Atty. Gen. Holder Fires Back About Fast and Furious: “My Testimony Was Truthful and Accurate”

Atty. Gen. Holder/doj file photo
 By Allan Lengel

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. fired off a forceful letter to key Congressional members on Friday, calling allegations that he lied before Congress about his knowledge of ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious totally unfounded.

“My testimony was truthful and accurate and I have been consistent on this point throughout,” Holder wrote in a five page letter addressed to six Congressional members including Rep. Darrel Issa, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Charles Grassley and Rep. John Conyers Jr.

“I have no recollection of knowing about Fast and Furious or of hearing its name prior to the public controversy about it.”

Operation Fast and Furious caused a stir after it became public that ATF was encouraging gun dealers in Arizona  to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing them to Mexican cartels. Problem was, ATF lost track of some guns that surfaced at crime scenes on both sides of the border. Some Congressional members have claimed in recent weeks that Holder lied before Congress earlier this year  when he said he was unaware of the program until the controversy surfaced.

But Holder wrote: “Prior to early 2011, 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 Deputy Director and Director of ATF have told Congress that they, themselves, were unaware of the tactics employed.”

“In the past few days, some have pointed to documents that we provided to Congress as evidence that I was familiar with Fast and Furious earlier than I have testified.

“That simply is not the case and those suggestions mischaracterize the process by which I receive information concerning the activities of the Department’s many components .”

“On a weekly basis, my office typically receives over a hundred pages of so-called “weekly reports” that, while addressed to me, actually are provided to and reviewed by members of my staff and the staff of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General….Please note that none of these summaries say anything about the unacceptable tactics employed by ATF.”

“Attorneys in my office and in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General review these weekly reports and bring to my attention only those matters deemed to require my consideration or action; given the volume of material to which I must devote my attention, I do not and cannot read them cover-to-cover.”

Rep. Lamar Smith, head of the House Judiciary has called for the White House to assign an independent counsel to investigate whether Holder’s testimony was truthful.

Frederick R. Hill, a spokesman for the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, of which Rep. Issa chairs, issued  a statement Friday in response to the letter saying:

“If Attorney General Holder had said these things five months ago when Congress asked him about Operation Fast and Furious, it might have been more believable.

” At this point, however, it’s hard to take at face value a defense that is factually questionable, entirely self-serving, and a still incomplete account of what senior Justice Department officials knew about gun walking.”

Read Letter 

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