On November 3, the day before the midterm elections, the Department of Justice released over 64,000 pages of materials pertaining to BATFE’s Operation Fast and Furious, to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Some, including former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson who helped break the Fast and Furious story, have suggested that the timing of the document dump was cynically calculated to ensure the release of the documents would not receive adequate press coverage.
The documents had long been sought by the Oversight Committee, but the Obama administration exercised Executive Privilege to avoid turning them over. The Obama DOJ’s lack of cooperation led to a vote in the House holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to produce the materials.
While the release of the documents certainly represents a major step forward in discovering the truth about Operation Fast and Furious, Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) was quick to point out the administration’s continued stonewalling. In a November 4 statement, Rep. Issa noted, “Since these pages still do not represent the entire universe of the documents the House of Representatives is seeking related to the Justice Department’s cover-up of the botched gun-walking scandal that contributed to the death of a Border Patrol agent, our court case will continue. I am deeply concerned that some redactions to these documents may still be inappropriate and contrary to the judge’s order in the case.”
Despite the grave consequences of BATFE’s operational mistakes, early information from the release indicates that Holder took a dismissive view of concerns about Fast and Furious. In one email, Holder dismissed congressional interest in the matter as simply a way to “suck up to the gun lobby.”
The DOJ release comes on the heels of recent revelations about newly discovered Fast and Furious victims contained in documents forced into the light by a lawsuit from Judicial Watch. According to a letter from Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Issa to Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, an AK-pattern rifle from the botched operation was used in a shootout that injured two in Phoenix, Ariz. The gun was one of dozens bought in a single day by a man under BATFE surveillance. BATFE let the man continue his criminal activity, presumably with the goal of advancing an investigation.
With congressional staff poring over the latest document release, we will keep you updated with the latest information in the hunt for the truth about Fast and Furious.
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