WASHINGTON -- FBI Director Robert Mueller denied that his agency attempted to cover up evidence related to Operation Fast and Furious, denouncing Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-Calif.) theory that there was a third gun at the murder scene of border patrol agent Brian Terry.
At Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on FBI oversight, Mueller addressed allegations that the FBI had engaged in a cover-up at the crime scene.
"There was no third weapon found at the scene. There were two weapons that were found at the scene, not a third. Why there were suggestions as to a third I'm still not certain... But the fact of the matter is there were only two weapons found at the scene," Mueller said, responding to a question by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) about "conspiracy theories" surrounding Terry's death.
Operation Fast and Furious, run by the Phoenix field division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives between 2009 and 2011, has come under harsh scrutiny in recent months. The program was implemented to investigate a gun-trafficking network in Arizona. Authorized buyers would purchase guns, smuggle them into Mexican drug cartels, and agents would then track where the guns ended up. However, agents in the program did not always make arrests or seizures right away, leading to the loss of hundreds of weapons.
Terry was killed in Arizona last December near the Mexico border. Two AK-47s, later linked to the Fast and Furious program, were recovered at the scene. Issa, who serves as chair of the House Oversight Committee, has publicly expressed that he believes there was a third gun involved.
When asked by Bob Schieffer of "Face the Nation" in October if he was insinuating that the FBI had tampered with evidence at the scene, Issa responded, "Well, we're not suggesting that, but when you have tickets that are numbered two and three, and there's no ticket one. In other words, the weapon -- one weapon has a two, one has a three on it, there's no one."
He continued, "When agents who were at Brian Terry's funeral made statements to his mother indicating that there were three weapons, when the two weapons that they have tested don't conclusively match up, then you look and say, well, was there a third weapon at the scene?"
Issa has been a vocal critic of the Department of Justice's handling of the Fast and Furious program, most recently at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Dec. 8. During the hearing, Issa questioned Attorney General Eric Holder, pressing him to fire people involved with the operation.
"The Justice Department has already admitted to making a false statement to Congress regarding Operation Fast and Furious and it is incumbent on them to be open and transparent about all aspects of the operation, including facts related to the murder of Agent Terry," Becca Watkins, a spokeswoman for Issa, wrote in an e-mail to HuffPost when asked about Mueller's most recent comments.
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