Attorney General Eric Holder in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee Thursday maintained that he and his top deputies didn‚??t know anything, can‚??t remember anything, and have no intention of complying with lawful subpoenas from Congress regarding Operation Fast and Furious, a government-run program that put guns into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
Holder acknowledged that he‚??s only turned over 7,600 of the 140,000 Fast and Furious documents he‚??s sitting on, and indicated that‚??s about as good as it‚??s going to get.
This did not sit well with the clearly exasperated Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who is chairman of the House Oversight Committee and the lead House investigator into Operation Fast and Furious. ‚??You‚??re not a good witness,‚?Ě Issa snapped at one point, when Holder made one of his periodic efforts to pretend that providing five percent of the required material constitutes fulfillment of his subpoenas. ‚??A good witness answers the question that was asked.‚?Ě
Fast and Furious was an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms gun-tracking operation conducted in Arizona that allowed more than 2,000 firearms to ‚??walk‚?Ě into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. The death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was blamed on the program, because after he was killed in December 2010 shootout, two Fast and Furious weapons were found. More of the weapons have been found at crime scenes inside Mexico.
How did he respond to questions about wiretap applications, smuggled out of Justice by a whistleblower, which prove beyond question that Holder‚??s inner circle was well aware of ‚??gun walking‚?Ě tactics, long before Agent Terry‚??s death? Holder blamed George Bush and claimed that high officials in his department don‚??t review wiretap applications before signing them‚??they skim over brief summaries and ignore details not directly related to the request for electronic surveillance.
For his part, now that Issa and his whistleblowers have brought the wiretap applications to his attention, Holder said, ‚??I have read those, and I have read Wide Receiver as well,‚?Ě referring to the vastly smaller Bush-era gun walking program. ‚??I can say that what has happened in connection with Fast and Furious was done in the same way‚?¶ wiretap applications were done in the same way under the previous Administration in Wide Receiver.‚?Ě
Asked when the White House was made aware of the gun walking tactics employed by Operation Fast and Furious, Holder essentially said his staffers briefed the White House but didn‚??t brief him; so, he doesn‚??t know what anybody said, or when they said it. When Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) demanded to know who authorized Fast and Furious, Holder referred him to the eternally ‚??in progress‚?Ě internal Justice Department investigation. He said he doesn‚??t know how many guns have been recovered, or, how many are still missing.
An astonished Chaffetz said, ‚??The email says Fast and Furious, you say it doesn‚??t. I‚??ve got it in black and white.‚?Ě
‚??I have superior knowledge,‚?Ě was Holder‚??s ultimate response.