Shelby: In the past five years, 94,000 weapons were recovered in Mexico. Nearly two-thirds of them have been traced to American sources. That is why U.S. officials came up with an operation to crack down on the illegal gun trade. But things didn’t go as planned, and now some are answering to Congress.
For the first time, Attorney General Holder made a difficult admission to Congress this week.
Attorney General Holder: Any instance of so-called gunwalking is unacceptable. Regrettably, this tactic was used as part of Fast and Furious.
Shelby: Under Holder’s supervision, Operation Fast and Furious was supposed to be a sting. Using a technique known as gunwalking, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, or ATF, was to trace high-powered weapons as they illegally crossed the U.S./Mexico border and walked into the hands of criminals. The goal was to take down a Mexican drug cartel, but the operation backfired. Some of the more than 2,000 guns that were allowed to cross the border showed up at crime scenes in Arizona and Mexico. Two of them were found at the murder scene of border patrol agent Brian Terry. Now, Holder and the ATF are under fire.
“I feel like we’ve been betrayed by our government in Washington, D.C. and we need answers.”
“To arm the criminals that come through our state, in transporting drugs and transporting people is unconscionable.”
Shelby: Kept in the dark about the operation taking place in their own state, Arizona sheriffs demanded an independent investigation of Fast and Furious.
Holder has been widely accused of being dishonest about Fast and Furious. But this week, he defended his position in front of a senate committee.
“Would you like to apologize today for this program that went so wrong, that took the life of a United States law enforcement agent?”
Holder: I certainly regret what happened to Agent Brain Terry. It is not fair. However, to assume that the mistakes that happened in Fast and Furious directly led to the death of Agent Terry…”
Shelby: There is evidence that Holder received memos about Fast and Furious as early as July 2010. But Holder’s office sent a letter to Congress denying gunwalking in February of this year.
This week, holder faced questions about the letter.
Holder: It contains… What I said was it contains inaccurate information.
“Well, isn’t that false?”
Holder: Well, false,… I don’t want to quibble with you but false, I think, implies people making a decision to deceive.
Shelby: Holder also told the committee that he had called for an investigation, but some people weren’t convinced.
“We’ve heard five different stories and every time we hear one it’s different. We never got a straight answer.”
Shelby: Agent Terry’s parents, who watched the hearing, say they are still waiting for someone to take responsibility for the weapons found at the scene of their son’s murder.
“I just couldn’t believe they let those guns over the boarder. I think that they know they did wrong and if it wasn’t for Brain’s death, I don’t think… I think this would still being going on.”
Attorney general holder admitted the operation was flawed and said it “must never happen again,” but the questioning is far from over- holder and other officials will likely be called to testify at more hearings in the coming weeks.