Oct 06, 2011 1:52 PM GMT
So now the Fast and Furious affair has reached Stage 2 of the classic Washington scandal: House Republicans have called for a special counsel to investigate Attorney General Eric Holder himself for possible perjury.
Justice Department documents indicate that Holder knew of the operation way back in July 2010 -- far earlier than the “in the last few weeks” that he told congressional investigators under oath last May.
Memos from Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer and others to Holder clearly show the scope, if not the nature, of the disastrous project: “This investigation, initiated in September 2009 . . . involves . . . straw purchasers [who] are responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to Mexican drug cartels.”
That’s the crux of the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ infamous “gunwalking” program, allegedly designed to track illegal gun sales to Mexican drug gangs by turning a blind eye toward, and possibly facilitating, arms sales in Arizona and elsewhere. The death toll so far is more than 200.
The heavily redacted memos don’t explicitly implicate ATF and other federal agencies in an illegal scheme, as ATF whistleblowers have alleged. But if there’s a coverup going on, why would they?
And coverup there seems to be. On top of stonewalling Rep. Darrell Issa’s House investigation of the mess, Justice has floated a series of contradictory excuses:
* There was no such program.
* Even if there weres, Holder never knew about it.
* Even if he should have known about it, he might not have read Breuer’s memos.
* Even if he read Breuer’s memos, he misunderstood the simple question: “When did you first know about the program, officially, I believe, called Fast and Furious?”