Justice Rejects Lawmakers’ Complaints on Probe of ‘Fast and Furious’
- May 15, 2012, 6:18 PM
By Evan PerezThe Justice Department said “the core questions” have been answered in the ongoing “Fast and Furious” gun-trafficking controversy, rejecting lawmakers’ complaints that the department has failed to cooperate with a congressional probe of the matter.
Mr. Cole made his remarks in a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa, (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who in recent weeks has sought support from fellow Republicans for the contempt citation. Mr. Cole said department was withholding documents that could threaten disclosures of sensitive law enforcement information in ongoing cases, but held out hope for a “mutually acceptable resolution.”
The dispute centers on a 2009-2010 operation run by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Phoenix, Ariz., aimed at building a case against suspected firearms smugglers. The agents allowed suspected smugglers to buy about 2,000 firearms, without interdicting the weapons, and some have since turned up at crime scenes in the U.S. and Mexico.
Mr. Issa released a report earlier this month that laid out the case for contempt, citing what he said was the department’s failure to respond to subpoenas for documents, and for allegedly retaliating against whistleblowers who brought Fast and Furious to the attention of lawmakers.
Mr. Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley, (R., Iowa) have led the congressional probe of Fast and Furious and both have complained that the department has been slow to cooperate.
“The Justice Department’s failure to respond appropriately to the allegations of whistleblowers and to cooperate with congressional oversight has crossed the line of appropriate conduct for a government agency,” said Mr. Issa’s report, contained in a draft contempt citation.
Mr. Cole, in his letter, cited the fact that Congress has never held an attorney general in contempt over documents related to open criminal investigations. He said the committee’s request for information on wiretaps and about government informants working for U.S. law enforcement agencies would expose sensitive details of ongoing investigations and expose informants to retaliation from violent drug cartels.