U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he and “the upper levels of the Justice Department” were not aware of the botched “Fast and Furious” gun program that targeted Mexican drug cartels but ended up supplying them with firearms.
The gun scandal has prompted a congressional investigation led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and a separate investigation by the Justice Department’s Inspector General.
“The notion that somehow or other this reaches into the upper levels of the Justice Department is something that, at this point, I don’t think is supported by the facts,” Holder said for the first time at a press conference on Wednesday. “We’ll certainly see, I think, at the end of [the Inspector General’s investigation] exactly who was involved, exactly who made the decisions.”
A spokesman for Issa responded that Holder’s comments was baseless “whining,” according to Fox News.
“My hope would be that Congress will conduct an investigation that is factually based and not mired with politics,” Holder said regarding Issa’s investigation.
Holder admitted that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms’ operation, designed to track weapons to Mexican drug cartels, “was clearly a flawed enforcement effort.”
The 2009 “Fast and Furious” operation involved ATF agents who tracked purchases of guns and allowed them cross from the United States into Mexico in hopes that the weapons would lead them to major weapons traffickers and drug cartel leaders. Instead, hundreds of rifles and other guns ended up in the hands of the cartels, and the operation was unsuccessful.
In fact, weapons linked to the program were later used in the December 2010 shooting death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
The scandal has led to a shakeup at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. The head of the ATF at the time of the operation, Ken Melson, was recently reassigned to a Justice Department as a senior adviser on forensic issues.
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