For Immediate Release
September 2, 2011
Revised Account in Fast and Furious
In a stunning development late yesterday, the Justice Department told me that there had been 31 firearm recoveries in the United States and Mexico linked to Operation Fast and Furious, the ill-advised strategy that allowed guns to be purchased by known straw buyers and then transferred to people often transporting the guns across the border into Mexico.
The latest revelation comes from answers to questions for the record to Attorney General Eric Holder when he was testified on May 4 before the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which I am the Ranking Member. Questions for the Record are written questions for witnesses testifying before the committee that Senators are unable to ask in person.
The Justice Department initially answered my questions on July 22. I was disappointed that the Attorney General didn't answer all of my questions and even the questions the department answered were not complete. Soon after receipt of the answers, the department indicated to my staff that one answer in particular was inaccurate.
The question asked, "In addition to the two guns recovered at the Terry murder scene, how many of the guns connected to Operation Fast and Furious that have been recovered were recovered in connection with violent crimes in the U.S.?"
In the July 22 response, the department said that "…ATF is aware of 11 instances where a recovered firearm associated with this case was recovered in connection with a crime of violence in the United States."
Now, in revised answers, the department said that instead of 11 instances where a recovered firearm associated with this case was recovered in connection with a crime of violence in the United States, there is one additional firearm associated with Fast and Furious recovered in the United States (in addition to the two recovered at the murder scene of Brian Terry).
"21 additional firearms associated with Operation Fast and Furious that were recovered in Mexico and reportedly were associated with violent crimes."
The Justice Department has been less than forthcoming since day one, and this latest response is so convoluted and incoherent that it appears the department is trying to hide something instead of providing straight answers. So, the revisions here are hardly surprising, and the numbers likely will rise until the more than 1,000 guns that were allowed to fall into the hands of bad guys are recovered, most likely years down the road. What we're still waiting for are the answers to the other questions the Attorney General failed to answer per our agreement. The cooperation of the Attorney General and his staff is needed if we're ever going to get to the bottom of this disastrous policy and help the ATF and the department move forward.
Friday, September 2, 2011