In a blistering letter to Attorney General Eric Holder delivered Wednesday, Kent Terry – the brother of murdered Border Patrol agent Brian Terry – questioned why, years later, the Terry family still does not have the truth about Operation Fast and Furious.
“Mr. Holder I am going to get right to the point of this letter,” he wrote. “I am not pleased with your behavior as America’s Attorney General. Simply denying that you had no knowledge about Operation Fast and Furious is troubling in itself, but for you to not comply with Congress is even more troubling. It is shocking to know that the Attorney General of the United States had no knowledge or was not made aware of Fast and Furious until after the death of my brother, Brian Terry.”
Terry continued his letter by writing that he questions why – if Holder really did not know about Fast and Furious – he has not held anybody in the Department of Justice or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives accountable for the scandal.
“For you Mr. Holder to be so ill served by your own advisers on your watch is unbelievable,” he wrote. “If that is the case, then you would think there would be accountability to your so called advisers who did not inform you,” Terry wrote, adding, “Where is the accountability Mr. Holder?”
In 2009, at the beginning of the Obama administration, ATF agents employed a strategy in which they allowed about 2,000 AK-47s and other high-powered rifles to be smuggled to Mexican drug cartels. The controversial law enforcement tactic used in Fast and Furious – known as “gunwalking” – involved allowing guns suspected to be purchased for smuggling to escape law enforcement surveillance.
At Terry’s murder scene in Peck Canyon in Arizona, about 17 miles inside the U.S. border with Mexico, law enforcement officials recovered two rifles connected to the operation. Fast and Furious was also connected to the murder of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer Jaime Zapata in Mexico, and numerous other murders of innocent civilians throughout that country.
After Terry was murdered in late 2010, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) special agent John Dodson stepped forward as a whistleblower. Dodson testified before Congress and has since published a book on his experiences.
His testimony sparked a congressional investigation that has lasted since early 2011. Initially, the DOJ denied the allegations from Dodson and other whistleblowers in a Feb. 4, 2011, letter to Senator Chuck Grassley, but was ultimately forced to withdraw it. Holder himself failed to comply with a series of subpoenas from Issa’s committee, which resulted in a claim of executive privilege from President Barack Obama himself, and criminal and civil contempt of Congress votes censuring Holder. The civil contempt vote launched a still-ongoing House lawsuit against the administration’s failure to comply with the subpoena and Obama’s executive privilege claim. More than a hundred members of Congress called for Holder’s resignation over the matter leading up to the 2012 elections.
In the next parts of his letter, Terry cites the investigations from the House Committee on Oversight and Government and the DOJ’s own Inspector General to note that “more than a dozen officials” at ATF and DOJ were responsible for Fast and Furious, many of whom have seen no level of accountability whatsoever for their actions.
“Mr. Holder, answer me this, why are ATF agents and other agencies that were involved in Operation Fast and Furious still actively holding jobs and actively working?” Terry wrote. “Why are they allowed to carry a gun and a badge? Why are these Agents that were originally involved still making decisions on behalf of the American people which can put Americans in harm’s way?”
Terry then cited the oath of office that government officials, including Holder, take before they take office – that they “do solemnly swear” they will “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic” and so on. Terry argued that Holder’s refusal to comply with the congressional investigation is a violation of that oath.
“Mr. Holder, why not [abide] by this?” Terry asked about the oath. “Why hide behind executive privilege? It’s your job to uphold the law and hold those accountable for such an illegal crime as Operation Fast and Furious. You need to release the documents to show who is responsible for such an act that led to the deaths of two federal agents who gave their all to their country. They were both brave and protected their country with honor and integrity. What has their country given them in return? Is this really your all Mr. Holder?”
Terry continued by calling Holder a “coward of an attorney general” and questioning his integrity.
“Somewhere deep inside you must have some conscience; do the honorable thing and have some integrity as an attorney general,” Terry wrote. “You have children, wouldn’t you want… justice for your children? Of course you would. These guns will continue to show up at murder scenes in the future, and I am sure you don’t want more blood on your hands. So I ask you: stop misleading my family and the American people. Stop obstruction of justice. My family has been through enough grief with the loss of my brother, and to have no answers for why [his blood was spilled] on this soil is upsetting to me and my family; our lives are shattered for the rest of our lives and will never be the same.”