Attorney General Eric Holder: The Case For Contempt
U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was shot and killed in the line of duty on December 15th, 2010. Two of the weapons found at the scene of Agent Terry’s murder were weapons purchased under surveillance by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) as part of Operation Fast and Furious. Under this operation, the BATFE allowed purchases to be made by “straw purchasers,” individuals who purchase guns in order to sell them illegally. These “straw purchasers,” many of whom were ineligible to purchase firearms in the first place, were allowed by BATFE officials to both make the purchases and then transfer the weapons to third parties.
Congress’ investigation, now a year and a half old, has been hampered by the stonewalling of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. At worst, Mr. Holder has misled the Congress, and at best, he has been negligent in failing to control his subordinates. It is clear to me that Mr. Holder is not fit to hold the position as the nation’s top law enforcement officer. My calls and the calls of my colleagues for Mr. Holder’s resignation have fallen on deaf ears as President Obama continues to support his Attorney General.
Throughout the investigation, the Department has made false denials, misdirected investigators, intimidated witnesses, withheld documents, and acknowledged the truth only when confronted with conclusive evidence. We cannot allow this Administration’s stonewalling to hinder Congress’ constitutional oversight responsibilities, the Terry family’s search for truth, and the public’s right to know what went wrong and which officials knew about it.
Next week, June 20th, 2012, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will meet to consider whether Attorney General Eric Holder should be held in contempt of Congress for his failure to comply with a subpoena related to Operation Fast & Furious.
Despite the thousands of papers Mr. Holder has decided to share in response to the October 12, 2011 subpoena, Mr. Holder has withheld the very documents that could either exonerate his Department or confirm our suspicions that senior officials mishandled Fast and Furious and obstructed Congress’ investigation. The subpoena targets internal deliberations that pertain to Fast & Furious, retaliation against whistleblowers, and why it took the Department nearly a year to retract false denials of reckless tactics.
The Justice Department can still stop the process of contempt - a process for enforcing compliance with a lawful subpoena - by delivering the requested documents and letting the truth speak for itself. If not, the Committee will proceed with consideration of a contempt citation, which will be debatable and amendable by the Committee. Ultimate approval of the contempt citation will require a majority vote of the Committee.
For more information, please visit: www.fastandfuriousinvestigation.com. To see my remarks on Attorney General Holder’s failure to cooperate with Congress, please visit http://youtu.be/cyfFeav5ofo.
Cynthia M. Lummis
Member of Congress