective to the difficult issues the intelligence committee faces. the role of congress is critical to building the trust of the american people in nctc and the community. if confirmed, i commit to providing full and timely communications and transparency with the congressional oversight committees. in ctc's mission is to protect the nation from the terrorist attack we must pursue this mission with vigilance and resolve. if confirmed, i pledge to do my very best to err in your trust
and to get this effort while. adam julca of oyster, thank you very much for the honor of appearing before you. >> thank you for a much mr. olsen. i'd like the members to know we have received the strongest and the largest collection on behalf of this nominee certainly since i have been on this committee and in the deputy heads of many different agencies. so those letters along with the two letters from congressman frank wolf and the addendum to those letters will be placed in the record. housekeeping duty if i may come if you would answer the following questions yes or no please. do you agree to appear before the committee here or in other venues when invited? >> yes. >> do you agree to send officials from the nctc and designated staff when in fight? >> yes.
>> do you agree to provide documents or other materials requested by the committee in order for them to carry out its oversight and legislative responsibilities? >> yes. >> will do ensure the national counterterrorism center and its officials provide such material to the committee when request? >> yes. >> do you agree to inform and fully briefed to the fullest extent possible all members of this committee of intelligence actions and covert actions rather than only the chairman and vice-chairman? >> yes. >> thank you very much. >> mr. olsen, the ranking member brought up the questions that have been raised by a member of congress. we discussed them in our meeting and in your prepared testimony on page five, you discuss them as well. you indicate in april of 09 you were part of a team of officials
who provided a briefing about the initial stages of the process of reviewing the detainees and authorized during the briefing to discuss the review process. you are not authorized to discuss the deliberations or decisions on specific detainee's and so in accordance with those rules used eight on page five we've provided a full and candid briefing about the detainee review process. so i would like you to address this issue. you have raised the congressman will's letter and address it head on if you will for this committee. >> yes. thank you very much, madame share and vice chairman chambliss for providing me with the opportunity to address this question raised. let me just say at the outset essentially has ali understand from congressman blair or two
questions. one is that we offered information or that that information was offered in the course of the task force review and that there was intentional misleading during the briefing and i would say at the outset neither of those occurred and i appreciate the opportunity to provide additional explanations of that. first, the question of whether or not that information was changed or altered over the course of the task force review. the job i had as the executive to return of the guantanamo task force in 2009 was to bring together career professionals and compile all of the information that have benefited over the course of several years but each detainee. something that hadn't been done before, and to bring that information together in one place or give that information a fresh independent and objective review. we've taken that information and under my leadership and under the guidelines we adopted in the
innovation effort we looked at that information. it was my responsibility to ensure that was done in and in partial indian unbiased we've all the information was reviewed that was done by an approach that every dissenting board disparate opinion or view and we took that information and presented it to the group of senior level decision makers along with our recommendation and the decisions are made based on that information by the senior level group or review panel on six different agencies. the result on that over the course of the year is all 240 detainees were given a disposition and every single case every detainee was determined on a unanimous basis on what the appropriate status was on the detainee to get there was never at any time any effort to change threat information to
hide from any fact explicit guidance with my particular responsibility was to follow every fact and be as precise and specific and rigorous in analyzing those facts and presenting the information to the policy level decision makers there were occasions we looked at the facts and looked at them different than the prior prayer sessions had them. the gitmo task for said gitmo had prepared assessments. those were all part of our information and in many cases those cases i believe agreed with those assessments. but there were instances we looked at the facts and came to different conclusions but there was never on any occasion an effort to change altar or hide from those factors. those were all fully aired. on the second question, if i may come the question of whether or not i intentionally misled congressman wolf in the briefing. again, i did not. we met in april 2009 in his
office and i was part of a team from the department of justice and the white house that went to brief congressman wolf on not just the guantanamo taskforce but all three of the task forces that were set up under the three executive orders issued by president obama in january of 2009. this is the early stage of the review process. we had just begun efforts to review the set of detainees and it was made clear to congressman wolf during that briefing that the ground rule would be that we could discuss the process that we are undertaking to conduct that reach you but we were not authorized to discuss any particular decision or specific detainee's. we did in fact lee of the process for him and i understand now he has expressed concern he wasn't given full information about the actual decision making process with the group of detainee's known as chinese
uighurs at guantanamo. i did not discuss, not because i was not authorized or make a unilateral decision the department of justice officials what the status was of the decision making process. i certainly as i said to the congressman wolf in a conversation i had on the telephone a few months ago, and to stand his frustration i very much regret he has the view that i intentionally misled him coming and i do hope that if i am confirmed i would have the opportunity to regain his trust and work with him in a collaborative and cooperative we moving forward. i will say that as a general matter, i have been candid, honest and direct with my actions of congress i've met many times with staff and members of this committee over the course of my career as a government official not only on the guantanamo review but also d
amendment act and other matters and i take it as a matter of pride in the deeply held view that life and honest and candid and direct and as i said i do hope i have the opportunity to regain and work with the trust of congress and walls and work with him. >> thank you very much. mr. vice chairman? >> thanks, madame chair. mr. olsen, let me carry that question one step further because obviously it is a very, very serious issue when you have a member of congress who thinks that he has been misled so i want you to have the opportunity to explain and i want to quote to you what congressman wolf's recollection of the scenario was in the memorandum that he prepared within the last couple of weeks. i know you had the opportunity to look at it. here is what he says. he said it has recently come to my attention that i was misled
about the status of the transfer of the knees in april, to those inclined to read the information confirms the newsweek report the federal employees were explicitly directed to hide the information from the members of congress especially republican members. during an april 22nd, 2009 meeting in my office with members of the guantanamo bay detainee review task force including mr. olsen, i inquired about the status of the potential transfer of uighurs detainee's to the united states. mr. olsen indicated that the decision had not yet been reached on the transfer of the detainees. none of the other carrier or political officials in the meeting countered mr. olsen's assertion. i was deeply concerned to learn in an april 2011 "washington post" article that the final decision on the transfer of the uighurs detainees had been made during a white house meeting
eight days before my meeting with mr. olsen. according to "the washington post" article, the first concrete step towards closing of a detention center was agreed upon during an april 14, 2000 - session at the white house. it was to be ase dolph moved. they were going to show up here and we were going to announce this said one senior official describing the swift secretive operation that was designed by the administration to putting up any political outcry that could prevent the transfer. mr. walls goes on following the publication of this article in april and i personally call mr. olsen to ask whether he was aware of the time of any meeting with him on my meeting with him on april 22nd, to thousand 9 that a decision had already been made on the transfer of the detainees. he told me that he was aware of the decision prior to our meeting. i believe i was intentionally
misled by mr. olsen and other administration officials during my april 22nd meeting with the task force, but i'm also concerned that the attorney general did not acknowledge that a decision had been made when he appeared before the house commerce a house appropriations subcommittee in the following day. that's why i was surprised when my office was notified by the federal employee that the administration was misleading the congress and planned to secretly transferred the detainee's a around may 1st, 2009. now white understand you are saying you were not at liberty to discuss the details of any particular detainee, but this goes beyond that. his comments go beyond that so i want to give you a full opportunity to address what congressman wolf remembers about that meeting. at the time that briefing occurred, congressman wolf, in
april 21st or 22nd, they're had at that point and a decision by senior level members of the administration, again, the process was to make recommendations to a senior review group in this case this went to a very high level group of senior officials and the decision at that point i think april 14th is the right date i went back and looked at my notes to have been the decision to take to move transferred a small number of detainees, uighurs detainee's to the united states. there was not at that time a decision on which detainee's to move or as i recall no decision about where exactly they would go. but i remember a time of the briefing that there had actually been as i said a decision to move the two detainee's to uighurs detainees to transfer those detainees to the united states. so, at that time, they're had been that decision.
the fbi and the department of homeland security as i recall were given the responsibility not my task force, not guantanamo task force to determine which detainee's were the right to move given the consideration when to do that and what circumstances owned where they would go and those efforts were underway. i at no time did i say that there was no decision to congressman wolf. i just believe it's the recollection or misperception. there were operations under way and i wasn't authorized to talk about the detainees. i did understand the frustration. i don't -- i did not mislead, i wasn't in the position to decide myself out that time and the process was. we have met before the briefing and talked about what we were going to say and talked about in terms of the review process, and
i do very much regret she has taken that view and i do understand his frustration with learning the through the press leader that that decision making process was well under way. but senator, that is exactly where that stood on that day when i briefed congressman wolf the decision to bring the detainee's at which ones and there was no decision about exactly where they would go within the united states. >> condra symbol's memo he refers to other political officials that were in that meeting. did you go back and visit with of those individuals to get their recollection of exactly what was said after congressman wolf came forward to this? >> i talked to of verse where preparation for the briefing. i haven't talked to
>> i talked to other members of that team several months ago because i talked to congressman bullfighting in april of this year and around that time i talked to a number of the individuals who were part of that briefing, and it was -- and i think our recollections were the same as to how that briefing went. >> can you provide the committee with the names of the above their individuals in the meeting at that time within the next 24 hours? >> absolutely. absolutely. and i have the other steps i took, vice chairman, was to talk about the department of justice legislative affairs office, and i believe that the attorney general submitted a letter to the kennedy along the same lines the ground rules for that briefing or that we would talk about the process but not the specific decisions were detainee's. and in fact a letter was sent to
congressman wolf in july of 2009, so after the april 2009 briefing which reaffirmed the decisions in the detainee's or not the subject on which the briefings with ochre or had occurred that we were able to talk about the process, so even at that time in july 2009 in the letter to congressman wolf, that was made clear and present it to congressman wolf in a letter from the department of justice. >> if i may add one other quick point on this because i think -- i really want to address what i understand from the committee define confirmed and in a position such as the director of the ctc, i believe wholeheartedly that in that role i have an absolute of certain legal obligation to the best of my ability to provide all intelligence information in a full and timely way to this committee, and i believe that if i am in that position, i authority and ability to make
that judgment greatly exceeds what it was in april of 2009, and the committee has my full commitment that i will live up to that obligation. >> mr. vice chair, there is a letter dated july 22nd, song and by the assistant attorney general which clearly states the officials who provided the briefing including mr. olsen to discuss the review process in general but were not authorized to discuss deliberations or decisions about any specific detainee's and it goes on to say consistent with the parameters set for the briefing she did not discuss the decision making or specific detainee's and this would be available in the next up is senator conrad and he's not here, senator wyden?
>> thank you madame chair and mr. olsen, thank you for the visit. i appreciate your candor and also taking time to go over and meet in the secure facility so we can discuss since it is matters. i've been on this committee for morgan a decade now, and i believe this is the first time we have had this top lawyer the national security agency before the committee in an open session. i'm not going to get into any details of how the nsa does business but since you're the chief legal officer at one of the country's largest intelligence agencies it's safe to say that you are an expert on surveillance law. estimate that like to ask several areas of the surveillance law and how you and your colleagues interpret the law so we can get some of this
information on the public record. >> the first question is would you agree the key portions of the patriot act has been the subject of significant secret interpretations and these interpretations are secret today? >> thank you. i did appreciate the opportunity to talk to you in your office and the classified setting to talk about some of these matters come and i appreciate your ongoing interest and concern. the direct answer to your question is there are provisions of the patriot act that are the subject of matters before the intelligence surveillance court. that meets in a classified setting and some of the pleadings and opinions that relate to the patriot act that have been part of proceedings before the intelligence court
are classified. >> so it is fair to say that the patriot act and how they are illegally interpreted are being kept secret as of today. >> it is certainly fair to say that there are opinions from the court that are classified. i feel it is important to add that those opinions are part of what is provided to this committee and the activities undertaken in accordance with those orders of the court are subject to oversight. >> would you agree the key portions of the amendment act of 2008 would be the subject of significant legal interpretations? and those are secret? >> yes and let me add that the answer is similar to the patriot act there are particular provisions of the act in the course of implementing those
provisions the government and part of this effort submits pleadings to the court and by design again under the statute that by the court issues considers those pleadings in a classified setting and issues opinions authorizing or not those activities and it is the case if i may also added as we have reviewed those opinions and looked at those opinions working with you and others that it's very difficult at times to separate those portions of the opinions that are subject to be disclosed because the only contain legal information verses the linkage or the intertwining of the legal analysis and facts. >> say you have said that there are in fact secret legal interpretations with respect to both the patriot act and the amendment act and is their anything further that you can tell about the subject matter?
>> i don't think that there's anything further i can discuss in an open setting and i know that you will appreciate that. i know that you appreciate and you do the importance of protecting the sources and methods described in those opinions. i would restate what i just said. >> my time is very short. kube giving thoughtful answers as you know we have a difference of opinion here. it's my view that we have to keep operations and methods secret, but we have to also have public awareness of bill law is on the books we are going to continue this discussion. i need to ask you one other question and that is on a different legal topic to the government agencies have the authority to use data to track the location of americans inside the united states for intelligence purposes? >> i know that is a question that you have opposed to the director of national intelligence. it's a question that is a
complicated and difficult question to answer particularly in this setting. i would say that the intelligence community is working as we speak and i know we talked to your staff in developing a comprehensive answer to that question which will be provided in writing. >> madame president, i know my time has expired but just a quick follow-up on that. you seem to be suggesting that the executive branch is not yet settled the question. is that accurate? >> i think it's important to be precise about exactly what the question is. >> the question is does the government have the authority to use the data to track the location inside the country? i think you answered initially it haven't been settled by the executive branch by respect whether or not there is that authority.
this is an extremely important point. you are saying it's not yet been settled by the executive branch it has that authority. >> there are certain circumstances in that authority. it is a very complicated and difficult question and i would ask your indulgence to allow that question to be prepared in writing to you, senator. >> thank you, madame chair. >> i know of your concerns, and we have discussed them and what i would like to do in the first hearing in september when we come back assuming there is an august break, i'd like to have that classified session and would ask mr. olsen that you have that many of prepared and the answers in writing that you and any authority that you wish to bring with you will attend the hearing. do i have your agreement?
>> madam chair, i would just like to say to you and colleagues you have been fair in terms of handling this issue. as you know, senator udall and i have had concerns about it and have been examining it in both classified and open session and i want to thank you for the when you're handling. >> you're very welcome. >> senator conrad? >> madam chair and vice chair and members of the committee, instead of asking questions i would like to make a further statement if i could, madam chair, about this nominee. she comes from a family that i have known for 30 years. a family that was on the other side of the aisle from as i indicated before his saw there was the chief of staff and the man i defeated for the united states. yet he treated me with the
greatest generosity of spirit that anybody could ask for. now i just want to say these are people of the highest of the very highest quality in every single way, the highest character. i would trust matt olsen with every penny that i've got because of the character of his family, and i know around here as all demolition derby my god when does it end? ..
i put my entire reputation on the line for this nominee. that is how strongly i feel. so, i have been here 25 years and i think i have conducted myself with character and i hope it counts for something when we have a nominee of this quality. >> thank you very much, senator. i think is a very heartfelt remarks and very much appreciated so thank you. senator coats. >> thank you madam chair and mr. olsen, and appreciate the discussion we had in my office earlier and your testimony today.
