Testifying before an intensely partisan Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder only deepened suspicions about the Department of Justice’s possible criminal involvement in a gunwalking operation known as Operation Fast and Furious. The scheme saw the federal government provide more than 2,000 firearms to Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel.
Holder presented the improbable case that he was not responsible for — or even aware of — the plot:
I have ultimate responsibility for that which happens in the Department, but I cannot be expected to know the details for every operation that is ongoing in the Justice Department on a day-to-day basis. I did not know about Fast and Furious as is indicated in the chart that you have up there until I guess, well, until it became public.
Operation Fast and Furious was run primarily by the DOJ, but involved Obama administration officials spread across four Cabinet-level departments, and included direct links to the White House’s National Security Council.
Attorney General Holder’s claim that he was ignorant of one of the most deadly political scandals in U.S. history, which was run out of his department with key input and the understanding of his top lieutenants, is simply not credible.
“Unfortunately, earlier this year the House of Representatives actually voted to keep law enforcement in the dark when individuals purchase multiple semi-automatic rifles and shotguns in Southwest border gun shops,” Holder’s written testimony declares. “Providing law enforcement with the tools to detect and disrupt illegal gun trafficking is entirely consistent with the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens and it is critical to addressing the public safety crisis on the Southwest border.”
It took considerable gall for Holder to make that allegation against Congress: the long-gun reporting requirement he mentioned was suggested by the Department of Justice to combat a problem that they had created with Operation Fast and Furious.
The hearing was full of jaw-dropping moments. For the first time, Holder conceded the obvious fact: Justice was responsible for firearms being “walked” to Mexican drug lords:
“I want to be clear: any instance of so-called ‘gun-walking’ is simply unacceptable,” Holder said in his opening statement before the Senate Judiciary committee. “Regrettably, this tactic was used as part of Fast and Furious, which was launched to combat gun trafficking and violence on our Southwest border. This operation was flawed in concept, as well as in execution. And, unfortunately, we will feel its effects for years to come as guns that were lost during this operation continue to show up at crime scenes both here and in Mexico.”
The concession came after months of the Department’s top officials claiming that just the opposite was true, until the compiled evidence was insurmountable.
Holder also claimed he did not commit perjury in May, when he claimed under oath that he had first heard about gunwalking just weeks before the hearing. Yet a series of five memos addressed to the attorney general were received ten months before, as was a detailed public statement from President Obama and letter from Senator Charles Grassley dated nine months before his testimony.
The attorney general also claimed that he had other “regrets” involving operation Fast and Furious, including a February letter from the Justice Department that blatantly lied and claimed there was never any gunwalking in the operation. Holder also voiced regret that Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was gunned down — though in the testimony’s most shocking moment, he posited that it was not fair to claim Operation Fast and Furious was responsible for Terry’s death. He made this statement despite the fact that the current official story from the DOJ claims the only two weapons recovered from the murder scene were traced to the operation.