The murders of at least two American law enforcement officials and roughly 200 Mexican nationals have since been tied to these weapons.
In sworn testimony, Attorney General Eric Holder denied knowledge of "Fast and Furious" on May 3, 2011.
Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee says he does not believe Attorney General Eric Holder gave accurate testimony under oath to Congress during the House Judiciary Committee on May 3.
Asked in May when he learned of Operation “Fast and Furious” and “Project Gunrunner,” Holder claimed he ‘probably’ learned of it ‘over the last few weeks.’ In the testy exchange that followed, Issa pointed out that two Americans were killed by weapons associated with the botched operation, and that in the end, no major criminals were brought to justice. Issa also implies that the Department of Justice was deliberately slow-rolling the request for documentation about the program. You can watch the exchange between Holder and Issa here.
Unfortunately for Holder, CBS News' Sharyl Atkkisson has been doggedly pursuing the case and has unearthed documents that prove Holder lied under oath:
...internal Justice Department documents show that at least ten months before that hearing, Holder began receiving frequent memos discussing Fast and Furious...
The documents came from the head of the National Drug Intelligence Center and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer... the new documents leave no doubt that high level Justice officials knew guns were being "walked."
Two Justice Department officials mulled it over in an email exchange Oct. 18, 2010. "It's a tricky case given the number of guns that have walked but is a significant set of prosecutions," says Jason Weinstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division. Deputy Chief of the National Gang Unit James Trusty replies "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."
The Justice Department told CBS News that the officials in those emails were talking about a different case started before Eric Holder became Attorney General. And tonight they tell CBS News, Holder misunderstood that question from the committee - he did know about Fast and Furious - just not the details.
Holder -- during an April 2, 2009 speech in Cuernavaca, Mexico -- also boasted about the overarching operation ("Gunrunner") to Mexican authorities.
Last week, our administration launched a major new effort to break the backs of the cartels. My department is committing 100 new ATF personnel to the Southwest border in the next 100 days to supplement our ongoing Project Gunrunner, DEA is adding 16 new positions on the border, as well as mobile enforcement teams, and the FBI is creating a new intelligence group focusing on kidnapping and extortion.
In addition, the book Mexico-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress alludes to Holder's vociferous support of these types of operations.
Holder praised Mexico-U.S. cooperation in the investigations that led to [the] indictments [of 43 Mexican drug dealers]... ...ATF has begun a new intelligence-driven effort known as Gunrunner Impact Teams (GRITs)... and beefed up its Project Gunrunner program as a part of its efforts to stop the flow of guns into Mexico... ...on August 13, 2009, DHS and DOJ, along with Mexico, signed a letter of intent to develop a coordinated, bilateral arms trafficking strategy...
Not only did Holder lie to Congress, but President Obama likewise has feigned ignorance. Yet Gunrunner was part of the "Stimulus package" signed by the President in 2009.
The original Southwest Border Violence Reduction Act of 2009 was sponsored by Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, D-Texas. Rodriguez's co-sponsors were two other Texans, Henry Cuellar and Silvestre Reyes, plus Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Harry Teague, D-N.M.
...Holder is clearly not telling the truth about his role in Gunrunner. He knew about it, boasted of it and took credit for it. Now he's orchestrating a cover-up of it. President Obama needs to man up about Gunrunner and either take responsibility for this tragedy or admit, under oath if need be, that even he didn't know what was in the stimulus bill.
During an interview with a Univision reporter that aired in March, Obama said he was "absolutely not" informed about the ATF program that deliberately funneled guns into Mexico. "I did not authorize it," he said. "Eric Holder, the attorney general, did not authorize it..."
Eric Holder must resign immediately.
Sharyl Atkkisson deserves a Pulitzer Prize.
And the American people deserve a a special prosecutor.
Update: The Hill weighs in with "Documents show Holder was informed of Fast and Furious operation in 2010"
Related: Emails show Operation Fast and Furious was shared with Obama counterterrorism adviser John Brennan -- and perhaps beyond