#FastAndFurious : Inspector General releases report, not enough heads roll

Posted by: Phineas on September 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm

**Posted by Phineas

The Department of Justice’s Inspector General released his report (500 pages, PDF) on Operation Fast and Furious, the mindbogglingly stupid “sting” operation that fed thousands of high-powered guns to Mexican gun cartels with fatal results. The report savages the DoJ, the Arizona US Attorney’s Office, and the ATF. The traditional falling on swords has begun:

The report says Attorney General Eric Holder was not made aware of potential flaws in the program until February of last year. But the report cites 14 other department employees — including Criminal Division head Lanny Breuer — for potential wrongdoing, recommending the department consider disciplinary action against them.

One congressional source told Fox News the report was “more brutal than was expected.”

The report marked Jason Weinstein, the deputy assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division, as the highest-ranking DOJ employee in a position to stop the program. Weinstein, who disputes the findings, is resigning in the wake of the report.

Another official criticized for not asking enough questions about the Furious operation, former ATF acting director Kenneth Melson, retired after the report came down.

Also:

The report slams both the Phoenix office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for not taking action. The program caught the attention of Congress and the rest of the country after weapons from Fast and Furious were found at the crime scene of murdered Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

“Indeed, no one responsible for the case at either ATF Phoenix Field Division or the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona raised a serious question or concern about the government not taking earlier measures to disrupt a trafficking operation that continued to purchase firearms with impunity for many months,” the report said. “Similarly, we did not find persuasive evidence that any supervisor in Phoenix, at either the U.S. Attorney’s Office or ATF, raised serious questions or concerns about the risk to public safety posed by the continuing firearms purchases or by the delay in arresting individuals who were engaging in the trafficking.

“This failure reflected a significant lack of oversight and urgency by both ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix, and a disregard by both for the safety of individuals in the United States and Mexico,” the report said.

The office said it “identified serious failures” by ATF leaders in supervising the operation.

Gee, ya think?

Naturally, House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darell Issa (R-CA) has said questions remain, but that the report confirms the committee’s findings of a “felony stupid” operation allowed to run wild. And, also naturally, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking Democrat on the committee, asserts that, while the report shows problems, it exonerates Attorney General Holder.

Eh… Not so fast, congressman. While skimming the report, I kept seeing statements to the effect that warnings and hints of problems about Fast and Furious would reach to Holder’s inner circle, they somehow never reached Eric “Spinning In My Chair” Holder, himself.

Say what? A major firearms trafficking investigation that allows untrackable weapons to cross international borders, said weapons only being recoverable after the deadly fact at crime scenes, and no one told the Attorney General? Really?

Cue Sergeant Schultz.

Like me, Jim Geraghty asks of Eric Holder, which is it, incompetence or lying?

The initial headlines shouted that the IG report had exonerated Holder. That’s one interpretation. But the portrait the report paints of Holder’s management is deeply disturbing. Time and again, information and warnings about the operation’s enormous risks flow from Arizona to Washington … and suddenly, mysteriously, stop just short of Holder.

The inspector general’s report concludes that they can find no evidence Holder knew about Fast and Furious until well after Terry’s death, but … well, the circumstances of Holder being so out of the loop, so in the dark about a major operation certainly appear unusual, perhaps to the point of straining credulity.

(…)

A suspicious mind could look at this strange pattern of underling, after deputy, after staffer not mentioning critical information, and information getting all the way to Holder’s office but not being seen by the AG himself, and conclude Holder’s staffers were keeping him in the dark. Would that be to preserve his “plausible deniability”? Another conclusion might be that someone just wasn’t honest with the inspector general.

We now know that the best that can be said about Holder is that he was oblivious to a major, exceptionally dangerous operation going on within his organization. And the most generous interpretation of that is that he had staffed his office with professionals who had epically flawed judgment in deciding what the nation’s top law-enforcement officer needed to know.

He’s just much more genteel about it than I.

This should be nowhere near the end of the investigation; just the end of the beginning. We now have proof from the DoJ’s own Inspector General that Eric Holder and his top deputies are at the minimum intellectually incurious incompetents. They are dunderheads whose at best negligent “oversight” allowed this investigation to continue with no due regard for public safety. Holder, Breuer, and all the rest who had any duty to oversee this operation should resign. The Arizona US Attorney’s Office and the ATF there should be cleaned out and staffed with people who actually have oxygen going to their brains.

But, let’s not forget something that overrides all else in importance: people died because of Operation Fast and Furious. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. ICE Agent Jaime Zapata. Over 300 Mexican civilians, police, and military. All dead, murdered by guns the US government knowingly allowed to slip into cartel hands. Aren’t they and their loved ones owed more than a report from a Washington bureaucrat?

No, this investigation should not end. If Romney becomes president, then his AG should pursue this wherever it leads, including filing criminal charges against “former high officials.” Now that the IG’s report is out, the families of agents Terry and Zapata have every reason to file suit, not only seeking damages but forcing the revelation of more information via discovery. And, while I don’t know Mexican law, their government should file charges for the equivalent of “accessory” or “criminal negligence” against everyone from Holder down to the field operatives and then seek extradition. They owe their people no less.

I’ve seen government scandals before, both petty and large. But never, ever, have I witnessed a scandal that cost lives. This report cannot be the end.

Justice demands it.

RELATED: Other posts on Operation Fast and Furious.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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6 Responses to “#FastAndFurious : Inspector General releases report, not enough heads roll”

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  1. Apparently one of the job skills most sought after by the Obhammud administration is that of being a contortionist. Notice all the text quoted concentrates entirely on exonerating the upper reaches of DOJ but says nothing of the street-level agents told to back off making legitimate arrests or the discovery by FBI agents of illegal firearms transactions being the first they knew of the operation, having not been read in on it.
    How can an AG be found in contempt of Congress yet come out looking as though he is as pure as the driven snow? And why was it necessary to rush to declare executive privilege if he is innocent?

  2. Carlos says:

    “Like me, Jim Geraghty asks of Eric Holder, which is it, incompetence or lying?”

    Either way, Mr. “My People” has no business being in any position other than toilet-room janitor at any level of government.

    And don’t I remember him testifying that he wasn’t given the slightest clue that SOMETHING might be amiss no earlier than March or April, 2011? With the report showing he knew as early as January, 2011, wouldn’t that be considered perjury?

    But, of course, even if that was so, what Republican on Capitol Hill has the pair to go after him? Certainly no one either leading any of the committees or in the party “leadership!” Their whole existence is based upon “GATGA.”

  3. H Hazell says:

    A good next 24 hours for this nation would be the resignations of Eric Holder and Hillary Clinton on the President’s desk by midnight and the reading of Articles of Impeachment in the House beginning at noon tomorrow.

  4. I still favor prosecuting Obhammud under the auspices of the Espionage Act for politicizing and damaging our national security by unauthorized release of sensitive data to the NY Times. The penalty under that law is 30 years or death.

  5. Carlos says:

    Now, riddle me this, some constitutional lawyer:

    If executive privilege is to be used only for things related to the WH and high-end executive staff (such as department secretaries and undersecretaries) where such information would compromise national security or an on-going investigation, how is it that BHO could claim executive privilege if neither he nor Mr. “My People” nor any of their immediate executive staff knew anything about F&F?

    Hmmm. Something just doesn’t ring true in all this. I wonder what?