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Memo: Holder told of ‘Fast and Furious’ as early as July 2010
They noted that Mr. Holder has since ordered the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General to investigate the matter, adding that “fighting criminal activity along the southwest border — including the illegal trafficking of guns to Mexico — has been a priority of this administration and this Department of Justice.”
It is unclear when that inquiry might be completed.
Mr. Obama also has denied knowing about the Fast and Furious operation until it was reported by the news media.
The July 2010 memo, which is almost entirely redacted, is among several others leaked this week in which senior Justice Department officials mention the Fast and Furious probe.
Several of the memos also contained references to a separate investigation known as “Operation Wide Receiver” in Tucson, Ariz., which began in 2006 under the Bush administration and also involved the sale of weapons that ended up in the hands of Mexican drug cartel members.
One of those separate memos was written in November 2010, in which Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who heads the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, told Mr. Holder that a sealed indictment against suspected gun traffickers in Arizona — an apparent reference to Operation Wide Receiver — would remain under seal “until another investigation, Phoenix-based ‘Operation Fast and Furious,’ is ready for takedown.”
In a related Oct. 17, 2010, memo from Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, a Criminal Division official, to James Trusty, acting chief of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, Mr. Weinstein asked whether the department should have Mr. Breuer talk to the media when the two operations, Fast and Furious and Wide Receiver, ended.
The next day, Mr. Trusty responded by saying, “I think so, but the timing will be tricky, too. It looks like we’ll be able to unseal the Tucson case sooner than Fast and Furious. It’s not clear how much we are involved in the main F and F case, but we have Tucson and now a new, related case with (redacted) targets. It’s not going to be a big surprise that a bunch of U.S. guns are being used in MX, so I’m not sure how much grief we get for ‘gun walking.’”
Those memos were included in what the Justice Department said was a packet of headlines the attorney general receives daily that do not include specific information.
Despite the overlaps with Wide Receiver, the memos clearly show that high-ranking Justice Department officials knew about Fast and Furious at least 10 months before Mr. Holder admitted any knowledge of it.
ATF has been at the center of a firestorm over the Fast and Furious investigation, which allowed guns to make their way to drug cartels in Mexico. Scores of weapons purchased in Phoenix by straw buyers ended up at the scene of several violent crimes, including the Dec. 14 fatal shooting of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry.
Two AK-47s assault rifles were found at the Terry killing site and later were traced to weapons purchased as part of Fast and Furious.
Mr. Issa and Sen. Chuck per new list Grassley of Iowa, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a July report that 1,000 weapons purchased in the operation remain unaccounted for, including AK-47 assault weapons and .50-caliber sniper rifles.
Mr. Grassley on Tuesday said Mr. Holder’s statements “don’t add up.” He said the attorney general told the House Judiciary Committee in May he first learned of Fast and Furious just a few weeks before the hearing, but that he personally handed Mr. Holder two letters about the probe in January.
“Now to find out he knew some pretty detailed information about the operation back in the summer of 2010 is troubling,” he said.
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About the Author
Jerry Seper is the investigative editor for The Washington Times.
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