Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) joined a bipartisan majority in voting to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for his failure to comply with investigations into the defunct "Operation Fast and Furious."
Over the course of the year-and-a-half long investigation, the Justice Department under Holder's leadership has issued false denials to Congress, directed witnesses not to answer questions, retaliated against whistle blowers and produced just 7,600 documents while withholding over 100,000. Many of the small fraction of requested document turned over were completely redacted, bearing no information.
"This is not about Attorney General Holder or anyone else," said Kingston. "This is about finding answers into why the federal government was involved in an operation that eventually claimed the life of a border patrol agent and over 300 Mexican citizens. The American people deserve answers and they deserve assurances that nothing like this could ever happen again."
The botched operation first came to light after a shootout in a remote desert along the Mexican border in Arizona which claimed the life of Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry. The ensuing investigation revealed two AK-47s found on the scene were part of Operation Fast and Furious which allowed guns to be knowingly be purchased in the United Sates destined only for Mexican drug cartels.
The Justice Department quickly denied any knowledge of the program and insinuated that two whistleblowers were lying. It has since withdrawn the denial but refused to provide any information about what led to that refusal or what has been done to hold those who intimidated witnesses accountable.
The dispute was escalated when President Obama asserted executive privilege, claiming releasing the documents would have a chilling effect on the deliberative process within the agency. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, however, contends the privilege asserted does not apply to congressional investigations nor when allegations of wrongdoing and misconduct are involved. According to them, this request involves such conduct because the Department issued a demonstrably false letter to congressional investigators.
"No one is above the law," Kingston said. "The Obama Administration has had every opportunity to avert this vote but chose to continue stonewalling a legitimate investigation into wrongdoing. I hope now they will prevent further legal proceedings by cooperating with our bipartisan effort to get to the bottom of this awful incident."