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Friday, May 11, 2012

Rep. Jason Chaffetz On Fast And Furious, "Where are the guts in this body to stand up and demand these documents be provided to Congress?"

May 9, 2012

Transcript of remarks:

Mr. Chaffetz: I want to quote President Obama in his first remarks as President of the United States. 

He said, quote, "Transparency in the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency. I also hold myself as President to a new standard of openness. But the mere fact that you have the legal power to keep something secret does not mean you should always use it. The Freedom of Information Act is perhaps the most powerful instrument we have in making our government honest and transparent, and holding it accountable, and I expect members of my administration, not simply to live up to the letter, but also the spirit of the law. The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed or because of speculative or abstract fears," end quote. 

This country should be embarrassed by what's happening in fast and furious. 

My challenge to members on both sides of the aisle is to stand up and have the integrity to say that we have a dead U.S. agent; we have a department of justice that lied to congress. Where are the guts in this body to stand up and say, "we're not going to put up with that." We're going to demand these documents be provided to the congress. We know because the inspector general within the Department of Justice has said they have 80,000 documents, they've given congress about 7,000 of those documents. 

This is the test of principle, this is the test of integrity, and when you can't stand up and take on your own party, that's a lack of guts. This congress has got to stand up for itself, and demand that these documents be released. 

I would encourage members on both sides of the aisle, at the very least, vote for this amendment. 

I can't imagine any reason why anybody would deny the passage of this amendment. We're not going to allow taxpayer dollars to be used to lie to congress, unfortunately we have been lied to. That's the reason why we have to do this amendment. It's embarrassing that you have to even get to this point, but, madam chair, Brian Terry's family expected the integrity of -- expected, the integrity of this body demands and we cannot rest until we get to the bottom of that, regardless whether it's republican or democrat. 

You can make the case that part of this started with President Bush, we don't know what's in these documents, but the separation of powers, it's imperative that we get to the bottom of this and that we hold people accountable. Not just the lowest level of people down at the A.T.F., they've been dismissed, they've been harassed, and thank goodness for those whistleblowers who stood up and did the right thing. But the senior level, the senior people in the department of justice, they have not been held accountable. 

President Obama said in these remarks that he would. March 5, he went on Univision and promised that they would. It has not happened, and if we get stonewalling on the other side of the aisle, without your support, we will do a disservice to this country, we will do a disservice to this body and we will not get to the truth, and I promise you, when that becomes a republican president, I will stand with you and demand the openness and transparency that this body deserves. I've done it; I've challenged my own party, I have the guts, I have the fortitude to do the right thing. I urge passage of this amendment. 

I appreciate Chairman Issa, Representative Gowdy, Mr. Gosar, Mr. Farenthold, there's so many people in this body. I appreciate my colleagues from South Carolina who are passionate about this issue. I encourage all members to vote in favor of this amendment and I yield back the balance of my time."
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