A U.S. House panel subpoenaed the Obama administration over a law enforcement program that allowed illegal U.S. gun purchases in an effort to link the weapons to Mexican drug cartels.
Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said today a subpoena went to Attorney General Eric Holder for Justice Department documents related to the program, called Fast and Furious.
“Top Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Holder, know more about Operation Fast and Furious than they have publicly acknowledged,” Issa said in a statement.
Issa has said Holder provided misleading testimony to Congress on May 3 about when he first learned of Fast and Furious, which was overseen by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The subpoena directs the Justice Department to produce 22 categories of documents, including communications involving Holder and other top officials at the department, ATF, White House and U.S. attorney’s office in Arizona.
The Justice Department already has sent thousands of documents and provided “many officials for interviews and testimony,” said Tracy Schmaler, a department spokeswoman, in an e-mail. “So any notion that the department isn’t working with the committee is simply wrong.”
’Truthful and Accurate’
Schmaler also said that a letter sent by Holder to lawmakers on Oct. 7 provides answers to questions Issa “seems to be raising publicly.” In that letter, Holder said that his testimony about the program was “truthful and accurate.”
Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the oversight committee’s top Democrat, said the document request is “a gross abuse of the committee’s authority.”
“Rather than legitimate fact-gathering, this looks more like a political stunt,” Cummings said in a statement.
Two of about 2,000 guns that ATF allowed to be carried away were found at the scene of the December 2010 murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in Arizona, according to a report released in June by Issa and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The committee subpoena requests FBI documents and communications related to the investigation into Terry’s death.