Republicans On Oversight Panel Taking First Steps To Cite Holder With Contempt

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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. (credit: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. (credit: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Republicans on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee are taking the first steps to cite Attorney General Eric Holder with contempt over his role in the Fast and Furious operation, CBS News reports.

The 48-page draft citation given to Democrats and Republicans on the panel, and also obtained by CBS News, states that the Justice Department issued “false denials, given answers intended to misdirect investigators, sought to intimidate witnesses, unlawfully withheld subpoenaed documents, and waited to be confronted with indisputable evidence before acknowledging uncomfortable facts.”

“The Justice Department’s demonstrable contempt for the congressional investigation has inflicted harm on the people of two nations seeking the truth – and very pointedly on the family of fallen Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and ATF whistleblowers who now face retaliation in the wake of their own heroic efforts to expose wrongdoing,” the brief states, according to CBS News.

The controversial tactic of “letting guns walk” out of gun shops in the hands of suspected straw purchasers was used in Operation Fast and Furious at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Phoenix in an effort to track the guns to major weapons traffickers and drug cartels in order to make criminal cases against smuggling kingpins who had eluded prosecution for years. But the tracking of the weapons was faulty, and many of them wound up at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S. Two of the guns spotted at one point during Fast and Furious were later discovered at the scene of the killing of U.S. border agent Brian Terry.

The Justice Department on April 19 wrote committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., saying it was regularly producing requested documents.

“We have provided documents to the committee at least twice every month since late last year as part of the department’s ongoing efforts to comply with the committee’s subpoenas and other requests for information,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich.

“In addition to producing or making available over 7,300 pages of documents to the committee, we have provided briefings for the committee staff as requested, and have facilitated staff interviews of numerous department officials.”

The department will continue its rolling production of documents, Weich said.

During the Obama administration, ATF has undergone a management shake-up and Attorney General Eric Holder has called Fast and Furious a flawed operation that must never be repeated.

Frederick Hill, a spokesman for Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, criticized the Justice Department over Fast and Furious.

“The Obama Justice Department’s efforts to facilitate the transfer of thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels does not appear to have helped stop the flow of illegal weapons to Mexico,” said Hill. Operation Fast and Furious lost track of 1,400 of more than 2,000 weapons agents identified as suspect purchases.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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