Democrats say efforts by the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress over a botched gun- sting operation are a partisan stunt. They are right about the politics. The committee is nevertheless right on the merits.
Holder should turn over the Justice Department documents Congress has demanded.
Here’s why. The controversy stems from a misguided effort to stem the flow of U.S. weapons to Mexican drug cartels. Starting under the George W. Bush administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed thousands of guns to be bought by so-called straw purchasers in the U.S. The agency then attempted to track the firearms as they found their way into the hands of Mexican traffickers.
Operation Fast and Furious, initiated in 2009, was the largest and last of these “gunwalking” stings, involving more than 2,000 firearms. It was a monumental failure: Only about a third of the guns have been recovered, and two weapons involved were found where U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was fatally shot on Dec. 14, 2010.