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Holder accused of 'stonewalling'

June 7, 2012 at 5:20 PM

WASHINGTON, June 7 (UPI) -- Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., accused U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder of "stonewalling" during a hearing Thursday on a botched gun operation.

In Operation Fast and Furious, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms tried to track guns illegally sold in the southwestern United States from 2006 to 2011 to their ultimate purchasers. But the "gun-walking" strategy ended with hundreds of weapons ending up in Mexico, including two found at the scene when Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was shot in 2011.

Issa insisted he had proof Holder and other top officials in the Justice Department and possibly the White House knew there were problems with the operation before Terry's death, the Los Angeles Times reported. He read the dates on wiretap applications he said he received from "whistleblowers" in Holder's department who "are tired of your stonewalling."

Holder said the wiretap application demonstrate nothing about whether Justice officials knew what was going on in Fast and Furious because agents involved in the operation did not reveal their tactics.

Asked by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Justice Committee, whether the White House was told about problems with Fast and Furious after Terry was killed, Holder said he did not know, Fox News reported.

In his opening statement, Holder conceded that Fast and Furious and similar operations were "flawed in both concept and execution." He reminded the committee that Fast and Furious began during George W. Bush's presidency and said he had replaced the leadership at ATF.

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