Last month the U.S. House of Representatives unfortunately passed a resolution holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. I'm disappointed that the Department of Justice's failure to uphold the law made such a last resort action necessary. Holder refused to produce documents subpoenaed in October 2011, relative to a government run gun-walking operation. His refusal to cooperate left Congress no other alternative. Government officials must be held accountable for their actions just as any other US citizen would.
It is important to remember that a finding of contempt does not place blame. Contempt is a mechanism Congress uses to enforce compliance with lawful subpoenas. This contempt vote is just one of many steps we must take to find the truth behind a botched federal gun-walking operation that resulted in the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in late December 2010.
The Phoenix field division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which is under the direction of DOJ, purposely allowed about 2,000 firearms – mostly AK-47 assault rifles – to be purchased illegally in Arizona. This fundamentally flawed program sought to track the firearms in hopes they would lead to drug cartel leaders. Instead, roughly 1,700 guns are unaccounted for and many have turned up at various crime scenes, including the one involving the death of Agent Terry.
Even the Mexican Ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan, was recently quoted in the LA Times saying, "Thinking that you can let guns walk across the border and maintain operational control of those weapons is really an outstanding lack of understanding of how these criminal organizations are operating on both sides of our common borders."
It is critically important that we get to the bottom of this failed operation in order to ensure that these tactics are never repeated again. Unfortunately, Mr. Holder and the DOJ have failed to provide thousands of documents that would lead us to the truth behind this operation. They have also provided misleading and fraudulent information during this process.
In addition to Agent Terry, over 200 Mexican citizens have been killed and thousands of weapons are still missing. Some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have questioned the motivation behind the Republican lead attempt to find the truth. To them I've said, the Terry family has asked for and deserves answers. Congress deserves answers. The American people deserve answers. I am committed to keep digging until we get them.