As you may recall, Operation Fast and Furious was an Obama Administration plan executed from 2009 to 2010 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Contrary to the core mission of the ATF, DOJ and ATF leadership allowed about 2,000 guns to be smuggled from the United States into Mexico and to be distributed to Mexican drug cartels. While running the operation, DOJ and ATF leadership did not disclose the operation to their personnel in Mexico or to Mexican government officials.
The alleged purpose behind Operation Fast and Furious was to track the weapons, arrest members of the cartels, and dismantle the cartels. That never happened. Instead, the smuggled guns wound up being used by the criminals and have exacerbated the violence and deaths in Mexico. The guns were also connected with the December 2010 death of Brian Terry, a United States Border Patrol Agent, who was killed in Arizona. DOJ and ATF cannot account for hundreds of the guns they permitted to be placed into the hands of Mexican drug cartel members; those guns will continue to be used in criminal activity, both in Mexico and in the United States, for years to come.
The scandal became public in early 2011 after the death of Agent Terry, which brought the operation to a close.
A joint congressional investigation began soon thereafter and still continues to examine exactly what happened during Operation Fast and Furious. The investigation is led by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
So far, the Oversight Committee has held hearings, received testimony, issued reports, and served subpoenas, including one served on Holder in October 2011 seeking, in part, documents concerning who at DOJ approved the tactics used in Operation Fast and Furious.
To date, Holder has refused to turn over all the subpoenaed documents, despite continuing efforts by the Oversight Committee to acquire them and to accommodate any valid interests of Holder and DOJ.
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