Justice Department “Stonewalling” Congressional Investigators?
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Liberty News Network will be carrying detailed coverage, updates, background, and analysis of developments in the investigation of Operation Fast and Furious, including today’s testimony by Eric Holder before House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigators with a series beginning tomorrow:
TODAYÂ U.S.Â Attorney General Eric Holder testifies before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to again answer questions about the controversial Fast and Furious illegal gun-sale tracking operation that went awry, when agents lost track of weapons, allegedly resulting in hundreds of deaths, including at least one American Border Patrol Agent, Brian Terry, who was killed by drug cartel assassins in December of 2010.
As CNN’s online Justice Producer Terry FriedenÂ tells it:
“The operation, designed to monitor the flow of weapons, allowed illegally purchased firearms to be taken from U.S. gun stores across the Mexican border to drug cartels. However, hundreds of weapons were lost or unaccounted for, and a storm of outrage erupted when two of the missing weapons were found at a site where Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed in December 2010.” Â (Frieden Article)
Despite continual denials by Holder that he knew of the operation, and that he found out about the operation only until after the project was outed by agents who went to Members of Congress with their concerns, evidence has surfaced in recent document drops that he may be hedging the facts.
The Daily Caller’s Matthew Boyle reports that “Attorney General Eric Holderâ€™s Department of Justice dumped documents related to Operation Fast and Furious on congressional officials late Friday night. Central to this document dump is a series of emails showing Holder was informed of slain Border Patrol agent Brian Terryâ€™s murder on the day it happened â€“ December 15, 2010.”
Details of documents released by Justice Department officials continually raise more questions than provide answers, while Holder and his Justice team continue to stonewall Congress about program details, including who knew what and when.
“…Holder has faced difficult questions surrounding the question of when he was first informed of the gunwalking program. He testified in Congress that he had only learned of Fast and Furious a ‘few weeks’ before a May 3, 2011, House Judiciary Committee appearance….Holder has since walked back that ‘few weeks’ comment, amending it to more of a ‘couple months.’…’I did say a â€˜few weeks,’ Holder said during a November 8 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, responding to a question from its chairman Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy. ‘I probably couldâ€™ve said â€˜a couple of months.â€™ I didnâ€™t think the term I said, â€˜few weeks,â€™ was inaccurate based on what happened.’…”
(See the Boyle Article Here)
The Committee told the Daily Caller:
â€œ…’The Judiciary Committee has multiple issues with the Attorney General,’ House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller last week. ‘We have one issue: the issue of breaking the law in order to enforce the law…The oversight committee is investigating the Department of Justice, which is very different than his appearances before the Judiciary Committees in which theyâ€™re asking how things are going at Justice. What weâ€™ve discovered in our investigations is a pattern of cover-up [and] delay. Ultimately Congress was given false information and now weâ€™ve had people both resign and take the Fifth as we try to get to the basic elements of why and how was Congress lied to.’…”
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform recently released a video asking a simple question: “who is accountable for the Obama Justice Department’s failed Operation Fast and Furious?” Oversight Committee Watchdogs and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) are pushing Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department for a full accounting, but according to investigators, “this investigation has been meet with silence, stonewalling and spin.” New documents, however, show that Holder received at least five weekly memos – beginning in July 2010 â€“ that contradict the Attorney General’s May 3, 2011 sworn testimony denying knowledge of Fast and Furious until just weeks before:
The oversight committee has not been happy with Holder’s innacuracies and has threatened contempt charges in order to get the answers they want. Bill Hemmer of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom questions Congressman Darrell Issa about this:
According to Senator Chuck Grassley and Congressman Darrell Issa, Attorney General Eric Holder received at least five weekly memos beginning in July 2010, including four weeks in a row, describing the ill-advised strategy, Operation Fast and Furious. The memos were to Holder from Michael Walther, the director of the National Drug Intelligence Center.
The Attorney General told Issa during a House Judiciary Committee in May 2011 that he had just learned of Fast and Furious a few weeks before. Yet, on January 31, in a previously scheduled meeting, Grassley personally handed him two letters about Fast and Furious. Grassley and Issa said they find it very troubling that Holder actually knew of Operation Fast and Furious much earlier, and in greater detail than he ever let on.
The memos specifically said that the straw buyers were “responsible for the purchase of 1500 firearms that were then supplied to Mexican drug trafficking cartels.”
“With the fairly detailed information that the Attorney General read, it seems the logical question for the Attorney General after reading in the memo would be ‘why haven’t we stopped them?’ “Â Grassley said. “And if he didn’t ask the questions, why didn’t he or somebody in his office?”
“Attorney General Holder has failed to give Congress and the American people an honest account of what he and other senior Justice Department officials knew about gunwalking and Operation Fast and Furious. The lack of candor and honesty from our nation’s chief law enforcement officials in this matter is deeply disturbing,” Issa said.
Grassley and Issa have been leading the investigation into who approved the strategy to allow guns to be purchased by known straw buyers who then often transferred the firearms to Mexican Drug Cartels. However, Holder’s “stonewalling” may be encouraged by Democrat legislators who issued a report assigning blame for the failed project on low level operatives in Arizona.
New York Post’s Michael A. Walsh describes it:
Democrats on the House Oversight Committee insist thereâ€™s nothing left to learn about the murderous federal â€œgunwalkingâ€ operation: We already know whoâ€™s to blame, they report: low-level agents at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Phoenix, and staffers at the US Attorneyâ€™s Office there, headed by Dennis Burke, who has since resigned…Oh, yes, and George W. Bush….Thatâ€™s the pre-emptive whitewash released Tuesday by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and his partisan cronies in advance of the confrontation between the committeeâ€™s chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), and Attorney General Eric Holder â€” the man for whom the buck never stops as long as he can plausibly blame someone else…’Operation Fast and Furious was the latest in a series of fatally flawed operations run by ATF agents in Phoenix and the US Attorneyâ€™s Office,’ say committee Democrats. ‘Far from a strategy that was directed and planned by â€˜the highest levelsâ€™ of the Department of Justice… the committee has obtained no evidence that Operation Fast and Furious was conceived or directed by high-level political appointees at Department of Justice headquarters.’…”
Walsh tells us: “…Among the documents that Justice refuses to share with the committee is an in-house â€œanalytical reviewâ€ by Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, which included an interview with Patrick Cunningham â€” the Burke deputy who last month pleaded the Fifth rather than give a deposition to Issaâ€™s investigators, and last week abruptly resigned…No wonder Issaâ€™s patience has just about run out.”