Holder: ‘I’m Not Sure’ How I Found About Fast and Furious

February 2, 2012 - 2:56 PM

Holder

FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2011 file photo, Attorney General Eric Holder listens to a question about Medicare fraud enforcement at the Justice Department in Washington. Holder says an investigation of arms traffickers called Operation Fast and Furious was flawed in concept as well as in execution and never should have occurred. Facing tough questioning by Senate Republicans about the operation, He says he wants to know why and how firearms that should have been under surveillance could wind up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

(CNSNews.com) - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told members of the House oversight panel that he knows when, but not how he heard of the controversial gun- walking Operation Fast and Furious.

“I mean I found out about it as I said I think in January, February of 2011 and I’m not even sure how I found out about it,” said Holder. “It might have been even through either the letter I received from Sen. [Chuck] Grassley [R-Iowa] on February 9th, I’m not sure if it was contained in there. There were certainly media reports about it in February. Again, I’m not sure exactly how I found out about the term Fast and Furious.”

Under Fast and Furious, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) under Holder’s Department of Justice knowingly allowed the sale of almost 2,000 weapons to straw purchasers that were destined for Mexican drug cartels. The intention was to trace the weapons to cartel higher-ups, but ATF lost track of the firearms.

One of the Fast and Furious weapons has been linked to the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was gunned down on Dec. 14, 2010 by Mexican bandits near the Arizona-Mexico border.

That ignited a congressional investigation into Fast and Furious headed by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

During Thursday’s hearing, Holder told Chairman Issa that he heard about Terry’s death within 24 hours of when it happened.

Issa then asked Holder, "When you were informed about that within 24 hours, did anyone inform you or allude to the fact that the weapons found at the scene were from Fast and Furious?"

"No," the attorney general responded. "I didn't know about Operation Fast and Furious until the beginning parts of 2011 after I received that letter from Senator Grassley, I guess at the end of January, and then that was about Operation Gun Runner. I actually learned about the Fast and Furious operation in February of that year."

Then, Issa asked, “We would like to know why someone kept that from you?”

“I’m not sure anybody kept it from me,” Holder replied.