First there was Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in his lonely quest to get answers from Attorney General Eric Holder about Project Gunwalker. Then Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) got on board and through his chairmanship of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held hearings. Now Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is asking questions of Eric Holder as it appears Texas had its own version of Operation Fast and Furious.
Below is the letter he sent to Attorney General Eric Holder today.
August 11, 2011
The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Holder:
I write to express my deep concerns regarding press reports of an ATF “gun-walking” program that allegedly operated in the state of Texas. I request that the Department of Justice immediately brief my office regarding the scope and details of any past or present ATF “gun-walking” programs operated in the state of Texas.
As you are aware, recent congressional investigations have revealed the existence of a controversial “gun-walking” program operated by the ATF in Phoenix, Arizona. As a part of that program, known as “Operation Fast and Furious,” ATF agents instructed federally licensed firearms dealers to illegally sell more than 1,000 weapons to straw purchasers working for drug cartels in Mexico. These ATF agents were also ordered by their superiors to ignore well-established practice and refrain from interdicting these weapons before they flowed into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. Sadly, this ill-advised program had tragic consequences, with these “walked” weapons showing up at the scene of multiple violent crimes—including the murder of United States Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Unfortunately, the Department of Justice has been less than forthcoming during congressional investigations into the failed “Operation Fast and Furious.” For instance, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich initially told Congress that the allegation that “ATF sanctioned or otherwise knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to a straw purchaser who then transported them into Mexico—is false.” Additionally, Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson told congressional investigators that “ATF’s senior leadership would have preferred to be more cooperative” with the congressional investigation of “Operation Fast and Furious,” but “Justice Department officials directed [ATF] not to respond and took full control of replying to briefing and document requests from Congress.”
I believe it is important that you promptly disclose the details of any past or present Texas-based ATF “gun-walking” program similar to “Operation Fast and Furious.” My constituents deserve a full accounting of any such activities in Texas. I look forward to your reply.
United States Senator
The Washington Times is covering the story and Cornyn’s letter here. Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle is also giving it good coverage including a video about Operation Fast and Furious.