Is Eric Holder's grip on the 'Fast and Furious' fiasco slipping? (video)
As calls grow for Eric Holder's resignation, the embattled attorney general faces what one Republican promised would be 'fast and furious' questions Thursday from the House Judiciary Committee.
Facing a chorus of calls for his resignation, Attorney General Eric Holder is readying for a session of pointed inquiries and probable political bombast as he heads to Capitol Hill Thursday to answer more questions about the Justice Department's involvement in a botched border gun interdiction program known as “Fast and Furious.”Skip to next paragraph
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Fast and Furious was created by a regional ATF office in Arizona in 2009 to allow US officials to follow gun smuggling trails in order to ensnare not just smugglers, but also major cartel bosses. But US authorities instead lost track of more than 2,000 guns bought from US gun shops by cartel straw buyers – weapons that since have been traced to at least 300 murder scenes in Mexico and linked to the deaths of two US agents, border patrol agent Brian Terry and Jaime Zapata, an attache with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) working out of Mexico City.
The Bronx-born Mr. Holder, a former Reagan judicial appointee, has repeatedly angered conservatives, gun rights activists, and tea party adherents for, among other things, proposing to put terrorists on trial in civilian courts, including in New York, his alleged mishandling of the prosecution of the New Black Panther party for alleged voting-booth thuggery, and refusing to investigate ACORN, the community activist group.
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Holder has steadfastly denied that he knew about the details of Fast and Furious, even as the botched operation has slowly built into the biggest test yet of his political survival skills. A steady stream of Fast and Furious revelations has turned the Holder Justice Department into a symbol, to some, of the failures of the Obama administration.
On Wednesday, more questions emerged about the role of Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, one of Holder's top deputies, and whether Mr. Breuer knowingly misled Congress when he allegedly signed off on a draft of a May 2 letter stating that allegations that the ATF had lost track of any guns were “false.” The department recanted that letter last week, citing “inaccuracies,” and also apologized to congressional staffers for one official calling them, in a note, “stooges for the gun lobby.”
Those missteps and walk-backs, added to the Justice Department's reluctance to voluntarily allow key employees to talk to congressional investigators, have only fueled conspiracy theories among gun owners. Chief among them: Fast and Furious was an Obama administration ploy to goose border violence in order to propose more gun control legislation under the guise of curtailing the flow of arms from north to south.
“Public outrage comes from average Americans who cannot understand why their very own government would intentionally allow criminals to illegally buy weapons for trafficking into Mexico,” Sen. Charles Grassley (R) of Iowa told the Senate Wednesday as he called for Breuer's resignation.
No evidence has emerged tying Holder directly to Fast and Furious. While Holder has criticized the program and vowed that it would never happen again, he also recently took a shot at what he clearly perceives as the political underpinnings of the mounting attacks on his leadership.