Politics
Attorney General Eric Holder is seen at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Wednesday, April 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen) Attorney General Eric Holder is seen at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Wednesday, April 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)  

Few actions, minimal compliance from Holder on Fast and Furious subpoena

Photo of Matthew Boyle
Matthew Boyle
Investigative Reporter

A draft of a ”contempt of Congress” citation House Republicans released on Thursday shows that Attorney General Eric Holder is still far from complying with a congressional subpoena over Operation Fast and Furious. And even within the categories of the subpoena where his Department of Justice has taken some action, Holder’s document production has been minimal.

Rep. Darrell Issa, who chairs the House Oversight committee, subpoenaed 22 categories of information about the evolving firearms scandal on Oct. 12. But according to Issa’s contempt of Congress citation draft, Holder hasn’t provided any documents reflecting 13 of those categories — including some that reference him personally.

In a briefing paper accompanying the drafted contempt citation, Issa said Holder hasn’t “completely fulfilled” any of the categories in which Justice has produced documents.

The DOJ has provided some, but not all, documents Issa subpoenaed that connect holder and 15 other high-ranking Justice officials to “Operation Fast and Furious, the Jacob Chambers case, or any Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) firearms trafficking case based in Phoenix, Arizona.”

According to the draft contempt citation, in “late October 2011, the Department acknowledged that it had ‘already begun searches’” for those documents. But to date, Justice has not turned over any files connecting Holder and four other officials to the gun-walking scandal, the citation shows. Holder has produced “only two documents” related to another official and “very few” linked with two others.

David Ogden, a former Deputy Attorney General, is one official for whom Justice’s document production has been nonexistent. But Ogden was on record in early 2009 describing the genesis of what would later become Fast and Furious. As the Obama administration began to revamp Project Gunrunner, a Bush administration program aimed at combating drug cartels and trafficking, Ogden explained the program’s rationale during a March 24, 2009 press conference.

President Barack Obama, he said then, “has directed us to take action to fight these cartels, and Attorney General Holder and I are taking several new and aggressive steps as part of the administration’s comprehensive plan.” (RELATED: Full coverage of Operation Fast and Furious)

“DOJ’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [ATF] is increasing its efforts by adding 47 more employees and three new offices and $10 million of Recovery Act [stimulus] funds,” Ogden said of the new policies, “and redeploying 100 personnel to the Southwest Border in the next 45 days to fortify its Project Gunrunner, which is aimed at disrupting arms trafficking between the United States and Mexico.”

“ATF is doubling its presence in Mexico itself from 5 to 9 personnel working with the Mexicans specifically to facilitate gun tracing activity which targets the illegal weapons and their sources in the United States.”

Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote a Feb. 4, 2011 letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley that contained a provably false statement. “ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico,” he wrote.

The DOJ withdrew letter in late 2011 after acknowledging that statement was false.