WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley today asked Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. for information about who at the Department of Justice (DOJ) saw a memo from a special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) who was stationed at the Phoenix field division and was knowledgeable about Operation Fast and Furious. This memo was produced the day before the Department of Justice flat out denied there was a program underway to let guns walk to straw buyers.
In a letter to Attorney General Holder this afternoon, Grassley said the memo traveled rapidly through the chain of command at ATF and was allegedly forwarded to DOJ headquarters on February 3, 2011, in advance of the February 4, 2011, denial by DOJ. Grassley’s office has been told that the substance of the memo “caused such a stir that ATF planned to put a panel together to address the allegations but someone within DOJ suppressed the idea.” The details in the agent’s memo would have provided DOJ officials important information about what, in fact, was happening in Operation Fast and Furious.
Grassley said he is asking questions today because discovering how high up the chain of command the memo was reviewed “has not been easy.” His requests to interview officials who might corroborate accounts has been denied, and DOJ may have withheld relevant documents from what it said were the deliberative materials used to draft the February 4, 2011, letter. Ultimately, in the face of mounting evidence presented by Grassley and others, DOJ withdrew its February 4 denial.
“Without the complete, documented set of facts, fair and informed conclusions can’t be drawn, and the Justice Department’s lack of transparency about what it knew and when about Operation Fast and Furious is unacceptable, especially in light of the connections to the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and an unknown number of Mexican citizens,” Grassley said.
Click here to read today’s letter from Grassley to Holder, which includes a copy of the February 3, 2011, memo by the ATF agent.