Justice Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives officials face “punishment”after the long awaited report on the botched “Operation Fast and Furious” gun running scandal was released on Wednesday by Inspector General Michael Horowitz, whose office produced the report.
According to the report the Fast & Furious sting was blighted by “a series of misguided strategies, tactics, errors in judgment and management failures,” accounting for hundreds of weapons reaching violent Mexican drug cartel members, and eventually ending in the deaths of U.S. border patrol agents.
On the heels of the report Justice made it public that two of the fourteen members named in the report had already made plans: the former acting ATF chief Kenneth Melson was retiring and deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, had resigned. The newly released report nailed the two men:
“Both bore a share of responsibility for ATF‘s knowing failure in both these operations to interdict firearms illegally destined for Mexico, and for doing so without adequately taking into account the danger to public safety that flowed from this risky strategy.”
Weinstein took the heat for failing to communicate key info about the flawed tactics being used by such co-workers as Nelson, as well as other ATF officials, who were slammed in the report for failing to properly supervise the probe.
Wednesday’s report also criticized Lanny Breuer as well as Gary Grindler, who was acting deputy attorney general when the events took place. Both men remain with the department.
The scandalous affair fueled Republican insinuations of an Obama administration cover-up and led to an unprecedented vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to cooperate. Shortly afterward President Obama signed an “executive privilege” – sealing all DOJ/White House communications pertaining to the matter, and taking a huge chunk of the firepower out of the Republican contempt charge. Some of the documents Obama withheld under the privilege claim were included in the report.
Today’s report stated that Attorney General Eric Holder was not informed of the botched up mess until 2011, AFTER Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed. Referring to the report, Holder issued a written “told ya so” statement bordering on smug: “what I, and other Justice Department officials, have said for many months now,” his assertion that the scandal pre-dated the Obama presidency as well as his tenure as AG.
“It is unfortunate that some were so quick to make baseless accusations before they possessed the facts about these operations — accusations that turned out to be without foundation and that have caused a great deal of unnecessary harm and confusion. I hope today’s report acts as a reminder of the dangers of adopting as fact unsubstantiated conclusions before an investigation of the circumstances is completed.”
The House of Representatives’ civil contempt charge against Holder which was protested by democrats as “purely political,” did in fact pass along party lines but is now tangled up in court and is expected to remain that way well beyond the upcoming election.
Inspector General Horowitzis is scheduled to appear before Rep. Darrell Issa’s committee on Thursday.
To read Holder’s entire statement from today, please click page 2