your educational background is superb and your experience background is if not unmatched, very impressive. and the recommendations you have had from former attorney general mccaskey and mr. mcconnell and general alexander speak highly a few and other people, very credible people including senator conrad have spoken about your character, your family and the kind of person you are and i think it is a high recommendation. from my colleague as well as a number of other people. as you know we discussed in my office concerned with senator saxby discussed with you. i don't want to repeat all of that. i do want to state that it is disturbing that listening these news sources are credible about secretive plans, a stealth plan, it is disturbing if those are
true. these are reputable news organizations. ism "the washington post," which i don't always agree with everything they do, but they usually check very carefully before they make this type of allegation, this serious of an allegation, this kind of can't talk good stealthy secret plan. you have discussed and for the record explained your position relative to this, where you were and your relationship with mr. wolf and so forth. but the larger question is, given the politics of the issue at the time, the fact that a decision was made by someone at the highest levels to end acts to bypass through a stealthy secret plan is a serious, serious charge and if true, a serious serious offense. my question to you is, and you
make your pledge to us, that you will not withhold any type of intelligence that is available to you from this committee, and i take you at your word for that. what i want to ask you is the reverse of that. if you become aware of some action or policy decision, some piece of intelligence that this committee ought to know about, but that is politically sensitive and perhaps there are concerns that you might be sharing information that people at policy levels don't want shared. are you willing to serve as an independent director of nctc,
and provide us with your independent opinion as to that? i just think it is critical that we are aware of that and so i would like to get your reaction to that on the reverse side of what you do know or relative to intelligence, or what you don't know but have some concerns about not knowing. having something withheld from you that -- i don't feel like i have been given full information relative to what this committee ought to be aware of. >> thank you very much senator. the answer is yes, i absolutely do pledge to the best of my ability to provide my unvarnished views to the committee. as i said i commit to providing full, timely intelligence information to the committee at all times. i commit to being an advocate for providing as much information as possible to the committee within the executive
branch. i wholeheartedly believe in the essential role the committee plays and that role as a partnership particularly when it comes to intelligence matters and national security, that there is no place for political considerations when it comes to counterterrorism in this fundamentally important mission of nctc. i would be a person who would view that role as a partnership of this committee and provide that information and i would be as i said in advocate for leaning as far forward as possible as my abilities allow him to providing that type of information. at all times to the committee and if i could maybe just address sort of a specific issue. i don't want the record to reflect that i view or had the understanding that there was a stealthy or secret effort to move detainees into the united states. i don't believe and i was not aware that was ever the case and i don't believe that ever was the case. in other words there was a decision to move to weaker
detainees to the united states. there was an effort undertaken by the fbi and dhs to chime in who and where but i never was under any impression and i never believed that effort had progressed to the point that it was going to be a secret or stealthy move but rather that there is a time for disclosing that and was not something that was my decision to make. >> thank you for that answer. i just want to restate how critically important it is that we have a trust with each other. because we are dealing with matters of incredible importance to the safety and security of the american people, and if we lose that element of trust in terms of how we communicate with each other within the intelligence community and we have a responsibility to ensure that we live up to our part of the bargain on this also. and i'm hoping we can do that
with you and i think that is perhaps a little warning sign here in terms of let's be diligent to make sure that level of trust exists in that level of sharing of information with the committee and us with you exists. without madam chairman i yield back my time. >> i could not agree more, senator. thank you. >> thank you madam chair and welcome mr. olsen. you certainly come to this position with an impressive array of credentials and i congratulate you and certainly senator conrad's accommodation certainly speaks volumes about what you represent and what you bring to this position which is obviously a significant as we continue to face a growing threat. i would like to just explore
with you for a moment in the aftermath of the assassination of osama bin laden, how would you describe the al qaeda threat and what it poses today? i know you have said it is significant and it remains the most significant threat to the united states in combination with regional affiliates that were dispersed and as you mentioned it is certainly a dynamic and complex environment and certainly an asymmetrical threat. how to identify, how to quantify. where do you think we stand today in terms of one, mitigating the threat and certainly since the killing of osama bin laden? >> thank you very much senator. the threat i think today is as diffuse and as complex and challenging as it is. certainly it is the case that again, through the leaders of congress and the hard work of thousands of men and women both
in the intelligence community and the military we have made substantial progress against al qaeda and its affiliates. and the killing of osama bin laden was a significant milestone in that effort. it is clear i think from the threat of information i have seen both beginning in 2004 when i started working with the fbi and my time at the department of justice and my position now the national security agency that al qaeda in many ways is weekend. it remains the case however that it is a more diffused and dispersed threat as he made reference to and in particular i think the concern that the vice chairman made reference to with respect to al qaeda's presence in yemen and in places like somalia makes it particularly challenging from a counterterrorism perspective. i think that, in some ways, the opportunity that presents itself now to the counterterrorism
community and the united states as well as with their allies around the world is that we must actually redouble our efforts and is the president has said al qaeda is on the path to defeat but we have to look at that thread in all of its various forms not only in the tribal regions of yemen, but in the foxtrot and pakistan and also in parts of north africa. and in somalia. ultimately, the nctc's mission is to stop another terrorist attack and if i may just say that the leadership of mike leiter and an acting capacity of andrew lieb and i think nctc has played a vital role but it is a team approach and we face a challenging at times as we ever have. >> are you confident that we have the ability to get no work across the agencies as you obviously to coordinate and integrate all of that analyses?
do you think we have got it? >> i think we have made a lot of progress. i do think as this committee and this report on the abdulmutallab attack of december 25, 2008 demonstrated, -- or 2009 that we have, we still face challenges and particularly i reviewed the vice chairman's and senator burmex's separate opinion which was quite critical and appropriate so i think it certainly of nctc. senator if i may say, think the greatest challenge facing nctc is the greatest strength that it brings together analysts, planners and other professionals to bring all these different viewpoints together. how do we reconcile these backgrounds and perspectives? that is really its greatest strength. we need to rely on the intelligence committee to provide those professional and provide an environment where they are located together and
collaborate. so in direct response to your question i think that is one of the greatest strengths of nctc and i think we have some progress to be made both for his respect to the collaboration feature but also information sharing and breaking down barriers to sharing information not only within nctc but with our partners. >> you mentioned that the greater the capability of al qaeda in pakistan, which how do you compare that threat with respect to the regional affiliates? which is greater? >> it is difficult to answer which is greater. i do agree with the vice-chairman's observation that recent events would suggest that the regional affiliates particularly al qaeda in the arabian peninsula and its presence in yemen have shown a willingness and a level of capability to strike in the united states. i think that must be a primary focus.
>> do you think that is the single greatest goal of al qaeda, is to strike the united states? is that there are planned? >> it certainly remains a significant goal. its goals are multivariate in the threat and again part of the challenge of that threat is not so much the senior leadership in pakistan with one unified goal. it is now diffusing various regional locations under various leaders and with very as schools, but it is certainly sufficiently a goal that it has to be nctc's number one mission. >> how would you define the strategic defeat of al qaeda leadership? >> the strategic defeat of al qaeda? i think i would define it as ending the threat that al qaeda and all of its affiliates pose to the united states and its interests around the world. >> thank you. thank you madam chair. >> thank you very much senator snowe. senator wyden has some
additional questions and the vice chairman and i also, so senator wyden why don't you go ahead? >> thank you madam chair and just two additional matters. following up on senator snowe's question, mr. olsen beyond al qaeda's core leadership in pakistan and the al qaeda affiliates in yemen which terrorist group in your view poses the greatest threat to the country? >> i would say that beyond the al qaeda leadership in pakistan, its presence in yemen, probably the next most significant terrorist threat may emanate from the al qaeda presence in somalia. in terms of the willingness and apparent ability or at least the intent to strike outside of that particular country. we know that country, that group has successfully mounted an attack in uganda, and the
apparent ability of the regional affiliates such as that to outside of the borders that country think poses a significant threat. but the threat goes beyond even just al qaeda of course and its affiliates. to two other groups such as hezbollah. so i think again, i have to say that i am not in a position at nctc now so i approach these types of questions with some humility and some deference to the professionals who are looking at these questions on a daily basis. >> one last question if i might. earlier this year undersecretary colin from the treasury department told the finance committee on which i serve that kuwait has become one of the most challenging countries to deal with when it comes to counterterrorism and in addition bad as other gulf states have improved their cooperation with u.s. terrorist activities in the gulf, we are seeing in effect
kuwait become more permissive, significantly more permissive. do you have an opinion on this yet? >> my answer senator if i may is somewhat general. i would say our relationships with countries such as kuwait and other gulf states and certainly countries like pakistan are complex and have multiple dimensions. i do think that the counterterrorism effort is a central goal or a central feature of those relationships. if i am confirmed i would look forward to the opportunity and the role of nctc director to provide my objective and my unvarnished view about the counterterrorism threat to contribute to the overall discussion and development of a posture or a country like kuwait. >> thank you madam chair. >> thank you very much. mr. vice chairman why don't you go ahead and i will finish. >> mr. olsen i want to ask you, on three or four different subjects here to give us a general discussion and response
to some questions that i'm going to lay out, but i am more interested in your general discussion on the issues. but obviously i think the questions will throw out some ideas for you. december 2009, it had become clear that many transferred gitmo detainees had joined the qap in yemen. additionally the icm state department took a dim view of the willingness or capability of the yemeni government to monitor detainees and i believe such assessments were made clear to the task force. yet in late 2009 the task force decided to transfer seven yemeni detainees back to yemen. only one of him was ordered released by the court and his case was not appealed. now, my questions are common december 2009 did you personally believe that it was a good idea to transfer detainees to yemen and secondly you told us before
that you were trying to test the system by sending a group of detainees back in december of 2009. do you think testing the system when the result of a failed test could be an attack on americans was a good idea? and lastly, in hindsight, in light of the fact that the government is winning all of its habeas appeals would you have changed any of of the task force transfer decisions and do you think dangerous detainees were transferred as a result of the task force process? >> senator, thank you and i do very much understand of force in our conversations both my conversation with you as well as the ongoing discussions i've had with members of the committee staff that the substantial concern about the detainees from yemen and the transfer decisions that were made back in 2009. so if i may give you a relatively general, longer answer i would appreciate your indulgence. the yemen dt nabe population was
a concern of the task force from the outset. when we started this process under the president's executive order in february 2009 there were 97 yemeni detainees out of the 240 detainees subject to the refusal by far the single largest nationality represented at guantánamo were from yemen. and this was a problem that existed before 2009. in other words prior to 2009, government officials had struggled with how to, how to handle the disposition of the substantial number of yemen detainees. over the course of that year. task force effort, we were very aware of a number of different factors. one, that the situation, the security situation in yemen was continuing to deteriorate over the course of that year and by december of 2009, we were quite aware of the concerns that the intelligence community and our
military leaders were expressing about yemen. we were also quite aware that our record of success and the habeas court, the number of yemeni detainees as well as others were challenging the lawfulness of the detention, and we were being briefed by the department of justice about how those cases were going. at one point in september 2009 every call that we were approximately eight successful defenses versus 31 losses in the federal courts and there was a real concern being expressed by the department of justice that not only for refusing to cases but we were losing our credibility generally in a way that was affecting facts and legal rulings that might impact the cases down the road. i think the other factor that was a significant one for us with respect to yemen was that there were no options that appear to be available in terms of other countries willing to take detainees from yemen, not countries that had rehabilitation programs and not
countries in europe that had been taking a number of detainees i think over 50 over the course of the last couple of years, who had humane treatment concerns about eating repatriated to their home country. so i know i have just laid out you a problem that you are well familiar with but those were the factors that were presented to us as we conducted this review. our job on the task force and i felt in my responsibility as the executive director was to provide the best factual information and the most precise, specific and rigorous way possible to decision-makers. we did that over the course of the review. the decision to send seven detainees in december and now i know in a yemeni detainee has been repatriated to yemen, those decisions have all been made at very senior levels in all based on unanimous judgment of six representatives of six different agencies including the department of defense, the intelligence committee and the joint chiefs of staff. two of those they detainees were ordered released by the court. i think when i said in our
conversation that the six or so that went in december, that number is correct, or before in the fall of 2009 -- i don't member the exact timeframe but the thought there, and i was present for some of the discussions although it wasn't a voting member or decision-maker, the thought was we would never at any time send a significant number of yemeni detainees back. the question was, could the yemeni government and security forces handle the security measures that would be necessary to ensure that those were done, those transfers were handled responsibly. our process had a very strict standard. no detainee would be eligible for transfer unless any threat that detainee posed to be sufficiently mitigated through adequate and appropriate security measures in the host country. that standard never changed from the beginning to the end of our task force review and that was the standard that the decision-makers who made the
decisions applied. so if i may in some, i think those are very difficult decisions and i want to address your question before i forget. it is true i cited the habeas record of eight and 31. we have done much better from the executive branch's point of view since that time. we have had a number of successful litigation victories in the d.c. circuit, the court of appeals. the question whether not that would have changed our view or the view that the decision-makers on a particular detainee i think is hard to answer and somewhat speculative on my part. i do think that it would have lowered the significance of that factor as it pertained pertains to a particular detainee. so, i suppose i could say it is possible that it may have affected the decision but it would be speculative for me to say more about that. >> you mentioned my office with respect to the pressure on the task force that there was
pressure in part because the task force was guided by the executive order on closing gitmo. can you explain about how that treasure and how that pressure existed and what you did to try to make sure your decisions were not influenced by that? how many attorneys assigned to the task force had represented detainees before joining your staff and did you feel pressure from any of those attorneys, others the doj or other parts of the administrations to lean towards transferring as many detainees as possible? >> as i mentioned to you senator in our meeting, it certainly was the case that we had an executive order issued in january 2009 and that we were duty bound to follow that executive order. that executive order sent forth three potential options for each detainee, transfer of such a transfer could be a calm pushed consistent with the
foreign-policy interest of the united states. that was the first option. if transfer was not available, prosecution is feasible and if transfer, neither transfer nor prosecution was an appropriate option and then select another appropriate option undefined in the executive order. i wouldn't necessarily say that was pressure. that was guidance or direction from the president of present of the united states to follow that and i felt my obligation was to ensure that everything that the task force did certainly follow that direction but did not respond to any of what was obvious at the time, controversy from both sides about guantánamo. it has been a subject of controversy for many years. i felt it was my obligation to insulate the career professionals who worked on this review. over the course of the year in 2009 over 100 people worked on this review from the department of defense, from the intelligence community, cia,
nctc, homeland security, state, justice and every single one of them was a career individual. in response to your court question i don't believe a single one of the attorneys who worked on the review had ever played a role in representing detainees. i know that it's been is the subject of controversy and has been reported in the press in the past. with respect to other justice department attorneys i don't believe anyone on our task force have ever worked in that capacity. everyone who worked on my review came from the career ranks. as i said i felt that was it was my responsibility to insulate that group from any of the types of controversy surrounding guantánamo and i think i may senator say the results of the review, the recommendation and the analysis we did resulting in the unanimous decision of 240 detainees speak for themselves in this regard. out of those 240 detainees there
were 126 transferred but there were also 48 decisions to hold those detainees under the laws of war. when we started the review in january 2009 that was not necessarily considered an option. we push for that as the right option for 48 detainees that they could not be tried and there was not evidence to try them. they could not be transferred safely and they needed to be held indefinitely under the laws of 48 of those detainees. edition 36 detainees referred either to the military commission or the federal courts for prosecution, 36 in that category and dirty yemeni detainees of conditional the attention. those 30 detainees, the decision was that they would not be transferred. they would be detained until the security situation in yemen substantially improved, something that obviously has not happened. said they are effectively in the same category as the 48 held under the law before. >> the chairman and i'd love are very concerned about the fact
that we currently have no detention and interrogation policy going forward with respect to individuals who may be captured, high-value targets that may be captured outside of afghanistan. as director of nctc, you will be integrally involved in deliberations relative to any proposal for a long-term plan on detention and interrogation and my question to you is, are you prepared to give sound advice, number one, that you are going to be asked to give and secondly, if the administration appears to be headed down a road that you don't think is the right direction to go, will you say to this committee now that you are going to express yourself in a very strong manner to help to try to develop the best possible policy for
detention and interrogation of high-value targets even though your opinion may be contrary to the folks at the white house who are nominating you today? >> yes, absolutely and if i may, i do make that pledge. i think in my prior position, i had taken a position. in other words i have given advice in an unvarnished, objective independent way as a career government official. i've made known my personal views and sought to move positions based on my objective and independent and nonpolitical perspective. i do think that these questions senator, if i may say, some of these questions are the most difficult ones that they face we face from a counterterrorism perspective. the question of detention policy, i absolutely agree that it would be my responsibility if i'm honored to be confirmed to get my unvarnished and objective views and share the intelligence with this committee and advocate
for what i believe is the right thing to the best of my abilities within the executive branch. >> you some would argue that gitmo should be close because it is used as a recruiting tool for al qaeda and that may be true but yet, al qaeda uses a policy with the death of bin laden and a host of other issues as recruiting tools and no one suggested we should change these policies. in your current position or positions you have held, have you seen any evidence that we are safer or that recruits have fallen off as a result of the president's announcement of his attempt to close guantánamo? >> i have not seen, from again, my perspective both on the task force and much more limited perspective in my credit role as security agency, anything specific in response to your question to that effect. there is a change in recruiting based on the current government.
