[See update at end of column]
Persons within the Department of Justice whose identities are not yet publicly known apparently broke the law by leaking firearms trace data to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, which she introduced in the Senate Judiciary Committee record in the hearing on Department of Justice oversight earlier this month.
“If I may,” Senator Feinstein requested at the beginning of her questioning of Attorney General Eric Holder (see webcast, at the 69:45 mark), I’d like to put in the record the official firearms trace data from the Department of Justice from 12/1/2006 to 2000…excuse me, 9/30/2011…this is guns [unintelligible] Mexico.”
Left unchallenged and unsaid is how Feinstein obtained the data, which is prohibited by the Tiahrt Amendment from being shared with anyone but law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, and only then in the course of a criminal investigation. That prohibition extends even to Senator Feinstein, as evidenced by the failed attempt earlier this year by Rep. Adam Schiff “to allow Congressional committees to be included on the list of entities to which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms can disclose part or all of the contents of the Firearms Trace System database.”
While there is no reliable evidence that Sen. Feinstein knew she was improperly disclosing data she had been provided, a Senator so active in promulgating new gun laws not knowing existing ones is the most innocuous explanation if she did not. If that’s the case, it strongly implies someone at Justice used the Senator.
Per an anonymous congressional source:
- It was Main Justice, not ATF, who leaked the trace data to Feinstein. I am told ATF “was blindsided” by it.
- The trace data did not include any Tiahrt nondisclosure warnings.
- The information was leaked to provide selective “statistics” that Feinstein could use to promote her views on gun trafficking—no criminal intelligence interpretation was provided, and the way this was done was intentional, with cognizance that the data were going to be misused.
Fair questions to follow up with: Who at Main Justice illegally leaked the data to Sen. Feinstein and did she knowingly abet a violation of the law in order to advance her agenda?
And will Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa follow up on this in their investigations?
UPDATE (from source):
1. The data were given to Sen. Feinstein by Main Justice, not by ATF; ATF
was blindsided by the release.
2. The data Sen. Feinstein was given were summary data/statistics that did
not identify any individual FFLs.
3. There is not a legal problem with ATF or DOJ releasing such summary
data per se, HOWEVER, there IS a legal problem with ATF or DOJ releasing
such summary data without Tiahrt cautions, which include stating what the
data mean and how the data are to be interpreted. The violation that
occurred in this instance was not that the data were released to Sen.
Feinstein, but that the data were released without interpretive information
which stated the limitations of the data and their meaning.
4. The result was that Sen. Feinstein put her OWN spin on what the E-Trace
5. There’s no way the omission of the qualifying information on how to
interpret the E-Trace data (which is REQUIRED by the Tiahrt rules) wasn’t
deliberate. An example of cynical manipulation by the Executive Branch.
- A Journalist’s Guide to ‘Project Gunwalker’ for a complete list with links of independent investigative reporting and commentary done to date by Sipsey Street Irregulars and Gun Rights Examiner. Note to newcomers to this story: “Project Gunrunner” is the name ATF assigned to its Southwest Border Initiative to interdict gun smuggling to Mexico. “Project Gunwalker” is the name I assigned to the scandal after allegations by agents that monitored guns were allowed to fall into criminal hands on both sides of the border through a surveillance process termed “walking” surfaced.
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