House Judiciary Chair Calls for Special Counsel to Probe Holder’s Sworn Statements

By Fred Lucas | October 4, 2011 | 4:30 PM EDT

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during a news conference in Washington, Wednesday, March 9, 2011, to announce that members and associates of the Barrio Azteca drug gang have been arrested after having tied the group to the killing of a U.S. consulate worker and her husband. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

( – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith called for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate whether Attorney General Eric Holder was truthful to Congress in light of recent memos that show he was informed about a gun sting operation as far back as the summer of 2010.

That came despite Holder’s testimony to the Judiciary Committee on May 3. Asked when he became aware of the Operation Fast and Furious, Holder answered, “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.” (See Earlier Story)

The questions were about how soon Holder knew about Operation Fast and Furious, an operation led by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in which guns were knowingly allowed to be sold to straw purchasers who transported the guns to Mexico.

“The Department’s consistent response to Congress has been that Operation Fast and Furious was a discrete law enforcement effort largely isolated to the ATF office in Phoenix,” Smith said in a letter Tuesday to President Barack Obama. “These documents appear to undermine this claim and bring into question statements made by Attorney General Holder to this Committee.

“Allegations that senior Justice Department officials may have intentionally misled Members of Congress are extremely troubling and must be addressed by an independent and objective special counsel,” Smith said. “I urge you to appoint a special counsel who will investigate these allegations as soon as possible.”

One of the memos was to Holder from the National Drug Intelligence Director Michael F. Walther on July 5, 2010. Another was dated Nov. 1, 2010 to Holder from Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer. Both memos specifically mentioned “Operation Fast and Furious.”