House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa fired back at Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, saying he’s responsible for what transpired during Operation Fast and Furious.
“Operation Fast and Furious was the [Justice] Department’s most significant gun trafficking case,” Issa wrote to Holder in a letter. “It related to two of your major initiatives — destroying the Mexican cartels and reducing gun violence on both sides of the border. On your watch, it went spectacularly wrong. Whether you realize yet or not, you own Fast and Furious. It is your responsibility.”
Issa’s letter was a response to Holder’s late Friday news dump letter, in which he accuses congressional investigators of political posturing and maintained that his May 3 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee was “truthful and accurate.”
Holder was responding to last week’s surfacing of briefing memos showing that he was personally informed about the details of Operation Fast and Furious as early as July 2010. Holder had received at least five written briefings containing Operation Fast and Furious details last summer and was sent another detailed memo in November 2010. Emails between other top Justice Department officials show they were concerned about the consequences of allowing a significant number of guns to “walk” into the hands of Mexican drug cartels via “straw purchasers.”
Letting guns “walk” means that Justice Department officials allowed “straw purchasers” to buy weapons and sell them, without any tracking or surveillance, to Mexican drug cartels. Straw purchasers are people who could legally buy guns in the United States but were doing so with the known intention of selling them to drug cartels.
Despite a growing stockpile of evidence pointing to the contrary, Holder again claimed on Friday that he didn’t know about Operation Fast and Furious until the “public controversy about it.”
In his Monday letter to Holder, Issa wrote that he “made numerous statements about Fast and Furious that have eventually been proven to be untrue.”
“Your lack of trustworthiness while speaking about Fast and Furious has called into question your overall credibility as attorney general,” Issa wrote. “The time for deflecting blame and obstructing our investigation is over. The time has come for you to come clean to the American public about what you knew about Fast and Furious, when you knew it, and who is going to be held accountable for failing to shut down a program that has already had deadly consequences, and will likely cause more casualties for years to come.”
Issa also plans to issue more subpoenas to Holder and the Justice Department.