From the beginning, the Obama administration’s line on the deadly gunwalking operation known as Fast & Furious has been that the whole affair was a “botched” program that somehow spun out of control among the lower levels of government. As Katie Pavlich has fastidiously documented, the higher-ups in the Justice Department have denied, denied, denied that they knew anything about it at the time, and stuck to the story that this was just a well-meaning crime-fighting initiative gone awry — but their insistence is looking increasingly desperate.

And House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, it seems, can smell fear.

Issa and the GOP leadership have lately been putting the pressure on Attorney General Eric Holder and the wider Justice Department to comply more thoroughly with a 22-part subpoena from last October, even threatening to find Holder in contempt of Congress for dragging his feet. The DOJ has insisted that they’re doing everything they possibly can to comply with the subpoena while protecting the security and integrity (cough cough, gasp, sorry, I choked on my own word there for a second) of their department. But, the back and forth continues, and now Issa says he has acquired still more evidence that senior DOJ officials were well acquainted with the gunwalking going on as part of Operation Fast & Furious.

Here’s the press release, followed by Chairman Issa on Fox News this morning:

WASHINGTON—  Today, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa confronted Attorney General Eric Holder with new documents showing that senior Justice Department Officials in Washington were given specific information about reckless tactics in Operation Fast and Furious. In a letter, Issa rebuked the Attorney General for his continuing efforts to mislead Congress about both the contents of the wiretap applications and details of who knew about and gave approval for reckless tactics.  While refusing to produce the subpoenaed documents, Holder has previously denied knowledge of and cast doubt on the possibility that the wiretap applications contained information about reckless tactics.

The wiretap applications show that immense detail about questionable investigative tactics was available to the senior officials who reviewed and authorized them.  The close involvement of these officials – much greater than previously known – is shocking,” Issa wrote to Holder.  “Throughout the course of the congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious, the [Justice] Department has consistently denied that any senior officials were provided information about the tactics used in Operation Fast and Furious.  The wiretap applications obtained by the Committee show such statements made by senior Department officials regarding the wiretaps to be false and misleading.  You have repeatedly either denied involvement by senior officials in Fast and Furious, or asserted that the wiretap applications do not contain rich detail about irresponsible investigative tactics.”

 

“This was a Washington, D.C. program.” The plot thickens. Eric Holder is scheduled to appear before the House Judiciary Committee again on Thursday.