Four Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents in transcribed interviews with top GOP oversight official Darrell Issa’s office are contradicting the Justice Department’s account of “Operation Fast and Furious,” saying hundreds of weapons -– including assault rifles and military grade sniper weapons -– were allowed to escape into the clutches of Mexican drug cartels in an apparently reckless investigative strategy.
Their testimony raises the question of whether Ronald Weich, a deputy to Attorney General Eric Holder, lied to congressional investigators in a Feb. 4 letter denying the allegations. Weich is testifying before Issa’s committee Wednesday.
Issa’s report says since the Feb. 4 letter, Justice Department officials have clarified that their denial was only meant to encompass instances when the weapon purchasers themselves physically crossed the U.S.-Mexico border with the weapons they had purchased illegally under ATF surveillance.
“Of course, this statement misses the point entirely. ATF permitted known straw purchasers to obtain these deadly weapons and traffic them to third parties. Then, at some point after ATF broke off surveillance, the weapons were transported to Mexico. ATF was definitely aware that these guns were ending up in Mexico, being transported through Arizona and Texas Points of Entry,” Issa says.