22 Jun 2012

US attorney-general facing contempt hearing

5:07 am on 22 June 2012

US attorney-general Eric Holder is to face a hearing for contempt on Congress over a botched gun trafficking investigation.

Federal agents allowed more than 2000 guns to be exported to Mexico over a two year period, in the hope of tracking them to a drug cartel.

But it didn't go according to plan and a US border agent was killed in a shootout with illegal immigrants with a weapon linked to the Fast and Furious programme.

President Barack Obama used his executive privilege on Wednesday to withhold documents sought by the House Oversight Committee.

The BBC reports the House of Representatives is to schedule a full vote next week on the issue unless unless Mr Holder co-operates with the inquiry.

''This divisive action does not help us fix the problems that led to this operation or previous ones and it does nothing to make any of our law enforcement agents safer," said Mr Holder.

The Department of Justice says it has denied access to the files because they contain information that could affect criminal investigations.

Former Presidents George W Bush and Bill Clinton used executive privilege to withhold documents six and 14 times respectively during their eight-year terms.