Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) said Sunday
that he was worried about what he saw as certain inconsistencies in the investigation into the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and floated the theory that there was a third weapon at the scene. Federal officials say he didn't do his homework.
Two weapons linked to ATF's botched Fast and Furious
operation (which allowed guns to "walk" into Mexico) had been found at the scene of Terry's death, but investigators haven't determined conclusively if one of those weapons killed him. It was Terry's murder that lead to complaints from ATF agents about the the bureau's anti-gun trafficking program.
"If weapon number one [which] appears to be missing were ballistically matched," Issa said on CBS "Face the Nation", "we would have an absolute rather than the inconsistency." From the interview:
Host Bob Schieffer: Are you suggesting that maybe that might be the gun, that evidence shows was the murder weapon, and for some reason the FBI has not disclosed that?
Chairman Issa: Well, we certainly want to know in some cases, as you know, there are investigations where there's materials that people feel are very sensitive.
Issa also added that the FBI "has a history in some cases of working with felons and criminals and hiding their other crimes."
A Justice Department spokeswoman said that Issa's false accusation "maligns the dedicated agents investigating the murder of Agent Terry" and "mischaracterizes evidence in an ongoing case."
"The FBI has made clear that reports of a third gun recovered from the perpetrators at the scene of Agent Terry's murder are false," Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said in a statement to reporters.
"When law enforcement analyzes evidence from a crime scene, it refers to some of the items seized as 'known' items or 'Ks' for shorthand," Schmaler explained. "Certain items were analyzed as 'known' items from the crime scene of Agent Terry's murder, including the two firearms referenced by Chairman Issa and designated by the FBI as Known Specimens 'K2' and 'K3'."
"According to the FBI, the item that Chairman Issa refers to as 'K1' is a blood sample from Agent Terry, not a firearm. For this reason, it was not listed on the ballistics report prepared by the FBI," Schmaler continued.
"Prior to his appearance on CBS this past Sunday, Chairman Issa's staff was informed that there were two - not three - guns recovered from the perpetrators at the scene of Agent Terry's murder," Schmaler said.
Oversight Committee Ranking Member Rep. Elijah E. Cummings issued a statement criticizing Issa's comments.
"It is unbelievably reckless for Chairman Issa to go on national television and repeat these baseless accusations, which attack the integrity and credibility of entire law enforcement agencies and undermine the prosecution of those responsible for Agent Terry's death. In a closed briefing with Committee staff earlier this month, the FBI dispelled any allegation that they recovered a third gun at the scene, and the Committee has no evidence to the contrary."
Late update: Issa spokesman Frederick Hill emails this statement: "If there was no third gun then Agent Brian Terry was killed by a weapon from Operation Fast and Furious. The Justice Department has so far failed to acknowledge this or provide appropriate answers."