UPDATE – An apology from Attorney General Eric Holder was received by the family. According to email correspondence with the Arizona Daily Star:
“…On the subject of Attorney General Eric Holder’s apology to the Terry family, it appears the family did receive the AG’s apology before the kerfuffle over the apology emerged on Thursday. At least two stories quoted Domino that day as saying the family had not received an apology letter and that Holder had not sent it.
Turns out that’s not true. The parents’ attorney, Lincoln Combs, said they received the letter Wednesday night.
“Lana does not speak for the Terry Family, and she is incorrect,” Combs said in an email to me Friday. “The letter from Holder was received by the Family on Wednesday night.”
Domino acknowledged today that the attorney speaks for the family and said she actually told the reporters Thursday that she did not know of a letter from Holder, not that it didn’t exist….”
At Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Attorney General Eric Holder said that he “regrets” the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. He has previously said that ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious was “flawed in its concept and flawed in its execution.” Mr. Holder also has said that gun walking is “inappropriate and inconsistent with Department of Justice policy and should not occur.” Yet, when Senator John Cornyn asked him if he had spoken to or apologized to the Terry Family, Mr. Holder replied that he has not spoken to the family nor has he apologized for the actions of ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix. Instead, he said that “it’s unfair to assume that mistakes from Fast and Furious directly led to the death of Agent Terry.”
One week ago, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer is on record saying, “the tragic truth is that if those criminals who killed Agent Terry had not gotten the guns from this one source, they would have gotten the gun from another source.” The fact of the matter is that the men who killed Brian Terry were armed with brand new military grade assault weapons and ammunition. The weapons were allowed to be purchased with the full approval of ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona; both agencies falling under the control of the Attorney General.
Now common sense would dictate that law enforcement should never let guns walk; yet, ATF let guns walk. Common sense would dictate that law enforcement should never allow guns to be delivered to dangerous criminals; yet, ATF allowed weapons to flow to members of certain Mexican drug cartels. Common sense would dictate that every effort should be made to interdict guns before they can be delivered to the criminal element; yet, ATF chose not to interdict those guns. Common sense would dictate that only bad things can happen when dangerous criminals are allowed to purchase military grade assault weapons; yet, ATF ignored that risk. This was Operation Fast and Furious and it defied common sense.
President Obama has spoken often about the need for transparency in our government. Furthermore, the President, when referring to Operation Fast and Furious, has said, “People who screwed up will be held accountable.” Well, we know who screwed up: they were ATF supervisors in the Phoenix Field Office who thought up and initiated this plan, ATF Headquarters executives who allowed it to continue, and officials in the Department of Justice who didn’t put a stop to it when they had the opportunity. Operation Fast and Furious and the way that DOJ and ATF have handled both the actual investigation and its aftermath are excellent examples of the precise need for transparency and accountability.
The Attorney General has said that he did not know about the flawed tactics being used by ATF in Operation Fast and Furious; if this is true and he did not know, then he should have known. After all, he is the Attorney General of the United States and the head of the Department of Justice under which ATF belongs. Mr. Holder needs to own Operation Fast and Furious. In the end, Mr. Holder may chose not to apologize to the Terry family for the role that ATF and DOJ played in the death of Brian Terry, but the Attorney General should accept responsibility immediately. It is without question, the right thing to do.