Congressman Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has been pressing forward with his investigation into the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF’s) Operation Fast and Furious, also known as Project Gunrunner. Operation Fast and Furious allowed Mexican drug cartels to buy firearms through so-called “straw purchasers.” The operation has been blamed in the death of border patrol agent Brian Terry.
Issa questioned Attorney General Eric Holder on who authorized the operation, and has subpoenaed records from the ATF’s parent department, the Department of Justice. Attorney General Holder testified on the issue before Congress on May 3.
After Congressman Issa failed to elicit any information from the Attorney General on who may have authorized Operation Fast and Furious, Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah asked Attorney General Holder point-blank who authorized the program. Chaffetz noted that the operation was receiving task force funds, which must be approved at the deputy-attorney-general level of DOJ administration. Attorney General Holder did not answer the question directly.
In a separate hearing, Senator Chuck Grassley called it “troubling” that an agency of the government would contribute to the border violence by allowing guns to be trafficked illegally. Senator Grassley says that agents who questioned the program were ignored.
President Obama, Attorney General Holder’s boss, has previously blamed the violence in Mexico on the flow of weapons going from the U.S. to Mexico. At the time, it was not known that his administration was facilitating that flow. The president said, “We have to stem the southbound flow of guns and cash.”