Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Operation Fast and Furious: DOJ Protecting Political Appointees

Katie Pavlich

According to Senator Charles Grassley and Representative Darrell Issa, both who have been at the front of the investigation into the Obama Justice Department's Operation Fast and Furious, it appears DOJ is withholding vital information about the lethal operation to protect political appointees. Today, Grassley and Issa asked Attorney General Eric Holder why documentation requested by the Oversight Committee has not been provided, specifically a "smoking gun" report ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson mentioned during closed testimony over two weeks ago.

“It was very frustrating to all of us, and it appears thoroughly to us that the Department is really trying to figure out a way to push the information away from their political appointees at the Department,” ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson said of his frustration with the Justice Department’s response to the investigation in a transcribed interview.

“The Department should not be withholding what Mr. Melson described as the ‘smoking gun’ report of investigation or Mr. Melson’s emails regarding the wiretap applications,” wrote Issa and Grassley. “Mr. Melson said he reviewed the affidavits in support of the wiretap applications for the first time after the controversy became public and immediately contacted the Deputy Attorney General’s office to raise concerns about information in them that was inconsistent with the Department’s public denials. The Department should also address the serious questions raised by Mr. Melson’s testimony regarding potential informants for other agencies.”

Issa and Grassley have sent a letter to Drug Enforcement Administrator Michele Leonhart requesting information about DEA's involvement with Operation Fast and Furious. A similar request for information was made on March 15, 2011 but was ignored.   Grassley and Issa have also requested memos, emails, briefing papers and handwritten notes from the FBI  to be provided to the Oversight Committee after reports showed bureau officials may have paid informants to help the FBI, DEA, ATF and DOJ with the operation.

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