Obama: Justice Department Allowing Gun Smuggling to Mexico Not 'Appropriate'

By Fred Lucas | June 29, 2011 | 3:54 PM EDT

Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered in Arizona on Dec. 15, 2010 by alleged Mexican drug cartel operatives. Two guns found at the scene had been purposely sold to gun traffickers in a program hatched by the Obama Administration. (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama declined to call for anyone to be held accountable in a Justice Department operation that allowed about 2,000 guns to flow into Mexico.

A reporter asked Obama during a White House news conference Wednesday, if the president would replace the leadership in the operation. Obama said the operation was under investigation and that it was not an appropriate investigative method.

“As you know, my attorney general has made clear he certainly would not have ordered gun running to pass through into Mexico,” Obama told reporters.

Attorney General Eric Holder, who asked the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General to investigate the matter, told the House Judiciary Committee on May 3 that he “probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”

The intent of the operation was to trace guns to the Mexican drug cartels so they could arrest the kingpins. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive halted the operation once two guns allowed to be sold to straw purchasers were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010. In January 2011, the just 20 straw purchasers were indicted.

“The investigation is still pending,” Obama continued. “I’m not going to comment on the current investigation. I’ve made very clear my views that that would not be an appropriate step by the ATF, and we’ve got to find out how that happened. As soon as the investigation is complete, appropriate action will be taken.”

The president’s answer was disappointing, said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is investigating the matter.

“President Obama's remarks today on Operation Fast and Furious were disappointing,” Issa said in a statement. “There was no sign of urgency to provide answers or explain why no one at the Justice Department has accepted responsibility for authorizing an illegal gun walking operation six months after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry's murder.

“The American people expect more from the President than unsubstantiated assertions that the Attorney General didn't know about this reckless program and no explanation about who authorized it,” Issa added.