Justice Department Finally Releases Fast and Furious Documents, With Eric Holder On His Way Out the Door



As noted on Reason 24/7, Christmas came early for the House Oversight and Government Reform panel. On the eve of the midterm elections, the Justice Department (DOJ) finally sent Congress over 64,000 pages of documents related to the "Fast and Furious" gunrunning scandal. How about that timing?

While the DOJ had originally released some 7,600 pages, congressional investigators have unsuccessfully been seeking access to all the documents for years. In 2012, President Barack Obama invoked his executive privilege to keep these documents classified. The House of Representatives then held U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for refusing to hand them over.

But despite the Obama administration's best efforts, this August a judge rejected Obama's claims and ordered the DOJ to release the documents.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said that he would continue to seek more documents related to the scandal:

Since these pages still do not represent the entire universe of the documents the House of Representatives is seeking related to the Justice Department's cover-up of the botched gun-walking scandal that contributed to the death of a Border Patrol agent, our court case will continue.

Issa also expressed concern that the DOJ had been too liberal in redacting some of the documents. Nonetheless, he called the release a "victory for the legislative branch."

The scandal broke back in 2010, when two guns sold to Mexican drug traffickers under the Fast and Furious program were found at the scene of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry's death. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) had been "gunwalking" during operations in Arizona from 2006 to 2011, allowing guns be sold to known drug traffickers in a foolhardy bid to trace the weapons to high-ranking cartel members.

The ATF ultimately lost track of thousands of guns, hundreds of which later turned up at crime scenes, including bloody massacres. Mexican officials claim that hundreds of people have died at the hands of weapons knowingly sold to drug cartel members. Holder himself stated in 2011 that the effects of Fast and Furious could linger for quite some time. After all, guns put in the hands of violent Mexican drug traffickers don't just disappear overnight.

Obama claimed that neither he nor Holder approved the operation. Holder also stated that he hadn't heard of it until a few weeks before the scandal, but memos leaked in 2011 contradict this claim. A DOJ Inspector General report released in 2012 exonerated Holder from blame, however—pinning the colossal screwup on rogue agents. Yeah, right.

Some of the documents declassified on Monday offer tepid evidence that perhaps Holder didn't know the full details of Fast and Furious after all. In response to the leaked memos discussing the operation, he reportedly stated, "I didn't read them. I rarely do."

But even if Holder doesn't suffer from acute mendacity, his appeals to ignorance aren't doing him any favors. If anything, they just prove that he is as oblivious as he is incompetent.

This scandal, four years in the making, could get a lot more interesting with the document dump. Just don't expect Holder, who has already announced he's stepping down, to be around to face any consequences. Or the ATF to stop drafting gun control regulations without a hint of irony.

See a Reason reader on Holder's track record as U.S. Attorney General here.

NEXT: Ascendant GOP Faces Challenge of Defining Itself

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  1. “How about that timing?”

    Well, it could only be better if Valerie sent them out as an email on a Friday afternoon.

    1. “We’ve lost all record of this email. So sorry.”

  2. I was assured that this was a phake skandull?

    1. Just imagine how much effort they’d go through to cover up a REAL scandal.

  3. Well, Shrike was right, this wasn’t the FAKE SCANDAL we should look for.

    Tell us, Shrike, which FAKE SCANDAL gave the R’s their biggest majority since WWII (and maybe since the 20’s).

    1. And we can add, for turd’s enjoyment:
      “his signature policy?the Affordable Care Act?continues to evoke a mass gag reflex from the public and was specifically cited as a negative by almost half of voters in this election.”

    2. Also, the Democrats haven’t been in as bad shape in state legislatures since before the Great Depression.

  4. Even though he’s out of office, he can still be called back before Congress and put under oath. And its even easier to throw his lying ass in jail for perjury now that he’s out of office.

    Good test for Issa. If he doesn’t put Holder back on the stand, my impression of him as being about 90% a giant, useless, spineless pussy will be confirmed.

