A couple of other interesting points NPR found in the document dump:
– Jason Weinstein, a senior aide in the Justice Department’s criminal division, played a key role in drafting the February 2011 letter. Weinstein, who had served as a highly regarded prosecutor in Baltimore and New York for a decade before taking a political appointment at the Justice Department, already had come under scrutiny from Republican lawmakers. They say he had approved the use of wiretaps in the Obama administration’s Fast and Furious operation and he should have dug deeper. The department has acknowledged that the operation sent as many as 2,000 weapons into Mexico but failed to follow them. Many of those guns later ended up at crime scenes on both sides of the border, including near the body of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010.
– Drafts of the Feb. 4 letter reached the highest levels of the Justice Department, as aides to the deputy attorney general (Lanny Breuer) suggested fixes to the language and prodded subordinates to check the facts. In one email chain, a deputy named Lisa Monaco advised against using adjectives such as “categorically” and asked, “why poke the tiger” when it comes to communications with Capitol Hill.
According to NPR, Grassley was less than amused with the document dump:
Grassley, who has been leading an investigation into what went wrong in the Fast and Furious operation for most of this year, says, “the Justice Department can’t have it both ways.” He took to the Senate floor Thursday night to raise a series of new questions about the operation. Many of them could emerge anew next week, when Attorney General Holder testifies in a House oversight hearing December 8.
Burke had a few choice words for Grassley during the drafting of the initial letter. Roll Call magazine reports:
“What is so offensive about this whole project is that Grassley’s staff, acting as willing stooges for the Gun Lobby, have attempted to distract from the incredible success in dismantling [southwest border] gun trafficking operations … but, instead, lobbing this reckless despicable accusation that ATF is complicit in the murder of a fellow federal law enforcement officer,” [Burke] wrote in a Feb. 4 email.
Burke was wrong. What is actually offensive and despicable? Officials of the United States government repeatedly lied to Congress and to the American people. It’s time for Eric Holder to come clean on what he knew and when, and to resign.