Fast and Furious denials found to be false

Dec. 3, 2011 at 8:20 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- High-level U.S. officials made false denials regarding the Fast and Furious gunrunning investigation, documents released by the Obama administration show.

The hundreds of documents and e-mails, released Friday, show the false denials about claims made by whistle-blowers in the Fast and Furious investigation came from top officials at the U.S attorney's office in Arizona and at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, Politico reported.

U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke, ATF Acting Director Ken Melson and ATF Deputy Director William Hoover are said to have urged the Justice Department to issue forceful and broad denial of allegations that investigators had lost control of the gunrunning investigation.

"ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that were purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico," a Feb. 4 letter from Justice Department legislative affairs chief Ron Weich to Grassley said.

The letter also contends an "allegation ... that ATF 'sanctioned' or otherwise knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to a straw purchaser who then transported them into Mexico -- is false."

In a letter to Congress Friday, Deputy Attorney General James Cole withdrew the February response and tried to explain misstatements.

"Facts have come to light during the course of this investigation that indicate the Feb. 4 letter contains inaccuracies," Cole wrote. "Department personnel … relied on information provided by supervisors from the components in the best position to know the relevant facts: ATF and the U.S. attorney's office in Arizona … . Information provided by those supervisors was inaccurate. We understand that, in transcribed interviews with congressional investigators, the supervisors have said that they did not know at the time the letter was drafted that information they provided was inaccurate."

Congress is investigating claims ATF agents investigating gunrunning across the U.S.-Mexico border allowed up to 1,200 guns to make their way into Mexico where they fell into the hands of drug cartels, including weapons allegedly used in the slaying of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in Arizona a year ago, Politico said.

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