Darrell Issa To Investigate ATF’s Controversial Gunrunner Project

March 17, 2011 7:30 am

Darrell Issa (R-CA) lobbed criticism at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Wednesday night and revealed he is investigating allegations that the agency intentionally let more than 1,700 guns be illegally trafficked to Mexico.

Issa, who is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told the Roger Hedgecock Show the ATF probe will be one of his primary investigations.“I have four investigators working full-time on this, and we’re not going to quit until we see, not just an answer, but an absolute guarantee that this can not happen again,” he said.

ATF is facing criticism for the way it handled Project Gunrunner, a national initiative targeting illegal gun trafficking on the Mexico border. A senior ATF agent has told media outlets that ATF supervisors ordered agents not to intercept weapons made in suspicious sales — but instead to monitor them to see where the weapons ended up. Some, including Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), believe guns allowed by ATF to pass into Mexico may have contributed in the deaths of U.S. agents.

Issa ripped into ATF over allegations the agency let the weapons “walk” over the border without any safeguards in place. “Having a sting operation that has no sting in it is a terrible example of misuse of their ability to do investigations,” said Issa. “The gun shops are often vilified for being the source — well in this case, they did the right thing, they contacted the agent, and they were told to go ahead.”

He said his committee was looking to talk to additional whistleblowers. “As we get to the truth, we’re going to hold those who lied to us early on accountable,” he said.

“Two individuals, maybe more, lost their life needlessly because AK-47s got over the border — not by accident, they got there as part of effectively a plot, by the very people who we believe should be protecting us from those weapons getting into the wrong hands.”

It is unclear why Issa’s committee is overseeing the investigation into ATF, which as a part of the Justice Department would typically fall under the oversight of the House Judiciary Committee headed by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). Issa said he would be releasing more details on the scope of the investigation in the next few days.

Listen to the whole interview, below:

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