On February 14th I received an email from House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) office, containing a copy of a letter the Congressman just sent to Attorney General Eric Holder. In it, Issa points out Holder’s “lack of good faith,” in not complying with document requests heretofore, and to the fact that the DOJ as a whole appears “more concerned with protecting its image through spin control than actually cooperating with Congress.”
The Justice Department’s request for additional time has, unfortunately, not been followed by efforts to bridge the significant differences between its legal obligation to Congress and the reality of its stonewalling. The [House Oversight and Government Reform Committee] is determined to know what happened in Operation Fast and Furious and how the Justice Department responded when it was publicly confronted with evidence of reckless conduct after Agent Terry’s death. If the Justice Department cannot commit to providing, at a minimum, a detailed description of documents it is withholding, and the legal basis for doing so, then the committee has no other option than to move forward with the contempt process against Attorney General Holder.
In addition, the letter sets forth central questions that have to be answers, among which are:
1. Exactly how and when did senior Department officials learn the truth of what happened?
2. Did Department officials retaliate against whistleblowers?
3. Why did Department officials decide to move forward with prosecuting old cases involving highly objectionable tactics when line prosecutors had refused to do so?
4. Why did senior Department officials fail to see the clear connection between Fast and Furious and prior flawed operations they have admitted they knew about?
5. When did the Department first learn about Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer’s February 2011 suggestion of gunwalking, and why did the Department wait so long before telling Congress about it?
6. A year later, will the responsible senior Department officials be held accountable?
The letter also contains a specific line of questions about Patrick Cunningham, Chief of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona, who pled the 5th when subpoenaed by Issa. Apparently, Cunningham did his own “comprehensive review” of Fast and Furious in April 2011, and Issa wants to know what he found out.
Wrote Issa: “What information did Cunningham uncover To whom did he report this information? What was done with this information?”
Issa ended his letter thus:
[And] this is not an “election year political ‘gotcha’ game,” but rather a bipartisan sentiment. As Ranking Member [Elijah] Cummings (D-MD) promised the family of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, “we will not rest until every single person responsible for all of this, no matter where they are, are brought to justice.” I applaud his revolve, and I want to make it clear that Congress will not give up until this accountability has been achieved.