Issa's Bombshell

It sure isn’t looking good for Attorney General Eric Holder nowadays.  Last Thursday a certain bombshell landed in the congressional record, courtesy of Congressman Darrell Issa.  If last week weren’t so chock full of news already, this bombshell would be the talk of the town.

The affidavit Issa inserted into the congressional record outlined what was known about the Fast and Furious Operation as of March 2010.  The affidavit has it all: straw purchasers of assault weapons, walk-overs to Mexico, deliveries to drug cartel thugs, termination of surveillance, everything.  Kind of like a Vince Flynn novel, except this operation was real and had an actual body count.  The Fast and Furious operation was in full bloom, and this was only March, 2010.

The date is critical because a February 4, 2011 letter from the Justice Department to Senator Grassley of the Senate Judiciary Committee stated that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) did not allow assault weapons to be sold to straw purchasers and then walked into Mexico.  In other words, the February 2011 letter stated that there was no Fast and Furious operation at all.  The letter was withdrawn by the Department in December, 2011.

As he inserted the affidavit into the congressional record last week, Issa said “The enclosed wiretap affidavit contains clear information that agents were willfully allowing known straw buyers to acquire firearms for drug cartels and failing to interdict them-in some cases even allowing them to walk to Mexico.  In particular, the affidavit explicitly describes the most controversial tactic of all: abandoning surveillance of known straw purchasers, resulting in the failure to interdict firearms,” Issa said.  “The affidavit explicitly describes the most controversial tactic of all: abandoning surveillance of known straw purchasers, resulting in the failure to interdict arms,” Issa wrote in a letter he placed in the Congressional Record, found here.   Seems Darrell Issa has no sense of humor with letters that mislead.

The internal Justice Department deliberations about that February 2011 denial were the subject of the recent contempt of Congress vote – Holder didn’t want to disclose the internal deliberations about what to do about this misleading letter, so memos and e-mails of those deliberations were withheld.  Hence the vote to hold Holder in contempt of Congress.

Adding to further suspicion to the whole operation of the Justice Department, in June 7 testimony Attorney General Eric Holder testified that Justice Department wiretap applications did not contain any details and that the applications were reviewed narrowly for probable cause, not for whether any investigatory tactics contained followed Justice Department policy.  Holder should consider withdrawing that testimony too.

As with other scandals, this one has a certain drip, drip, drip of repeated evasions and skirting of the truth.  Recall that in congressional testimony in May, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder testified to Congress that he had first heard about the Fast and Furious scandal within the past few weeks.  Subsequent e-mails showed that Mr. Holder had been briefed on Fast and Furious almost a year earlier.

So, given the misleading February 4, 2011 letter to Senator Grassley, the false claim that he had only heard of Fast and Furious “within the past few weeks,” even Holder’s false description of wiretaps affidavits with the Justice Department, the obvious question arises:  for how long and how often has Attorney General Holder been misleading the Congress about Fast and Furious?