United States House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith wrote a letter to President Barack Obama today asking that he appoint a special counsel to investigate whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied when he testified before Congress about "Operation Fast and Furious," the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms botched gun trafficking sting.
"In response to ongoing Judiciary Committee oversight of "Operation Fast and Furious, the Department of Justice recently provided to the committee documents that raise significant questions about the truthfulness of the attorney general's statements," Smith writes in his letter to the president, provided to New Times by Congressman Ben Quayle's office.
In May, Holder testified before the House Judiciary Committee, claiming that he hadn't even heard of "Fast and Furious" until April of this year.
"I'm not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks," Holder testified -- under oath -- in May.
However, Smith says according to the documents provided by the DOJ, Holder knew of the operation -- and was receiving weekly briefings about it from the National Drug Intelligence Center -- in July of 2010 at the very latest.
According to Smith, a July 2010 memo shows NDIC Director Michael Walther told Holder that straw buyers in the "Fast and Furious" operation "are responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to the Mexican drug trafficking cartels."
One of those 1,500 firearms was used to kill Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Because he's the attorney general, Holder can't exactly investigate himself, which is why Smith is asking the president to appoint special counsel.
Allegations that senior Justice Department officials may have intentionally misled members of Congress are extremely troubling and must be addressed by an independent and objective special counsel. I urge you to appoint a special counsel who will investigate these allegations as soon as possible," Smith writes.
Congressman Quayle agrees with Smith.
"I fully support Chairman Smith's decision to call for a special counsel to investigate this serious matter. Drug cartel members, using Fast and Furious weapons, took the life of Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry near Phoenix and they continue to pose a serious threat to American citizens, especially the men and women who protect our borders," Quayle says. "We need to know exactly what the attorney general knew, when he knew it and whether his testimony before members of Congress was truthful."
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See Smith's entire letter below.