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Justice Dept. Barks Back: Accuses Rep. Issa of Ginning Up Controversy in Fast and Furious Probe

Rep. Issa/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The war of words is heating up between the Justice Department and key Republican Congressional members over the controversial ATF program known as Operation Fast and Furious.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) this week renewed accusations that the Justice Department is stonewalling a Congressional inquiry into the controversial gun program Operation Fast and Furious, which encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to middlemen or straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels.

Issa sent a July 5 letter to Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. renewing those accusations after acting ATF director Ken Melson talked to Congressional investigators over the July 4 weekend. Melson allegedly claimed the Justice Dept. was obstructing the Congressional inquiry.

But the Daily Caller reported that Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich responded in a July 6 letter accusing Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.) of ginning up controversy. He also denied their allegations that the Justice Department hasn’t been transparant.

“We are puzzled by your criticism of the Department for its efforts to facilitate the Committee’s access to documents and witnesses,” Weich wrote, according to the Daily Caller. “Indeed, those concerns seem flatly inconsistent with statements that Chairman Issa has made on this subject in the recent past.”

Weich also noted that Issa said at a June 15 hearing that the Justice Department had made a breakthrough by producing documents and other information, according to the Daily Caller.

“Yet, just a few weeks later and notwithstanding the Department’s continuing production of documents, that ‘breakthrough’ has been re-characterized as an effort to prevent the Committee from receiving the information it requested,” Weich wrote.


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