>> lastly, let me tell you an issue that we have got that i know you are aware about and get your thoughts on it. in the past nctc has raised a number of concerns about not having access to all the intelligence information it needs. of particular concern is access to information and the department of homeland security. generally dhs is reluctant to provide information relating to an individual's asylum or refugee status on the grounds assuring that information would violate u.s. personal restrictions. the specific legal basis for dhs think --'s position is unclear. giovanni thoughts on how we can address that trouble him with dhs and our asylum seekers, u.s. persons are considered u.s. persons? is that an issue in your mind? >> senator i am generally familiar with this area or this issue. i don't have the specifics of
that particular concern with dhs. i've had some briefings about this question. if i may say, i do believe that given my role at the department of justice, and my role now, that i have both an understanding, actually a deep understanding of the rules that apply to protect civil liberties and privacy of u.s. persons but i also i think have a very strong view and a record of finding the appropriate ways to overcome legal, sometimes perceived legal as well as a policy barriers to sharing information. i don't believe that there is a strong basis for, as a policy matter, not allowing information to be shared when that information is necessary to protect the mega-people and if i am honored to be confirmed it will absolutely be my commitment to find a way to overcome expressed concerns about sharing
information when that information is necessary to subport and ctc's mission and that is to prevent another terrorist attack. so certainly you have my commitment to look very heart of that question. >> as you and i discussed in my office the critical role that nctc plays is for the most part centered around information sharing, and it is a requirement that u.s. director of nctc share information you have that you have got to get the information first. and let me just say that the chairman and i without question read it to make sure you have all the tools that you need and from a policy standpoint we are prepared to do what is necessary to make sure that the information that you have to be shared is all of the intelligence information. and let me just close by saying that as the chairman stated, we have gotten inundated with
letters of recommendation which you should feel very honored to be supported in that respect. i know you are. letter from general alexander was very calm mentoring and not only did he write a letter, but he happens to be a good friend and a guy that i have the utmost respect for. he called yesterday to reinforce that recommendation and because i have such respect for general alexander, that means a lot. so, we will look forward to moving down the road and the only thing i would remind you of to get us the names of those individuals in that raving and hopefully we will get this nomination move through quickly. madam chair, thank you. >> thank you very much. you know i would like to close off the briefing. i cannot imagine a more
thankless task then being director of the policy committee of which you were director, because you know, no matter what, it is thankless and no matter what there is going to be criticism and particularly in those days as i recall them, where it was so very very difficult. so i just want to thank you for that and in my book, you are a straight shooter and i think that is what matters here. i would like to just talk about the vision thing for a moment, if i might. one of nctc's statutory responsibilities is to conduct strategic operational planning for counterterrorism at two goodies and integrate all of the instruments of national power. however, when it granted nctc this responsibility, congress didn't provide you with any authority to compel action in these areas so we may have to go
back and look at that again. five, the question is, what is your vision of nctc's role in conducting strategic operational planning for counterterrorism activities and integrating all the instruments of national so-called power into that planning? >> thank you very much senator. so as you point out, one of the critical missions of nctc is the strategic operational planning mission. i do believe that nctc is uniquely positioned to conduct that mission and my vision for that is consistent with i think the effort in the progress that nctc has made in that regard over the last couple of years. that is, bringing together the various represented entities, whether it is the military or intelligence community, combining those perspectives and those perspectives, in a way that will allow us to make sure
that the efforts that the u.s. government is undertaking to combat terrorism, whether it is on a regional level focusing on a particular region or a pretty or problem such as or if particular topic such as counter violent extremism, conducting and all of government approach to address those issues. something that nctc is i think as i said uniquely positioned to do both because it has members from all these different age as he's brought together and because it has the mission granted to it by congress. so i would consider that to be one of the focus focuses that i would have and i would also commit and i would not hesitate to return to this committee with updates on that effort and to tell you if i think that there are authorities that are lacking that are necessary. >> good. you are also the national intelligence manager for
counterterrorism, and in that regard you are going to be responsible for evaluating the intelligence communities performance on terrorism and recommending budget allocations across agencies. in my book, this is a very important job. how do you see yourself carrying this part of your responsibility out? >> thank you for that question. i have had an opportunity to talk alyce briefly with director clapper about this very important role particularly under the leadership that he has for odni and the intelligence community in general. i think that nctc has done a good job in its role. it is i think a real focus because of the challenges that we face. >> it i don't particularly like bad acronym. >> it's not my favorite either. >> this is a big deal. in i don't dig it should be trivialized and i think it is one area where there is not
enough done that there is not enough central administration of budget authority. >> ride, so i will stick with national intelligence manager. and, i think the challenge is that we do face a much more difficult vegetarian byram and then we did in the last few years and i fully appreciate that reality. i've seen it in my role at nsa where i have been part of the senior leadership meetings about how nsa is going to react and respond to the budget constraints that we are likely to face, that we will face. the question will be, how do we make sure that we are focusing on the right priorities as a community and how do we achieve efficiencies where we can in order to meet the challenge that the current budget environment proposes? >> well, you see, from my point
of view counterterrorism is extraordinarily important. is vital to the protection of the homeland. therefore having a strategy and an approach to it and a pattern and a practice that is well-established and carried out across the government is very very vital to have. candidly, i don't know whether we have that today, and so this question is meant with a view that i think it is really it ryan mission of yours. >> i appreciate that and again i will make for that reason, make that a prime mission of mind and will again commit to come back and talk to you and the committee and the staff and keep you apprised as often as necessary on the progress we are making. >> alright. one last thing. as you know the defense bill had some language on the tension in it, some of which is good and some of which we think is not
good. week, you know as chairman of the committee, retrying to draft some legislation. i would like to ask that you help us and work with us on that if you will. >> course i will, yes. >> thank you very much. i see no other member, so we would like to have the director of the nctc in place actually before going on the august recess. and i really think this is a very important matter that we are able to do that. so i would like to ask that any questions for the record be submitted by 5:00 on wednesday. that is tomorrow afternoon. so we can get answers and vote on the nomination just as soon as possible. we do not want to leave this agency leaderless. i thank you for your service to our country. i hope -- i have been watching the faces of your three children and your wife's supervision in
her eyes. [laughter] as this hearing has gone on, and i just want you three to know how very proud we are of your father, that he has been just of enormous service to this country and has much more yet to do and i hope you are very proud as well. so, with that in mind, we will conclude this hearing and move your nomination onward. thank you very much. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] hours.
>> the hearing will come to order. today's hearing continues the committee's ongoing investigation into the reckless program known as "operation fast and furious." the oversight committee exists to secure to fundamental principles. first, americans have a right to know that the money washington takes from them is well spent. and second, americans deserve an efficient effective government that works for them. our duty on the oversight and government reform committee is to protect these rights. our solemn responsibility is to
hold government accountable to taxpayers because taxpayers have a right to know what they get from their government. we will work tirelessly in partnership with citizen watchdogs to deliver the facts to the american people and to reform the government's bureaucracy. thus far at the committee has heard testimony from atf agents who reported that they were ordered to let guns destined for mexican drug cartels to walk away from the hands of known criminals. today, this committee will have the opportunity to question supervisors of these agents who knew about and believe to these tactics were appropriate. the committee will also hear from atf agents who worked in mexico and who were horrified to learn ultimately about this program. the task before the committee is very serious.
the acting director of atf in a transcribed interview with investigators had said that the justice department is trying to push all of us away from its political appointees. indeed, the justice department continues to withhold key information and his inappropriately interfered with this investigation. let me be clear, the justice department is not our partner in this effort. they are the subject of this investigation and their continued interference will not be allowed to derail the committee's work. last month, members of this committee traveled to mexico on a fact-finding mission where we were briefed on how the u.s. and mexican law enforcement agents are working together to fight the drug lords who are responsible for more than 34,000 deaths in the last four and a half years. that effort cannot be derailed
i.d. fallout of fast and furious. one of our goals is to ensure that the mexican government can have the confidence in his partner here in the u.s. from this day forward that we in fact will not let guns walk, that we will be as open and transparent as possible. in their time the time atf officials and mexico have been increasingly alarmed by both volume and location weapons that have been recovered, after reporting these concerns to atf and the justice department officials in washington, these agents were told nothing about fast and furious. again, our trip to mexico city taught us that atf agents and more importantly likely dea agents and likely to u.s. ambassadors were not informed about a program that was causing an increase in violence and an
increase in guns arriving throughout mexico from tijuana to mexico city to sonora and beyond. we have before us today witnesses who worked in mexico for years and they will tell the committee their frustration about being kept in the dark by officials in washington and in phoenix. and about what really happened as a result of "operation fast and furious." they are going to have the opportunity to tell this committee about what happens when the justice department lets weapons flow across the border and how mexican officials reacted when they began to learn the truth. the committee will also offer atf supervisors the opportunity to publicly explain why they thought it was okay to let weapons flow from phoenix to mexican drug cartels without making an effort to interdict them. the committee is eager to know
why one particular suspect was remitted to purchase 685 weapons before he was arrested. we are also eager to hear justifications for decisions that have created deep divisions within the atf and outrage in both the united states and mexico. we have yet to -- we have not yet seen the end of the violence from "operation fast and furious." the deadly consequences of this irresponsible program could last for years to come. today, the committee estimates at least 1600 weapons, including .50 caliber sniper rifles are still out there waiting to kill. the possibility that administration officials, perhaps at the highest level of the justice department, approved the strategy and are now trying to cover up their own involvement by stonewalling the committee is alarming.
today we are focusing primarily on the effects of fast and furious in mexico. president obama is keen to talk about who didn't know about the program and who didn't authorize it but the american people have a right to know once and for all who did authorize it and who knew about it. the ranking member and i've both pledged to the terry family that we would focus our efforts on finding out who was responsible for "fast and furious." until we have those answers, the committee will remain focused on these basic questions. with that, i yield to ranking member for his opening statement. >> i want to thank the chairman before this hearing and i want to thank all of our witnesses for your service to our country and for what you do every day to protect so many lives. we have an important responsibility in on this
committee to thoroughly investigate waste, fraud and abuse. and to follow evidence wherever it may lead and to base our conclusions on the evidence before us. the committee has now been investigating allegations relating to "operation fast and furious" for five months. the committee staff conducted 16 transcribed interviews of the atf managers and doe agents in phoenix, washington and mexico. during these interviews, officials at various levels have acknowledged mistakes in the planning and execution and oversight of this operation. that is most unfortunate. although key questions remain, i would like to make four points. first, the head of atf acting director ken nelson stated during his transcribed interview on july 4 that he did not become aware of any allegations about
so-called gun walks until they were reported publicly. this is what he said. that issue had never been raised. it had never been raced to our level by the whistleblowers in phoenix that stayed in house down there. second, officials interviewed by the committee did not support the allegation that the controversial tactics allegedly employed in this operation such as the spending, surveillance or failing to detect weapons were part of a top-down strategy devised by atf management or the justice department. acting director nelson said that no justice department officials never told him or anyone at atf that these tactics were part of a new strategy to let guns go. he stated, and i quote, we never discuss those types of tactical strategies end of quote.
william hoover, the acting director of the atf and the principle between atf and the deputy general's office. he also rejected this. when asked whether these were a top-down policy responded and i quote, no sir. is my firm belief that the strategic intractable decisions made in this investigation were born and raised with the u.s. attorney's office and with the atf and the strike force in phoenix, end of quote. he added, and i quote, there have been reports that deputy attorney jones office was aware of the techniques being employed in "fast and furious." that is not the case. because i certainly didn't brief them on these techniques being employed end of quote. third although these factors may not have originated in the headquarters of atf or the
justice department, the evidence before the committee indicates that after receiving briefings in march of 2010, deputy director hoover and other senior atf officials became seriously concerned about the number of weapons being trafficked by these suspects. as a result, deputy director hoover ordered an exit strategy that was -- and those are his words, to close the case to seek indictments within 90 days. although this exit strategy was developed, there were no indictments until this past january. one question i hope to explore today is why it took nearly 10 months, from march 2010 to january 2011, to close this operation and bring indictments. finally, nearly all of the officials interviewed by the committee strongly supported additional law enforcement tools to combat the flood of high-powered military grade
assault weapons from the united states into mexico. mexico is our neighbor, our ally and our friends. yet u.s. weapons are arming the world's most violent and powerful international drug cartels, costing the lives of 40,000 mexicans in the last five years. while i will continue to work with the chairman i said to investigate the effects of "operation fast and furious" we must also examine opportunities for reform and i look forward to again following the evidence where it may lead and with that mr. chairman i yield back. >> i thank you ranking member. all members will have seven days to submit opening statements and extraneous material for the record. we now recognize our first panel of witnesses. daren gil is a former atf attaché in mexico. jose wall is atf senior special agent tijuana mexico.
carlo canino. i will get it better in time. he is the atf acting attaché in mexico. lorren leadman is the atf team leader field intelligence support team southwest border. william newell is the former atf special agent in charge of the phoenixville division and -- i am having a good day. mcmahon is the atf deputy assistant director for field operations west. and i apologize as usual for never getting the names quite right. pursuant to the rules of this committee, all witnesses must be sworn. would you please rise and raise your right hand and take the oath? do you solemnly swear or affirm the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the
truth? let the record reflect that all witnesses had said in the affirmative. thank you. please be seated. now even for this committee, this is a large panel. so, if each of you take five minutes, we have 30 minutes. if you take or than five minutes, the guy next to you will also take more than five minutes, so please observe the green, yellow and red lights, realize that any official material or even additional material you choose to submit will be put into the record. so, you can provide us with exact in your opening statement which often happens red and a verbatim way, or you can summarize and get it all done in five minutes or less. it is your choice, and i appreciate your staying within the time so we can have maximum time for questions. mr. gil. >> thank you chairman isaf i said ranking member cummings and
and. >> you are going to have to pull the mic close. >> thank you again for inviting me to the conference this morning. first i offer my sincere condolences to the families of agents brian terry and zapata. i'm deeply sorry for their loss in this ill-conceived operation may cause. also i thank the service and sacrifices in finding the narco-violence in mexico and along the border. i can only imagine the horror of watching a brother law enforcement officer die in the line of duty. as a former head of atf in mexico i also would like to apologize for my former exit and counterparts in the people of mexico for "fast and furious." i hope they understand it was kept secret from for me and my colleagues and unfortunately as a result of this operation it is the mexican people who will continue to suffer the consequences. i have no doubt in as recent
reports have indicated that american citizens will also face more firearm related violence as a result of this operation. that you provide the committee with a brief description of my background. i received it background -- masters degree in criminal justice and currently completed my dissertation at the university of southern mississippi focusing on international affairs and security studies. i've been in service to our nation since my enlistment in the united states army in 1980. after service in the army joined the las vegas metropolitan police department and later received my commission as an atf special agent in 1987. server 23 years in various positions in a tf including intelligence and assignments as attache to mexico until a recently retired. i chose a tip because of a small organization with a focused mission combating the most violent offenders in america. during my first 12 years as a field agent i participated in or directed investigations that targeted the worst of the worst. for the remainder of mycra supervised manage and lead similar investigations. throughout my career not once,
never did firearms walk for for many investigations i directed or that fell under my command. this includes my service as attache in mexico. to put it lovely it is inconceivable in my mind are the mind of any competent atf agent to allow firearms to disappear at all. for the more it is more inconceivable a competent agent would allow firearms across the international border destined for the worst of the worst criminals in the western hemisphere. i thought my first days where was chilled and was under no circumstances would any firearms in any investigation with leave the control of atf. instructors dress even of weapon was lost by accident the agent was still subject to termination. my point is that atf agents don't allow and the organization is not tolerated firearms to disappear. apparently, that have been here. after -- from former colleagues including special agents as well as from the press. they all wanted to know whether i was aware that we allow
firearms to walk into mexico. i've find i was not aware but i refuse to speak to the media without a complete understanding of the issue. after talking with several agents i became convinced that firearms might've been walked into mexico by atf. thankfully congress and the media continue to investigate and "fast and furious" began to receive greater notoriety. nonetheless remain reluctant to speak out about what i have come to suspect that was never told about this operation. when i later learned atf executive staff would not make statements exonerating my former staff in mexico of any knowledge of the gun mocking aspects of this operation only then did i decide to speak to the press. my understanding is my initial interview with cheryl atkinson of cbs news did have some calming effects between the government and atf personnel in mexico. to this day is i did understand the failure of atf executive staff to provide their own support in this matter to their personnel in mexico.
during dissertation research i came across a study entitled the waco texas raid. management judgment and the man -- the papers titled "operation fast and furious" for waco texas a different and the conclusions would have been the same namely poor management, poor judgment and poor leadership resulted in disaster. "operation fast and furious" is indeed a disaster. i'm here today to answer the committee's questions but i also have a few questions of my own. for example who presented this operation replication, what was the objective? my staff is art of working with mexico and tracing thousands of thousand firearms recovered from crime scenes. why the need to introduce more firearms into a country besieged by narco-violence? whited leadership that's exercise oversight of this disaster and why were atf personnel mexico kept in the dark on this operation which is now in peril trust and cooperation between u.s. and mexican law enforcement at a time when trust and cooperation is more essential than ever.
during my tenure in mexico i observe these ordinary changes. the heads of agency leading the changes are some of the bravest people i've ever met. is a result of their leadership they become targets of mexican of mexican drug run stations. i find it ironic as a representative u.s. law enforcement in mexico isaf and i were asked to expose ourselves and our families to the same sort of wrist while speaking to our american counterparts of integrity, rule of law, honor and duty and policing. meanwhile members of her and on atf and department justice or whatever reason appeared to refuse to have to follow the same principles. is especially schmedley than omission of people of atf and the men and women go to work everyday with a strong sense of duty. i hope that once all the facts are not about this operation that atf will emerge a stronger more effective organization focused on its core mission taking the worst of the worst armed if it -- offenders off the streets. thank you and i will be happy to answer your questions. >> thank you. mr. wall.
