Alex Newman | The New American | February 27 2012
Tensions are rising quickly in the investigation of the deadly federal gun-running operation “Fast and Furious” as Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice continues to unlawfully withhold subpoenaed documents. The persistent stonewalling prompted Congress to renew its warning that contempt proceedings against top Obama administration officials are imminent if the cover-up does not end.
The Justice Department missed another deadline earlier this month to hand over key information to congressional investigators, asking — yet again — for more time to consider the requests and produce the documents. The media barely noticed. But after a year of stonewalling and cover-ups, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has had just about enough.
In a letter dated February 14, Rep. Issa warned Holder (above) that failure to comply with a congressional subpoena is a violation of federal law. About two thirds of the document categories sought by investigators have been unlawfully withheld without any proper justification, he said, noting that much of what has been handed over was so heavily redacted as to be rendered useless.
As such, the letter ordered the nation’s top law enforcement officer to appoint a DOJ representative who will “serve as the conduit for dealing with the contempt proceedings, should the Department continue to ignore the Committee’s subpoena.” If convicted, Holder could face jail time and hefty fines.
“The Justice Department’s request for additional time has, unfortunately, not been followed by efforts to bridge the significant differences between its legal obligation to Congress and the reality of its stonewalling,” Chairman Issa said in a statement blasting the DOJ. The Committee declined Holder’s request for more time.
Rep. Issa emphasized that, in light of the ongoing DOJ cover-up, Congress had no choice but to take action. “If the Justice Department cannot commit to providing, at a minimum, a detailed description of documents it is withholding, and the legal basis for doing so, then the Committee has no other option than to move forward with the contempt process against Attorney General Holder,” he said in the statement.
Holder and other top officials have already been caught repeatedly lying to Congress under oath — itself a criminal offense. They were originally being investigated for trafficking thousands of high-powered firearms to Mexican drug cartels. Some of those weapons were later linked to murders of federal officers including Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, as well as the deaths of hundreds of Mexican citizens.