On conservative pundit Frank Gaffney's radio show yesterday, Daily Caller reporter Matthew Boyle falsified congressional testimony by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz concerning Operation Fast and Furious. Boyle incorrectly claimed that Horowitz testified that it was “unfathomable” that Attorney General Eric Holder was unaware of controversial tactics employed during the failed gun trafficking sting.
In actuality, when Horowitz was asked, “Did you find any evidence that Attorney General Holder approved of the gun walking tactics that are under investigation -- that have been under investigation by this committee?” during a September 20 House Oversight Committee hearing, he responded, “We found no evidence that the attorney general was aware in 2010, before Senator Grassley's letter, of Operation Fast and Furious and the tactics associated with it.” [C-SPAN via Nexis, 9/20/12]
But in an interview, Boyle distorted this testimony. He indicated that Horowitz stated before Congress that Holder was aware of the tactics used in Fast and Furious. From Boyle's interview:
BOYLE: So the point is, is that at this point in time it's very hard to believe that Holder didn't know. And the IG [Inspector General] has actually said that before Congress. He has actually -- I can't remember the exact quote off the top of my head -- but he said something like that, "It's unfathomable that the Attorney General was unaware of this when everybody who works for him was." So basically what has happened here is there is there is a culture of plausible deniability that has been created around Holder. [emphasis added]
An independent report issued by the Office of the Inspector General on September 19 reached the opposite conclusion, stating, “We found no evidence that Attorney General Holder was informed about Operation Fast and Furious, or learned about the tactics employed by ATF in the investigation, prior to January 31, 2011.”
Before the issuance of the Inspector General report, Holder testified before Congress that he was unaware of the misguided tactics used in Fast and Furious until early 2011, when those details became public knowledge. The report, and Horowitz's subsequent testimony, vindicates this claim, even as right-wing media continue to incorrectly report that Holder condoned allowing guns to enter Mexico as part of its Fast and Furious coverage.
Even the chief investigator into Fast and Furious, Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, stated during the September 20 hearing that it was an “important point” to acknowledge that Holder “was not found to know it.”
ISSA: I think from the chair's standpoint, I think your point is extremely good, that nowhere in this report did we find specific incrimination of they knew, either one of these Attorneys General [Eric Holder and Michael Mukasey]. And I think that's -- that's an important point, and it's one that I think, for the record, the Committee should be aware of. Is that, I don't think anyone should have assumed that they knew. We certainly would all wish that any Attorney General would ask to know more and would have known more. And I think the Inspector General's report does cast blame for high-ranking people not asking more questions. But I agree with the gentleman, that neither Attorney General was found to know it. [C-SPAN via Nexis, 9/20/12]
During his interview, Boyle also flirted with the debunked conspiracy theory that Fast and Furious was initiated by the Obama administration to push gun control laws, stating that there is “no other theory that makes sense with the evidence we know.”
GAFFNEY, HOST: Is it your estimation that there was in fact a larger purpose behind this operation as far as the Washington folks were concerned, having to do with trying to create conditions for advancing an arms -- or I should say a gun control agenda?
BOYLE: Well at this point we know they used it to put a gun control regulation into place.
The question is, is whether or not that was the motivation behind the senior Justice Department officials. Right now there is not a ton of evidence to support it, but there is nothing, no other theory that makes sense with the evidence that we know.
The Inspector General report, however, left no question that Fast and Furious was not initiated to further firearm regulation. The report found “no evidence that the agents responsible for the cases had improper motives or were trying to accomplish anything other than dismantling a dangerous firearms trafficking organization.” Concerning the issuance of an agency rule in August 2011 by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) requiring gun dealers in four border states to report the sale of multiple assault weapons, the report concluded there is “no evidence that ATF Phoenix initiated the [Fast and Furious] investigation in order to facilitate efforts to obtain long gun legislation.”
Boyle has misled on Fast and Furious in the past. On July 3, Boyle published an article alleging that the Department of Justice was aware of ATF's use of “gunwalking” because of a memo provided by ATF to DOJ. An examination of the memo, however, indicated that it did not describe “gunwalking”. In a June 5 article, Boyle suggested that references to “gunwalking” in DOJ-approved wiretap applications again proved that senior officials had knowledge of the tactic. But Boyle offered no proof that senior DOJ officials read the applications thoroughly, a misstep that was later confirmed in the recent IG report.