House Oversight and Government Reform Committee head Darrell Issa has subpoenaed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives for documents concerning its controversial storefront gun stings, complaining the committee’s repeated request for the information have been ignored.
"After more than a year of promised cooperation, multiple letters to you, and several unfulfilled document requests, I have no choice today but to issue the enclosed subpoena to compel the production of documents relevant to the Committee’s investigation," the California Republican wrote
Wednesday night to ATF Director B. Todd Jones, and reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Thursday.
Issa set a March 31 deadline.
The House committee probe, and a Department of Justice inspector general investigation, followed a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation of the stings, dubbed Operation Fearless.
According to the newspaper, the agency used mentally disabled people to promote operations and then arrested them on drug and gun charges; opened storefronts close to schools and churches, boosting their arrest numbers and penalties; and attracted juveniles with free video games and alcohol
The operations were carried out across the nation, a spokeswoman for the Oversight committee said in a statement Thursday, noting the Journal Sentinel’s reporting "made clear that Operation Fearless was fundamentally mismanaged, evidenced by the fact that nearly $40,000 in merchandise and three guns were stolen from ATF agents during the operation, including a fully-automatic rifle."
Describing stings in other parts of the country, the committee spokeswoman said "in one case, the ATF exploited a mentally disabled man to work at the storefront. In another, the ATF had a mentally disabled man tattoo a squid smoking a joint on his neck."
The subpoena is seeking all communications about Operation Fearless conducted since January 2010 in Milwaukee, Portland, Ore., Wichita, Kan., Albuquerque, N.M., Pensacola, Fla., and Atlanta, Ga.
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