The public investigation into Operation Fast and Furious (aka Project Gunwalker) begins in earnest this afternoon. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and the House Oversight Committee will hold their first public hearing into this botched operation. Today’s hearing is to lay the constitutional groundwork for Congress to investigate an Executive branch agency. On Wednesday, the Committee will start getting to the meat of the allegations with testimony by ATF agents, Brian Terry’s family, Sen. Chuck Grassley, and Assistant AG Ronald Weich.
Chairman Darrell Issa Hearing Preview Statement
June 13, 2011
Monday’s hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform follows three months of effort by congressional investigators to understand the rationale, policy, and practical execution of a controversial government program that allowed straw purchasers to buy heavy-duty arms and traffic them into Mexico to be used by drug cartels. To date, the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have refused to comply with a congressional subpoena for material documents related to this program that was issued on March 31, 2011. The administration’s unwillingness to recognize the constitutional authority of the Congress to conduct investigations, and its continued refusal to provide documents necessary for the Congress to perform its essential oversight responsibility, may constitute an obstruction of justice that requires intervention of the federal judiciary or other legal action.
Regrettably, this seems to be the course preferred by the Department of Justice. Congressional investigators have learned that the administration’s strategy is not to comply with the Committee’s subpoena, to instruct department employees not to cooperate with Congress, and ultimately to pressure its complete withdrawal. This will not happen.
The American people have a right to know whether their government has aided and abetted crimes committed at our border with Mexico. They have a right to know what happened, why it happened, and who is responsible. In cases where the administration resists or otherwise refuses to comply with a congressional subpoena and provide answers to these questions, the Committee must enforce compliance. This, we will do.
To assist the Committee in its constitutional effort to uphold the rule of law and assert the investigative prerogatives of Congress, Monday’s hearing will include testimony from leading constitutional law experts and noted authorities on the history and processes of congressional oversight.
The hearing will be webcast live at oversight.house.gov .
The constitutional experts who will be witnesses today include the following which are also linked to their pre-submitted written testimony on the topic.
Professor Charles Tiefer
Commission on Wartime Contracting
Mr. Morton Rosenberg
Former Specialist in American Public Law
American Law Division
Congressional Research Service
Mr. Todd Tatelman
Legislative Attorney, American Law Division
Congressional Research Service
Mr. Louis Fisher
Scholar in Residence
The Constitution Project
UPDATE: C-Span now has the full video of today’s hearing up on their site. Unfortunately, it wasn’t embeddable. You have to go to this link to watch it. The one advantage to watching the delayed broadcast is that you can skip ahead as well as replay portions of it.