House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa said he thinks there are “similarities” between the Operation Fast and Furious gunwalking tactics and the way those who murdered Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata obtained the weapons used to kill him.
During Fast and Furious, which was organized by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and overseen by the Department of Justice, the Obama administration sent thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels via “straw purchasers” who bought guns in the United States with the intention of illegally trafficking them somewhere else. This tactic is known as “gunwalking.”
Fast and Furious weapons were used to kill Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and at least 300 Mexican civilians.
Zapata was killed with guns that were purchased in Texas by two different traffickers. According to CBS News reports, both of those traffickers were under ATF surveillance without being arrested for a period of time while they were trafficking guns. Both were arrested at a later date.
Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn has pressed hard for answers on the details of the tactics the ATF apparently used in his state, as has Issa.
During an interview on Thursday evening with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Issa said he’s concerned that ATF agents may have used tactics similar to Fast and Furious in Texas as well.
“Well we are, and there are similarities,” Issa told Cooper. “These were known straw buyers that were not intercepted or stopped, and ultimately gun walking, everyone has a different definition, but when you let weapons go from the control of a federally licensed gun dealer, to a straw purchaser, to an intermediary, and ultimately to the scene of a crime, if you don’t interdict that immediately and or follow the weapons and interdict it before you lose control, you’re gun walking and clearly appears to have happened in Texas.”
During CNN’s coverage preceding Issa’s interview with Cooper, Zapata’s parents expressed concern about the tactics the Obama administration may have used to get guns into the hands of their son’s killers. They said they wanted whoever was responsible held accountable and said that they’re shocked this could have happened to their son.
When Cooper asked Issa about how Zapata’s parents were feeling with their questions going “unanswered” by Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department, Issa responded that stonewalling questions has almost become standard practice inside Holder’s DOJ.
“Well they’ve continued to give us a great deal of inappropriate answers, inconsistent, as you know we’ve subpoenaed information, fairly broadly, and received a small amount of it,” Issa said. “Out of our 80,000 pages we know to exist, we’ve received 6,000 pages of answers and only recently after Attorney General Holder was in front of our committee did we get a renewed promise that these documents would be forthcoming.”
Issa also said that Congress has “been lied to by the Department of Justice, we’ve been lied to by some of the ATF.”