"Gunwalking" subpoena for AG Holder imminent

CBS News has learned a congressional subpoena directed to Attorney General Eric Holder could go out as early as Tuesday, ordering him to turn over documents to lawmakers about when he was aware of a controversial gun smuggling operation known as Fast and Furious.

CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports the the subpoena will come from the House Oversight Committee, led by Republican Darrell Issa. It will ask for communications among senior Justice Department officials related to Fast and Furious and "gunwalking."

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The subpoena will list those officials, says Attkisson - more than a dozen of them - by name.

In Fast and Furious, the ATF allegedly allowed thousands of assault rifles and other weapons into the hands of suspected traffickers for Mexican drug cartels. The idea was to see where the weapons ended up, and take down a cartel. But the guns have been found at many crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S., including the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry last December.

A source familiar with the Oversight Committee's plans tells CBS News the subpoena request was prompted by the Justice Department dragging its feet in voluntarily turning over information to investigators, and new documents obtained by CBS News last week which seem to contradict Holder's account of when he learned of the operation.

More questions were raised by the documents reported on last week, which indicate senior officials at the Justice Department knew at least something of Fast and Furious, and memos were sent directly to the Attorney General as long as ten months before he told Congress he first heard of the case. (Watch a full report on the memos at left)

Holder sent a letter to Congress late Friday that said he never read those memos mentioning Fast and Furious, that those are read by others who decide whether to tell him and they didn't. And he says even those who knew of Fast and Furious, including his current Chief of Staff, didn't know about the controversial tactic of "letting guns walk" into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

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    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.