>> thank you chairman issa and members of the committee for inviting me to speak today. i'm saddened by the circumstances that bring me here today. as an employee of atf i know that the situation is an anomaly and not reflective of the good work that atf does in the service of this country. and i'm hopeful that this process will shed light on what has occurred so that we had at atf did not have to travel down this path again. this year marks my 26th year of federal service and 19th as an atf special agent. during my years as in a tf special agent i've been involved in hundreds of firearms trafficking investigations. these investigations date back to the early 1990s. i've seen firearms trafficked internationally from the united states two countries as diverse as the netherlands, canada and mad cow. these international investigations were as unique as the places to where the guns were going. however, one aspect shared by most of these investigations was the fact that most international
gun trapping is deemed in organized crime. in late 2007, he became the porter liaison officer for the phoenix field division. my duties allowed me to develop a working relationship with mexican authorities and to travel into mexico to examine guns or meet with officials. it was at this time that the struggle against the drug trafficking cartels was started by the government of mexico. large-scale gunbattles and murder became a daily occurrence in mexico. to me and other agents, it became apparent that the level of firepower being used was more than we had ever seen. at the level of firearms trafficking increased, we in in the phoenix field of vision realized that this was an arms race between the various cartels, an arms race that could very well determine the future of mexico and tremendously impact our own country's future. scenic's agents initiated agents initiated many good investigations during this time. these investigations serbs to
disrupt the trafficking of guns and prevented them from reaching mexico. the urgency displayed by the agent in stopping these gun traffickers was not apparent in the prosecution of these cases. as we saw some of her best trafficking cases languish at the u.s. attorney's office. in an effort to do more against this type of weapon and the fall of 2000 on a transfer to the atf field office in tijuana mexico. there i worked mostly with an atf and other agents. as a travel to some of those heavily fought for areas of mexico. in these contested areas i examined hundreds -- hundreds of firearms and mondays i examined some that can be traced to this investigation. the majority of these firearms had been seized from criminals engaged in drug trafficking, kidnapping, extortion and other crimes. having first-hand knowledge of the reality in mexico i was skeptical when the first whistleblower came to this committee that allegations of hundreds, maybe thousands of guns being allowed to walk into
the country of mexico. i could not believe that someone in atf was so callously let firearms wind up in the hands of criminals. but it appeared that i was wrong. hundreds and quite possibly thousands of guns have been allowed to reach the hands of organized crime in mexico and this activity has seemingly been approved by her own justice department and atf management and the misguided hope of catching the big fish. having had enough experience with gun trapping investigations, i can only imagine that once the doj oig report was released, to report that was critical of atf efforts in stopping -- drug trafficking the emphasis changed to follow the food chain of the leaders. what they fail to realize is that the end is not just -- justifying the means. these are in the hands of people have no regard for human life who pose a threat to all of us, a threat to watch out of us is immune. i am especially concerned for
the brave law-enforcement officers and military in mexico and here in the united states. i fear these firearms will continue a -- long after hearings are over. finally, the request of this committee. the serious problem of gun trafficking will not be forgotten. i don't believe in another toothless love. what we need is vigorous enforcement and prosecution of those that would traffic in firearms a policy of no tolerance and a change in the sentencing guidelines that would dictate mandatory sentences for these crimes that would go a long play in curbing criminal at 70. i thank you. >> thank you. special agent canino. >> thank you chairman issa, ranking member cummings and the committee for allowing me to speak today. on behalf of john seley i want to convey his deep appreciation for interest in mexico and u.s.-mexico relations. i am not here today to lay blame.a finger assigned
punishment. that will be for others to determine. i'm simply here to discuss these events as i know them and let the committee and the american people know what the atf mexico country office referred to as the mco new and when we knew it. during my 22 year career with a tf i probably spent 15 years as a street agent investigating violent crime and drug trafficking and in the less of an supervising the same. i am a recipient of the u.s. attorney general's award for excellence in law-enforcement, to atf distinguished service medals and two medals of valor. i mention this not to boast but to illustrate my recognize dedication to atf and public service. i paid my dues. i can say with authority that walking guns is not a recognize atf investigative technique. these guns went to ruthless criminals. u.s. law enforcement and a mexican partners will be recovering these guns for a long time to come as they continue to turn up at crime scenes in
mexico and the united states. it infuriates me that people including my law-enforcement diplomatic and military colleagues they be killed or injured with these weapons. in my professional opinion this investigative strategy was flawed and was allowed to continue through -- due to an effective oversight of the phoenix field of vision and possibly be on. it is alleged over 2000 guns were trafficked in this investigation. to put that in context upon information and belief, the u.s. army's 75th ranger regiment has approximately 2500 rangers. that means that as a result of this investigation, the senate loa cartel might have received almost as many guns as were needed to arm the entire regiment. ..
critical details were kept from the and ceo as well as the officers strategic intelligence. i have reason to believe we were kept in the dark because the leadership in phoenix feared we would sell our. reasonable people can disagree on investigative techniques, but there's no room for locking guns. this goes against everything we are taught at atf, and i told the committee gets to the bottom of these allegations. in mexico, atf has been doing great work and i am pre-- hour effort of combating crime of our mexican counterparts. the whole point of law enforcement in mexico is the
mexican government officials to support their efforts to combat the transnational organized crime that pleads with our countries and threatens the security of our people. these allegations stem from this case that if you atf agents and supervisors deliberately allowed guns to what, have destroyed atf credibility with our mexican law enforcement partners and public. as this committee knows, mexico was plagued by terrible violence, and again my mexican counterparts blame the united states for contributing to that violence. but paramount to atf, they blame us for an uncontrolled flow of weapons that end up in the hands of mexican criminals. i do not endorse the view of the mexican government at american differences responsible for the violence and deaths. i make mention of this because it's like here on a daily basis in my dealings with my mexican colleagues, however, in this particular case with these specific guns, i am unable to defend this position this case has made my life more difficult
for me personally. imagine my shame. my mother called me on the telephone and said please, tell me. my mother is a wise person and she may not know much about law enforcement but she knows right from wrong. even at great risk, a great distance, she can see that walking on guns was a terrible risk. the public safety must always come first. please remember regardless of good intentions, walking guns will never be right. the atf rank and file notice coming and we haven't been given a satisfactory explanation for what happened, so why would like to say to my atf colleagues is simply this, stand tall, hold your head high, we will work for a great agency. looker now, because there are heroes of atf. who do not quit, will not lie down, will continue to honor the
commitment to each other and to the public. i think you for your time and welcome any questions the committee and a half. >> thank you. >> good morning, chairman my son. ranking member cummings and the sick -- distinguished members of the committee my name is darren leadmon and i'm honored that he taught me as a witness for the united states. i mean intelligence operations specialist for the bureau of explosives and law enforcement veterans with 40 years of dedicated service. i met hearing before you today with a heavy heart laden with sorrow to provide the committee with testimony that i hope will prove to be useful. i express my grief i extend the sincere apology on behalf of myself and like-minded atf colleagues for the family of border patrol agents. likewise, on a pro in apology to
all mexican law enforcement officers and personnel placed in harm's way while confronting violent criminals on the associates of the fierce investigation. i started my employment with atf in december, to those of four in the office of the strategic intelligence information. i was designated to support the atf gun runner for the inception of the initiative in april, 2005. in july, 2008i became the team leader of the vista bushfield intelligence support team for the southwest border. the team works in partnership delete with personnel assigned to the el paso intelligence center and atf personnel both in mexico. each of the partners work toward a common goal to determine the location of circumstances surrounding farms and throughout mexico identifying the criminal element associated with farms, collecting intelligence pertaining to the criminal
elements and ensuring the firearms are triste. the coordination of the information of speeches and field intelligence groups a major function of the team is to widen a fight the farms patterns and to establish links between the farms cases and seizure events in mexico. the team is dedicated to the strategic mission has set forth in the 2007 project gunrunners southwest border initiative report to summarize as follows. working with the domestic and international law enforcement partners, atf will deny the tools of the trade to the firearms trafficking infrastructure of the criminal organizations operating in mexico through the pro-active enforcement of the jurisdictional areas in the affected border states in the domestic front as well as through assistance and cooperative interaction with the mexican authorities in the fight to effectively deal with the increased violent crime.
the report had the following strategic outcome. suppression of the firearms and explosives related violence occurring on both sides of the border through effective law enforcement collaboration involving focused training, investigation and interdiction of the illicit trafficking and illegal use of firearms, explosives and ammunition. the southwest border team first learned the fast and furious investigation of the bertoni of, 2009. i've located the cesar event. the mexican authorities had recovered 42 guns from two transporters in the vehicle the trust crossed the border in mexico. the assistance of the u.s. immigration customs enforcement i was able to obtain the information on the firearms traces the and the result of the -- ascertain the results of the investigation. firearms there were 37 the related back to the fast and
furious investigation, and the information -- this information became the foundation for the fact of firearms obtained in the operation fast and furious for potential crime guns and murder weapons predestined to be utilized by all laws and assassins affiliated with a criminal organization of mexico. in the months leading up to this february, 2010, the fast and furious purchasers for volume the types of firearms preferred by the drug trafficking organization in record numbers. by this time they purchased over a thousand firearms and some of the purchases were procuring them at ten to 20 at the time. at the same time approximately 200 firearms were in this investigation recovered in the united states and mexico. the types of firearms and volumes of the purchase of the seizures and circumstances surrounding the seizures with the information provided by the law enforcement partners. fully cooperated the fact that these farms are being acquired
by violent criminal organizations in mexico. in december, 2009, i began to the beginning of march, 2010, i conduct numerous briefings on the investigation with the atf management staff at headquarters. during each briefing i provide a detailed information depicting the progression of the acquisition of firearms and discard the location number and identity of the purchaser for each recovered. i prefer the briefing to the acting director and first part of 2009 concerning trafficking to mexico in which he was briefed on the upstart of the fast and furious investigation. he later attended one of the steel operations briefing in the first part of january. in march, 2010, i conducted the video conference briefing with the managing officials from the atf border decision and the department of justice and every one of the senior management staff for the acting director. with the assistance of the group supervisor in charge of the sand
during his investigation and provide a briefing outlining the amount of fire arms purchased and expenditures to the end of february along with a number of firearms seized in the seizure of locations. the troubles before the same as previously stated. the issue of the firearms not being seized by the case agent was brought up briefly and discussed. >> if you could summarize -- >> basically wait we are talking about is by the end of the 2,000 guns to date there is about 590. it's been recovered 363 in the united states, to 27 in mexico and they're still coming. i would just like to say at the end of the strategy of the fast and furious investigations didn't take into account the public safety citizens of the united states and mexico and buy yen to concentrate only in the investigation. the blatant disregard for public
safety has had a tragic consequence that will continue in the unforeseen future and the rest of my testimony you see. >> thank you. special agent newell? >> thank you, mr. chairman. distinguished members of the committee, and william newell. as a former special agent in charge of the bureau phoenix division in june 2006 to may of this year i oversaw atf operations in the state of arizona and mexico which include 552 miles of the border. i appear before you today to discuss atf's operation fast and furious and ongoing strike force investigations of the large scale firearms organization. for the past 23 years i fully dedicated myself to confronting violent crime especially firearms along the southwest border. having served 15 of these years along the southwest border, and firearms in the year i am keenly aware of the violence is largely by mexico's drug cartels poses a
serious challenge for u.s. law enforcement coming to this mexican law enforcement threatens the safety of civilians in of law enforcement personnel on both sides of the border. at the conclusion of a free investigation of the magnitude a review is appropriate to determine whether tactics, changes in tactics and strategy are in order. with that in mind i recognize in this case and future large scale investigations it is imperative that there exists an effective flow of information between the field and headquarters to ensure critical information is being shared timely. second in retrospect indication of the magnitude incumbent upon me to communicate to a greater sense of urgency to my stuff and the u.s. office as to the need of the turn of the expeditious churches. finally i now recognize in these types of institutions more frequent risk assessments would be prudent. the trafficking investigation is not always easy to conduct for a variety of reasons including a lack of a federal statute with prohibited firearms trafficking related activity, the firearms are was altered in some ways in and of themselves contraband.
the lack of adequate punishment for the purchasers destin pact inability to identify the leadership of the organization and limited resources at the disposal of these investigations are meeting in march alleging when none of the individuals in the firearms trafficking are prohibited by law possessing firearms. consequently in order to identify and investigate the responsible higher level of individual agents must use a wide variety of investigative techniques. this can take time and considerable effort. through the case conscientious dedicated agents pursue numerous to determine who the decision makers of this organization works in an effort to get beyond the purchasers and as potentially disruptive dismantle the organization. the experience whether the arrest and prosecution of the purchasers alone does more to frustrate the capacity of the mexican cartels to continuously obtain firearms as new straw purchasers are recruited to replace those arrested and continue the purchasing firearms. finally the conduct of the investigation as with any large scale investigation is
coordinated with supervisor headquarters in washington, d.c. and firearms prosecutors of the phoenix united states attorney's office to read in october, 2009 the department of justice proposed a southwest border strategy to conduct which was finalized in january, 2010. and which outlines of these strategies related to the of vinification disruptions and dismantlement of the protest for the comprehensive multi agency, one for some operations with an emphasis on impact in the leadership and the command structure of such organizations to have a substantial and sustained impact. the doj strategy recognizes ineffectiveness -- recognizes and effectiveness of interdicting what to weapons and the source of the network responsible for transporting them. it was with this guidance in mind that operation fast and furious originated. to be clear fast and furious as the most operation to one, identify the purchasers transporters and decision makers in the mexican cartel based organization to read to interdict the possible firearms
presumptively destined for mexico. three come to share the relevant information with u.s. and mexican law enforcement authorities. to develop intelligence on other firearms trafficking organizations and five, charge and dismantle the entire organization. in this regard, there are key points i would like to make. one, it wasn't the purpose of the investigation to permit the transportation of firearms into mexico and best of my knowledge none of this was ever witnessed by the agents crossing the border firearms. to the agents' and compliance with the policy we are engaged in the effort to determine who the decision makers and actual purchasers of the firearms were to disrupt the criminal organization. the effectiveness of this tradition is recognized by the department of justice office of inspector general in the review of operation gun runner. three, we attempted to be innovative and trucking and seizing firearms purchased by the strong wire. four, when a pre-during the investigation we made efforts to share and coordinate the relevant investigative details on the mexican law enforcement counterparts. finally, throughout my past 23
years and long for lost very good friends to firearms in violent crime. i witnessed firsthand the grief and despair suffered by families who lost loved ones in the law enforcement profession. that's why i take very seriously my responsibility to the king myself to doing everything within my authority to confront and curtail the criminal organizations we see to do harm to my peers and innocent civilians. i do not discard their responsibility in the conduct of the investigation. the death of border patrol agent brian terrie is lamborn for my life as i do for all those brave heroes who've taken of the badge to serve and protect and paid the ultimate sacrifice. i express my deep condolences to the family and make hour heavenly father bless the family through these difficult times. distinguished members, i stand ready to answer questions and thank you for the opportunity for the opening statement. >> thank you. special agent mcmahon? >> good morning, mr. chairman, ranking member comings and distinguished members of the committee. i am a deputy assistant director of the field operations for the
bureau of all, tobacco, firearms and explosives. thank you for inviting me to this important hearing. let me be clear from the onset, as the speech 16 exited in charge of the west region, i share the responsibility for the mistakes made in the fast and furious investigation. the advantage of hindsight, the benefit of a thorough review of the case clearly points to things that i would have done differently. however good our intentions, regardless of the resource challenges, and notwithstanding the legal hurdles we face in the firearms traffickers, we made mistakes. but i'm very proud of the men and women who risk their lives investigating this case. under tremendous pressure, they continue to work this case and many others in the american southwest. please do not let our feelings and packed their noble deeds. mr. chairman, i was the special agent in charge of new york city on september 11, 2001. our offices or in the world
trade center. i've witnessed great human suffering, brought to bear by those to whom violence is a stock and trade. this is one of the reasons i was so committed to bringing down the complex network of criminals operating in the homeland and bringing violence on both sides of the southern border. arnall zeal to do so and in the heat of battle, mistakes were made. and for that, i apologize. mr. chairman, i am no stranger to the creek and ultimate sacrifice made by my fellow law enforcement officers. i've lost friends in the line of duty whether it was in the rubble of the world trade center, the streets of the communities or in the desert southwest, nothing hurts more than losing a fellow law enforcement officer in the line of duty. with that in mind i want to express my sincere condolences to the family, and while the investigation to the tragic murder remains on dillinger and because of this i may not be able to comment on that investigation please notify honor his great sacrifice and i am truly sorry for his family's
loss. with that in mind, i appear before you today on my own free will to answer to the best of my ability questions you have regarding this operation and my role in it. thank you. >> thank you all. before we begin, i've been made aware that all of you, presumably all of you received from the department of justice council a letter that speaks specifically to your testimony here today. and it's from barry s. orlo to read all of you receive that letter? no, you did not? >> dever issued to people under subpoena and that's normal for any case we have agents under subpoena by defense or others. >> okay. i want to make some clarifications. the letter inverse that you may
not be able to answer certain questions here today, and i want to make sure that it's clear that where it says, for a simple, you may not reveal any information covered by a rule 60 of the federal rules of criminal procedure related to the manner that occurred before a grand jury, and it goes on up and left we have a card due to former 20 your defense attorney to my right and a former prosecutor down below, former u.s. attorney and a number of other people who have worked before they came here in law enforcement. i'm asking all of them at a question occurs from any of us it clearly would lead to something believed to involve compromising the ongoing investigation or the actual chances of contracting somebody we take a pause. i'm not beyond that.
