WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department on Monday night sought dismissal of a lawsuit by a Republican-led House committee demanding that Attorney General Eric Holder produce records about the botched law enforcement probe of gun-trafficking called Operation Fast and Furious.
President Barack Obama has invoked executive privilege and the attorney general has been found to be in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents that might explain what led the Justice Department to reverse course after initially denying that federal agents had used a controversial tactic called gun-walking in the failed law enforcement operation. The tactic resulted in hundreds of illegally acquired weapons purchased at Arizona gun shops winding up in Mexico, where many of them were recovered from crime scenes. Two guns in Operation Fast and Furious were found on the U.S. side of the border at the scene of a shooting in which U.S. border agent Brian Terry was killed. In a Feb. 4, 2011 letter to Congress, the Justice Department said that agents made every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico, which turned out to be incorrect. Ten months later, the department withdrew the letter.
In its court papers, the Justice Department says the Constitution does not permit the courts to resolve the political dispute between the executive branch and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that is seeking the records. The political branches have a long history of resolving disputes over congressional requests without judicial intervention, the court filing said.
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