Congressman says unlikely Holder did not know about Operation Fast and Furious
Mexican authorities want to prosecute officials responsible for program
July 10, 2011
Lawmakers from both houses, investigating Operation Fast and Furious, fired off a terse and angry letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, accusing him of issuing “false denials” and “distorting the truth.”
On Independence Day, acting ATF head, Kenneth Melson, testified before Congress with his own attorney present. Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said Melson chose July 4 to show the public he was appearing voluntarily and on his own time.
Melson was scheduled to appear before Congress July 13, with DOJ and ATF lawyers present. According to Issa, Melson was never told by the justice department that he was able to attend a voluntary interview with his own lawyer present.
During the interview, Melson said when he first learned of the operation, he was, “sick to my stomach.” He went on to say that he moved to reassign every manager involved in Fast and Furious; however, he was not allowed to tell Congress of the reason for the reassignments.
Following Melson’s testimony, Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley, ranking member of the Committee on the Judiciary, fired off a five page letter to Holder.
Grassley and Issa said in the letter, “If his account is accurate, then ATF leadership appears to have been effectively muzzled while the DOJ sent over false denials and buried its head in the sand. That approach distorted the truth and obstructed our investigation.” It went on to say, “The Department’s inability or unwillingness to be more forthcoming served to conceal critical information that we are now learning about the involvement of other agencies, including the DEA and the FBI.”