U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa pressed Attorney General Eric Holder to come clean on Operation Fast and Furious — saying new information from wiretaps indicated that top White House officials knew more about the ill-fated gunrunning scheme than they have told Congress.
“The wiretap applications show that immense detail about questionable investigative tactics was available to the senior officials who reviewed and authorized them,” Issa, R-Calif., said in letter data on Tuesday, according to Fox
. “The close involvement of these officials — much greater than previously known — is shocking.”
Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, added: “Throughout the course of the congressional investigation . . ., the [Justice] Department has consistently denied that any senior officials were provided information about the tactics used in Operation Fast and Furious.
“The wiretap applications obtained by the committee show such statements made by senior department officials regarding the wiretaps to be false and misleading,” Issa said.
The committee chairman wants Holder to tell Congress what more the administration knew — and when. Holder, who has not responded to Issa’s letter, has refused to produce documents that committee officials have subpoenaed and has said he has given congressional investigators all of the relevant information.
Operation Fast and Furious was started in 2006 and run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It provided thousands of guns to supposed arms dealers at the U.S.-Mexico border in hopes of finding those who organized drug cartels.
But the weapons were used in Mexican street crimes — and one was purportedly used in a 2010 gun battle that killed U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
The wiretaps sought to allow investigators in Arizona to listen to the phone calls of suspects in hopes of revealing evidence of involvement by high-level Mexican cartel associates. The six applications for wiretaps detail specific actions taken by agents involved in the operation, the committee said on Tuesday in a statement.
The wiretaps have been sealed by a federal judge.
The information shows the officials made “conscious decisions” not to interdict weapons that agents knew were illegally purchased by smugglers taking weapons to Mexico, the statement said.
In October, Issa subpoenaed the remaining documents on the operation — and last month asked House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to back his plans to hold Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to meet the subpoena deadline.
The committee also said the information in the wiretaps had been requested in the subpoena. The content of the wiretaps cannot be made public because they remain sealed.
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