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7 31 12 Ff Part i Final Report

7 31 12 Ff Part i Final Report

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Published by: Daniel Hopsicker on Sep 04, 2012
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Assistant Director Chait received weekly briefings on Fast and Furious. Even so, during
his transcribed interview he claimed to have little knowledge of the investigative tactics used in
Operation Fast and Furious during its pendency:

Q.

I mean you have admitted that there was a massive number of guns
here. Did you ever call Bill Newell and say what are the techniques
that you are using? Are we doing any knock and talks? Are we
doing any aerial surveillance? Are we doing any trackers?

A.

I don’t believe I did. I think probably the first briefing we had
around the – what was somewhat happening was with Dave Voth.
Most of these things never rose to my level. It is easy to see now
things very differently, but at that time what we were seeing wasn’t
exactly the same thing as what we see now. We see a very
different perspective today.607

The facts contradict Chait’s testimony. ATF’s OSII division held a briefing every Tuesday to
discuss firearms recoveries and some of ATF’s major cases. Nearly every week, starting in
December 2009 until April 2010, Fast and Furious was a topic of discussion at these meetings.
Chait attended, but remained silent.608

During a January 5, 2010 briefing, Chait learned that Fast and Furious straw purchasers
had bought 685 firearms in the preceding two months. Several individuals present reacted
strongly to the mounting weapons count. In a private meeting after the briefing, Steve Martin
confronted Chait as to whether he actually had a plan in place to stop the flow of weapons.
Martin testified:

A.

From my notes, I asked Mr. Chait and Mr. McMahon, I said,
what’s your plan? I said, what’s your plan?
And I said, hearing
none, and I don’t know if they had one. I said . . . there are some

605

E-mail from Jason Weinstein to Kevin Carwile and James Trusty (Dec. 6, 2009) [HOGR 003405] (Exhibit 248).

606

Melson Transcript at 76 (Exhibit 52).

607

Chait Transcript at 138-139 (Exhibit 122).

608

After April 2010, OSII simply stopped briefing Fast and Furious. Congressional investigators were told that
OSII believed that nobody was paying attention anymore to their concerns, so there was no longer a point in briefing
the case since it had gotten so big.

184

things that we can do. Ray Rowley, who was the [S]outhwest
[B]order czar at the time, asked, how long are you going to let
this go on?

* * *

Q.

You said this to who again, Mr. Chait?

A.

Mr. Chait, Mr. McMahon, Mr. Kumor. My boss was there, Jim
McDermond, who agreed with me because we talked probably
daily.

Q.

Did any of those folks step up at that time and say, “Oh, no, no,
no. We’ve got another great plan in place”?

A.

No. No.

Q. They were silent?

A. Yes. And I don’t know if they had one. I mean, they could

have. I don’t know.609

Chait had come to the ATF briefing immediately after a meeting with Assistant Attorney General
Lanny Breuer. The meeting with Breuer focused on weapons seizures in Mexico—seizures
subsequently discussed in detail at the ATF meeting.610

In February 2010, Chait received notification that Fast and Furious had become so big
that it had intersected with a separate investigation in ATF’s Dallas Field Division.611

Chait

found the correlation between the two cases so significant that he wanted to keep Deputy
Director Hoover fully informed. He requested the preparation of maps so that he could link the
cases. In his transcribed interview, Chait stated:

[A]t any given time we have about 40-plus-thousand open investigations
across field operations, and I certainly don’t have the ability to know
enough about every one of those cases.612

609

Transcript, Interview of Steven Martin by the Joint Staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Government
Reform and Senate Committee on the Judiciary (Jul. 6, 2011), at 43-45 [hereinafter Martin Transcript] (Exhibit
250).

610

Meeting on Weapons Seizures in Mexico, Jan. 5, 2010, 10:00 AM, Required Attendees Lanny Breuer, William
Hoover, Mark Chait, Sam Kaplan [HOGR 001987] (Exhibit 251).

611

E-mail from Robert Champion to Mark Chait, et al. (Feb. 25, 2010) [HOGR 001424-001428] (Exhibit 252).

612

Chait Transcript at 71 (Exhibit 122).

185

Yet of the more than 40,000 open investigations at ATF, Fast and Furious was so important that
Chait updated Acting Director Melson on it and requested updated bullet points to brief Deputy
Director Hoover.613

When questioned further about Fast and Furious, Chait claimed that he was not even
sufficiently aware of the details of Fast and Furious to have been concerned:

I have to rely on my people. I rely on the [D]eputy [A]ssistant [D]irector,
I rely on the SACs, I rely on ASACs, I rely on group supervisors, and I
rely on AUSAs to work with us closely. And I don’t get in the weeds. I
really, I have too many other things going. I just, I don’t feel that is
my role as the assistant director.
614

Chait knew that Melson and Hoover were concerned about Fast and Furious. He seemed to
share their concerns. His failure to intervene was not the result of a lack of information about
Fast and Furious. Rather, his view of his position as Assistant Director for Field Operations
made him reluctant to step in and confront McMahon, his deputy, or Newell, the head of the
Phoenix Field Division, about Fast and Furious. Chait let the operation continue because he
believed that his role as Assistant Director did not call for him to intervene. This attitude mirrors

McMahon’s attitude that it was not his job to intervene in the affairs of his SACs in the event

things were going poorly.

Mark Chait had enough information about Fast and Furious to ask the right questions.
There were ample warning signs for him to do so. He did not.

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