Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Obama: Holder ‘Would Not Have Ordered’ Gun-Running Operation

President Barack Obama, at his press conference, spoke carefully about an emerging scandal over a federal gun-running probe.

President Barack Obama at a news conference Wednesday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

But he said Attorney General Eric Holder “would not have ordered” the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives operation known as Fast and Furious, in which federal agents monitored — but didn’t stop — firearms sales to suspected smugglers in hopes of making a big trafficking case.

So far, Mr. Holder himself has only said he didn’t know about the operation until controversy erupted about the ATF tactics earlier this year. Mr. Holder said he would withhold comments until a Justice Department inspector general probe of the ATF operation is complete.

Republican lawmakers led by Rep. Darrell Issa, of California, and Sen. Charles Grassley, of Iowa, have tried to pin blame for the operation-gone-wrong on officials higher than the ATF’s acting chief, Kenneth Melson, who is expected to be pushed out by his bosses at the Justice Department.

Mr. Obama noted the ongoing IG probe constrained his comments and promised to act when it is completed. But the president drew the line at Mr. Holder.

“My attorney general has made clear that he certainly would not have ordered gun-running to be able to pass through into Mexico,” Mr. Obama said. “I’ve made very clear my views that that would not be an appropriate step by the ATF, and we’ve got to find out how that happened. As soon as the investigation’s completed, I think appropriate actions will be taken.”

Wall Street Journal

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