Holder informed of Fast & Furious five months before testimony?

When Eric Holder testified about his knowledge of Operation Fast and Furious on May 3, 2011, he told the House Judiciary Committee that he had only been informed of the operation “a few weeks ago.”  Later, Holder amended that to say that it would have been more accurate to call the time period “a couple of months.”

Does five months qualify as “a couple” or “a few weeks”?

Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice dumped documents related to Operation Fast and Furious on congressional officials late Friday night. Central to this document dump is a series of emails showing Holder was informed of slain Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s murder on the day it happened – December 15, 2010 – and that he was informed the weapons used to kill Terry were from Fast and Furious on the same day.

An email from one official, whose name has been redacted from the document, to now-former Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke reads: “On December 14, 2010, a BORTAC agent working in the Nogales, AZ AOR was shot. The agent was conducting Border Patrol operations 18 miles north of the international boundary when he encountered [redacted word] unidentified subjects. Shots were exchanged resulting in the agent being shot. At this time, the agent is being transported to an area where he can be air lifted to an emergency medical center.”

That email was sent at 2:31 a.m. on the day Terry was shot. One hour later, a follow-up email read: “Our agent has passed away.”

Burke forwarded those two emails to Holder’s then-deputy chief of staff Monty Wilkinson later that morning, adding that the incident was “not good” because it happened “18 miles w/in” the border.

Wilkinson responded to Burke shortly thereafter and said the incident was “tragic.” “I’ve alerted the AG [Holder], the Acting DAG, Lisa, etc.”

So far, it just sounds like a normal notification of an agent death — until one reads an e-mail from later in the same day:

Then, later that day, Burke followed up with Wilkinson after Burke discovered from officials whose names are redacted that the guns used to kill Terry were from Fast and Furious. “The guns found in the desert near the murder BP officer connect back to the investigation we were going to talk about – they were AK-47s purchased at a Phoenix gun store,” Burke wrote to Wilkinson.

“I’ll call tomorrow,” Wilkinson responded.

It’s amazing what one can find in Friday night document dumps, isn’t it?  Small wonder that the DoJ didn’t want this released during the week, when the newspapers and media could draw more eyes to it.  This e-mail utterly negates the notion that Holder had no idea about Fast and Furious when Terry was murdered with weapons sent over the border by the ATF.

Could this open another line of Fast and Furious investigation, this time into potential perjury charges against Holder?  Holder was probably vague enough to avoid a legal finding of perjury in his initial testimony, but he clearly intended to deceive Congress in that testimony.  Either he knew about F&F when notified of Terry’s death, or didn’t bother to check with his own deputy chief of staff to follow up on the matter.

Holder will appear on Tuesday to testify before the House Oversight Committee and its chair, Rep. Darrell Issa.  The only thing that might overshadow this new revelation would be Issa demanding to know why a senior DoJ official planned to take the 5th before the committee.

David Strom 6:41 PM on September 26, 2022