if you believe, any of you, that you are asked to question the in this format by it being over to the public would compromise the ability to conduct any of the 20 people now charged or others who you reasonably believe will be charged. i want you to take a pause. on the other hand, i want you to understand every question that we ask you are compelled to answer unless you assert your fifth amendment rights. there is no executive order or executive branch decision that can stop us from propelling the answer. if you believe that you are protecting the ability to reach convictions or to save somebody who was under cover in any other way would be harmed by you're giving an answer and open hearings, i want you to assert that we need to be an executive session. the committee can go to the executive session at any time by
a simple vote of the committee or conference of the chairman and ranking member. we probably will not go to the executive session at that moment but would attend that question to the end. so understand our intention is to be very clear. we know that in fact the cartels to continue to operate. we do not want to have materials here and reasonably disclosed. i want to make one other thing is clear before we start and i will recognize the ranking member. this committee has been made aware that there were wiretaps in this fast and furious investigation. that was not by the justice department turning over material required by the subpoena. we will not be going into the details of any subpoena in the questioning, and we do look forward to the justice providing the subpoena material in a timely fashion they have not yet done. but again, those are under seal
so their existential which was obtained in has been fairly widely understood is no longer under seal. but the details of those at this point in putting kenneth noss and's statement that when he read the details he was sick to his stomach is as far as we are going to go on the details of this wire tap at this time. this hearing is about the relations with mexico, with the new mexico, but they didn't know, how the agency did or did not communicate. it doesn't mean we man of what other information from you in due time, but i think we want to be very careful that today we have no reason to go into some of these areas and so we are going to avoid them. with that of the ranking member has any comment. >> just some clarifying items. first of all, mr. chairman, i want to thank you for when you just said. i think that is a very balanced approach to take we are all concerned about the ongoing investigations and putting
people in jeopardy that should not be as a result of our efforts here. i just want to -- there may be some things, mr. sherman that say for example these gentlemen may not know they are crossing the line, and i know that we are looking to the justice department and i have no problem with that. but we have a situation where justice, and i ever since we have some justice attorneys here, there may be a crossing of the line. is there a way we can at least pause and make sure that we are not crossing over into some territory, the type of territory that you're talking about. >> i appreciate the gentleman's question. although i wanted very carefully and despairingly used as not an invited guest here today if you believe that a line of questioning is going that way we
will entertain a request from the justice. again, these investigations are about justice. it is about we believe there in fact our people culpable for what happened and the mistakes of the special agent said the mistakes that were made beside a special agent mcmahon. so we do intend to get to those errors and mistakes, but the ranking members absolutely we want to make sure that of someone inadvertently starts down the line of questioning whether you see or someone from the justice brings this to our attention, he certainly understands what it takes to preserve the prosecution, mr. lehane or anyone else, that i want this to be a little bit like the quality control line on a toy iota production. anybody can pull this topic would be a mistake about to happen. that doesn't change the fact that this letter is a little out of line. it may be boilerplate, but it applies that you don't have to
answer. yes, you do have to answer but we will use executive session or another setting to get additional information so as to ensure that what we must do does not get in the way of what you all must do. >> mr. chairman, just one other thing. i'm just looking at these of the special agent mcmahon. i want to make sure the understand what you just said. do you understand what he just said? i just want to make sure. >> i use the english language so poorly that sometimes my wife does mention that perhaps just as i say what i mean doesn't mean that they can figure out what it means, too. but again, to set it off at the right tone because it is important the we get to where we have to get to do it in the respectful way for the fact there are lives at stake on both sides of the border i now
recognize myself for a line of questioning. mr. mcmahon, you said that to meet mistakes people make mistakes. would you like to give us just one of those mistakes? >> sure, again as i said as a federal review of everything after the fact that i do see that one of the mistakes that i made personally was may be more thoroughly reviewing some of the documents coming across my desk on this case and that has been brought out in my review, and it's something that i know will not happen again. >> special agent newell, as recently as yesterday, you called this comegys it is fast and furious is a phenomenal program. >> it was, i hope not is to read to you stand by that? >> i'm sorry, chairman -- >> this was quoted in "the washington post" that came out yesterday and they quote did you by name as having called this a phenomenal program. did you at one time think and do
you think to date at best and the feeling is a phenomenal program? >> mr. chairman, that quote, i don't know the date of that quote. it wasn't yesterday, it was -- >> it came out. let me rephrase the question as goes back to my inability to work in the language. did you ever think the fast and furious was a phenomenal program? >> well, mr. chairman, to answer your question on believe fast and furious was conceived in the idea disrupting the dismantling -- >> let's get into the details. fast and furious was at its heart about letting guns what. you're agency knew that if you left the guns be brought by straw purchasers who you knew in fact were straw purchasers, including two felons and in the opening statement when people talk about people that had every right to buy them come at that moment that they were criminals the could have been stopped and arrested, there was an inherent crime. so at least in the case of two of the buyers they were felons
comedy about guns, they did a crime by buying them and they were allowed to move on and eventually turn those weapons over to the intermediaries to griffin to the drug cartels. that was always a part of the program. do you think that that was in fact whether to use a phenomenal, do you think that there was a good idea? >> with all due respect i'm aware of to in this case. i informed during the tendency of the case so i may not know the exact date. let's go on beyond that. even if the one of felons, documents that we have seen provided by whistleblowers show that in fact all along in this program you knew that the weapons purchased were destined for drug cartels. you knew all along that the weapons, some 1 billion over 600
weapons wasn't buying them for sport hunting especially 50 calpers. so, do you -- and my time is running low trying to get an answer, did you think it was a good program? it appears as though you thought it was a good program at some time. >> as i sit in my statement i acknowledge now we did make some mistakes in this initiative in this program, but i did that we will all acknowledge you are right on that. when i was in mexico i observed a lot of things coming and special agent, understanding i was told in mexico by a number of your colleagues you were not there at the time, that when they entered into the database, the tracie database on a fast and furious weapons they got a system error, in other words they didn't get a hit or miss, they got in network error. are you aware of that? so, when your agents, your federal agents with 20 or more years entered in the information that would have allowed them to
contact the special the agent in phoenix, they did not get the information that would have allowed them to contact the special agent in phoenix, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> secure blocked. i've run a lot of time with my ever questions, but both for both of you, if you had known about this program, for you or were you not obligated to tell the ambassador? >> upon my arrival i had discussions about the arms trafficking being the number one issue. the second call i would have made would have been on the investor in the first call would of been directly to the acting director of atf to find out exactly what this case is all about. >> in my remaining time, and special agent, this would of course a point to tijuana, too. if you are not really for the nation as an american law enforcement in the vegetable, as a liaison invited on behalf of the government, not having the law enforcement in that country,
don't you owe it to the ambassador to keep him or her fully informed of anything you learn because you are not there to do law enforcement, you are there to help them to law enforcement through the embassy come so for all three of you, isn't it reasonable to believe that one of the reasons you were not told about the fast and furious is have you been told in addition to the acting director the ambassador and the rest of the state department would have been had to read into the program considering its magnitude >> sir, to follow what darren said, if we were not aware of the atf agents were actually falling among gun traffickers away, and letting them go that is in same. inconceivable. you would never think that because atf does not do that. if i yet known that that was in
fact occurring, i would have called the headquarters, and if we do not get relief from them we would have gone upstairs and told the ambassador and hopefully he would have been able to stop it. >> thank you. mr. cummings? >> thank you, mr. chairman. from early on in this case as atf agents and officials raise concern about the number of guns purchased by fast and furious, they were flowing from arizona to mexico. mr. leadmon, you testified in march of 2010 that you provided a detailed briefing about fast and furious to the acting deputy director hoover assistant director javan and several others; is that correct? now mr. mcmahon, after the march 2012 briefing, mr. hoover directed the phoenix field officer to prepare an exit strategy to shut down the operation within 90 days; is that correct?
>> that's correct we asked for an exit strategy. >> and in his interview mr. hoover told the committee this was the first time in his career that he had ever asked for an exit strategy but that he felt that he needed one because he was very concerned about the large number of guns being purchased by the suspects. mr. spiegel, did you share mr. hoover's concern about the large number of weapons in this case? with others? spearman absolutely. i think we were all concerned about the large numbers in the magnitude of the case was something we had never encountered before in my career. >> did you ask mr. newell to provide you with an exit strategy? >> i did, sir. >> when did the exit strategy envision indictment arising? >> we received the it's a strategy in the end of march. >> what your? >> 2010. >> i'm sorry. >> and we had a 30, 6790 a plan
of certain things were accomplished by 30 days we would be able to do it and accomplished by 60 days we would not team. >> said you had more less some kind of time schedules; is that correct? >> that's correct. >> were you following that schedule and were deutsch checking that every 30 days? >> we were actually checking back more than that. we were probably talking weekly about the activity of what was going on in the case and how much closer we were to completing the investigation. >> according to that strategy at the beginning, what was the day that you expected the indictments are writing? you did it in march 2010? >> correct, we were expecting indictments in the summer of 2010. >> i want to understand why it took from march of 2010 when mr. hoover ordered the operation to be shut down to january, 2011 when the indictments were
finally issued. can you help with that? >> we were working day today with the attorney's office and it is a partnership when you put a case like this together, and we thought we had enough and we have to prove that the prosecutors that we have enough and that just to give a lot of extra time. >> that was more than a lot of extra time was it not? you're talking initially by about the summer of 2010 year ended january, 2011 you approach a year as opposed to a few months; is the right? >> about six months. >> and when did you eventually shut down the atf investigative forces of the operation? >> while the investigation is ongoing as we speak. >> but at some point -- i'm talking about what we were just talking about, special agent. there was a plan to shut this down, an exit strategy, asking you to refer to what i just asked the special agent mr. mcmahon about. what was the plan?
the plan was the end of july presented the u.s. attorney's office what we believe to be evidence that we needed to secure the first round of indictments against the exit strategy said the 90 day, 30, 60, 90 day was not a firm depending on what type of investigative information we get into that depending on each time frame, so it was roughly about i believe about mid august when we felt we presented the united states attorney's office all the evidence we needed to secure the first round of indictments, so in essence, we probably went over a couple of weeks. >> so i assume, did you approve this and going beyond the time period that you had initially stated for the exit strategy, is the right? >> there was nothing to approve, i was getting updates about his work with the u.s. attorney's office. >> if he said we need more time, you just assume you needed more time? to keep you a reason why we needed more time?
>> and so, mr. chairman issa asks that the purpose of the program was to let the guns walk coming and i just want mr. newell and mr. mcmahon to be we are trying to get to the bottom of this. we can be going bring around the rosie forever. what was the purpose of this operation to the best of your knowledge, special agent newell, and then yours, mr. mcmahon? >> thank you for the question. the purpose of this investigation was to identify and disrupt and dismantle an entire organization that was linked the mexican drug cartel. that was the purpose. and to do so, we needed an extraordinary work on the part of the agent to achieve that goal. >> but it wasn't to let the guns of -- is that correct? >> no, sir, as i said in my statement, one of the things that frustrates me to some extent is that relief and at no
time in our strategy was it to allow guns to be taken to mexico, no. >> i don't know if you heard the special agent, but he was almost in tears and very frustrated because he felt that all of this went against the very things that he stands for and these other agents stand for and with that i would like you to answer my question. >> without objection. >> i totally agree with you, that is not in the makeup of the agent. we do not allow guns to walk. what we did in this investigation was invested a large but individuals or breaking the law and we were trying to put the case together so we could actually make an impact. if we take off these one or two purchases degette replaced in a day and we have even more guns going into mexico. that was the plan. >> thank the gentleman. we now recognize for your five minutes. >> for
>> was the origin of the program. who came up with this idea, where did it come from? it is based on the fact that when the strike force was initiated the idea of the program as organization -- who came up with this idea, was it you or somebody higher up the food chain? >> the idea for what, sir? >> the whole program. >> it's one investigation, sir. it's one investigation. >> well, where -- where was -- i mean, the selling of the guns, the giving of the guns in the fast and furious, where did that come from, who made the decision? >> well, sir, we have a policy that allows the transfer to pursue the targets and investigation and identify. >> there were as many as 2,000 firearms, is that correct? >> yes, sir.
>> and you were allowed to for 2,000 firearms to go in the system, this fast and furious program. how were you tracking those? >> well, sir, fast and furious i apologize to the was of a program, it was an investigation. >> how did you track the weapons, the to thousand weapons? >> welcome depending on how the information got to us, sometimes the information got to was after the sale, sometimes it got to us through investigative means. >> did you have a set of records that show who got them and reported to you where they went and all that? >> through the tracing system we have a way to determine when they are received and we also receive information. >> on all the firearms that you get, this information? >> i don't believe so. >> why not? >> why didn't we get all the information? >> if you have 2,000 firearms that are out there that are going in the program or the
investigation and you are putting them out there it seems to me that you would want to if you're making the case would want to track those. >> well, we did attract once we know about, yes, sir. >> endeavor 2000 firearms come if you have control of those at any time. >> we seized approximately 300 guns in this case through the efforts. >> and the others we put on the database. >> well, i must be missing something. you had 2,000 firearms. you put them into the system come into the investigation; correct? >> i did not, no, sir. >> who did? >> agents in the group. >> who kept records of that? the agents that were doing it, did anybody keep record of who they were getting the guns to? >> server, the weapons were being purchased by criminal
organizations. >> okay. >> so, when we found out about the organization for the weapons seizures were cooperating dealers or other means, we would keep track of that, yes. >> said you have a record of all of the weapons that were put in that were sold? >> to this day we are still discovering more because this is a very prolific firearms trafficking organization. when we initiative organization in november, 2009, i believe the number was to this day the number changes something like 400 firearms. by the time we initiated the strategy to focus on the entire organization i think it was close to a thousand by the time we opened up. >> i must have missed something because it seems to me if there were 2,000 weapons that were sold and printing into -- and you were investigating this and you were trying to find the criminals that are buying them that there would be a record of all of the weapons there were sold. a cynic we have a record of --
no, sir because we are still to the status covering firearms purchasing use individuals. >> did you have a record of the ones that purchased as individuals? ayman purchased those weapons, the individuals who purchased those weapons? >> the ones we are aware of, yes, sir. i do believe so, yes, sir. >> and you are still in the process of making the case on that? >> because we are identifying additional suspects as we go, yes. >> with the gentleman yield? >> let me understand from previous testimony, agents were there at the scene videotape or video observance occurred. the agents in many cases followed the suspect leaving with six, ten, 20 weapons free period what time and then they were ordered by this task force to break off and let those weapons continue going. and you charge to one of the 20
defendants, the only one that is not just a myth user who was strong lobbying, you charged him with trafficking. when did you know that he was trafficking weapons and his intent was to traffic weapons and to mexico? and when the weapons occurred in mexico you knew that he had received from the straw buyers and they turned up the crime scene in mexico and what did you do? >> i believe that it was mr. costa is the moneyman actually in the investigation right now he's the head of the phoenix traffic organization. >> and you knew he was trafficking and receiving the weapons and that they were showing up at the crime scenes.
