Arizona Congressman Ben Quayle writes …
Nearly a year and a half after the tragic death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, the Obama Justice Department continues to defy a legitimate Congressional Investigation into what went wrong with the tragic “Operation Fast and Furious”. This ill-conceived operation “walked” high-powered weapons across the border into the hands of criminal cartels in Mexico—on purpose.
As you know, one of these weapons was later found at the scene of Agent Terry’s murder, and hundreds of Mexicans are believed to have lost their lives as a result of these weapons. Congress has used its proper investigative function to get to the bottom of this tragic scandal, but Attorney General Eric Holder has evaded every attempt to place accountability on those responsible.
I have been deeply angered by this foot-dragging. Earlier this year, I introduced a resolution in the House calling for a special prosecutor to investigate Fast and Furious and the Attorney General’s role in it. I have also joined with my House colleagues on numerous occasions to push for more action on this issue.
This week, I along with five of my Republican freshmen colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy urging them to immediately bring a resolution to the House floor to hold Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.
The following day, House leadership sent a letter to Attorney General Holder urging him to immediately comply with the Congressional investigation. In my view, the time for more letters is over. Eric Holder has had numerous opportunities to do the right thing and comply with this investigation, and he has refused to do so. Through it all, he has continued to make contradictory and demonstrably false statements to Congress, and has blocked the release of thousands of subpoenaed documents. As you may be aware, I have called for Attorney General Holder to resign. Holder has shown clearly that he will not comply, no matter how many times we ask him nicely.
It’s time to hold him in contempt of Congress. Our founders gave Congress the responsibility of oversight of the federal government, and we would be shirking our responsibility if we allowed the Attorney General to defy investigations at will.
One more letter from House leadership is simply too little, too late, and I said as much upon its release this week. I will continue my efforts to restore accountability at the Department of Justice and seek Justice for Agent Terry and so many others who have been victims of this tragedy. I won’t stop until it’s accomplished.
Securing our southern border is vital. We won’t accomplish it until we stop trying horrible ideas like Fast and Furious, and focus on combating the cartels and using all resources to fight drug smuggling head on. We also need to ensure that law enforcement has the tools it needs to combat the efforts of the cartels.
To that end, I teamed up with Rep. Sylvestre Reyes last year to create a bill that cracks down on the construction and use of illegal cross-border smuggling tunnels. 74 of these tunnels have been found in Arizona alone. As the lead Republican Co-sponsor of this bill, I helped shepherd it to passage out of the House Judiciary Committee, and this week it passed the whole House by a resounding margin: 416-4. When this bill becomes law, it will have the effect of making it much more difficult to construct cross-border tunnels.
To strengthen our efforts to fight the cartels, I have also organized a field-hearing to take place in Phoenix on Monday to discuss ways to properly utilize state, federal and local authorities to combat the drug trade. Members of Congress will hear from a number of distinguished witnesses on how best to accomplish this. I hope these Members will gain a new appreciation for the challenges faced by border states like Arizona and will take that knowledge back to Washington with them in order to create more effective policy.