(CNSNews.com) - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, during a House oversight panel hearing on the botched gun-walking Operation Fast and Furious, said that he should be held accountable, but also given credit for what the Justice Department has accomplished under his leadership.
During the hearing, Rep. Ann Buerkle (R-N.Y.) played a video for Holder showing testimony given by the family of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry during a previous House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. Terry’s murder has been linked to a gun that was allowed to walk into criminal hands under Fast and Furious.
She then grilled Holder about his lack of accountability and asked, “How many more Border Patrol agents would have had to die as a part of Operation Fast and Furious for you to take responsibility?”
“You know I should be held accountable for certainly my role in whatever I did or didn’t do in connection with the supervision of Fast and Furious,” responded Holder, “but yeah I’m Attorney General of the United States, and I should also be held accountable and perhaps even given some credit – imagine that – given some credit for the things that this Justice Department has done under my leadership whether it deals with national security, revitalize anti-trust, revitalize civil rights enforcement efforts, so one has to balance all of these things.
“I’m not claiming to be a perfect person or a perfect attorney general,” he continued. “I get up everyday and try to do the best job that I can. I weigh faith in the people that work in the department, and you know that kind of question, I think is frankly, and again respectfully, I think that’s beneath a member of Congress.”
Democrats on the Republican-led panel were telling Holder not to answer Buerkle’s question.
Terry’s December 2010 death has been connected to Fast and Furious, which was spearheaded by an Arizona division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), a component of Holder’s Department of Justice.
Under the operation, the ATF allowed thousands of guns to “walk” into the hands of Mexican criminals in an effort to trace the guns and build larger cases against cartel members.
One of those weapons was found at the murder scene of Agent Terry, which sparked a congressional investigation by House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The New York congresswoman, in grilling Holder, pointed out that she has called for the attorney general’s resignation.
“I would suggest that the president has been eerily quiet about coming to your defense,” she also told Holder.
Buerkle, honoring a request from Agent Terry’s family, also asked Holder if everyone involved in Operation Fast and Furious will “be brought up on charges.”
“We will hold accountable, seek to hold accountable those people responsible for Agent Terry’s death,” the attorney general responded, later adding “we are endeavoring to find out who made the determinations to allow guns to walk.”
“I should be held accountable for things that are factually correct as opposed to those things that are politically desired, and I’m more than willing to admit mistakes when I had made them,” he added, “but I also think that if we’re really going to get ahead here, if we’re really going to make some progress, we need to put aside the political gotcha games in an election year and focus on matters that are extremely serious.”
Throughout the hearing, Holder denied having knowledge of gun walking taking place under his leadership, and Democrats accused the Republican-led investigation into the operation of being politically motivated.