- Elian Gonzalez makes first trip outside Cuba since custody battle
- U.S., British intelligence agents enter online sic-fi world to spy on gamers
- Sarah Palin to host the outdoors show ‘Amazing America’
- CIA admits $3 billion intelligence operation was a flop
- ‘127 Hours’ author Aron Lee Ralston, who amputated arm in canyon, arrested in Denver
- Men posing as cops break into home of former deputy
- Berkshire County eschews greenback for own currency — BerkShares
- Hagel warns Pakistani leaders of U.S. aid losses over drone-strike protests
- Florida authorities ban autistic boy from owning therapeutic chickens
- Defendant in Lee Rigby machete murder trial: ‘I love al Qaeda’
Papers show Justice was told about tactics in gunrunning
Court-sealed wiretap applications obtained by a House committee show that senior Justice Department officials in Washington, contrary to previous denials, were given specific information about the “reckless tactics” in the botched Fast and Furious gunrunning investigation, the panel’s chairman said Tuesday.
In a letter, Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, rebuked Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. for what he called Mr. Holder’s “continuing efforts to mislead Congress” about the content of the wiretap applications and details of who knew about and gave approval for the operation.
Mr. Issa’s note said the attorney general denied knowledge of the wiretap applications and cast doubt that they contained specific information about the operation, prompting a vigorous pushback including charges that the applications were leaked illegally and that Mr. Issa had mischaracterized them.
“The [Justice] Department has consistently denied that any senior officials were provided information about the tactics used in Operation Fast and Furious,” Mr. Issa said. “The wiretap applications obtained by the committee show such statements made by senior department officials regarding the wiretaps to be false and misleading.”
Wiretaps used in the Fast and Furious operation were intended to let investigators in Arizona listen to the phone calls of suspected drug traffickers in order to find evidence of involvement by high-level Mexican cartel associates, Mr. Issa said.
He said six applications for wiretaps obtained by the committee, which had been sealed by a federal judge as part of ongoing criminal cases, detail specific actions taken by Fast and Furious agents, including “conscious decisions not to interdict weapons that agents knew were illegally purchased by smugglers taking weapons to Mexico.”
He said the applications were approved by senior Justice Department officials in March, April, May, June and July of 2010.
The wiretaps, as required by federal law, were submitted to Washington for approval by senior Justice Department officials, Mr. Issa said, adding that they were approved under the authority of Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer.
But Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said senior department officials were not aware of the flawed tactics in Fast and Furious until they became public in early 2011, and the testimony Mr. Holder and others have given over the past year at numerous hearings, briefings and interviews was true and accurate.
“Unfortunately, Chairman Issa continues to distort the facts and ignore the law,” she said.
Ms. Schmaler also said the department cannot comment on the contents of court-sealed wiretap applications and was “very concerned that such documents relating to ongoing criminal cases have been leaked.” She said the unauthorized disclosure of court-sealed materials was illegal.
“The claims that the wiretap applications prove the Criminal Division or anyone at the Department of Justice approved these flawed tactics remain as inaccurate as they were when they were first made over a year ago,” she said, adding that wiretap applications do not provide complete descriptions of all law-enforcement actions taken during the course of the investigation or of the overall operational strategies.
“The committee also knows full well that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer did not review the wiretap applications in Fast and Furious,” she said. “That does not stop the committee, however, from falsely asserting that Assistant Attorney General Breuer was responsible for authorizing them.”
In a separate letter Tuesday to the House Republican leadership, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole challenged the “tone and content” of the Issa letter, saying it was “clear” that sealed court documents in a pending federal investigation had been disclosed to the committee.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Jerry Seper is the investigative editor for The Washington Times.
- With bombs away, drug traffickers and illegal immigrants make their play
- Medical-device company exec admits to bilking shareholders of $400M
- Justice Dept: Florida's disabled children unnecessarily put in nursing facilities
- Man gets 11 years in Philadelphia mob crackdown
- Eric Holder asks for respect from protesters of George Zimmerman verdict
Latest Blog Entries
By Brahma Chellaney
Beijing's creeping aggression signals a challenge to U.S. presence in the Asian Pacific
- CURL: Obama tells a whopper on IRS scandal
- WOLF: The president's other Obamacare lies
- Tech companies call for an end to NSA online snooping
- Lawmakers see 'false narrative' of Obama as a terrorist fighter
- Satanists petition for statue at Oklahoma Statehouse
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, 'cherry-picked' intelligence: report
- Ted Cruz sees legal landmines ahead for Obamacare
- MSNBC host: Obamacare a 'wealthy white men' racist word
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Let’s talk about everything, especially the absurdity of it all
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
Never apologetic. Never afraid. Lieutenant Colonel Allen B. West joins Communities to bring tales from the biggest Foxhole of them all, the one inside the Beltway.
This column will cover anything that has anything remotely to do with the game of baseball, from the game itself to mid-summer trades to offseason moves.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow