Did Eric Holder Lie To Congress About Operation Fast & Furious?

A new report from CBS News indicates that Attorney General Eric Holder wasn’t entirely truthful when Congress asked him about when he first learned of the Fast & Furious operation:

WASHINGTON – New documents obtained by CBS News show Attorney General Eric Holder was sent briefings on the controversial Fast and Furious guns operation as far back as July of 2010. That directly contradicts his statement to Congress.

On May 3, 2011, Holder told a Judiciary Committee hearing, “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.”

At the very least, this is going to give Congress more reason to move forward with this investigation. This also reminds me of that old Washington saying, it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed for too young in July 2021.


  1. Jay Tea says:

    The most remarkable thing about this whole mess is that there has yet to be a credible explanation for what the actual purpose of Fast And Furious was that is coherent with what we know. They’re not even trying to spin this one.

    It’s gotten to the point where I simply don’t care what the “official story” was. Let’s just start hauling various and sundry officials into court and try them for what we know. If they want to offer explanations as mitigating circumstances, that’s fine.

    Alternately, we can offer to extradite them to Mexico for trial for acts of war against the Mexican government.


  2. there has yet to be a credible explanation for what the actual purpose of Fast And Furious was that is coherent with what we know.

    Exactly, not to mention the fact that the United States has not even bothered to explain what this was all about to the Mexicans, who are left with hundreds of deed bodies and armed drug gangs. The Attorney General of Mexico is pretty annoyed, from what I understand.

  3. Jay Tea says:

    @Doug Mataconis: You wanna hear something really scary, Doug? I read one theory that spelled it out:

    The purpose of this was threefold. First, by increasing the number of American-sourced guns in the cartels’ hands, the Obama administration would then have an argument to tighten gun control laws here in the US. Second, by escalating the drug cartel violence in Mexico, they would increase the number of Mexican illegals here in the US as more Mexican nationals flee the violence. Third, the drug cartels would gain more and more power until the Obama administration would propose that the only way to break their power would be to legalize drugs.

    That’s crazy. You know it, I know it.

    But it still makes more sense than the official story.

    If that doesn’t scare the crap out of you as much as it does me…


  4. @Jay Tea:

    Yea I’ve heard theories like that. The other one is that it was part of a plot to re-energize the political case for gun control. As with all conspiracy theories, I tend not to believe them because I really don’t think that government is capable of the type of competence and secrecy required to carry something like that out.

    Absent a plausible law enforcement objective, I’m afraid the only theory I can come up with is that someone somewhere in the chain of command was corrupted by drug gang money.

    I am not making an accusation against anyone, just to be clear. I’m just saying that, based on what we know, there don’t seem to be many rational explanations for what happened here. Not even incompetence explains it very well.

  5. Jay Tea says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I’ve seen the “corrupted” argument, and it doesn’t make any sense. If the cartel was going to do something like this, then the corrupted officials wouldn’t have made such a paper trail. They wouldn’t have given it such a spiffy code name. They’d have found some way to do it more quietly. And the people at the levels most susceptible to such bribery were on record as saying “this is a really, really, really bad idea.”

    Oh, it’s possible, but still less plausible than the crazy conspiracy theories.


  6. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Obama doesn’t have the brains, the cojones or the experience to have organized such a Machiavellian operation.

    With Holder, on the other hand, we’re talking about a shrewed, back alley grifter who’s entirely capable of what some on the right are alleging. The guy makes G. Gordon Liddy look like Caspar the Friendly Ghost.

  7. An Interested Party says:

    If for nothing else, this serves as rich material for various right-wingers to have a massive circle jerk, as the above illustrates…who knows, maybe the impeachment fantasies of some might actually come true…

  8. Jay Tea says:

    @An Interested Party: So, then, you wanna go for my idea of just start hauling ATF/Justice Department officials into court and seeing what sticks? Forget all the theories and just deal with the facts?

    Welcome aboard, Interested!


  9. @An Interested Party:

    I am not calling for impeachment, that’s silly.

    I do, however, want to know why the ATF allowed hundreds of high-powered weapons to be sold to shell buyers in the United States and didn’t bother to track them as they made their way across the border to Mexico.

    I also want to know why the ATF covered up the fact that at least two of those weapons were found at the scene of the murder of an American law enforcement officer.

  10. An Interested Party says:

    So, then, you wanna go for my idea of just start hauling ATF/Justice Department officials into court and seeing what sticks?

    A pity that wasn’t done with the previous administration…a shame that we couldn’t have hearings with officials hauled in from both administrations…

    I am not calling for impeachment, that’s silly.

    I never claimed that…

  11. john personna says:

    “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

    – Robert J. Hanlon

  12. BigFire says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    The cover up part is easy. Part of the self preservation instinct when your ass is on the line. I’m not a subscriber of wild theory, but there really isn’t any good ones. At least one that makes any sense.

  13. Jay Tea says:

    @john personna: We are WAY past the point of simple incompetence sufficing. Oddly enough, I’ve been working on a piece built on that very aphorism.


  14. Jay Tea says:

    @An Interested Party: I’m confused. Is that a “hey, look over there” move, or a “tu quoque” argument? Sometimes they look alike — they’re both pathetic and transparent attempts to avoid the subject…


  15. An Interested Party says:

    Sometimes they look alike — they’re both pathetic and transparent attempts to avoid the subject…

    Oh, well you shouldn’t be confused at all, as you tread in that area quite a bit…you know, like when the subject is about anything, you find some way to usually bring it back to the President…

  16. Bob says:

    Someone very high up in the Administration is an accomplice to murder. This was the stupidest program ever by the Federal government.

    I personally believe that the goal was to gin up stats to attack gun sales, gun owners and gun rights. Too many departments, not just ATF, involved. Cross department funding and coordination makes this a high level approval. Maybe it stops at Holder but I am reserving judgment.

  17. Neil Hudelson says:

    Jay Tea complaining about someone changing the subject? Apparently there are two Jay Teas that comment at OTB, and one Jay Tea doesn’t read what the other Jay Tea posts.

  18. Franklin says:

    @Jay Tea: While this whole thing stinks, your conspiracy theories are absolutely terrible (as most are).

  19. Jay Tea says:

    @Franklin: They ain’t MY conspiracy theories, just ones that I’ve stumbled across. Let me repeat myself:

    1) As crazy as the “conspiracy theories” are, they are STILL more plausible than the BS being put out by the Obama administration and its proxies.

    B) I have gotten to the point where I don’t care about the “why.” The “what” is egregious enough for me to have sufficiently important people — the current one being Attorney General Eric Holder, who was given a memo on it in July 2010 but insists the dog ate it or something — hauled into court. Let them come up with their cockamamie cover stories as they defend themselves.

    III) Alternately, we wait for Mexico to ask for the extradition of certain worthies — such as Mr. Holder — and let them settle their own beefs.


  20. Jay Tea says:

    As for Neil and Interested: I really don’t find myself that fascinating a topic, so I’ll stick to the one at hand — the apparent perjury by the Attorney General of the United States, whose defense so far seems to be “I’m not corrupt, just really, really incompetent.” You wanna trash-talk me, you’ll do so without my participation.


  21. Drew says:

    “I did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewisnsky………”

  22. An Interested Party says:

    I really don’t find myself that fascinating a topic…

    In that regard, we are in complete agreement…but I do recall a saying, something about pots and kettles…

  23. Jay Tea says:

    @An Interested Party: And yet, when given the chance to cheap-shot me or comment about a story that has literally cost hundreds of innocent lives and has a very strong possibility that the Attorney General of the United States may have committed perjury, I still come out first. You might want to be insulting me, but instead I end up feeling tremendously flattered…


  24. Dazedandconfused says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The first question: The take-away I got from the hearings is that it was one of these….only not as smart…


    The second question I do not understand. It was a sting. You don’t start talking about it until you make arrests, right? They knew, of course, they would be used to kill people. The take away from that is that the ATF is in effect saying that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”.

    The ATF has embarrassed itself to a point where it should be eliminated. Split its job up between the FBI. DEA, and Treasury. They can’t get a director through the Senate, and so they haven’t had one since 2006. There is no sense trying to refurbish the agency. Just put it out of its misery. There are some good people wasting careers in there.

  25. An Interested Party says:

    @Jay Tea: I don’t need to insult you, I was merely pointing out your hypocrisy…at any rate, I’m sure you won’t let anything interupt your delusional glory…

  26. Jay Tea says:

    @An Interested Party: And yet, how can I not take the fact that you find busting/busting on little ol’ me — a true nobody from nowhere — more demanding of your attention than perjury by the Attorney General? Good heavens, you make me blush!