Transcript: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy’s opening statement on Operation Fast & Furious

Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Operation Fast and Furious with Attorney General Eric Holder on Nov. 8, 2011

Transcript of Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-Vt.) opening statement: 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). IMAGE SOURCE: Judiciary.Senate.gov

“I’m glad to have the Attorney General Holder back with us as we continue our important focus on oversight. When the Attorney General was here in May, details were just emerging about the successful military intelligence operation that killed Osama bin Laden, which did provide a major justice and closure for Americans resulting from the horrific attacks of Sept. 11th.

“That was not an isolated success. During the last few years, the Obama administration successfully reinvigorated, retooled, refocused our national security efforts. Now, the Attorney General – as he is with any administration – is a key member of the national security team. Under his leadership the Justice Department last month foiled an assassination attempt in the United States of the Saudi Ambassador to the United States and prevented a major act of terrorism on U.S. soil. Last week, four men in Georgia were arrested in a domestic terrorism plot, accused of planning to use guns, bombs, and the toxic poison Resin to kill federal and state officials. Earlier this year, the Christmas Day bomber was convicted in federal court, pled guilty, and face a possible life sentence.

“Now, we have ensure that we do all we can to assist efforts to bring terrorists to justice by providing the administration with a full array of authorities and options it needs in that counter-terrorism efforts. In my view, and a view I know is shared by the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General, it is of course short-sighted for Congress to hamstring those efforts.

“As we proceed, we should remember that between Sept. 11, 2001 and the end of 2010, 438 suspects were successfully prosecuted by the Bush and Obama administrations on terrorism charges in federal courts. 438. Now, at that same time, six had been convicted in military commission. Only six – five of those were from plea bargains.

“Now, the record over the last three years with respect to crime has also been outstanding. Over the past three years, crime rates have fallen rather than risen, which is contrary to normal experience during such difficult economic times. So as we proceed, each one of us is going to have questions about matters that concern us. But we should not lose sight of the big picture and the fact that what the Justice Department is doing is to keep us safe and secure.

“This morning, there will be more questions about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives trafficking investigations along our southern borders. Attorney General Holder should know, reiterate, and reinforce the longstanding Department of Justice policy prohibits the transfer of firearms to known criminals without the proper monitoring or controls by law enforcement. And administration officials have testified at 17 congressional hearings about these matters, including six before this committee.

“I urge those who engage in important oversight services respect the need for the law enforcement and prosecutors to do their jobs, address the serious threat of violence posed by these brutal drug cartels. I do not think anyone wants to hamper the efforts of law enforcement agents against the Mexican cartels, including the ongoing investigation and prosecution related to the tragic murder of Agent Brian Terry.

“So I thank the men and women of the department of justice who work hard everyday to keep us safe, uphold the rule of law. I thank the Attorney General for returning to the committee. I look forward to his testimony.”

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12 Comments on “Transcript: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy’s opening statement on Operation Fast & Furious

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