Rep. Darrell Issa managed to push the details of a secret wiretap application from the botched “Fast and Furious” gunwalking operation into the public domain this week when he entered summaries into the Congressional Record, apparently using Congress‘ protection under the speech and debate clause to get around legal boundaries.
The summary of a March 2010 wiretap application shows that federal agents repeatedly lost track of guns they knew were being trafficked back to cartels in Mexico — a violation of Justice Department policy that should have raised red flags with top department officials who signed off on the wiretaps, said Mr. Issa, California Republican and chairman of the oversight committee that is looking into the operation.
Mr. Issa introduced the summary as part of the House’s debate Thursday before lawmakers held a historic vote to to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress.
Mr. Issa contends the wiretap application contradicts Mr. Holder’s claim that nothing in there would have shown gunwalking was going on.
“The affidavit explicitly describes the most controversial tactic of all: abandoning surveillance of known straw purchasers, resulting in the failure to interdict arms,” Mr. Issa said in a letter he placed in the Congressional Record. It appears on pages H4409 through H4411 of Thursday’s official chronicle of its debates.
The information in the wiretap affidavit is sealed and was not supposed to be released in public, but Roll Call reported Friday that Mr. Issa was using constitutional protections for speech and debate in Congress to put the information before the public.
An email seeking comment from the Justice Department wasn’t immediately returned Friday.