Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) tried to turn the blame to Republicans, pointing to recent revelations that gun walking was used in a George W. Bush administration initiative, also based in Phoenix, known as “Operation Wide Receiver.” The tactics in that operation were outlined in a 2007 briefing prepared for then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
“There’s been a selective way in which this investigation has been pursued,” Schumer said.
During testimony on the Justice Department's 'Fast and Furious' program, Attorney General Eric Holder and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) enter into a tense exchange about Holder's responsibility and knowledge of the ill-fated gun tracking program.
Holder defended his tenure, citing the department’s counter-terrorism efforts, financial fraud cases and a record number of criminal civil rights prosecutions. “I am proud of these — and our many other — achievements. And I am committed to building on this progress,” he said.
Even as he called the tactics used in Fast and Furious “unacceptable,” Holder struck back against his critics, condemning what he called “headline-grabbing Washington ‘gotcha’ games and cynical, political point-scoring.” His voice growing animated at times, he called on congressional Republicans to pass tougher gun laws and criticized what he called “overheated rhetoric,” suggesting that Fast and Furious “was somehow the cause of the epidemic of gun violence in Mexico.”
The attorney general came under fire Tuesday from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) over the death in December of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was killed during a firefight in the Arizona desert with five suspected illegal immigrants.
The serial numbers on two AK-47 semiautomatic rifles found near the scene matched those on guns bought outside Phoenix by a Fast and Furious suspect, although neither of the firearms could be definitively linked to Terry’s killing.
“Have you apologized to the family of Brian Terry?” Cornyn asked Holder, interrupting his answers at times.
Holder said he had not, nor had he spoken to family members.
“I certainly regret what happened to Agent Terry. I can only imagine the pain that his family has had to deal with,” Holder said, before adding: “It’s not fair, however, to assume that the mistakes that happened in Fast and Furious directly led to the death of Agent Terry.”