GOP lawmakers: Justice officials need to be held accountable in ‘Fast and Furious’ case

The Washington Post, 9/20/12

After an 18-month investigation that produced a 471-page report on the flawed “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking operation, Republican lawmakers told the ­Justice Department’s inspector general Thursday that senior Justice officials still need to be held accountable for the botched case.

During a three-hour hearing, Republicans on the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee praised the report released Wednesday by Inspector General Michael Horowitz as fair and comprehensive. Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) called it a “huge step toward restoring public faith in the Justice Department.”

But the lawmakers criticized Justice officials for not imposing harsher penalties on the 14 officials whom Horowitz said should be considered for disciplinary action. During the hearing, they singled out Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, who heads the department’s criminal division.

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Fast and Furious Report Cites Management Failures

The Wall Street Journal, 9/19/12

A Justice Department watchdog recommended that 14 employees be reviewed for possible sanctions in light of a “pattern of serious failures” at the department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in overseeing the botched Fast and Furious operation against gun traffickers.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released the more than 400-page report Wednesday, the most extensive review of the actions by federal officials in Arizona and Washington that led to the scandal. Among his findings, he said that Attorney General Eric Holder wasn’t aware of the tactics being used in the operation until early 2011, an issue that has become a point of contention with Republican lawmakers who have accused Mr. Holder of authorizing the flawed probe…

Mr. Burke and the acting head of the ATF, Kenneth Melson, were ousted from their jobs last year amid the scandal. Mr. Burke resigned earlier, and Mr. Melson, who moved to another post at the Justice Department, has now retired, the department said Wednesday.

Mr. Melson said in a statement: “While I firmly disagree with many of the speculative assumptions, conclusions and characterizations in the inspector general’s report, as the acting director of the agency I was ultimately responsible for the actions of each employee.”

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Republican staff report singles out 5 ATF officials for special criticism in Fast and Furious

The Washington Post/The Associated Press, 7/30/2012

Five officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives share much of the blame for what went wrong with the Arizona gun-smuggling probe called Operation Fast and Furious, a Republican congressional draft report concludes.

After an 18-month probe, the first of what will be three reports says “many people up and down the chain of command in ATF share the blame for the case’s tragic failures.”

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File Unsealed in Gun Case in Bid to Find Four Fugitives

The New York Times, 07/09/2012

The Justice Department on Monday unsealed the indictment of five people in the killing of a Border Patrol agent whose death was linked to the disputed gun-trafficking investigation called Operation Fast and Furious. Four of the defendants are fugitives, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation offered a $1 million reward for any information that leads to their capture.

The indictment contends that the men had illegally entered the United States from Mexico with a plan to “arm themselves with firearms” and use the weapons to rob drug traffickers of marijuana. Instead, the men got into a gunfight with four Border Patrol agents, including Agent Terry.

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US Attorney General Faces Renewed Criticism Over Mexico Gun Operation

Voice of America, 2/2/12

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has faced a new round of Republican criticism over a controversial tactic in which U.S. authorities allowed gun buyers to move arms into Mexico, destined for drug cartels.

In testimony to Congress Thursday, Holder said “Operation Fast and Furious” was flawed, and that allowing arms to “walk” – under any circumstance – is unacceptable. “The tactic of not interdicting weapons, despite having the ability and legal authority to do so, appears to have been adopted in a misguided effort to stem the alarming number of illegal firearms that are trafficked each year from the United States to Mexico,” Holder said. “Now, to be sure, stopping this dangerous flow of weapons is a laudable and critical goal, but attempting to achieve it by using such inappropriate tactics is neither acceptable nor excusable.”

Holder told lawmakers on the committee Thursday that he never authorized the operation, and ordered it to stop after he found out about it.

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Justice Department changes inquiry response procedures to Congress after Fast and Furious

Fox News, 1/29/12

The Justice Department is tightening procedures for responding to information requests from Congress in the aftermath of a troubled arms trafficking investigation. In Operation Fast and Furious, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed hundreds of weapons to flow across the border into Mexico.

The Justice Department told three congressional committees in a letter Friday night that it has improved coordination between agents and their managers in carrying out arms trafficking investigations.

Attorney General Eric Holder probably will face questions about the changes when he testifies Thursday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. That committee has been investigating the department’s mistakes in the probe since early last year.

Sparks fly during Eric Holder ‘Fast & Furious’ testimony

Politico, 12/8/11

The anger between Congress and the Obama administration over Operation Fast and Furious erupted Thursday in an exchange notable for its vitriol even by current Washington standards.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chief House investigator into the botched gun trafficking operation, compared Attorney General Eric Holder’s conduct to that of Richard Nixon’s attorney general during Watergate. Holder likened the congressional inquiry into his department’s actions to Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunt for communists in the U.S. government.

The showdown capped a hearing that produced more confrontations than revelations about the scandal surrounding the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and an operation that allowed as many as 2,000 guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.