Political Correction

Would Rep. Issa Buy Rep. Issa's Fast And Furious Explanation?

October 21, 2011 11:40 am ET - by Matt Gertz

Earlier this year, Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-CA) office responded with scorn to reports that he had been briefed on the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious in 2010 and had not objected to the briefing's contents. Months later, it appears that Issa is basically claiming that he knew everything Attorney General Eric Holder had been told about the program.

In a statement to the Washington Post included in the first article on the matter, Issa spokesman Frederick Hill acknowledged the briefing had taken place but accused "opponents" of "incredulously trying to assert that Obama administration political appointees at the Justice Department were ignorant — yet Congress was in the know on the details of Operation Fast and Furious," calling the claim "irresponsible and false."

This month, however, Hill took a different tack, telling Politico that "the briefing was broad ... my understanding is that Fast and Furious never came up by name in this briefing and certainly they had no discussion about the controversial tactics."

Indeed, the original Post article cited a source's statement that the briefing had covered "many guns had been bought by 'straw purchasers,' the types of guns and how much money had been spent."

That's more or less consistent with the contents of a July 2010 weekly report memo to Holder, which stated that the investigation "involves a Phoenix-based firearms trafficking ring" responsible for "the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were supplied to Mexican drug cartels" that had provided the ring with $1 million.

DOJ has said of these memos:

[N]ot a single one of these reports referenced the controversial tactics that allowed guns to cross the border... None of the handful of entries in 2010 regarding the Fast and Furious suggested there was anything amiss with that investigation requiring leadership to take corrective action or commit to memory this particular operation prior to the disturbing claims raised by ATF agents in the early part of 2011.

So both Issa and Holder say they received broad information about Fast and Furious, were not informed about the controversial tactics involved, and did not follow up and learn about those tactics until after the plan failed. But Issa continues to attack Holder and suggest that he is not telling the truth.

If Issa won't accept Holder's explanation for when he learned about the program, why should we accept his?

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