As the Administration of Barack Obama continues to shift into damage control mode in light of the Project Gunwalker scandal, not only are officials seeking to blame George W. Bush, but the overall strategy seems to be to engage in the unanimous claim that 'nobody knew about it.'
Congressman Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, appeared onCBS News' Face the Nation yesterday morning and provided viewers with a sample of the nature of the damage control in which the Administration and Democrats in Congress intend to engage. The following is a portion of the transcripts from the show during which Cummings told reporter Bob Schieffer that nobody in the top tier of the Justice Department knew anything about Operation Fast and Furious:
REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH CUMMINGS: And so in other words, it-- it was hatched in the Phoenix office of the ATF. And the-- the sad part about it is that the supervisors in the Phoenix office never communicated with people higher up. And all the evidence that I've seen points that this was a more of a local issue that never got to higher-ups. And certainly there was nothing, that nobody has said that the attorney general was briefed about it.BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you-- some people have actually said that Chairman Issa's on a witch hunt here. Do you-- do you agree with that?REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH CUMMINGS: I do. I think Chairman Issa has come up with some very unfortunate statements about the chief-- chief law enforcement officer in our country. And he's come up with these statements and then he goes in search of the facts. And we've seen this over and over again. For example, Bob, Mister Nelson who was in charge of the ATF has told us-- has told Mister Issa that he never communicated the controversial tactics with regard to Fast and Furious to attorney general holder. And as a matter of fact, fifteen folks in-- because you know why he didn't do it? Because he didn't know it. He didn't-- he didn't even know it. So then this is the head of ATF, and-- and we've also interviewed fifteen others in ATF, who said that-- that they didn't know it or it was not communicated either. This is and-- but yet and still, Chairman Issa goes out there and-- and Republicans accusing the highest law enforcement officer in the land of being an accessory to murder and things of that nature and calling for his resignation. All we want is what I said. We want a responsible and balanced investigation because we are the oversight and government reform committee. Bob, you cannot reform anything unless you have all the information. Just because if you don't like some facts you don't throw them out the door and say I'm not going to look at those. You look at the entire picture and that simply has not happened here.
Thus, the Administration's strategy for attempting to get itself off the hook in the scandal is to: 1). claim that Darrell Issa' investigation in the House is a 'witch hunt,' and 2). claim that the scandal was entirely localized to the Phoenix field division of the ATF, which failed to inform anyone at the Justice Department or the White House of the operation.
In short, according to Cummings, nobody in the upper echelon of the Administration knew.