CNSNews: Holder Claims Emails Using Words ‘Fast and Furious’ Don’t Refer to Operation Fast and Furious

CNSNews.com is reporting that Attorney General Eric Holder claimed during congressional testimony Thursday that internal Justice Department emails that use the phrase "Fast and Furious" do not refer to the controversial gun-walking operation Fast and Furious.

From the article:

Under questioning from Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who read excerpts of the emails at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Justice Department oversight, Holder claimed that the phrase “Fast and Furious” did not refer to Fast and Furious but instead referred to another gun-walking operation known as “Wide Receiver.”

However, the emails refer to both programs -- "Fast and Furious" and the "Tucson case," from where Wide Receiver was launched -- and reveal Justice Department officials discussing how to handle media scrutiny when both operations become public.

Among three of the emails (see Jason Weinstein Email Fast, Furious.pdf), the second, dated "October 17, 2010 11:07 PM," was sent by Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein to James Trusty and it states: "Do you think we should have Lanny participate in press when Fast and Furious and Laura's Tucson case [Wide Receiver] are unsealed? It's a tricky case, given the number of guns that have walked, but it is a significant set of prosecutions."

In the third email, dated Oct. 18, 2010, James Trusty writes back to Weinstein: "I think so, but the timing will be tricky, too. Looks like we'll be able to unseal the Tucson case sooner than the Fast and Furious (although this may be just the difference between Nov. and Dec)."

"It's not clear how much we're involved in the main F and F [Fast and Furious] case," reads the email, "but we have Tucson [Wide Receiver] and now a new unrelated case with [redacted] targets. It's not any big surprise that a bunch of US guns are being used in MX [Mexico], so I'm not sure how much grief we get for 'guns walking.' It may be more like 'Finally, they're going after people who sent guns down there.'" (See Jason Weinstein Email Fast, Furious.pdf)

Despite the clear references to Operation Fast and Furious, in his testimony, Holder said that the emails only referred to Operation Wide Receiver.

Holder told the committee: "That refers to Wide Receiver, not to Fast and Furious. The e-mail that you [Rep. Chaffetz] just read [between Trusty and Weinstein] – now this is important – that email referred to Wide Receiver, it did not refer to Fast and Furious. That has to be noted for the record."

Chaffetz, after a long pause, said, "No, it doesn't. It says Fast and Furious. 'Do you think we should have Lanny participate in press when Fast and Furious and Laura's Tucson case [Wide Receiver] are unsealed?' It's specific to Fast and Furious. That is not true, Mr. Attorney General. I'm happy to share it with you."

The CNSNews article concludes with this:

Operation Fast and Furious was carried out by the ATF. It began in the fall of 2009 and continued into early 2011, during which time the federal government purposefully allowed known or suspected gun smugglers to purchase guns at federally licensed firearms dealers in Arizona. The government did not seek to abort these gun purchases, intercept the smugglers after the purchases, or recover the guns they had purchased.

In some cases, as the government expected they would, the smugglers delivered the guns to Mexican drug trafficking organizations. Two rifles sold to a smuggler in the course of Operation Fast and Furious in January 2010 ended up at the scene of the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010.

In related news, The Hill.com is reporting that Holder offered Thursday to meet personally with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to discuss the possibility of giving Congress long-sought information about a failed federal gun-tracking operation.

Holder's offer came amid highly charged exchanges between the attorney general and GOP lawmakers during a four-hour hearing in the House, with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) going so far as to tell Holder that he was not a "good witness."

For 15 months Issa has been investigating the role that senior-level DOJ officials might have had in approving the controversial “gun-walking” tactics in Fast and Furious, which authorized the sale of nearly 2,000 firearms to straw buyers in the Southwest for Mexican drug cartels.

As chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Issa has issued several subpoenas to the DOJ for thousands of pages of documents.

But, after handing over 7,600 documents, Issa says the DOJ has stopped producing information. Issa says Holder is impeding Congress's duty to oversee the executive branch and that he has drafted a resolution that would place the attorney general in contempt of Congress.

Boehner and Issa — along with Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — sent a letter to Holder nearly three weeks ago asking him to answer two remaining questions about Fast and Furious: who in the department knew about the tactics used in the operation before December 2010 and whether the DOJ lied to Congress about it.

According to the article, most of the questions by Republicans on Fast and Furious focused on a series of six wiretap applications that Issa recently obtained from "a furious group of whistleblowers."

The documents haven't been released publicly and are under a federal court seal because they're part of the DOJ's ongoing prosecution of people detained during the operation; the DOJ has suggested the documents were provided to Issa illegally.

Issa argues that the details in the documents describe the specifics of the "gun-walking" tactics, which senior DOJ officials have long denied knowing about prior to early 2011. Issa points to the authorizing signatures of three high-ranking DOJ officials on the documents as proof that the agency has been lying to Congress.

Holder disputed these claims on Thursday, saying that the senior-level officials who signed the documents only read summaries prepared by lower-level attorneys.

Last month, Issa circulated a lengthy pair of documents making the case for holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress over his "refusal" to cooperate in an investigation of the ill-fated Fast and Furious operation.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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