Republican lawmakers are calling for drastic reform in the Department of Justice following the inspector general’s report on Operation Fast & Furious.
Fast & Furious was the government gun walking scheme that is linked to the deaths of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and over 300 Mexicans. In July, the House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress because he refused to comply with a subpoena from October 8, 2011.
“There were a serious lack of controls in place in both the U.S. attorney’s office and ATF operation,” said IG Michael Horowitz. “There has to be a serious review and vetting of operations like this… and how to prevent that going forward, is watching carefully to make sure, in fact, the reforms we’re all talking about aren’t lost once the headlines of the report go away — that there is oversight.”
Republicans focused on the fact that Mr. Holder and other top Department of Justice officials, especially his second hand man Lanny Breuer, didn’t know details about the operation that they should have.
“Lanny Breuer looked me dead in the eye and told me that, in fact, there was nothing wrong with Fast and Furious — it was bad work on the ground,” said Chairman Darrell Issa. “And I can’t understand for the life of me how he could have believed it and still have his job.”
On June 5th Chairman Issa sent a letter to Mr. Holder about wiretap applications he was given by a whistleblower. Top DOJ officials, including Mr. Breuer, approved these applications. All six had a memo written by an official, and Mr. Breuer’s memos were specifically marked for Emory Hurley, the lead prosecutor for Fast & Furious.
The IG report shows that even if information was brought to his office about Fast & Furious, AG Holder said he didn’t need to know it. He told the IG if someone in his office was informed the weapons used to murder Agent Terry were linked to Fast & Furious, he wouldn’t expect them to inform him. Yet his own chief of staff said Mr. Holder should have been informed of such developments. Everyone around Mr. Holder except for Mr. Holder himself thinks he should have been given this information.
Mr. Horowitz did acknowledge the majority of the documents the DOJ didn’t turn over should be given to the Oversight Committee. Mr. Holder has only given about 8,000 documents out of hundreds of thousands.
The DOJ handed over 300 documents this week.