NEW YORK CITY -- Speaking before an audience of law enforcement officers, Gov. Rick Perry on Friday offered a blistering critique of Attorney General Eric Holder's handling of the "Fast and Furious" operation and again repeated his assertion that drug cartels are a "clear and present danger" to the United States.
"Federal law enforcement officials deserve an attorney general who displays the same courage and a sense of responsibility for which they serve," the Texas governor said at the Annual Federal Law Enforcement Foundation Luncheon in New York City.
Perry described the controversial Fast and Furious operation as an example of "bureaucratic bungling" that has aggravated rather than aided the nation's border security.
"To say that the border is safer than ever is to turn a blind eye to the very real dangers that federal and state and local law enforcement continue to face as a result of Washington's failure," Perry said, repeating his common critique that the current president does not understand the situation on the border. "Even worse, it sweeps aside the fact that there is bureaucratic bungling which has made the border substantially more dangerous. Through the ill-conceived operation known as Fast and Furious for instance. Our own federal government provided more than 2,000 fire arms to some of the most dangerous criminals in North America. Many of which are still unaccounted for."
Holder has been a favorite punching bag for Republicans in Congress, who have called for his resignation in the "Fast and Furious" gunrunning controversy.
Perry, who was at the Waldorf Astoria event to receive the group's State Service Award, often laments the dangers presented by drug cartels and describes parts of the border as "a war zone."
On Friday, he reiterated that sentiment, saying, "Mexican drug cartels are a clear and present danger to America."
Perry got an enthusiastic reception for his proposals for smaller government and for his assertion that members of Congress who use privileged information in stock dealings should be treated like criminals.
"Any congressman or senator who's used their insider knowledge to trade, to make money in the stock market oughta go to jail, period," he said to applause.