Attorney General Eric Holder has denied under oath that he had any involvement in Operation Fast & Furious and claims he only became aware of the scandal in 2011 – but newly obtained Department of Justice documents reveal Holder traveled to an April 2009 “US/Mexico Arms Trafficking Strategy Meeting” concerning gun-running between the U.S. and Mexico.
In June 2012, the Obama administration invoked executive privilege to stop disclosure of documentation to Congress following Operation Fast and Furious, a gun-walking scheme that resulted in the deaths of more than 200 people, including U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and Luis Lucio Rosales Astorga, the police chief in Hostotipaquillo, Mexico.
During the botched operation, the Justice Department’s subdivision of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms lost approximately 2,000 weapons, allowing many of them to flow freely across the U.S.-Mexico border and into the hands of members of Mexican drug cartels.
Judicial Watch obtained the latest information in a response to an August 2012 Freedom of Information Act request. According to the documents, Holder traveled to Cuernavaca and Mexico City from April 1 through April 3, 2009.
“I wanted to come to Mexico to deliver a single message: We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you in this fight against the narcotics cartels,” Holder said in his April 2 speech to the conference. “The United States shares responsibility for this problem and we will take responsibility by joining our Mexican counterparts in every step of this fight.”
Holder said the issue of “development of an arms trafficking prosecution and enforcement strategy on both sides of the border” could not be more important.
He added, “I would like to thank the Mexican and U.S. experts who have worked so hard on this issue. On our side, Secretary Napolitano and I are committed to putting the resources in place to increase our attack on arms trafficking into Mexico.”
Holder also announced that at the end of March 2009, the Obama administration “launched a major new effort to break the backs of the cartels.
“My department is committing 100 new ATF personnel to the Southwest border in the next 100 days to supplement our ongoing Project Gunrunner, DEA is adding 16 new positions on the border, as well as mobile enforcement teams, and the FBI is creating a new intelligence group focusing on kidnapping and extortion. DHS is making similar commitments, as Secretary Napolitano will detail.”
But Holder warned that “the problem of arms trafficking will not be stopped at the border alone.”
“[T]his is a problem that must be met as part of a comprehensive attack against the cartels – an attack in depth, on both sides of the border, that focuses on the leadership and assets of the cartel,” he said. “This is the type of full-bore, prosecution-driven approach that the U.S. Department of Justice took to dismantle La Cosa Nostra – once the most powerful organized crime group operating in the United States.”
Also, the Los Angeles Times reported 2010 memos showed senior Justice Department officials discussed the Fast and Furious gun-trafficking surveillance operation in Phoenix, Ariz., in October 2009.
On March 10, 2011, Holder told a Senate subcommittee he only recently learned about the Fast and Furious gun-walking and asked for the inspector general’s investigation.
“We cannot have a situation where guns are allowed to walk,” he said.
Also in a March 2011 Univision interview, Obama claimed neither he nor knew about the operation.
And on May 3, 2011, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., asked Holder when he first learned about the operation.
“I’m not sure of the exact date,” Holder said. “But I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”
ATF Agent John Dodson told Rep. Issa’s House Oversight Committee, “Allowing loads of weapons that we knew to be destined for criminals – this was the plan. It was so mandated.”
ATF Agent Olindo James Casa said, “[O]n several occasions I personally requested to interdict or seize firearms, but I was always ordered to stand down and not to seize the firearms.”
As WND reported, a panel of three high-profile constitutional attorneys agreed that the scandal could be considered an impeachable offense against Holder or Obama.