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Issa: Justice Dept. answers on Fast and Furious full of 'inconsistencies'

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said Attorney General Eric Holder "clearly knew more than" he revealed to Congress about a controversial gun-tracking program and said his probe of the matter had revealed clear “inconsistencies.”

"He clearly knew more than he -- than he said when he said he only first heard of this program a few weeks before,” said Issa on CBS News' Face the Nation.

“I take him at the word, but only if we can have the kind of dialogue that allows us to ask, if you will, the 20 questions," he said defending his decision last week to subpoena Holder and other senior Justice Dept. officials for documents related to the Fast and Furious gun tracking operation. At issue is when Holder first learned about the botched operation.

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"What he said was he first heard of this program a few weeks before. If he now wants to say that he knew a lot about it from the at least five briefings he had but he didn't know as much, we'd like him to come back and say, OK, that was an inaccurate statement; here's what I knew and when I knew it," Issa said.

Under the operation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives oversaw the sale of firearms to known or suspected straw buyers for Mexican gun cartels.  However, the guns were not properly supervised.  Two guns sold through the operation were found at the murder scene of a Border Patrol Agent, Brian Terry, last year.

On Sunday, Issa also questioned the FBI's handling of evidence at the murder scene.

"When you have tickets that are numbered 2 and 3 and there's no ticket 1, in other words, the weapon -- one weapon has a 2; one has a three on it, there's no 1, 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?" said Issa.

The congressman said he had found "inconsistencies" in his investigation. "You get these inconsistencies. In an investigation, as you know, because you are an investigative reporter, you follow the inconsistencies,” he noted.

“Some of them lead nowhere. In this case, these inconsistencies and the fact that the family is still not getting the kind of treatment you would expect as crime victims and crime victims of a law enforcement officer cause us to say, well, let's look at the FBI," he added.

Issa would not call though for the attorney general's resignation, saying the issue was "for the president to decide."

Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.) the ranking Democrat on the committee however blasted Issa for failing to provide a "responsible and balanced investigation."

"Chairman Issa goes out there and Republicans accusing the highest law enforcement officer in the land of being an accessory to murder, and things of that nature and calling for his resignation," said Cummings. "All we want is what I've said. We want a responsible and balanced investigation..." 

Cummings said that the controversial gun-tracking program was hatched by local agents in the Phoenix office and not by Holder or senior officials in Washington.

"The supervisors in the Phoenix office never communicated with people higher up. And all the evidence that I've seen points that this was more of a local issue that never got to higher-ups," he said. "And certainly there is nothing, that nobody has said that the attorney general was briefed about it," he added in defense of Holder.