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Public Statements

Getting to the Truth of Fast and Furious

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. QUAYLE. Mr. Speaker, it has been more than 1 year since the tragic death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was killed using weapons that were purposely walked to deadly drug cartels in Mexico as part of Operation Fast and Furious. Since Agent Terry's death, the responsible Federal Department, the Justice Department, and its leader, Attorney General Eric Holder, have obfuscated every attempt to get to the bottom of what went wrong with this disastrous operation.

Despite the best efforts of the Justice Department to hide the facts, we now know many disturbing things about Fast and Furious. This ill-conceived operation began in November of 2009. Since that time, the ATF has sanctioned the sale of thousands of weapons to straw purchasers who transported these weapons across the United States' southern border and into the hands of Mexican criminals.

The ATF lost track of these weapons until they began turning up at crime scenes in the United States and Mexico. As a result of Justice Department incompetence, the United States actively armed dangerous cartels that have wreaked havoc in Mexico and put our own Federal agents directly in harm's way. Our hard-won trust and the relationships we've built with the Mexican Government as both countries seek to combat the cartels has been severely strained, which has harmed our efforts to get drug-running under control.

Operation Fast and Furious hasn't just been a failure; it's been a tragic failure. It is believed that hundreds of Mexicans have lost their lives through the use of these weapons, and at least one U.S. Federal Agent, Brian Terry, has lost his life.

When an operation goes so horribly wrong, it is important to find out why and who was responsible. The Congress has acted on its oversight responsibility; and in doing so, we've asked Attorney General Holder directly about the operation. On May 3, 2011, Attorney General Holder testified before the House Judiciary Committee. When asked when he first knew about Operation Fast and Furious, he stated, ``I'm not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.'' However, we now know that weekly memos addressed to the Attorney General, which included briefings on Operation Fast and Furious, began crossing his desk nearly a year before that.

When it became clear that his May 3 testimony was untrue, the Attorney General later revised the timeline in which he claimed to have knowledge of the operation. On November 8, 2011, Attorney General Holder claimed that he had in fact first learned about the operation at the beginning of 2011, which, again, is belied by the fact that he was receiving memos about the operation much earlier than that.

But we now know that even that revised and extended time frame is incorrect. Just days ago, the Justice Department finally released documents, which included a December 14, 2010, email exchange between the Attorney General's chief of staff and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, stating that the Attorney General had been alerted of the shooting and death of Agent Terry on the day of the shooting.

A troubling picture has emerged of the Holder Justice Department. From the Attorney General's own testimony, it would appear that he is either frighteningly unaware of major operations taking place in his own Department or that he did know about Fast and Furious, did nothing to stop it, and refused to take responsibility when it failed.

It has been more than a year since the death of Agent Terry, Mr. Speaker, and we still don't have the answers the American people deserve and Agent Terry's family deserves. We know we won't get these answers from a proper internal investigation from the Justice Department. Far from the Department investigating itself, it has covered up for itself.

A year of delay, denial, and obfuscation is enough. A year of nighttime document dumps full of blacked-out pages and redacted information is enough. A year of senior Justice Department officials pleading the Fifth is enough. It's time that we get to the bottom of why Fast and Furious happened and restore accountability to the Department of Justice. That's why I introduced H. Res. 532, which calls on the President to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Operation Fast and Furious as well as the Attorney General's role in it.

Without a special prosecutor, the only other way to get to the truth is through impeachment proceedings and the investigations that come with those proceedings. With all of the vital work before this House, it would be far better to avoid the distraction and the cost that impeachment proceedings would bring. I hope the President agrees.

I urge my House colleagues to support this resolution so that we can finally get to the truth and ensure no more innocent lives are lost due to this Attorney General's failure.


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