Under intense questioning Wednesday by Congressmen Darrell Issa and Trey Gowdy during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Homeland Security Secretary seemed to weave, dodge, protest and perhaps demonstrate some ignorance about Operation Fast and Furious.
Later, when interviewed by Lou Dobbs on Fox News’ business channel, both Issa and Gowdy expressed their frustration and disappointment at Napolitano’s performance. Issa chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has been holding hearings on Fast and Furious.
He seemed appalled at Napolitano’s responses to his questions, and there was no small amount of verbal combat between the Secretary and both Gowdy and Issa. At one point, she suggested that Gowdy was trying to interrogate her.
Gowdy’s questioning of Napolitano began with a not-so-surprising inquiry. After recalling that Napolitano had been both a state and federal prosecutor (prior to being Arizona governor and taking the appointment as DHS secretary), he simply asked:
“Did you ever approve or sanction investigations that allowed gunwalking?”
After a noticeable pause of several seconds, her response was:
“No, not to my knowledge.”
The exchange went downhill from there. Napolitano answered some questions about procedures as a federal prosecutor with candor, but then insisted that she would not “second-guess” about Fast and Furious because it is currently under investigation. However, she did have this observation:
“What I would say is obviously there were problems with Fast and Furious.”—DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano
A few hours later, Dobbs opened up his segment with Issa and Gowdy by noting,
“The Secretary seemed, at best at times, reluctant to answer questions.”—Lou Dobbs, Fox News
Issa, who has been pushing for answers in the Fast and Furious investigation for almost ten months, expressed his amazement that Napolitano told the committee that she had not spoken directly with Attorney General Eric Holder specifically about the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. He also described Napolitano’s demeanor thusly:
“She was testy, but most importantly, she didn’t have answers to important questions.”—Congressman Darrell Issa
Issa and Senator Charles Grassley have been investigating the scandalous operation since January. They have repeatedly complained about stonewalling and lack of cooperation by the Justice Department throughout the process.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, according to CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson, one of the handful of journalists who have been dogging this story for several months, the man who purchased one of the guns recovered at the murder scene of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata pleaded guilty to three of more than 20 charges related to gun trafficking.
The investigation, as this column reported, is expanding into Texas, where that gun was purchased at a Fort Worth gun show in October 2010. This is not going away soon, and that much was clear when Issa told Dobbs:
“Until we get answers the American people can believe in; answers that show us this won’t happen again; answers to who is really going to be held responsible, not just scapegoats at the low level, we have to continue. We will continue.”—Congressman Darrell Issa
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