House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, ripped Attorney General Eric Holder again in another Monday letter.
The top Republicans investigating the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Operation Fast and Furious also blasted Holder for allegations that he allowed his Justice Department to skew potential witnesses by prepping them with access to background information.
In this new letter, Issa and Grassley name 12 senior Justice Department political officials they believe may have been involved in the decision which allowed guns into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. They asked Holder to provide all records relating to communications between those 12 individuals regarding Operation Fast and Furious.
“As our investigation into Operation Fast and Furious has progressed, we have learned that senior officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ), including Senate-confirmed political appointees, were unquestionably aware of the implementation of this reckless program,” Grassley and Issa wrote to Holder. “Therefore it is necessary to review communications between and among these senior officials.”
Obama administration officials Issa and Grassley named in their letter were:
- –Former Deputy Attorney General David Ogden –Deputy Attorney General James Cole –Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer –Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco –Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein –Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Keeney –Associate Deputy Attorney General Matt Axelrod –Former Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed Siskel –Gary Grindler in the Office of the Attorney General –Brad Smith, in the office of the Deputy Attorney General –Kevin Carwile, section chief of the Capital Case Unit –Joseph Cooley, in the Criminal Fraud Section
The records Issa and Grassley are requesting include emails, memos, briefing papers and handwritten notes. They also requested any records concerning any large weapons trafficking cases within ATF or in Phoenix. The deadline they gave Holder is July 18 at noon.
Operation Fast and Furious and Project Gunrunner were ATF programs the administration aimed at stopping guns from getting into the hands of criminals in Mexico.
With Operation Fast and Furious, Obama administration officials permitted “straw purchasers” to buy guns and then to sell them to Mexican drug cartels with the goal of tracking the flow of arms to determine how the market functioned. The program backfired with criminals ending up getting guns.
Most egregiously, two U.S. Border Patrol agents were killed by drug cartels using Operation Fast and Furious guns.