WASHINGTON - For at least four hours, members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee asked questions of current and former ATF leaders as part of a hearing called "Operation Fast and Furious: The Other Side of the Border."
Tuesday's hearing is the second in a long-term investigation into the questionable Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms strategy.
Many Congressmen and women expressed frustration with the testimony of the former Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix ATF Division, William Newell.
Newell is among six men who were called to testify about the controversial ATF case, in which Phoenix ATF agents admitted to knowingly allowing guns to get into the hands of criminals.
Various members of the committee referred to Newell's testimony as "frustrating", "like a merry go round." Chairman Issa even referred to Newell as a "paid answerer", as Newell failed to answer specific questions about who developed the strategies in the controversial case.
Newell said multiple times the purpose of the strategies implemented in the Fast and Furious case was to identify, disrupt, and dismantle drug trafficking organizations in Mexico.
At no time did the strategy include knowingly allowing guns to be taken to Mexico, Newell said.
Newell, however, admitted to knowing guns involved in the case turned up in Mexico in 2009.
He testified that he did not pursue the initial gun purchasers to ask them questions in the case. He said "picking off" a straw purchaser - or a gun buyer who illegally purchases a weapon on behalf of someone else - would not have had a great impact on the case.
Newell said he would make several changes if he were to be involved in a similar situation again, including additional risk assessments during the course of the investigation.
In June, a group of ATF whistleblowers testified they failed to track hundreds of weapons during the case.
The ABC15 Investigators uncovered proof that dozens of those weapons have turned up at the scenes of Valley crimes .
Other witnesses called to testify during Tuesday's hearing: Carlos Canino, ATF Acting Attache to Mexico, Darren Gil, former ATF Attache to Mexico, Jose Wall, an ATF Senior Special Agent in Tijuana, Mexico, Lorren Leadmon, an ATF Intelligence Operations Specialist, and William McMahon, the ATF Deputy Assistant Director for Field Operations.
In: Regional News
Tags: Congressmen, call, former, Phoenix, ATF, leader's, testimony, frustrating, Fast, and, Furious, Operation, Gun, runner,
Location: Washington D.C., District of Columbia, United States (load item map)
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