“To date, the White House has not complied with multiple congressional requests to interview [former National Security Council Director of North American Affairs Kevin] O’Reilly,” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote in a March 28 letter to Counsel to the President Kathryn Ruemmler.
“Our staffs have had extensive discussions with lawyers in your office, who have represented that the White House does not perceive any need for us to interview O’Reilly and consequently will not make arrangements for him to speak to us,” the letter continues.
“O’Reilly’s personal lawyer has represented to the Committee that he would permit his client to speak…in the absence of any objection from the White House,” Issa and Grassley remind Ruemmler.
So why might the White House object?
“[T]here has been no evidence to suggest that anyone at the White House knew about any decision to allow guns to ‘walk’ to Mexico,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz responded, casting doubt on whether the letter’s April 4 deadline will be complied with.
That evidence is what the Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee are seeking in their lawful investigation seems of no concern to the most transparent and ethical administration in U.S. history. Besides, there is indirect evidence, and plenty of dots to connect—if one looks back at how O’Reilly’s name surfaced in the Fast and Furious investigation, and to his relationship with the White House.
This column first reported on O’Reilly on July 26 of last year, citing “An exchange between House Committee on Oversight and Reform Committee members and William Newell, former Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive’s Phoenix Field Division during this morning’s hearings on Operation Fast and Furious pointed to key information that may be the most important to come out of today’s session.”
At issue: Newell’s relationship with O’Reilly, and specifically why he was emailing him information about GRIT in September 2010, prefaced with the caution: “You didn’t get these from me.”
Gun Runner Impact Teams, an ATF southwest border initiative under “Project Gunrunner,” crowed about at the time by former acting director Kenneth Melson and former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke (who resigned under Congressional scrutiny, and it was later determined he had leaked information in an attempt to discredit whistle-blowing Agent John Dodson). Burke, Gun Rights Examiner readers will recall, communicated with Attorney General Eric Holder’s aide Monty Wilkerson about the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry the night he died , and that “The guns found…were AK-47 purchased at a Phoenix gun store.”
That O’Reilly would receive information on gun running to Mexico establishes a direct nexus between the ATF’s Phoenix Field Division and the White House, because, as Mike Vanderboegh of Sipsey Street Irregulars reported last July, on his way to attend those hearings, “The President, Vice President, Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of State are considered to be statutory attendees of NSC meetings, but they are also regularly joined by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Director of National Intelligence, the National Security Advisor, and other executive officials. The NSC conducts its meetings in the White House Situation Room, and the National Security Advisor’s presence in the West Wing provides the President with direct access to research, briefings, and intelligence related to all aspects of national security.”
And we’re supposed to believe the Special Agent in Charge at the heart of Fast and Furious “gunwalking” and the official who advises the president on matters of national security are just old pals shooting the breeze about border gunrunning–in emails that Newell took special pains to protect himself on?
Another little-known piece of this history that only close followers of this column and Vanderbeogh’s blog might be aware of: The weekend before the hearing, Vanderboegh had emailed Chairman Issa’s investigator, informing him that he was aware through his sources that the Committee had obtained the O’Reilly email. The staffers immediately set up a Monday morning meeting with Vanderboegh and Gun Owners of America Executive Director Larry Pratt to hear their information and discuss their concerns, and then subsequently invoked the O’Reilly emails in their questioning of SAC Newell.
While the proceedings of that meeting happened “off the record,” and while Vanderboegh admits “There is no evidence that the committee asked these questions because of Larry’s and my urging. Obviously, it didn’t hurt,” this correspondent can confirm from contemporaneous communications that had such questions not been brought to light in the hearing, neglecting to do so would have resulted in that failure being reported—not by the mainstream, but by the citizen journalists who dragged everyone into this story in the first place.
The denial by the White House to allow O’Reilly to speak with the committee is indefensible in light of established communications and connections. To continue with it will only confirm that the policy of official stonewalling and evidence-withholding adopted by Eric Holder and the Justice Department is actually a continuation of an overall policy and tone set by the Obama administration—feel-good propaganda slogans of “transparency” notwithstanding.
About David Codrea
David Codrea is a long-time gun rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He is a field editor for GUNS Magazine, and a blogger at The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance. Read more at www.DavidCodrea.com.