11.07.11

Leahy Asks DOJ Acting IG If Ongoing Investigation Includes Review Of Past ATF Operations

WASHINGTON (Monday, Nov. 7, 2011) – U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) sent a letter Monday asking the Department of Justice’s Acting Inspector General whether the office’s investigation of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Operation Fast and Furious includes a review of tactics developed and used in prior ATF operations.  Documents recently released by the Department of Justice revealed that the ATF used similar investigative techniques dating back as long ago as 2006.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder informed Leahy that he had requested that the Office of the Inspector General conduct an independent investigation of Operation Fast and Furious.  The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a regular oversight hearing with the Attorney General tomorrow, Tuesday, November 8.  The hearing will be webcast live online.

The full text of the letter follows.  A PDF is available online.

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November 7, 2011

Cynthia A. Schnedar
Acting Inspector General

United States Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.

Washington, DC 20001

Dear Acting Inspector General Schnedar:

On April 18, the Department of Justice informed me that your office is investigating allegations that have been raised about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Operation Fast and Furious.  I understand that your office initiated this review at the request of Attorney General Holder on February 28 and that it is ongoing. 

Recent documents provided by the Department of Justice to Congress show that the ATF utilized similar investigative techniques years earlier.  For instance, in connection with Operation Wide Receiver in 2006, hundreds of weapons apparently moved beyond the custody and control of the ATF and possibly into Mexico and Arizona.  Recent documents also show that Attorney General Mukasey may have been briefed in 2007 on the ATF’s operations on the southern border, including an indication that guns may have entered Mexico out of the control of law enforcement officials. 

I am writing to ask whether your office’s investigation includes a review of the tactics developed and used earlier in these prior ATF operations.  I appreciate your efforts to conduct a thorough investigation in a manner that does not hamper the efforts of law enforcement agents to fight against violent drug cartels in Mexico.  I hope that your investigation can also be concluded as quickly as possible.

Sincerely,

PATRICK LEAHY

Chairman

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Press Contact

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