Holder to Face Congressional Grilling on Fast and Furious

Monday, 05 Dec 2011 08:56 PM

By Martin Gould

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Attorney General Eric Holder is preparing to appear before Congress on Thursday to explain the gunrunning scandal, Fast and Furious. But the only question he has to answer is why the scheme was ever greenlighted, says conservative columnist Michael Walsh.

And if he can’t answer satisfactorily, President Barack Obama has to join the presidential candidates, senators and more than 50 members of Congress who are demanding that Holder resign, Walsh writes in the New York Post.

“It was all a lie,” Walsh writes. “The angry denials, the high dudgeon, the how-dare-you-accuse-us bleating emanating from Eric Holder’s Justice Department these last nine months.”

Holder’s evidence before the House Oversight Committee is seen as critical, because the Department of Justice has squirmed under relentless Republican pressure to explain Fast and Furious.

His appearance comes after new documents the department released on Friday showed that at least some Justice officials knew about the scheme long before they have previously admitted.

Deputy Attorney General James Cole also said that a letter sent to congressional investigators led by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley in February has now been withdrawn because it was “contained inaccuracies.” The letter from Assistant Attorney General Ron Welch said allegations that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) “sanctioned or otherwise knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons . . . is false,” adding that the agency “makes every effort to inderdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.”

Cole now accepts that that letter “contains inaccuracies.”

Under Fast and Furious, the ATF allowed so-called “straw purchasers” to buy at least 1,400 weapons even though it knew they were likely to end up in the hands of violent Mexican drug cartels.

The guns were supposed to be traced, the ATF lost track of all of them. Many have since been used in hundreds of crimes on both sides of the border, including the murders of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in Arizona and immigration officer Jaime Zapata, who was working out of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.

Walsh contends that the critical question for Holder is: “Why did Justice, the ATF and an alphabet soup of federal agencies facilitate the transfer of guns across the border — without the knowledge of Mexican authorities — when they knew they couldn’t trace them properly?”

“It’s time for the months of lies to end,” Walsh added. “But don’t hold your breath. The administration recently sealed the court records relating to agent Terry’s murder and – a year later – the one man arrested hasn’t been tried.”

The Justice Department released 1,400 pages of documents on Friday. According to The New York Times, many of them focus on arguments between officials in the department about how much information should be disclosed to Congress about the man who bought the guns that were involved in Terry’s death.

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