House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (right) listens to ranking member Elijah Cummings during a committee hearing concerning Attorney General Eric Holder's cooperation with a Congressional investigation into the Justice Department's botched gun-smuggling operation. The department's Office of the Inspector General is expected to release a report on the matter soon.
The DOJ is also reviewing the draft for information that the department would seek to redact for law enforcement purposes, Horowitz added.
"In addition, consistent with standard practice, given that our report may contain references to law enforcement sensitive information, Title III electronic surveillance information, sealed court records, and grand jury material, as well as information that may fall within the President's assertion of Executive Privilege, we asked the Department to conduct a sensitivity review to determine whether it believes that any information contained in the report cannot be released publicly," the letter said.
With the backdrop of GOP concern that the report would not thoroughly investigate the role of higher-ranking DOJ officials, Issa scheduled a hearing with Horowitz for Tuesday.
However, Horowitz said in the letter, the report might not be ready for release by then.
"I am pleased to make myself available to testify about the OIG report before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, or any other Congressional Committee that may request my testimony, once our report is final and we have publicly issued it. However, as of this date, I do not yet know the precise timing for the release of our report," the letter said.
Issa might delay the hearing, GOP sources said, but as of Friday, it remained scheduled for Tuesday despite Horowitz's letter.
While the report will cover topics that have been thoroughly investigated by Issa, Horowitz will have had access to tens of thousands of pages of documents that Holder refused to provide the Oversight committee.
And some questions still loom. Although a clear picture has emerged about what happened in Phoenix, where the Fast and Furious operation originated, the identity of the highest-ranking official who approved the tactics that were used remains unanswered.
In Fast and Furious, agents for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed assault guns to "walk," which meant ending surveillance on weapons suspected to be en route to Mexican drug cartels.
The tactic, which was intended to allow agents to track criminal networks by finding the guns at crime scenes, has been roundly condemned after two guns that were part of the operation were found at Border Patrol agent Brian Terry's murder scene.
After initially denying the tactic was ever used, the DOJ conceded it was but insisted senior officials were not aware of its use.
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