WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Eric Holder may soon be facing contempt charges issued by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-California). Congressman Issa threatened last December to hold Holder in contempt of Congress but this time he has formalized it in a letter. According to Issa, Holder has until Thursday, Feb. 9 to comply.
In the letter to the Attorney General, Issa wrote, “this committee will have no alternative but to move forward with proceedings to hold you in contempt of Congress” if Holder and the Department of Justice don’t produce documents relating to the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal.
Issa accused the Justice Department of trying to “obstruct our investigation and deceive the public” by withholding documents. “Your actions lead us to conclude that the department is actively engaged in a cover-up,” he said in the four-page letter.
The California Republican is specifically referring to a document released by the DOJ last week. That official DOJ document indicated Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer had promoted “gun-walking” to Mexico on the very day Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich denied the DOJ’s approval of gun walking in a letter to Congress.
“It is inconceivable that the Department just became aware of this highly damaging document,” writes Issa, pointing out that the Oversight Committee had originally issued a subpoena on Oct. 12, 2011.
The House Oversight Committee has not been provided with a number of documents it requested and has demanded their release to the committee by Feb. 9 at 5 p.m. But a DOJ official told POLITICO, “The department has worked with the committee over the last year providing numerous witnesses for interviews, officials for testimony at hearings and thousands of pages of documents and we will continue to do so.”
Holder is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee today, his sixth appearance before Congress regarding Fast and Furious over the past year. Democrats on the Oversight Committee released a document Monday they say that proves that gun-walking has been used as far back as 2006. They claim this document was used in three previous investigations before Fast and Furious.
Through the Fast and Furious program, weapons were allowed to be illegally purchased in order to track gun traffickers and drug cartel leaders. But the ATF, which operates within the DOJ, lost track of these firearms, and many were allowed to cross into Mexico. Firearms linked to the operation were later found to have been involved in the December 2010 shooting death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, causing the current public attention.
It has been speculated that the Department of Justice was going to use the Fast and Furious operation to prove that more stringent gun control laws were needed in the United States. It’s no secret that the Obama administration is no fan of the Second Amendment and that by allowing the trafficking of these arms (against the express wishes of the gun dealers involved, the laws of the United States, and the laws of Mexico), they could fudge the numbers significantly to create the perception that more controls were needed in an effort to rein in “gun-related” crime.
The American people have a right to be concerned when the federal government goes to such lengths to take away Second Amendment rights. Already we’ve seen the dismantling of the Fourth Amendment, and it’s unclear whether the Tenth Amendment has any teeth left to it.
Now, not only has the US Congress begun investigations, but so has their counterpart in Mexico as well. Some within the Mexican government are even calling the Obama operation an act of war. At least 200 Mexican law enforcement and military personnel have been killed in the last year by guns traced directly “Fast and Furious.”
High officials in the ATF have refused to be scapegoats for the DOJ’s bungling of Fast and Furious. Whatever happens next, it is beginning to look like Holder will not be able to keep passing the blame.