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Wiretap applications obtained by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform prove Attorney General Eric Holder and Assistant AG Lanny Breuer lied to Committee members when they claimed DOJ personnel knew nothing of the tactics used by the ATF during Operation Fast And Furious.

Wiretap applications are forms that must be filled out and submitted to a judge, asking permission to perform a wiretap. As these requests may only be made if all other information-gathering techniques have been tried and found wanting, the applications are completed in extraordinary detail, listing all prior methods employed by law enforcement to gather existing evidence. In short, the entire history of the efforts put forth by law enforcement during a particular case or investigation are presented in writing to the court.

According to Committee chair Darrell Issa, six wiretap applications are now in Committee possession, all presented to the court between March and June of 2010 and all having been approved by Department of Justice officials. In fact, “each application included a memorandum from Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer to Paul M. O’Brien, Office of Enforcement Operations, authorizing the wiretap applications on behalf of the Attorney General.” “The memoranda from Breuer are marked specifically for the attention of Emory Hurley, the lead prosecutor for Operation Fast and Furious.”

Why is this so significant? As Congressman Issa wrote to Eric Holder on June 5th, “Throughout the course of the congressional investigation … the Department (DOJ) has consistently denied that any senior officials were provided information about the tactics used in Operation Fast and Furious. The wiretap applications obtained by the Committee show such statements made by senior Department officials regarding the wiretaps to be false and misleading.”

That is, DOJ higher-ups including Lanny Breuer obviously had to know of the tactics employed by the ATF during the Operation as they were clearly spelled out in the applications the DOJ-specifically Lanny Breuer-signed off on!

On September 7th, 2011, Holder stated before Issa’s Committee, “The notion that …this thing (Fast and Furious) reaches into the upper levels of the Justice Department is something that…I don’t think is supported by the facts.”  One month later, in a letter to the Committees investigating the Operation, Holder wrote, “I now understand some senior officials within the Department were aware at the time that there was an operation called Fast and Furious although they were not advised of the unacceptable operational tactics being used in it.” 

Issa continues the assault on Holder with the Attorney General’s testimony of September 8th. Holder said:

I don’t think the wiretap applications—I’ve not seen—I’ve not seen them. But I don’t know—I don’t have any information that indicates that those wiretap applications had anything in them that talked about the tactics that have made this such a bone of contention…I’d be surprised if the tactics themselves about gun walking were actually contained in those—in those applications. I have not seen them, but I would be surprised [if] that were the case.

Then on February 2nd of this year, Holder claimed:

I think, first off, there is no indication that Mr. Breuer or my former deputy were aware of the tactics that were employed in this matter until everybody I think became aware of them, which is like January, February of last year. The information—I’m not at this point aware that any of those tactics were contained in any of the wiretap applications.

Obviously, the DOJ had no intention of providing Congress with any of these applications or the information they contained. In fact, the applications had been sealed by the Department for some time. It is likely the Committee was leaked the applications by the same source who has provided the House with other withheld, DOJ documents.

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