House oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa said Tuesday that congressional investigators now have documents that prove senior officials in Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice approved gun-walking in Operation Fast and Furious.
“The Committee has obtained copies of six wiretap applications in support of seven wire intercepts utilized during Fast and Furious,” Issa said in a Tuesday letter to Holder.
Issa said those wiretap documents “show that immense detail about questionable investigative tactics was available to the senior officials who reviewed and authorized them.”
Issa said these documents prove that the Department of Justice again provided “false” information to Congress.
“On February 8, 2012, Senator Grassley, Congressman Meehan and I wrote to you requesting the Department’s assistance in obtaining the wiretap applications from Operation Fast and Furious,” Issa wrote to Holder. “We did so because we believed their contents would shed additional light on senior Department officials’ level of knowledge of the unacceptable tactics used in Fast and Furious.”
“Other than having acknowledged receipt of the letter, the Department has not responded to the February 8 request,” Issa continued. “In a May 15, 2012 letter, the Deputy Attorney General reiterated the Department’s position that the ‘inappropriate tactics used in Fast and Furious … were not initiated of authorized by Department leadership in Washington.’”
“We now know that statement is false,” Issa said
Issa said the wiretap applications his committee has obtained “were approved by senior Justice Department officials in March, April, May, June and July 2010.”
“Each application included a memorandum from Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer to Paul M. O’Brien, Director, Office of Enforcement Operations, authorizing the wiretap applications on behalf of the Attorney General,” Issa wrote to Holder. “The memoranda from Breuer are marked specifically for the attention of Emory Hurley, the lead prosecutor for Operation Fast and Furious.”
Issa said these wiretap applications prove senior DOJ officials’ continued denial of having been aware of the tactics used in Fast and Furious “to be false and misleading.”
Issa then cites several instances in which Holder himself provided statements about Fast and Furious that Issa said Congress now knows “are not accurate.”
Issa said Holder’s comments at a Sept. 7, 2011, press conference, an Oct. 7, 2011 letter he wrote to Congress and two different instances where he testified before different congressional committees — testimony he gave to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 8, 2011, and to the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 2, 2012, were incorrect.
In each of those statements, Holder denied the fact that senior Department of Justice officials were aware of gun-walking tactics used in Fast and Furious.
“We now know all that all of these statements are not accurate,” Issa wrote to Holder.
“The remarkable level of detail about these objectionable tactics contained in the applications renews concerns that senior Department officials failed to perform their jobs,” Issa continued. “It also raises concerns about the veracity of your testimony before Congress, and the accuracy of recent letters sent to Congress by senior Department officials.”
“Not insignificantly, this is not the first time that the Department presented inaccurate information to Congress during this investigation,” Issa added. “Having seen the wiretap applications, we now know that the information coming from the Department has been misleading. That must stop.”
The wiretap application documents “have been sealed by a federal judge,” according to a press release from Issa’s office.
Issa told Holder, too, that the “new information in the wiretap applications places us in a position to begin the process of assigning accountability among senior Department officials, some of whom were responsible for approving the wiretap applications.”
“After having reviewed these applications, we now understand why the Department has been resisting our efforts to secure full cooperation and compliance with the subpoena,” Issa wrote. “It is because, as former ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson testified, ‘it appears thoroughly to us that the department is really trying to figure out a way to push the information away from their political appointees at the department.”
Issa said his committee’s possession of the wiretap document evidence means “the Department can no longer push such information away from its political appointees.”
“These appointees were responsible for approving the reckless tactics used during Fast and Furious,” Issa continued. “Because of the wiretap applications, we now know which senior Department officials made these serious mistakes. It is time for you to honor your commitment to Congress and the American people by holding these individuals accountable.”