>> my time is expired but why you couldn't seem to answer the question straightforward you knew the guns that you had watched to be delivered or brought to be purchased went to third parties and ended up in mexico and yet the program continued as if you somehow didn't know that the purchasers, the same purchaser who had purchased guns that were already in mexico was purchasing more. ie bonds yield that. >> mr. davis is next for five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. you have been here for seven years studying done trafficking on the southwest border. before that, you were detected here in washington, d.c. for many years. can you describe to us briefly held the mexican drug cartel and
its firearms from the united states? one way to kind of summarize this came to light to me several years ago when an individual described to me put it as follows says the mexican people have been trafficking drugs into the united states since 1980 and we have been abiding gun since 1880. so that kind of gives you the groundwork of the culture and the reason why we have this problem because we have these firearms being sold and the mexicans coming up in these cartels and they are purchasing these weapons, that is a fact. >> in your experience, what type of weapons are in demand? by the cartel >> it's like on a limited to in my written testimony which i didn't get to finish, but there is -- we have actually gone in and identified a lot of what we
call dto preferred weapons and it is ak or a hour. we have a list of them, and in this particular case the firearms being purchased by these individuals -- let me ask why do you think they focus on these types of weapons? >> because they are used we've to pretend ourselves against rivals and number two, confronted by law and for set and mexico and the military, so they need this type of fire power and the heavier firepower to exist down there. >> thank you. you have spent the last 19 years as a atf agent and have most recently served as the atf representative in a tijuana mexico. we have heard a lot today about the problem of the gun trafficking in mexico, and i am
hoping that you can help me to better understand the problem. based on your experience in mexico, where are the cartels and guns coming from? >> from my experience, the majority come from the united states. are you seeing a representative sample of all of the guns used in crimes in mexico for the mexican authorities just may be showing you firearms that they believe come from the united states? >> they make them available to us in the last four years since 2007i have probably looked at slightly over 2,000 firearms in mexico. these are firearms that i went out and soon after they were seized at the crime scene or
stash house i went out and examined the guns come in and of those 2000, less than 50 of them i could tell were from the foreign manufacturers meeting outside the u.s., possibly from south america and guns that were media type of back to even guerrilla war of central america. >> so you believe that these statistics are accurate, that they are real? >> i know guns, and i know what i see coming in by the person on the ground, yes, sir. >> are you finding many of the weapons coming from central america, some people seem to think that actually are coming from central america. do you think that many of them are? >> some do, yes, especially with some groups, surgeon cartels have more of a tendency to
acquire the firearms in central america or south america. possibly even from the guerrilla groups. however, the other cartels, the ones that i am familiar with most of them are u.s. source of firearms. >> you think the united states is the main source of these weapons? connect yes, sir, i do. >> thank the gentleman. the gentleman from utah, for five minutes. >> thank you. agent newell, when did you first become aware of and in his bid for me even suspect that these firearms in the program were being transported or transferred into mexico? >> i think we started getting the first traces i want to say i believe sometime november of 2009. >> so in november of the line, you believe they were being transferred or transported into
mexico. did that cause you any concern? >> yes, sir, it always does. >> using the program continued on, knowing full well that they were going to mexico. he said in your opening statement there isn't the purpose of the investigation to permit to the transportation of firearms into mexico. >> we were lawfully able to seize firearms in the many firearms trafficking cases we conducted in phoenix and arizona across the southwest border we take every act to stop that, yes. >> that is in january coming out of your office, the january, 2010i mean, you testified today in your opening statement is not the investigation to permit the investigation firearms into mexico. yet in february or march -- in point number 13 you write it is written currently the strategy is to allow the transfer of the firearms to continue to take
place. albeit in much smaller place to further the investigation and allow the identification of additional coconspirators it would continue to operate and illegally traffic firearms to mexico drug-trafficking organizations. so it was the goal, it the intention of the program to allow bonds to be trafficking to mexico. based on this, is that correct? >> no, sir. >> that is from your statement. it also says in here a number of different seizures in mexico. it seems very inconsistent at best to suggest it wasn't the purpose to allow them to go to mexico did you know that in 2009 they are going to mexico and put it in a memo in 2010, january, 2010. how are those statements compatible? >> well, if i may, what i'm getting the opportunity to clarify that has been obviously
well publicized. the wording in that, my understanding is on the briefing paper was drafted was that our efforts to allow the transfer to identify additional co-conspirators was so that we get further the investigation, take out the organization otherwise these individuals would in fact continue in the larger -- >> is it hundreds or thousands of weapons to continue to flow through the program and going to mexico? >> i'm sorry? >> how many hundreds or thousands of weapons did you allow to be purchased knowing that they were going to mexico? >> the purchase is being done by the criminal organization. >> but you facilitated and allowed it, did you not? about the straw purchases to happened so that the guns could end up in mexico and you know that in 2009 that has happened. >> again, the goal of the organization and the investigation was to disrupt and dismantle the entire -- >> understand the goal, but the problem is that you were
purposely, knowingly, allowing the guns to go to mexico, and you have information in 2009 that it seems successful that you never put a stop to it. meeting the goal that you leave out in the memo january, 2010. and a continued on and on and consequently there were hundreds of weapons that ended up in mexico killing people. killing people. the reason that we are today. when did you first know or think that they were walking? >> in this investigation come to the best of my knowledge, we didn't let them walk for that perspective. >> when did you first think that they were? or what, walking? >> search, dan -- >> have you ever thought that they were walking? >> the policy regarding the transfer of the firearms that were trying to develop -- >> when did you first think that the guns were walking? >> again, the goal of the investigation -- >> when did you first think that guns were walking? do you think that that's here
today? >> i truly believe as i've said before that i didn't -- we didn't intentionally let them walk. >> let's go to slide number two if we could. this is an e-mail from mr. newell to mr. mcmahon on december 21st, 2010. six days after brian hatari was killed. quote, i don't like the perception that we allow the guns to walk. i had him pull the number of the guns recovered in mexico as well as those we had a direct role in taking off your in the u.s.. are you telling me that you didn't suspect the guns were walking? >> as my e-mail says it is about the perception. i didn't want people to think there was a perception because in my mind that wasn't the case. >> how were they not walking? >> knowing and proving that the transfer of the purchase of the firearms is the legal are two different things. >> i am asking. this is one of the indictments in the two months before john
donelson went on cbs news for the accusations of the active investigation. >> why did you have ample the numbers one day after the murder for the number of guns recovered and mexico in the united states? did you know that fast and furious was about to come under massive scrutiny? >> i did not know at that time it was going to come under this level of scrutiny, no, sir. >> what is the difference between -- and explain to me why you don't think they were walking. you thought others -- >> could you summarize? >> i'm way over a. >> thank you. we now go to the gentleman from vermont for five minutes. >> thank you very much mr. newell, trying to understand the sequence here that some of my colleagues were asking about. as i anderson, the agents would watch a straw purchaser purchase guns, correct? they would follow the purchaser and go some place is to another location where they would
observe the guns were left; correct? >> they were dropped off by the straw purchaser and deliver it to whoever the middle man was, right? >> yes. >> on a couple of occasions the agents called in for permission to make an arrest and they were denied that permission because of the overall objective of the plan, correct? >> i'm aware of that in one instance, yes. >> so the question that i have, and i think that they were asking this, but procedures did you have in place to follow where the guns went from the point where they were dropped off to wherever they ended up? >> i know that we have surveillance their job was to do that, yes. >> he got to report. i'm an agent. i observed a straw purchaser. i watched the purchaser go to a delivery point. so the next step is following
the guns from the delivery point to wherever they may end up. now, i'd understand how this plan worked from the point of watching the straw purchaser make the purchase, watching the straw purchaser make the drop. but i don't understand what happened after that or what your system was in order to follow where the guns went. ..
you would follow where the guns went after the draft middleman. >> to the best of my knowledge, we did everything possible to do that with the resources we have in the field. but i'm asking how you did it. >> with surveillance, who's on the ground. >> if your boots on the ground, how is it that you wouldn't know where those guns went from the drop to the next step? >> at some instances, guns would go to a home unless we had any lawful visas to approach the individuals we sat on surveillance as much as resources would allow another priorities would take that away from the house. >> so basically, there is not either the resources to follow those guns from the drop to wherever they ended up?
>> that it never instances, but some instances, yes. >> mr. leadmon come in her testimony he discussed the 2007 project gunrunner. you highlighted the need to conduct domestic and international law enforcement to deny the trade to the firearms trafficking infrastructure. can you clarify one important issue about what happened. you have an opinion he was a mistake in this operation to focus on the mexican cartels in the criminal organizations that are trafficking firearms or was it a mistake or failure to prioritize public safety has atf targeted the cartels? >> it's not an opinion. it's my observation. but i will say is i think there is a turn here that everybody said what these cotton swab. i personally believe our agents walked away from the guns as they were traveling down the road, similar to seeing something off at a train
station. to skirt around this to me as it occurs. these firearms, like i testified earlier or crime guns, murder weapons. we knew in 2009. we knew that the sun or permission of mexico. we knew where the guns are ending up i are partners in mexico and down a recovering. there is no doubt that this is going to a criminal organization as early as 2009. as every day when i'm thereafter, it became more and more -- more and more substantiated. my thing here is for talking about lawful ways of investing are going in. we have an obligation to the mexican people and the u.s. government and the citizens of the united states. there's other ways to stop the flow of guns other than arresting people. you can go and sees the guns. you don't have to arrest them.
you can approach the people and put an obstacle in front of them so they can stop the purchase of these firearms. out of the line thousands of guns to be purchased and tried he tried to case and make it a case because you got eight numbers. what we should have done it broke these people down as they came out he for real at these guns go south and then through our intelligence assets in through the hardware cover other agents and networking from other traditions, we can tie these cases together and go after a good debate people appear that sewer line for some partners do it enough so we should do it. >> thank you. my time is expired. i yield back. >> now go to the tunnel from the south carolina, mr. doughty for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. special agent, newell counties that firearms are not contraband faster unless they are sold to, possessed by a required by the person which would include a
straw purchaser. so my question to you is this, does atf have contemporaneous or pre-knowledge of any purchasers purchasing weapons in arizona? >> circa mistral purchases are not prohibited to individuals unless they been convicted of some crime. >> at against the law to purchase a gun and i know transfer to someone else to therefore get around the fact the person you're going to give it to is a prohibited person. a great? >> yeah. >> someone who is going to give a gun to a prohibited person is a straw purchaser. so not that we have that cleared up, teach ye not that anyone who was acquiring firearms from firearms dealers in arizona for straw purchasers, contemporaneous with the acquisition, did atf know it? >> we have to improve as the violation. we presented to the u.s. attorney's office evidence
labeling individuals -- >> let's do it another way. the very first weapon recovered in mexico to retrace, did she go back to the purchaser of that weapon and interrogate them? >> i did not, no commissary. >> did anyone 18th of atf? you got a gun purchased in mexico and make sense in mexico. you know your trace because that's the gun. did you go back to the person who purchased it? that is an old-fashioned investigative technique. not as complicated as letting guns walk. it is more effective to go interrogate the person you meet the acquisition. did you do that? >> server, as i stated earlier in this investigation, relays and if you take one straw purchaser not making an impact on the crater organization -- >> i want to ask you about the greater investigation because i read now four times he said disrupt, dismantle, destroy.
how will you extradite drug kingpins from mexico? >> with china plans to do that. >> someone's guns make it to mexico, there's nothing to do about drug kingpins? >> yes, sir, there was. >> as soon as we have solid information under the kingpin was committed sure that was mexico. >> they are supposed to trust american law enforcement who's been conducting an investigation in those firearms are going into mexico and you tell them after the fact and they're supposed to thank you can be partners in this endeavor? >> sera, it was only until the investigation under the specific recipient or the tribe kingpin was the result was predict to share the information. >> how he dismantle mexican drug cartels if you're not going to extradite the kingpins back to the united states? >> we hope mexican officials will prosecute for that. >> you are hoping the mexican criminal justice system, you're just not going to tell them about it?
does exactly what you just said, special agent. do you tell them about it after the fact. >> we had to know at first. we had to, through this investigation -- >> okay, you've got the first reset tells you a u.s. gun is discounted mexico. why did you not go interview the person who acquired the gun? why not do the investigation the old-fashioned way, with car stops, search warrants, active surveillance? why do it this way? it was never going to work. >> again 10 years of experience have shown us removing one straw purchaser will not have an effect on the lurcher invest negation. >> well, special agent, the only way possibly could've worked would've been if if mexico had extradited these kingpins. if you want to disrupt, dismantle, destroy, the only way could work is if he told mexico or i would've settled for you
just trolling your old federal agents about it at time because atf in mexico to know about it, did their? yes or no. that mexico atf office know about this? >> they were aware, yes, sir. >> do rare mexicans went to mexico and you knew about it? indexer, weapons went to mexico all the time. >> friend straw purchasers that you knew about? let me ask you this. if mexico were to ask us to extradite the law enforcement officers who knowingly aided and abetted up and escorted to mexico, what would your reaction to that feed? >> i would explain to them are concerned of an investigation this type is to take out the whole organization so we have the greatest impact possible. if you just take off one straw purchase you don't have an impact on the greater effort. >> special agent newell, i'll just say this in conclusion. i've worked with atf six years
directly. i've worked with atf incorrectly for 10 years. as justice dta. this is one of the saddest days in my sixth month in congress. it may be decided today. atf is a wonderful reputation of south carolina. we never once contemplated letting firearms walkover. the first year quantico or clinical person knows that. i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. we now recognize the gentlelady from california, and inspire. >> thank you, mr. chairman. special agent newell, what were you thinking? i think that is what we are all scratching our heads about here today and the embarrassment that you half put on atf generally an outstanding organization of wine agents is deeply troubling to all of us. but what i am concerned about is the fact those whistleblowers
when, senator grassley, tbs didn't investigation, this travesty would still be going on today. that is my big objection. who did you tell? did mr. nelson know about this? >> about the investigation? >> yes. >> i briefed him -- >> when did he know about it? when you started it come on you can see their? >> i'm not sure when he was aware of the investigation. >> or did you make aware of this investigation? >> when the investigation first initiated and i believe in november we sent -- we sent a briefing of the first part of december. >> to whom? >> to my supervisor. >> mr. mcmahon, what did you do? >> when i was briefed on the
investigation i passed up the chain. this was an investigation. we had pretty early on what the title "operation fast and furious" came on with a large amount of people who are buying guns in the short amount of time and having recovered in mexico. but we had was purchased in the u.s., recoveries in mexico. we didn't have what was in between and that's what the agents in phoenix are trying to prove. >> so you all thought this was a great idea? this particular investigation of finding gunstock in mexico. >> we didn't have an investigation. we had a group of individuals breaking the ontrack condense into mexico. >> 2000 gunstock into mexico. you have retrieved maybe 300, is that correct? >> i believe the current number is roughly 600 firearms have been recovered. >> and my understanding is the way you a quote surveilling is putting gps systems on them, is that correct?
>> , firearms or vehicles? we used all kinds of investigative techniques to further the investigation determined the firearms are going that make it. >> with the generally peeled? for your previous testimony that three times and only times were in electronic devices based on the products. >> only three times? >> yeah, correct. >> those batteries ran out? >> exactly. >> what peter forcelli testified earlier said that in his opinion, if we monitor money being wired to the middle east and we take down actual information about people who buy sudafed because we are concerned about meth labs, we know that gunrunning is coming from the united states into mexico. that is the source of it. why are we required -- why are
we requiring people who purchase multiple long arms from the poor do not? my question to each of you is, should we be doing that? we do it for things like sudafed, but we don't do it for a long arms. >> i believe we put forward a demand letter requiring drug dealers on the southwest border to report the sale of two or more firearms that fire from the shoulder at greedier than 22 caliber. >> what is the penalty if they don't? >> it would be part of the revocation process. space taxi would lose their license? >> correct. >> that's a slap on the hand. >> that's how we have -- >> i'm asking if there should be a law passed, requiring the reporting of long arms that exceed a certain number. >> that is the job. >> no, you are out in the field. you're telling us that the
gunrunning into mexico, the drug cartels are getting those come dates. the originating here. i want everyone on the panel to just answer that question. >> what is going forward is going to be a great tool for us. >> yes, any tool we have to assist us and detect the merrily on, to help us assist and detect early on in an organization that is trafficking in large quantities would help. >> yes, ma'am. i think you are going to do this should be in a balanced approach may be through legislation, but we also have to take in mind we do have second amendment rights in this needs to be balanced. i think we should approach this with caution. >> well, what does this mean? >> areas of common good in this
idea in this legislation, but there is the responsibility for us to balance also. >> next. >> yes, ma'am, it would help. >> yes, ma'am, i agree with mr. leadmon, we need to balance the second amendment right. we require purchases of handguns within two or more handguns within a five-day period to be reported to us. however, the situation in mexico right now and along the southwest border is exited and see that we have from typos -- some help along that line, but the assault weapons. >> i would disagree to some extent that that would be beneficial. i would rather have a relationship at the federal firearms licensee for when an individual does come in and wants to purchase multiple weapons of any source, handguns are long guns, that they would work with us on not then that
would provide us information targeting individuals. i was somewhat disagree with that. >> attendants expired. >> we now go to mr. walberg for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. a thank you for giving us the opportunity to go to mexico city and meet with officials, both are hard-working agents these as well as the federal police in mexico. hearing some of the responses this morning, i'm kind of surprised mexico's federal police and us for such openness in providing information to us of what they are temp thing to do when it's apparently let them down. i guess to try to get not from the other side than answers, but may not mr. canino, thank you for your service.
when did you first learn a large number of guns were seized in mexico and trace back to phoenix? >> well, sir, around november or so. my intel officer in mexico reported to me there is a large amount of weapons and a suspect to database. >> what was your reaction to that? >> well, fair, i looked at it and it got three things about this case. number one, i thought that they case was out of phoenix. anyone who has ever popped agents in mixer works in phoenix that the u.s. attorney's there is number that didn't to prosecute firearms cases. that's number one. number two, et cetera agents in phoenix had stumbled upon a gun trafficking group and in due diligence for finally realizing, okay, these guys because of this
many guys. number three, but somehow our agent are losing these are a combination of all three. never, never in my wildest dreams would i think that atf agents were ordered or participated in actually following gun traffickers and just walking away. that is to be inconceivable. into this day and still trying to get my head around this. what happened in this case is the atf gun trafficking book, something we have done since 1972. and we do it well. and they wanted to phoenix to the shredder and shredded the best practices, the type makes the use to investigate a gun trafficking case. it's not rocket science. if there was, i wouldn't be here. >> had he received in the morning from atf in phoenix or washington about the possibility of a spike in gun in mexico?
