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“SERIOUS FAILURES IN THE LEADERSHIP”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Sep. 19, 2012) — The Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice has released a redacted report on the Fast & Furious gunwalking operation which ultimately led to the deaths of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and several hundred Mexican citizens.
As of this writing, most news reports are still saying that the report is anticipated. The Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, was nominated by Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in March of this year.
The 512-page report states that the Inspector General’s office continues to investigate claims made by employees of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) (page 14) and included scrutiny of Operation Wide Receiver which was carried out under the Bush administration. Several people asked to be interviewed declined (page 15). The IG’s office reviewed over 100,000 pages of information.
At 2:45 p.m. EDT, Fox News’s Megyn Kelly said that the report “splits the blame” between the Department of Justice and the ATF. On page 111, the report states that “ATF Tucson and the ATF Phoenix Field Division gave little to no consideration of the public safety repercussions of allowing firearms to be sold at the direction of the government that were intended for use in Mexico by suspected drug cartel members. This represented an extraordinarily serious failure that resulted in serious harm to the public, both in the United States and Mexico.”
On page 114, the report states that “over 600” firearms were purchased from a licensed gun dealer in the Phoenix, AZ area in October 2009 which cost about $350,000. It is explained that the ATF and DOJ departed from a “traditional approach of confronting straw purchasers,” allowing gunwalking to continue and resulting in “extraordinary consequences.”
The Inspector General’s office reviewed information gleaned from a federal grand jury, email communications, interviews, wiretap applications, and court orders.
On page 201, the report states that the purchasing of firearms by those under investigation (“subjects”) had “slowed dramatically” by August 2010.
Page 214 shows a chart of the “top seven” gun purchasers under observation by the ATF, the number of firearms purchased, and the number recovered.
The Inspector General’s office stated that it was “most troubled by the fact that an investigation of this scope and nature did not receive greater review or scrutiny in light of the substantial resources devoted to it, the extraordinary purchasing activity by a large number of subjects, and the conspicuous lack of ATF-initiated enforcement action.”
Page 236 contends that there was reason to “seize firearms and make arrests” much sooner than June 2010 when the ATF made them, with the Inspector General concluding that the reason for the delay was out of “concern that these actions might compromise the larger investigative goals.”
The report contains numerous graphics, charts, photographs, and statistical information.
Page 327 identifies “serious failures by the leadership of ATF in supervising Operation Fast & Furious.” Also cited is “little to no supervision” by ATF Headquarters despite its connection to a dangerous narcotics cartel in Mexico…” (page 218).
In the report, ATF ndividuals are identified as having relied on assumptions to carry out their work rather than ascertain facts. It stated that an ATF agent misrepresented facts to the family of Border Agent Brian Terry’s family.
As a result of the release of the report, a Justice Department official, Jason Weinstein, resigned. Kenneth Melson, an Acting Director for the ATF who had volunteered to speak with Sen. Charles Grassley about Fast & Furious, retired.
Mainstream news reports regarding the Inspector General’s release include:
From the Los Angeles Times:
The inspector general found no evidence that Holder knew about Fast and Furious until after U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed in December 2010.
The U.S. Justice Department’s internal watchdog on Wednesday referred 14 department employees, including senior official Lanny Breuer, for possible internal discipline in connection with a botched gun probe in Arizona.
From Think Progress:
“Inspector General’s ‘Fast and Furious’ Report Clears Attorney General Holder”
From the Associated Press:
The report found no evidence that Holder was informed about the Fast and Furious operation before Jan. 31, 2011, or that the attorney general was told about the much-disputed gun-walking tactic employed by the department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
On June 28, 2012, Holder was found in civil and criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to release information subpoenaed by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa. A civil lawsuit was filed after the U.S. Attorney for the District of Washington, DC, an Obama appointee, refused to prosecute Holder on the criminal charge.