CBS News dropped a bombshell today: leaked documents show that Attorney General Eric Holder was briefed on Fast and Furious in the summer of 2010. Why is that a bombshell? Because Holder testified before a Congressional committee that he first learned about the program within a few weeks of his May 2011 testimony. The CBS account is surprisingly aggressive–like real reporting:
New documents obtained by CBS News show Attorney General Eric Holder was sent briefings on the controversial Fast and Furious operation as far back as July 2010. That directly contradicts his statement to Congress.
On May 3, 2011, Holder told a Judiciary Committee hearing, “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”
Yet internal Justice Department documents show that at least ten months before that hearing, Holder began receiving frequent memos discussing Fast and Furious. …
the Justice Department has publicly tried to distance itself. But the new documents leave no doubt that high level Justice officials knew guns were being “walked.”
This is the relevant portion of a memorandum from the head of the National Drug Intelligence Center to Holder dated July 5, 2010:
There are additional memos at the linked CBS site as well. I assume Holder would say that he forgot the references to Fast and Furious in emails and memos that he received in 2010. I also assume he was under oath when he testified before the Congressional committee. Some are calling for a special prosecutor to look into DOJ’s conduct in connection with Fast and Furious and similar programs. At a minimum, Justice needs to stop stonewalling Congress and fully produce the records that have been requested.
UPDATE: The CBS News story has been updated to include Holder’s explanation: “[T]onight they tell CBS News, Holder misunderstood that question from the committee – he did know about Fast and Furious – just not the details.” Which seems awfully lame, since Holder testified: “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.” “Heard about for the first time” is a strange way to say he’d known about the program for a year, but had only recently been briefed on the details.