In recent testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a combative Attorney General Eric Holder strongly denied the Justice Department is engaged in a cover-up over its involvement in “Operation Fast and Furious,” the failed gun-buying probe which led to the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and over 300 hundred Mexican citizens.
Instead, Holder said the 14-month congressional probe into the failings of Fast and Furious had devolved into nothing but a “political” effort intended to embarrass the Obama administration.
Holder’s accusations were echoed by Democrats on the House committee who released an 89-page report prior to Holder’s testimony, which read in part: “The Committee has obtained no evidence that Operation Fast and Furious was a politically-motivated operation conceived and directed by high-level Obama Administration political appointees at the Department of Justice.”
Of course, to be fair, it’s difficult to find conclusive evidence of wrongdoing when the Attorney General has withheld from congressional investigators over 80,000 DOJ documents related to Fast and Furious, as well as preventing key Justice Department officials with knowledge of the failed operation from appearing before Congress.
Nevertheless, that track record didn’t prevent Holder from insisting before the committee that the DOJ has already “shared huge amounts of information” and would continue to do so.
Holder admitted, however, that he has not been as generous with information sharing when it comes to members of the Obama administration. One year after Terry’s death, Holder informed the committee that he still hasn’t discussed the growing scandal with Secretary of State Clinton, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano or President Obama.
According to Holder, “When people know that I’m going to be the subject of these kinds of hearings — six times and all that — nobody necessarily wants to get involved in these kinds of things, or get dragged into it.” Of course, given his handling of the deadly scandal, it comes as little surprise that his administration colleagues head for the tall grass when they see Holder approaching.
Launched in 2009 by the Phoenix branch of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), over 2,000 firearms were sold to low-level gun buyers suspected of supplying Mexican gangs and drug cartels.
However, in clear violation of its policies and procedures, ATF agents did not arrest these gun buyers, but rather allowed them to walk away from the purchases in hopes of tracking them to higher-up ringleaders and financiers in the Mexican cartels.
Unfortunately, the ATF lost track of more than 1,400 weapons during the operation while recovering 700 weapons from crime scenes in the United States and Arizona. Most disturbingly, one of those recovered weapons, an AK-47, had been used to kill Brian Terry near Nogales Arizona in December 2010.
Since Terry’s death, a 14-month investigation by the Inspector General of the Department of Justice has failed to produce an answer as to who in the ATF or DOJ had approved the “gun-walking” tactics employed in Fast and Furious.
While Holder acknowledged before the House committee that no one in the DOJ has been punished “yet,” few outside the Obama administration remain hopeful that anyone will ever be held accountable given Holder’s steadfast obstruction since the start of the Fast and Furious investigation in January 2011.
Specifically, the DOJ initially tried to blame staffers at the United States Attorney’s office in Arizona and low-level agents at the ATF for the gun-walking tactics used in the operation, claiming that top officials in the Justice Department were not aware they were being employed.
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