Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) said they were expanding their probe into a troubled anti-gun-trafficking program, two days after the Justice Department announced a shake-up of officials who oversaw the program.
In a letter Thursday to Ann Scheel, the acting U.S. Attorney in Phoenix, Messrs. Grassley and Issa essentially put the Arizona district office on notice, saying its role “in the genesis and implementation of this case is striking.” They sought extensive documents – emails, memos, notes and the like – from six top officials, including Ms. Scheel and Dennis Burke, the former U.S. Attorney who was ousted in the shake-up. The lawmakers had signaled on Tuesday that their investigation would intensify.
The program, “Operation Fast and Furious,” was run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It allowed suspected gun smugglers to buy some 2,000 firearms, some of which have turned up in crimes on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border; most haven’t been tracked down. When Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was fatally shot in December 2010, two assault rifles linked to “Fast and Furious” were found at the crime scene.
On Tuesday, Mr. Burke resigned and Kenneth Melson, acting head of the ATF was reassigned. In addition, an assistant U.S. attorney in Arizona, Emory Hurley, was also reassigned.
In their letter, Messrs. Grassley and Issa zeroed in on a court filing by the Phoenix office seeking to deny Mr. Terry’s family rights under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, and expressed concerns about conflicts of interest in prosecuting the Terry case. “Since your office directed and approved the daily tactical decisions in Operation Fast and Furious, it is hard to avoid the perception that a conflict of interest exists,” the two wrote.
Read More at WSJ By Mary Lu Carnevale, The Wall Street Journal