    1. OT, for you and others discussing this in the PM Links yesterday…

      Oakland mayoral fringe candidate Peter Liu (platform: conceal carry for all) was asked if he was going to have an election night party: “Nope, I am just playing World of Tanks.”

      1. I thought ALL Oakland candidates were ‘fringe’.

        1. I was about to say “how dare you,” but the bearded lesbian came in 2nd place. So… ouch.

    2. Clown Hunter|11.5.14 @ 2:10PM|#
      “Even though he’s out of office, he can still be called back before Congress and put under oath. And its even easier to throw his lying ass in jail for perjury now that he’s out of office.”

      Yep, Obo doesn’t have to throw him under the bus anymore, he can just let him ‘fall’ there.

  5. Nom nom nom – sooooooo delicious!


    “No mas! No mas!”

    1. “Remain calm! All is well!”

  7. lol, Holder is about as corrupt as the day is long lol.

    1. And we march one step closer to Skynet.

  8. The Republicans should refuse to confirm a new AG until the White House complies with all outstanding subpenas. And if the result of all of this is Obama throwing Holder under the bus such that he is remembered as an incompetent and corrupt AG and hopefully indicted for lying to Congress, I can live with that. I think promising to forever admit that Obama had nothing to do with Fast and Furious is a fair price for perp walking Holder.

    1. I so hope they take at least some stances like this. Nothing is every going to change without something along those lines.

      Sadly, I fear too much business as usual is coming our way. But we’ll see. We have major structural problems with our government and, thanks to that government, with our economy. Fixing both of those would be a screaming priority if we operated on anything approaching a rational basis.

    2. Since there’s a better chance of Kate Upton walking into my office and throwing herself at me like I’m some kind of demigod than Obama ever being impeached for any of the various things we all know he’s had a hand in, I could live with Holder taking the fall and getting what he so richly deserves.

      1. Impeach, indict, prosecute everyone but Obama. That’s fine. Unless he does even more outrageous stuff. Then impeach him, too.

        1. IT is pretty hard to deter future Presidents since sending them to jail is virtually impossible and impeachment almost as hard. The people you can deter are future President’s minions. Send Holder and a few others to prison as a warning to future cabinet holders that mindlessly following orders and protecting your boss can land you in prison.

          1. Well, I’d certainly target the minions, but if evidence of serious evildoing by Obama comes out that’s of a nature that would freak out most Americans, then by all means impeach him.

            1. I think there is a better chance of that happening than is commonly believed. If he doesn’t back off and just goes full speed ahead with really unpopular and damaging things, the Democrats will be forced to deal with him.

      2. Yeah. We are not getting Obama. I don’t care if they have a video of him ordering the IRS to go after conservatives and the ATF to ship guns to Mexico. Neither party would ever put the country through going after an ex President.

        But we have put AGs in jail before. I would be content if they just went after Holder, and Valarie Jerrett.

        Jerret is the person that should be sweating right now. She is by all accounts a first class nasty bitch with an enemies list a mile long. If Obama continues to hurt the Democrats someone is going to have to be held up as a scapegoat that will allow Democrats to show their independence from Obama by going after them. There are a whole lot of Democrats out there who would like to offer Jerret up for that job. They can’t go after Obama. But they sure as hell could go after her.

        1. I would LOVE to see that.

  9. This definitely has been the MOSTEST TRANSPARENT ADMINISTRATION EVER!.!.!.!

  10. Nick Gillespie was assured by Bill Maher and Rachel Maddow that this is just a republican ploy to mess with a black guy. I mean, how could those two be wrong? He is a black guy…

  11. Justice Department Finally Releases Fast and Furious Documents, With Eric Holder On His Way Out the Door

    And into a prison cell. (I know, I know. But a man can dream, right?)

  12. There has to be some good stuff in there to warrant such an exquisitely timed dump

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