In a scathing report released today, the House Oversight Committee took aim at former Obama accomplice Attorney General Eric Holder and his Department of Justice for covering up Operation Fast and Furious and deliberately misleading Congress’ investigation into the ill-conceived gun-running operation. Congresses nearly 300-page report says that the Justice Department under Holder “actively tried to hide the facts from the loved ones of slain Border Patrol Brian Terry, seeing his family as more of a nuisance than one deserving straight answers and at times being openly hostile to them.”
Border Patrol Officer Terry was murdered Dec. 14, 2010, during a gunfight between Border Patrol agents and members of a six-man cartel “rip crew,” that regularly patrolled the desert along the U.S.-Mexico border looking for drug dealers to rob. The cartel member suspected of slaying the Border Patrol agent, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes, was apprehended in April by a joint U.S.-Mexico law enforcement task force.
Officer Terry’s death brought to light Operation Fast and Furious, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) operation, where the government allowed criminals to buy guns in Phoenix-area shops with the intention of tracking them once they made their way into Mexico. But either deliberately or through incompetence, the agency lost track of more than 1,400 of the 2,000 guns they allowed smugglers to buy. Two of those guns were found at the scene of Terry’s killing.
“More than five years after Brian’s murder, the Terry family still wonders about key details of Operation Fast and Furious,” the report states. “The Justice Department’s obstruction of Congress’s investigation contributed to the Terry family’s inability to find answers.”
The new report pulls no punches, saying that the Justice Department knew before Terry’s death in 2010 that the ATF was “walking” firearms into Mexico and that officials knew within 24 hours after Terry’s murder that weapons from Fast and Furious were involved in the shootout. Then compounded the cover-up by denying these facts to the media.
The report also says that Holder’s Justice Department continued to stonewall repeated inquiries from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and lied by telling him that the “ATF makes every effort to interdict” firearms purchased by straw buyers. That is the term used to describe the purchase of a weapon by one person for another person who is legally prohibited from purchasing it themselves. That act has been long prohibited by U.S. Law but is still a popular method used by Mexican drug cartels use to obtain weapons.
The House Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, was holding a hearing Wednesday on the panel’s lengthy report. That meeting could result in a recommendation that charges be brought for contempt of Congress against Mr. Holder and others in the former administration.