The ATF has come under heavy criticism for its now defunct surveillance program called “Operation Fast and Furious.” Under this program, the ATF instructed its agents to allow guns to be illegally trafficked into Mexico in order to “to reach beyond the low-level purchasers and build a complex case against traffickers and their weapons brokers.” However, criminals allegedly used “Fast and Furious” firearms against U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials and authorities recovered two of the weapons at a site in southern Arizona where smugglers killed an American border patrol agent.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) have been leading the oversight charge in Congress and both lawmakers have asked authorities in Mexico and Arizona for the serial numbers of the guns recovered in violent crimes and submitted to ATF for tracing to determine if “Fast and Furious” weapons were involved. The ATF has this data too, however, appropriations riders known as the “Tiahrt Amendments” prohibit the ATF from disclosing the data to members of Congress. Just last night on Fox News, Issa complained about the lack of information:
ISSA: You have the point where it was sold and you have the point where you have a dead Border Patrol agent. And in between, you have no idea where that weapon was.
But Issa himself co-sponsored legislation in 2006 that would have made the Tiahrt amendments permanent. If passed, H.R. 5005, “a bill to make technical changes to Federal firearms laws” would have made it illegal for the ATF to disclose this information:
Information in the firearms trace system database maintained by the National Trace Center of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, shall not be disclosed to any entity, except to a Federal, State, local, or foreign law enforcement agency for a Federal, State, or local prosecutor solely in connection with and for use in a bona fide criminal investigation or prosecution and only to the extent that the information pertains to the geographic jurisdiction of the law enforcement agency or prosecutor requesting the disclosure.
So while the Darrell Issa of today requests gun data in an effort to tarnish President Obama’s Justice Department, the Darrell Issa of 2006 frowned upon any such type of information sharing, and wanted to make it permanently illegal and a punishable offense of up to 5 years in prison.
But this isn’t the only tinge of hypocrisy in Issa’s crusade to bring down Holder. The Washington Post reported last month that Issa “was briefed on ATF’s ‘Fast and Furious’ program last year and did not express any opposition.”