WASHINGTON -- Speaker John Boehner demanded yesterday that the Obama administration give in and turn over documents related to a botched gun-tracking operation, insisting that's the only way to stop a House vote to hold the attorney general in contempt.

Boehner took a hard line against the Obama administration and Attorney General Eric Holder despite a willingness by House Republicans and Holder to negotiate a settlement before the matter becomes a constitutional crisis. The president has invoked executive privilege, a legal principle used to avoid disclosure of internal presidential documents.

While a confrontation between the legislative and executive branches of government would be an academic dispute to most voters, Boehner injected a human element Thursday into the dispute over documents related to Operation Fast and Furious. He said the family of slain border agent Brian Terry deserved answers about the guns that killed him.

Two guns that were allowed to "walk" from Arizona to Mexico in the failed effort to track weapons were found near Terry after he was killed.

"The Terry family deserves answers about why their son was killed as a result of an operation run by the United States government," Boehner told his weekly news conference.

During the year and a half investigation by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the Justice Department turned over 7,600 documents about details of Operation Fast and Furious.

But because the department initially denied and then admitted it used a risky investigative technique known as "gun-walking," the committee has turned its attention to how the Justice Department responded to the probe. The additional documents it seeks are on that topic.

Arizona agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives abandoned the agency's practice of intercepting all weapons they believed to be illicitly purchased. Instead, the goal of gun-walking was to track such weapons to high-level arms traffickers who had long eluded prosecution and to dismantle their networks.

Gun-walking has long been barred by Justice Department policy, but federal agents in Arizona experimented with it in at least two investigations during the George W. Bush administration before "Fast and Furious."

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