(GunReports.com) — Released Wednesday, the Justice Department’s Inspector General report on the Obama administration’s “Fast and Furious” gun-walking scheme blamed more than a dozen senior officials within the department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) for a variety of professional mistakes in administering the program, according to a story in the Cheaper Than Dirt! Shooter’s Log.
According to the CTD item, the IG report said administration officials coerced legitimate gun dealers into making “sales” to buyers who were presumed to be supplying the guns to Mexican drug cartels. DOJ and BATF officials said the firearms were to be followed to the final buyers, but the administration lost track of thousands of firearms, one of which was used to kill U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
Several establishment media outlets said that the 500-page report cleared Attorney General Eric Holder of wrongdoing in the scandal — he supposedly didn’t know until early 2011 that thousands of American firearms were handed to criminals by the U.S. government.
Key paragraph in the report: “Our review of Operation Fast and Furious and related matters revealed a series of misguided strategies, tactics, errors in judgment, and management failures that permeated ATF Headquarters and the Phoenix Field Division, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona. In this report, we described deficiencies in two operations conducted in ATF’s Phoenix Field Division between 2006 and 2010 – Operation Wide Receiver and Operation Fast and Furious. In the course of our review we identified individuals ranging from line agents and prosecutors in Phoenix and Tucson to senior ATF officials in Washington, D.C., who 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.”
Moments after the report was released, former ATF Assistant Director Kenneth Melson retired and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein resigned his post. In addition, another dozen U.S. officials in ATF and the DOJ may face “disciplinary” action.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said at a hearing Thursday where Inspector General Michael Horowitz testified that “all 14” should leave the department.
Other lawmakers suggested senior officials — particularly criminal division chief Lanny Breuer — should at least face discipline. Further, they hammered the point that the IG report appeared to contradict Holder’s testimony earlier this year in which he said wiretap applications did not reveal that gunwalking tactics were being used.
According to the IG’s report, 14 federal officials in Washington and Arizona “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.”
Official e-mails and documents later revealed that the two “drug lords” being targeted in the scheme were already working for the FBI.
The report, called “A Review of ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious and Related Matters,” also shows that multiple top officials in the DOJ and the White House refused to be interviewed as part of the investigation.
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), one of the lawmakers pushing for an investigation, suggested that because top administration officials refused to cooperate with the Inspector General investigation, the report is incomplete and by no means final.
“Operation Fast and Furious was the height of irresponsibility on the part of a number of people from the ATF Phoenix field office all the way up to the Justice Department headquarters,” Sen. Grassley said. “And, we still don’t know the full extent of any White House involvement because they refused to be transparent and provide documents requested by the Inspector General. It’s clear that both the ATF and the Justice Department failed to provide meaningful oversight of Operation Fast and Furious.”