>> you know, talking with lauren and the folks at the office of strategic intelligence, you know, we became aware there is a gun trafficking case in phoenix. the first comes today became aware of them related to the case where n-november is on nine, workout and workout and stirred up in the seizure of 42 guns in sonora, mexico. so no warning. >> once the guns came a point trace them, now he found out there's a case case out of phoenix. but after that case, of those nine guns, that person who purchased the nine guns purchased close to 700 guns. so it on nine, we knew, we meaning the atf from atf phoenix, atf mexico noted at least one person involved in that case had guns recovered in mexico. like i said, that person was allowed to die 700 guns.
>> mr. gil, let me ask you the same questions. when did you first learn a large number of guns were seized in mexico and traced back to phoenix? >> sir, i learned during the same event that mr. canino just referred to. he made chief analyst came into my office and i had just arrived in early october in this event came across and so they briefed me out that time. >> your reaction for that? >> i picked up the phone. we discussed it. i called the phoenix field division to find out what was going on with this investigation and we were recovering an abnormal number of weapons and if they were aware, if so what was going on. >> you receive no warning prior to that? >> no, sir. >> and the few remaining seconds, let me move over to mr. leadmon.
what is he trace? >> is the atf electronic tracing system. it is the system we use to submit traces and ticket results. >> with the database useful for tracing guns or did you face obstacles that the treason system? >> well, within the tracing system we have the flagging system called suspect on. within the database, it is utilized to notify case agents when a weapon that they suspect if being used in a criminal crime gun and the agents notified. >> weather delays in the use of each on this particular issue? >> no, the tracing comes out of mexico guns or the u.s. guns comes from the recovering officers in their agency. at the flagging system has a mechanism that were given the exception -- and the inception of gunrunner -- excuse me, this
project, fast and furious. we couldn't have it through our electronic system. >> why was that? >> division say not matter of merging the systems together. it is now part of our system and all fully available. >> the gentleman's time is expired. we now go to mr. quigley for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i apologize. they're several things going on. so if i ask a question that's been answered i apologize, but perhaps it is most obvious, special agent mcmahon, was it your intention to go back and get these weapons? after the assault took place? for the stars at guns? your intention was to go and get all these weapons, correct? >> our intention was to prove they were doing and they know
picolinate that this weapons and that's easier said than done. proving someone is a straw purchaser may have to prove the day they came in to fill out the form that they lied when they answered one of the questions. and we have to prove that they knowingly invited when they filled out that form. so once we've we have determined some undersea purchaser, we want to get the weapons they are responsible for as quick as possible. >> did you believe you could get weapons back it that was the case regardless of where it went? >> again, our problem with this case is proving a violation occurred in the u.s. and then determining how those weapons were being transported into mexico. we know about the people we identified in this case, the purchasers, none of them were physically taken the weapons into mexico. we were checking border crossings, all this sort is sin that was not happening. there is a great unknown trying to figure out what the size of
this network was and how was operating. >> well, u.n. special agent gil have used if we took off one or two straw purchasers today, they simply get replaced. in your words and your mind, why is that the case? >> the way understand trafficking in college is completely different. i'm from new york and more trafficking cases all the time, but it's totally different in mexico. what you have is a plus abbas orders comes from the u.s. he'll give someone in the u.s.a. said a thousand dollars in ca1 $70,000 a gun and he expects to get $70,000. >> how did they find each other? >> that is an established network from the drug trade of drugs going north. >> i'm sorry, so the relationship is dirty pair. >> that personal recruit individuals of u.s. citizens to buy weapons. at least her picking up one or
two people, that hurts them any person in the u.s. person mexico will still get his $70,000 worth of guns and that is what happens. so not enough purchasers one by one explain tired in the money and the u.s., but doesn't make an impact in mexico and that is the key to what we are trying to do at atf and has to be a balance obviously. as i said, the mistakes in no way should we ever had out anyway to get up to 600 purchases without talking that person, trying to find out what they were doing from the scene if they would cooperate. again, we learn things in every case we ever do what we are learning an awful lot from this one. >> well, this is a net work where people talk. so they would talk about what is like to be a straw purchaser from an economic point of view and encourage someone else to do this. what would discourage someone from being a straw purchaser that we can do?
>> i think obviously, stiffer sentences for some individuals. we are tied to we make a case to obviously have all clean records. the federal system is tied into punishing individuals who have a criminal history. obviously straw purchasers one week weapons. they either cooperate or ultimately never do this. >> we've heard the expression that many feel like this is doing the expedient of 55% reference that's not particularly strongly punished and not with the jail term. is that your understanding? >> it is. every time i talk about this weather is media are members of congress always trying to stress to individuals were actually causing havoc in another country all steering the u.s. people buying guns are using
them to create mayhem. >> and the last question. if you go into a gun store in arizona. how many ak-47 type weapons can you buy a? >> as many as he has. >> thank you. the yield that. >> i ask unanimous consent the gentleman of 30 seconds. >> thank you very much. special agent newell, i must tell you that your testimony has been quite frustrating for both sides. i want you to answer one question. mr. lieberman said the british have been contacted. you remember hearing what he said? is that the way this should have been done. it is not to know your actions about it. >> as i said my opening statement, recognizing retrospect there were mistakes
in how we handle this investigation. one of the things i said in my opening statement was it was incumbent upon me to have more risk assessments throughout the investigation. i acknowledge that tonight launched the fact one of the things they should've done was more frequently throughout the investigation, conduct risk assessments to ensure whether this is still a prudent strategy to occur. but i would tell you, sir from the years and years experience as mr. mcmahon just that, these mexican drug cartels are going to get firearms. so we have to do everything we can in terms of taking out the infrastructure that manipulates straw purchasers. straw purchasers i like a drug dealer. if you just focus investigations and not having a lasting impact. but to answer your question, i acknowledge yes in fact there should've been more risk assessment and i acknowledge that. >> thank you. >> we now go to the gentleman
from tennessee. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i think the panel for appearing today. regretfully have to attend a teleconference, but i would like to yield my time back to the chair because it's very important to be to this discussion. >> i thank the gentleman for yielding. q-quebec to follow up along the lines the ranking member was fun. ..
was there a time you became aware that in fact you had a known, a known group of buyers including mr. pitino at 730 weapons and units at the purchaser, the money man, intended on transporting goes to mexico? was there ever a time that you knew that? >> there was never a time that i do that. >> mr. noel. >> there was never a specific time when he that. >> please stay away from words like specific. they worry me. did you get to an understanding that you had a known buyer buying from these people with an intent to traffic them to the cartels? was there a time? >> throughout the investigation
we had information. >> what was the first time that you have that information? that this group was trafficking firearms. >> that you have a known buyer mr. acosta or that group and that the purchasers, some of the straw purchasers they were buying from redact providing to these people for their purpose of transporting? >> i ask you this question very simple. wait a second. you have been here is a paid nonanswer are so far and i appreciate that you have been here is a paid nonanswer, but there comes a point where i go wait a second. 730 weapons bought by a man who had no money. every penny he bought with he had to get from somebody. you knew that at some point. you knew who was buying them and you allowed it to continue. there comes a point where as we go through the rest of the investigation, and this was about mexico and i want to get back to that very quickly that there comes a point where we have to have more more than just mistakes were made.
my understanding is you knew from credible information, your organization new, that in fact you had a buyer providing the money to pitino and others that he was taking possession of those weapons and you knew with specificity that those weapons, some of them had already ended up in mexico. is that correct? >> yes, sir. >> what was the first-aid? 09, what was the first-aid? [inaudible] >> to answer your question throughout the investigation we have information that pitino, mr. medina was working with mr. acosta. >> from day one you had a straw purchaser with no means of support buying hundreds of weapons, providing them to his intermediary which meant that both of them were very much a part. he didn't have a buy situation at this point. you had an individual who could be charged with participation in the actual trafficking of weapons. you had somebody who was
trafficking for specifically for the intent of getting into the drug cartels providing huge amounts of information. i am sorry, huge amounts of money. you had that early on. we are now two years later and you have only charged 18 other people with buy-in flagg and the one person you knew early on was doing this. where quite frankly is any semblance of roll up or any semblance of going further? it looks like you knowingly allow these to be sold, waiting to see if the other and in mexico would give you information. it seems like you knowingly allow these weapons to get out of your control, knowingly, to someone you knew was trafficking into mexico. you saw the results. you allowed it to continue and now you are telling us, we know that guns walk. i'm going to tell you before this investigation and i have got to have somebody in your
position admit you knowingly let guns walk because right now your agents, both the agents here today from mexico and the agents that were part of phoenix and part of this program who became whistleblowers have told us you were letting guns walk. if only i'll make you an mr. mr. met man and other people continue to come before this committee and say we don't let guns walk, are they lying or are you lying? >> sir, this investigation is that we have not let guns walk. >> you are entitled to your opinion, not your facts. at that we go to the gentleman, mr. tierney. >> thank you mr. chairman. mr. wall before you were transferred to the atf field office in tijuana mexico you are in the phoenix office, is that correct? >> yes, sir. i was. you said in your testimony personally saw some of the trafficking cases languish in the u.s. attorney's office. is that an accurate statement?
>> yes, sir. >> we have also had other atf agents tell us the same thing that there was a liking am perceiving of these cases in the u.s. attorney's office. when was that. macrotime you were assigned to the phoenix office? >> well, i was working primarily grim trafficking to mexico from 2007 until i left for tijuana in 2009, following 2009. >> mr. newell a number of atf witnesses that the committee interviewed has said this case was ready for indictment probably in august of 2010 but the u.s. attorney's office didn't really seek the indictments until june of 2011. is that an accurate reflection? >> yes, sir. >> do you know why you experience these delays? >> i think that is a question better asked by the u.s. attorney's office. >> did they give you an understanding of why there was it a late? >> they were continuing to put together information.
[inaudible] >> specifics regarding financial for the money laundering statutes that are and they money laundering violations in the indictment. >> do you consider those reasons to be legitimate or do you think they were somewhat suspect? >> i believe that they were legitimate in the sense of the return on -- yes, sir. >> mr. met man he said a number of your agents were certainly frustrated from time to time with u.s. attorney's office in phoenix, greg? >> that what was being relayed to me, yes. >> did you have direct knowledge of that? >> yes, there is a personal friend that i have the works in phoenix that i hired in new york. he did express his frustration. >> now at some point in time with mr. newell and mr. met man you thought that the case was ready for indictment in august of 2010 and after that. did you start using seizure warrants? >> we started doing that i
believe in september of 2010 in an effort to seize firearms as we were waiting for an indictment. >> cease-fire civilly. >> so once you thought the case had been made, then he started to try to take extra actions to make sure that the weapons didn't get beyond a certain point? when would you exercise the seizure in relation to this whole trafficking activity going on? >> i thank you for the question. during the summer of 2010, we finally convinced certain individuals in the judiciary that we had a very strong -- we believe we had a very strong it will -- ability or theory on being able to seize firearms civilly and we got that approved in september of 2010. >> this problem with the u.s. attorney's office in phoenix and the like of time between when people in the field thought they had the case made, is that a problem that exists with the
current u.s. attorney? >> i will say sir that having been there five years when i was there from 2006 to 2011 the current u.s. attorney has been much more aggressive and much more proactive than three these administrations. >> assisting in having that issue? >> yes, sir. >> mr. mcmahon you told atf agents develop certain cases but that you are agents presented those cases to the s. attorney's office in phoenix and the assistant u.s. attorney declined to prosecute and said there was no violation. do you remember telling him that? >> i do remember speaking about it in a single case relayed to me by bill newell, yes. >> can you give us specifics? >> what was told to me was we were working on an operation at a gun show. our agents observe someone that looks this -- suspicious pushing a baby carriage with a couple of
long guns in it. they followed her out to the parking lot, where she actually transferred back to an individual and our agents sought transfer of money. we had other agents followed the car that had the guns out of the parking lot. pulled them over to a traffic stop and identified him as a multiple convicted felon not only with the two guns with that the woman gave her but also a third time. we confronted the woman and she confessed that she was paid to purchase these weapons are quite believe it was a saturday or sunday when this happened. bill related to me that it was presented to the duty agent in phoenix and they suggested that we take the case to state court. >> thank you. i am going to yield back to the ranking member at this point in time. >> thank you very much. >> you also have another 30 seconds.
>> thank you astir chairman. special agent newell i want to go back to something the chairman asked you, because i want to make, i want is to be real clear and this is for the benefit of the entire committee. i am trying to figure out what your definition of walking guns is. maybe that is part of the problem. i think, because almost everybody up here has our opinion about this, and i'm just wondering if there's a difference between your definition of walking, allowing guns to walk and hours. >> thank you. i appreciate the opportunity to answer that. my definition of walking and i believe it is the common law enforcement term is what a law enforcement agency did. it actually put some sort of evidence into the hands of the suspect and furtherance of an
investigation and then does nothing to, with that property. the property could be a prop gun or one of our evidence guns and put in the hands of that suspect and then don't take, don't do the follow-up and don't attempt to determine where that is going. >> so you don't think there was any walking allowed based on that definition in this case, based on that definition? >> based on that definition, yes. >> i thank the gentleman. we now go to the gentleman from arizona mr. gosar for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman. mr. newell one of my colleagues on the other side brought it up about new laws. i want to emphasize thomas wasn't the gun sales operator. let me emphasize that again. it wasn't. they were alarmingly bringing forth these -- were they not? >> i am sorry? >> here we go again. >> it seems like this is a moe, curly and larry show and we are looking for larry.
i mean it is disruptive to actually see what i'm seeing here. as a businessperson coming from main street america to actually see what i'm seeing here, you have got to be disgusted about this. to go around and around the corner, it is ridiculous. agents canino, i watch her body language. i am a health care position. i watch body language like crazy. tell me what you disagree with that man right there. >> on the specific case? >> how about records? let's talk about records. are there adequate records being kept? and how they relate between the sale of these guns to mexico. >> i think atf does a great job in regulating the firearms industry. >> that in this case did they, were they able to track them? >> no, sir. the only reason -- you have to put this in context.
everyone is saying this case was so good and it was complicated. firearms trafficking cases are not complicated. they are not complicated. reason this case was so big was because we didn't do anything. plain and simple. everybody wants to make this bigger than it is. like i said earlier, you don't have to -- i spent 19 years, 15 as a street agent and four in leading a street. you don't have the luxury or the right in my opinion as an atf agent to say i like this law or i like that law. you guys set the laws and we follow them. is up to me as an atf agent how best to make up an investigative technique and best practices. so i can make a case and presented to the u.s. attorney. i've done my job. now it is up to the u.s. attorney if he wants to prosecute or not. i'm going to bring the best case i can. in this case like i said earlier we have the atf prosecuting
guidelines and best practices and we just threw it out the window. nobody got stopped. like i said earlier, how can you let somebody by 730 guns? at what point are you going to stop them? i am embarrassed. i have agents, guys who i consider american heroes, my friends, who i never thought would hear this who have told me since this broke, carlos i'm ashamed to carry an atf badge. i have cried over that literally and i'm not ashamed to say that. this is not a job to me. is a profession. i don't have a hobby. my hobby is as an atf agent. i love this. i hit the lottery when i came on. i'm proud of what i do in front of the atf agents. we have heroes, we really do and i have been watching your body language and mr. bergman's.
