Committee on the Judiciary Hearing on Oversight of the Department of Justice There are a number of high profile issues currently before Congress that involve the Justice Department and hopefully this hearing provides us with the opportunity to get some answers.
PoliticalNews.me - Jun 13,2012 - Grassley Opening Statement for the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary Hearing on Oversight of the Department of Justice
Prepared Statement of Ranking Member Chuck Grassley of Iowa
U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Hearing on Oversight of the Department of Justice
Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this oversight hearing focusing on the Justice Department. There are a number of high profile issues currently before Congress that involve the Justice Department and hopefully this hearing provides us with the opportunity to get some answers. There is a lot of ground to cover so I thank the Attorney General for appearing today and trust that he will provide candid responses to our questions.
Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry died in a shoot-out with Mexican bandits in December 2010. Those bandits were armed with weapons our own government allowed to be purchased and transferred illegally under Operation Fast and Furious.
Nearly one year ago, three whistleblowers testified before the House Government Oversight Committee about the use of this practice, called “gunwalking,” in Operation Fast and Furious. Agent Terry’s mother and sister testified that day as well. Here we are—one year later—and the Terry family is still waiting for answers. They are still waiting for justice. The FBI doesn’t have the shooter in custody. And, the Justice Department is still defying a Congressional subpoena for information about how all this happened.
A lot has happened in the last year, virtually every official in the chain of command from the whistleblowers up to the Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms has been re-assigned. The United States Attorney for Arizona resigned and admitted leaking sensitive information about one of the whistleblowers to the press. The Chief of the Criminal Division of the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s office in Arizona refused to testify, citing his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. Then he resigned.
The head of the Criminal Division in Washington, Lanny Breuer, admitted he knew about gunwalking in an earlier case called Wide Receiver. However, he failed to speak up about it when he was sent copies of a letter to me denying that ATF ever let guns walk. He stayed silent for eight months while the public controversy over gunwalking grew. Emails surfaced that show Breuer’s Deputy discussed gunwalking in the context of both Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious. So senior people at Justice had to have known the details of what was going on.
Even more evidence of that fact arose recently. The House Committee obtained affidavits in support of wiretap applications in Fast and Furious. We cannot discuss them in open session because the Justice Department has indicated that they are under seal. But, there is now a public dispute as to what the content of the applications show that senior DOJ officials knew or did not know. One side says the applications show immense detail such that anyone reviewing them would have to have known that guns were being allowed to be