Smith: DOJ Slow to Answer Questions About Fast and Furious
by Lamar Smith on September 23, 2011 at 11:53 AM
Today, I sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder regarding recent resignations and reassignments at ATF following public concerns regarding a Phoenix-based program known as “Fast and Furious,” which intentionally allowed straw buyers for criminal organizations to purchase thousands of guns and traffic them across the U.S.-Mexico border.
I have sent two letters to the Justice Department seeking information regarding the botched Fast and Furious operation. My first letter, dated March 9, posed six questions to the Justice Department. Five of those questions remain unanswered. The Justice Department has yet to respond to my second letter dated May 3.
I would be remiss if I did not express my growing concern with the Department’s handling of the Fast and Furious investigation … The Department cannot pin this scandal on a few individuals and expect it to be forgotten. Fast and Furious was a result of systemic problems at the ATF. Congressional interest will continue until we fully understand who authorized the failed program and how a federal agency could allow such decision-making to occur.
Following his election in 2008, President Obama promised to usher in a new era of openness and transparency. Despite this promise, the Justice Department has been less than cooperative with this Committee’s requests. Moving forward, the Committee expects cooperation in uncovering the facts related to this operation.
According to the Center for Public Integrity, ATF allowed nearly 2,000 guns—valued at over one million dollars—to cross the border to known criminal organizations. Two of the guns from the program were found at the murder scene of Customs and Border Protection Agent Brian Terry in December.