i'm sorry, sir. that is all i can say. i have no other way to describe this. >> i look at this and i look at -- we weren't doing medical procedures we look at what is our in game and the process in between. there is collateral damage in the and the problem is the collateral damage is a crime in their going to be just like we just on there will be many more and they are on their side and they are on that site and you know what that is held -- tells me? when we were in the planning stage that a problem. it is right there in the office in the head office coming up with this. this was absurd to even have this idea and to hear this merry-go-round and bantering back and around rummy can get an answer from mr. noel, the buck stop someplace. who is it? it is obvious to me it is not these two gentlemen here. i want to find out who larry is. that is where we are going to have to go with this. this is absurd and it is the fact that we use people's lives and our friends from mexico as
pawns in this without even discussing it? how absurd. if this ever happens -- it is a reprehensible what has transpired here. and i hope the buck stops and i take there is accountability all the way through. this can't go on again. both sides of the aisle are furious. the american people are just furious. this is what you get for high ups in atf or the department of justice? shame on you and i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. we now go to the gentleman from virginia for his five minutes. mr. connolly. >> thank you mr. chairman, and i am sure all of our panelists are so pleased to be here today. i guess i have a slightly different steak on the subject. i don't defend "fast and furious" and i don't defend the
actions of the u.s. attorney's office at the time in phoenix and i certainly believe that it was a botched attempt to lead -- that led to a tragedy, perhaps many tragedies and i think this committee and the chairman are right to face those issues and to try to assign lame. but there is another part of the story i doubt very much as far as headlines because it is so much easier to print who screams the loudest at atf and that you got beat up. but with the press won't print tomorrow sadly is the fact that congress's hands are hardly clean on this subject. we have done everything to make sure that the f in atf is nullified. we have made sure that you have got a permanent director for six years. what private company would think it is okay to lack a permanent
ceo for six years? we have done everything in our power to try to defang the atf to make sure that it is toothless. we have done everything we can to fight your budget and reduce it so that you don't have the resources to do the job. we are not criticizing you for not doing well. we had testimony before this committee by one of your colleagues called by the committee majority, who said there were more new york police officers per square mile in new york than there are atf agents in all of the state and yet somehow we are going to stop the hemorrhaging of arms trafficking going into mexico with that kind of poultry set of resources. but that won't be in the headlines tomorrow. some of the loudest critics of atf today are also on a bill. this name, the bureau for alcohol firearms and -- what
does that bill do? it allows firearms dealers to liquidate their inventories after having their arms license revoked. and would decriminalize recordkeeping violations even if they contributed to cross-border gun trafficking. how does that help atf? where is the accountability here in congress on this subject? it is easy to beat up on you. it is easy to look for a scapegoat when the agenda really is to make sure that we make it harder, not easier, to enforce gun trafficking. we had testimony from one of your colleagues before this committee who said there is more regulation on over-the-counter sudafed then there is an arms trafficking going to mexico. and he testified and was interrupted in his testimony because it wasn't welcome, that
he believes we needed to toughen enforcement laws as a tool for atf to be able to fill a position along the border. so i have no doubt that we can all pile on and correctly criticize the atf for a botched mission. but sadly with the presses and going to bother to write about, but they should, is the fact that congress for six long years and maybe longer has done everything in its power to make sure in fact you can do your job. this set of hearings needs to explore that too. with that i yield back the balance of my time for the ranking member. >> there is no, currently no federal statute that criminalizes firearms trafficking. instead traffickers are often
prosecuted -- which prohibits engaging in firearms without a license. the statute was also a common refrain of law enforcement as mr. connolly said. they told us they dedicated firearms statute would give them the ability to address activity by traffickers to divert firearms in legal commerce. mr. leadman based on your decades in law enforcement do you believe the statute would be helpful in disrupting the flow of guns to the mexican drug cartels? >> yes, sir. i viewed your. oppose legislation and i agree with that wholeheartedly. one of the things that i think might be added to that is a little more emphasis on international trafficking. maybe we can tighten it up a little bit as far as going to drug cartels.
if you reach a certain amount of weapons that could be a life offense. >> thank you very much. i thank the gentleman and we now go to the gentleman from texas mr. farenthold also a number who went to mexico city. >> thank you -- very must mr. chairman. they were talking about how much more difficult it is and how much more regulated the purchases of sudafed is. i don't see anywhere in the constitution where we are guaranteed the right to bare sudafed that we are guaranteed the right to bear arms so i think that is an appropriate or inappropriate distinction. mr. mcmahon when my friend the former prosecutor from south carolina ask you what the goal of this was, you said that it was to bring down a drug kingpin in mexico. is that a fair assessment? >> did i say that, sir? >> i'm sorry. i guess that was mr. newell. did you say that mr. newell? >> i believe i said the
investigation was to -- the entire trafficking network. >> i believe you said drug king -- ting kan. let me ask mr. newell -- mr. guiltless the mexican government know who the drug kingpins are in mexico? >> sir, they are aware of the heads of the organizations and to answer your question shortly, yes. >> and so, let me go ahead and ask you another question their mr. gil. in your time working with the mexican government as the former atf fsa in mexico did they ever ask us to do anything like that? you let guns come across the border so they could track them or find a bring down drug kingpins? >> no, sir. >> alright, let me go on to mr. canino. i want to applaud your service
in your candor with this committee. we have heard that we are trying to bring down the drug kingpins or whatever the words were as far as stop the trafficking. if you were put in charge of developing an investigation to do that, how would you do that? which are plan involved letting firearms move across the border? how would you do it? >> to stop the drug kingpin and? >> or more simply with stopping firearms trafficking. >> i would call dea because that is what they do. number two, you work for traffic investigations like pain by number. it is frustrating being a. that comes with a badge. trafficking investigation, the laws like i said you have to be open-minded i guess is the word i'm looking for. i don't know if it is the best description, but like i said it is paint by the numbers.
you have to work like building a house. you build your foundation and you work from the bottom up. in this case nobody got stopped. they didn't grab somebody and say hey okay we are going to roll you. and i don't want to go into sources or methods but there is a whole -- we have schools on this. >> if you watch a cop show you know how to stun. >> you follow the guns or your rest him at the first top and try to flip them both or if you really want to partner with the mexican government you follow the guns across the border and radio across to your colleagues in mexico and they move out of the line there. it seems like common sense to me. i want to assess question to everybody on the panel because i think this is really important. we have seen operations and have recently heard about operation cast away, a similar program in florida. are any of you all aware at this time of any similar operation going on that allows guns to
flow across the border to friendly countries now? are you all aware of those and if you are or are we doing anything to stop it? if you could come on down the line and we will start with mr. mcmahon. >> i'm not aware of any case like that friendly or unfriendly, no. >> is anybody? >> no. >> no sir, i'm not aware of any. >> we only found out about this winter whistleblowers and my prayer is if there was anybody watching this committee hearing atf or or another agency that knows something going on like this that they let this committee know. this is one of the shameful moment i think in our government history when we are leading guns go across the border to our friends in mexico. let me just ask -- i only have 32 seconds left. i'm going to stick around for a second round of questions so i will heal that i remaining 30 seconds. >> i will pick it up. special agent newell what this is program spend in money?
millions of dollars, right? "fast and furious." on the side we think of it is a program and you think of it is a simple investigation. the investigation, you spent point of dollars over the course of two years, correct? hundreds of thousands? agents were camped out in some cases for a period of time at a drop location? >> yes, sir. >> so when you are trying to do the big hit, the big six, getting the big guys why is the testimony shows us only three times where there were any kind of inspections planned and i don't want to get into sources either but only three times we have been told that they try to do any detection and one of the gps tracking was a radioshack making -- why in the world was the quality and the quantity of agents and times, video cameras planted with internet connections etc., why is it there wasn't a tracking to track the weapons?
>> we had trackers on vehicles. we have it trackers on -- it goes back to resources. we have agents that are out there working 16, 18 and 20 hour days. >> unfortunately you just made my case and time is expired. 18 hours of an agent's time is so much more money than one of these tracking devices if you are penny-wise and pound who wish by not having the device. with that we go to the gentlelady from the district of columbia for her five minutes. >> what would have would have been the next step? >> well maam, it depends on how long the firearms state in the area. for instance many of the transactions here, the firearms levered left the phoenix area and the battery life up a tracker is only good depending. >> so the phoenix area, what could you charge the so-called trafficker? this law-abiding citizen who doesn't have a record but he is
buying many many guns. what could you charge him? >> there is nothing to charge him with at that moment. we have to prove a violation has existed and has occurred. >> i just want to say, to sit in in the hearing a hearing in here people beat up on the atf is very very interesting to me. use it in our congress where the gun lobby's are you for the congress of the united states. on the republican side of the aisle they are totally controlled and on my side of the aisle they virtually control them. and the second 2nd amendment is cited as you try to do your job to keep guns from essentially bringing down the government of an ally. but when it comes to mexico let me ask you what kind of gun control laws does mexico have?
do any of you know about their gun control laws? >> yes, maam. i do. >> would you speak up? >> civilians can buy nothing greater than a 38 caliber. anything after that is for the exclusive use of the military. >> here is mexico who says essentially, it makes it very difficult for anyone except someone in law-enforcement or the military to get a gun so they come to the united states where trafficking is wide-open. let me ask you this. we are concentrating on mexico now. let me ask you about trafficking to chicago. let me ask you about trafficking to the district of columbia to baltimore. let me ask you about trafficking to l.a.. to the same traffickers operate as effectively in our country as
we have now seen them operate, taking guns to mexico? >> i believe that the organizations are little bit different and that is why i said earlier, we have never encountered an organization like this for mexico. trafficking in the u.s. my experience in a way as a, little bit more association related but obviously trafficking domestically is a major issue for us and i spent the majority of my career working on some of these cases. >> if a person, let's say buys 200 guns and hear you made mistakes. if i had a dollar for every mistake this congress has made when it came to guns i would get very rich woman. you made a mistake. it was the fatal mistake. it was a mistake for which you are being held accountable. let's say you hadn't made a mistake. that someone without a record
rod guns that week. you found me with 200 guns. what could you do to me? >> nothing at all, maam. >> did you feel disarmed in your fight against this wholesale movement of guns from our country to mexico, or did you feel you were equipped to in fact by law enforcement to do what was necessary? >> i think my experience -- atf agents are very resilient. you have to be to make the case and that is what our people do and they do that everyday and they are out there doing that today. >> and they may design tactics to make themselves more effective on the ground. >> i think that is what we should always be doing. >> could i ask each of you, would you feel better able to
stop this trafficking if the congress passed a law that made it and added to our criminal code, a section that prohibited the transfer of a gun when an individual knows the gun will be transferred to a person who is prohibited from carrying a gun or intends to actually use the gun illegally? >> we currently do have a statute that does handle that. that is the whole federal forms violation. >> lying on the federal form get you to wear? >> gets us do, if we can prove that someone knowingly feel that the form and correctly or lied. >> can you seize guns? we have been talking about seizures here. in order to seize guns, what is the atf have to show? >> that a violation of law is
committed with that fire and. >> the gentlelady time has expired but if anyone wants to answer the question. >> what is the law that is in violation? >> if anyone else wants to answer. >> thank you mr. chairman. we have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that hiram was used in violation of a crime or in violation of the crime. you can just go out and randomly series firearms for an individual. firearms themselves are not contraband. we stop someone on the street with 28 k.'s -- as frustrating is frustrating as frustrating as that may be and believe me to stick extremely frustrating but it's extremely frustrating is that as we don't have any legal ability to seize those firearms. >> anyone else want to answer that xps mr. chairman. as i look around the room i've had the opportunity to work in pretty much every state of the union. i have always been able to use the current laws to success in
the investigations, whether you are pulling somebody over what they -- 100 ak-47's, found atf special agent are very qualified and interviewing techniques. 99.9% of the time they get confessions from those individuals. we will take those guns and it's not that case we would at least end up getting an abandonment from them for those weapons so they don't hit the streets. there are other avenues to approach versus we could use them in the current laws. >> thank you. nalc going to the most qualified person the gentleman from pennsylvania. >> thank you mr. chairman. special agent, you are a trained special agent for atf. you trained in the issue of walking guns? >> no, serve. >> with regard to walking guns when you are in training what do you know -- what what does atf tell you about walking guns? >> you don't want guns.
they teach -- i teach our first line supervisor school. i teach our command-and-control school. >> are you aware of anybody who has been disciplined for walking a gun? >> no, sir. darren talk to me last night and put into perspective. if if you are an atf agent and use a gun at his three days no questions that. if it is your gun, just three days. >> what do you define as a walking gun? >> what exactly happened in this case. >> in your words what you think walking a gun is? >> walking a gun is when you have custody and control of that firearm and you let it get in the hands of a suspect and you don't interject that suspect. in that case, we had co-op readers at the gun store so they are acting as agents of the government. doesn't matter for those guns came out of an atf prop fault.
>> thank you. is that what you meant when you said that if atf puts evidence into the hands of the hands of a suspect there are distinctions somehow between the straw purchaser getting it are atf putting it -- please explain to me what you meant by the distinction of atf putting it in the hands of a suspect? >> atf is action of putting evidence or some kind of prop buyer in the hand of the suspect. >> that is a distinction from a straw purchaser who goes and under your observation? >> in that aspect, yes sir it is. >> so you are suggesting here that the distinction is, because you did not put the gun in the hands of the purchaser here, somehow there is a distinction from allowing a gun to walk? >> congressman i disagree with something mr. canino said
regarding they were acting as agents in the government. my recollection in this case, two in particular were instructed to follow the letter of the law to abide by the rules and regulations. >> the strategy. you you were asked a specific question. who defines the strategy? >> a case like that goes to several levels of approval. >> who originated the strategy for fast fast and various? >> i believe it was at the street-level. >> tell me who the person is who created the strategy for "fast and furious"? you are the special agent in charge of your area emanating from your district. who originated the concept for "fast and furious"? >> cert is not one person to do that. is a group of individuals that looked at the set of facts, in
this case and determined this was the best strategy. >> where did it start? where does this dream start? tell me who participated in that conclusion. >> it was several individuals. was the group supervisor, myself and individuals. >> so there were a number of people who were very learned in this process and you testified here today earlier no part of the strategy to allow guns to be taken to mexico. there was no part in the strategy to allow guns to be taken to mexico. is that right? >> to knowingly allow guns. in this case we had seizures. >> i asked you a specific question. i said there was no part in the strategy to allow guns to mexico. with mr. mcmahon have participated in any way in the development of this policy or the "fast and furious" strategy?
>> i know he was aware of it. >> mr. met man you testified -- he has $70,000 he wants $70,000 worth of guns. >> someone who could controls an area for cartel. >> and where is that? >> in mexico. >> so you testified the part of the theory here, your words, if the platts abbas expects $70,000 with the weapons. >> correct. >> mr. newell, the strategy mr. mcmahon identifies that you expect you understand that he expects $70,000 worth of weapons. where does that get in that there was no part in the strategy to allow guns to be taken to mexico? >> yes, sir. during the beginning parts of this case we did not know who the platts abbas was. >> that is not my question about
who the platts abbas was. the question is is if there applies abbas? agent but ban said he is in mexico and the platts abbas expects $70,000 worth of guns. now you are saying no part of the strategy was allowing guns to go to mexico. >> the strategy wasn't to allow guns to go to mexico. >> what did agent mcmahon just say? who else participated in this? >> i ask unanimous consent the gentleman be allowed to have another 30 seconds. that implies a certain point in time it moves beyond your agency. what does that mean with regard to that? what other participants were there? >> there other agencies involve. >> what other agencies were involved in this? >> in this investigation there were full partners in this case, homeland security investigations
and we have the internal revenue service and assistance at some level from dea. >> are you saying dea, irs and dice all knew about this program? to participate in the oath of that? >> that participate in the investigation. >> where they go where the guns were being walked to mexico? >> sir again i am assuming. >> they were aware of the strategies which included would special agent mcmahon talked about allowing $70,000 with the guns to go to the plaza boss. >> sarah never said we allowed $70,000 worth of guns. >> you said the expectation. >> i was given a scenario of how it works. there is a plaza boss boss so he is not getting it from the network we are investigating he is getting it from somewhere else. the $70,000 apple i was giving you wasn't specific to this investigation. it was an over generalization about mexico works. >> we are talking