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U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder has been subpoenaed by the Republican chairman of a House oversight committee, an escalation of the congressional investigation into the botched "Fast and Furious" gun-tracking operation.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, issued a far-ranging subpoena that seeks all communications between Holder, his subordinates and the White House in connection with now-defunct Operation Fast and Furious. Issa contends Holder knew more about the operation than he has indicated to congressional investigators – a claim Holder has strongly denied.
"It's time we know the whole truth," Issa said in a statement. "The documents this subpoena demands will provide answers to questions that Justice officials have tried to avoid since this investigation began eight months ago."
The Justice Department declined to comment beyond the sternly worded rebuke that Holder issued last week. After a Republican lawmaker suggested the administration was complicit in deaths that have resulted from the gun-tracking operation, Holder said he could not sit idly by amid such "irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric."
"I have no recollection of knowing about Fast and Furious or hearing its name prior to the public controversy about it," Holder wrote. "Prior to 2011, I certainly never knew about the tactics employed in the operation."
Fast and Furious, launched in 2009, was a gun-tracking operation that allowed the illegal sale of more than 2,000 firearms that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms intended to track to drug cartels in Mexico. Most of the guns were lost and 170 were recovered at crime scenes in Mexico. Two were found at the Arizona site where a U.S. Border Patrol agent had been killed.