Fast and Furious and OCDETF
Whom is executive privilege protecting?

Eric Holder testifies before Congress on May 3, 2011.


Andrew C. McCarthy

Moreover, as you might expect, given that the “OC” in OCDETF stands for “Organized Crime,” OCDETF investigations almost always contemplate — and frequently indict — racketeering charges under RICO (the statute outlawing “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations”). RICO is one of the few federal laws under which a district U.S. attorney needs permission from Main Justice before indicting.

Why go through all of this detail? Because the Obama administration has offered a palpably false narrative about Fast and Furious. It is this: Acting on their own, recklessly irresponsible ATF agents in Arizona — under the ostensible direction of the local U.S. attorney, who was actually asleep at the switch — dreamed up the Fast and Furious investigation, with its rogue “gunwalking” tactic. Against all government protocols, thousands of firearms were allowed to be transferred from “straw purchasers” to violent Mexican drug gangs, in the vain hope that they’d turn up in crime scenes and searches of high-ranking cartel operatives, enabling the U.S. government to make spectacular cases against the kingpins rather than the low-ranking nobodies.

This went on for a time with inadequate supervision, and, predictably, when the arsenal fell into the hands of the savage criminals, it resulted in violent crimes, including murders — murders that tragically included Agent Terry’s. Finally, word of the operation slowly made it across the country to Washington, where Obama DOJ appointees raised concerns with top ATF officials. Though they may be faulted for moving too slowly, eventually these DOJ appointees alerted their boss, Attorney General Holder, who was horrified and acted decisively to shut the operation down.

Bunk. In fact, Fast and Furious was an OCDETF case. That made it a Main Justice case, not the orphan Arizona debacle of media portrayal.

The Justice Department is so high on OCDETF, and has been for 30 years, that the program has its own special place on the DOJ website. There, readers learn that OCDETF is “the centerpiece of the United States Attorney General’s drug strategy to reduce the availability of drugs by disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations and money laundering organizations and related criminal enterprises.” The most important of these “related enterprises” is the illegal acquisition and use of guns — which, besides being evidentiary staples of narcotics and RICO prosecutions, are coveted by investigators because they significantly increase jail sentences upon conviction.

The website goes on to explain that the “OCDETF strategy” is implemented “under the direction of the Deputy Attorney General” — second in command to Holder at DOJ (and, in fact, the position Holder himself occupied in the Clinton/Reno Justice Department). With the coordinated effort of numerous investigative agencies and U.S. attorneys under Main Justice’s leadership, OCDETF is depicted as not only “disrupt[ing] the drug market” but “bolster[ing] law enforcement efforts in the fight against those terrorist groups supported by the drug trade.” Main Justice annually develops a “Regional Strategic Plan” for the country by requiring OCDETF participants to “identify major Regional Priority Organizational Targets.” And it has established an “OCDETF Fusion Center” as “the cornerstone” of its “intelligence-driven law enforcement, an essential component to the OCDETF program.”

In other words, the defining features of OCDETF are investigative coordination under the Justice Department’s leadership and the liberal sharing of information across the department’s array of agencies. No OCDETF case is an outlier.