Last Updated:October 20 @ 08:03 am

AG Holder answers critics on gun-smuggling issue

By Pete Yost

WASHINGTON (AP) - Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday that his testimony to Congress about a controversial gun-smuggling probe was truthful and accurate and that Republicans are engaging in political posturing when they say otherwise.

In his most forceful criticism of Republicans during his time as attorney general, Holder said that he had said little so far about the gun-smuggling probe because the Justice Department inspector general is investigating it but that he could not sit idly by while a Republican congressman suggested that law enforcement and government employees be considered accessories to murder.

Key Republicans say the attorney general knew many months earlier than he has admitted that the gun-smuggling probe by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives involved agents letting guns pass from small-time straw purchasers to arms traffickers.

"I have no recollection of knowing about" the operation, called 'Fast and Furious,' or of hearing its name prior to the public controversy about it," Holder said in a letter to key Republican and Democratic members of Congress who oversee Justice Department issues.

He said that before early this year, "I certainly never knew about the tactics employed in the operation and it is my understanding that the former United States Attorney for the district of Arizona and the former acting director and deputy director of ATF have told Congress that they, themselves, were unaware of the tactics employed."

He was referring to the tactic known as "letting guns walk" from stores with suspected straw purchasers, rather than seizing them there, in an effort to track them to gun-running kingpins, who had escaped charges in the past.

Operation Fast and Furious came to light after two assault rifles purchased by a now-indicted small-time buyer under scrutiny in the operation turned up at a shootout in Arizona where Customs and Border Protection agent Brian Terry was killed.

In regard to Terry's death, Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican, said that "we're talking about consequences of criminal activity, where we actually allowed guns to walk into the hands of criminals." He said that "when you facilitate that and a murder or a felony occurs, you're called an accessory."

Holder said that "such irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric must be repudiated in the strongest possible terms."

The attorney general noted that the flawed tactics employed in Fast and Furious "were actually employed in an investigation conducted during the prior administration. Regardless, those tactics should never again be adopted in any investigation." Holder was referring to Operation Wide Receiver under the Bush administration, in which ATF ran an operation that allowed hundreds of guns to be transferred to suspected arms traffickers.

This week, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that is looking into Fast and Furious, said Holder had to have known about the operation from weekly written reports he received back in July 2010. House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, called on President Barack Obama to direct the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate.

Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Holder was less than candid in testimony to Congress. In response to Holder's letter, Grassley spokeswoman Beth Levine said that the goals of the senator's investigation of Fast and Furious have been "to find out who approved a stupid program and to make sure it never happened again." She said the Justice Department had stonewalled Grassley's investigation and denied him access to documents and key personnel. The recently released documents "have convinced me that" the attorney general "is either lying or grossly incompetent," said Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, encouraged Holder to "come up to the Hill and clear this up as soon as possible."

The weekly reports cover dozens of investigations and some mentioned Fast and Furious but did not outline the tactics it used.

The president said he has complete confidence in Holder and said he has complete confidence as well in the investigation by the Justice Department inspector general's office into who, in fact, was responsible for the decision to allow guns to move through an illicit network and into the hands of criminals.

Officials say that ATF agents lost track of about 1,400 of more than 2,000 guns identified in the operation. A number of the guns have been recovered at crime scenes in Mexico.

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6 Comments

  1. cxComment by genesal
    October 8, 2011 @ 9:58 am

    000.00bama’s pompousness has rubbed off on Holder.  Holder belongs in Jail.

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  2. cinbadComment by cinbad
    October 8, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

    We have only scratched the surface of corruption contained in this “most transparent administration in history”.  There is nothing in this current administration that passes the sniff test. It stinks of Chicago stockyards and gunpowder. In the months leading up to a Tuesday in November 2008, BHO spoke so eloquently and hypnotically to the masses about government transformation. The shepples bought into this so-called intelligent, refreshing, new age mulatto with his rhythmic cadence meant to lull open, empty minds into moldable putty. So many in fact believed the gobbly-gook spewing forth that they voted for him in droves and made him the most important man on this earth.  Unfortunately, some have never recovered and still find themselves hornswoggled by this president and his cohorts.

    We are living in very sad times, sad indeed. 

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  3. JoeEnglishComment by enraged8hobbit
    October 8, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

    If racist holder is so innocent, why not proove it. He has had ample time to submit the documentation to Issa’s questioning mind. To protest in congress is a delaying tactic. Why? Public support can only decrease by his statement of “I am not a felon” theory he espouses. We have seen enough to proove he knew of the fast and furious program to appoint a Special Prosecuter to look further into it. The more he says he is innocent of wrongdoing the more he looks guilty. At the least he is an incompetent Administer of a fundamentally Important branch of the government. Is he afraid of the truth? Will he submit documentation to proove it or will he throw obumble under the buss as in “He ordered me to do this”? Will that also sink him? We are soon to know for this is comming down around this administrations ears. I have lost some friends because of my beliefs and I should NEVER have had to take sides in such a fundamental abuse of power from MY govt. May God forgive these sinners and may the American people get justice. Thank you for the opportunity to use my first amendment rights. JOE

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  4. onewildmanComment by onewildman
    October 8, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

    Holder is just another lying tongue of Obama. He better go down for this here , first in The USA and then he needs to be sent to Mexico so they can convict him and jail him. That goes for the rest of those who were involved is this conspiracy.
     I say this was and is a conspiracy because I honestly think this was about banning guns. I knew something was going on in 2009 when Hilliary gave a bogus percentage number of guns found at crime scenes in Mexico was just unbelievable. I look into those statistics and found that they lied and how they did it. Instead of giving the true number of guns found the only counted the number guns that were traceable. They also combined guns that were stolen along with the that were sold at gun stores or person to person where it is legal. I commented on this site about when it happened.
     Later that year the ATF was lobbying congress to let them start a gun registration of semi automatic rifles larger than .22 cal. To stem the flow of guns to Mexico. Unknowing to us and Congress they were in the midst of operation Fast & Furious. They already knew who was taking guns to Mexico and they were helping.
     The only reason I can see as logical is: This operation was design to flood Mexico with guns from the US. Hell they even put a million to buy guns for Mexican drug lords. The only reason to flood Mexico with US guns is so we except the UN Gun Treaty and they can take our guns.
     Obama promised the Brady Campaign to handle gun control covertly. What do you suppose that means?
     
    IMPEACH OBAMA NOW! ! ! ! !

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  5. JoeEnglishComment by enraged8hobbit
    October 8, 2011 @ 6:17 pm

    Anyone recall the statement from obumble to sarah brady? “We’re working on it under the radar”

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  6. cxComment by genesal
    October 9, 2011 @ 5:33 pm

    Pressure is intensifying rapidly for the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder over the fatally flawed Operation Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal — with Rep. Paul Gosar demanding that Holder quit immediately and Arizona sheriffs saying he should be fired if he won’t resign.

    Gosar, an Arizona Republican, issued the call for Holder’s resignation on “Fox and Friends” today.

    Meanwhile, Rep. Darrell Issa said on “Fox News Sunday” that his House Oversight and Government Reform Committee may issue subpoenas against top Justice Department officials as early as this week over the controversial Operation Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal. The California Republican indicated that some government actions in the Fast and Furious scheme of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) could have been felonious.

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