U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday he expects to be interviewed by investigators looking into Operation Fast and Furious, the flawed program run by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) in which federal agents were supposedly authorized to smuggle hundreds of illicit weapons into Mexico.
During an appearance in Chicago, Holder said he would speak to investigators from the DOJ’s inspector general’s office when they request it. That office has been conducting an investigation into the individuals responsible for employing the tactic known as “gun-walking,” in which illicit weapons were smuggled into the hands of drug traffickers as part of an effort to trace them to the highest echelons of Mexico’s drug cartels. Fast and Furious was launched in October 2009 and ran until January 2011. ATF lost track of hundreds of the firearms, many of which have since been linked to crimes against U.S. civilians, including the fatal shooting in December 2010 of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
House Republicans are also currently investigating the operation. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has subpoenaed the Attorney General’s office for 80,000 pages of documents concerning Fast and Furious and threatened to hold Holder in contempt of Congress if he doesn’t comply. So far, Holder has only handed over about 7,000 pages, though he has given all 80,000 pages to the DOJ’s investigator general.
Democrats are also increasingly critical of Holder’s handling of the operation and investigation. Two House Democrats recently demanded that the DOJ release the findings of the inspector general’s investigation ahead of this year’s presidential election.