Holder cleared in Justice gunwalking probe
2012-09-20 0:00

From: CBSNews.com

The Justice Department’s inspector general cleared Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday of knowing about the gun-walking operation known as Fast and Furious that allowed thousands of weapons to cross into Mexico.

But Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that there were "serious failures" at both the Justice Department and its Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives going back more than six years, CBS Radio News reporter Stephanie Lambidakis reports.





Horowitz found that no one running the operations -- not agents, nor prosecutors, nor managers -- questioned the wisdom of letting guns vanish across the border with Mexico, where they ended up in the hands of drug traffickers.

Two of the 2,000 weapons thought to have been acquired by illicit buyers in the Fast and Furious investigation were recovered at the scene of a 2010 shootout with drug traffickers that claimed the life of U.S. border agent Brian Terry. About 1,400 of the total have yet to be recovered.

In his 471-page report, Horowitz referred more than a dozen people for possible department disciplinary action for their roles in Fast and Furious and a separate, earlier probe known as Wide Receiver, undertaken during the George W. Bush administration.

Gun-walking was an experimental tactic, barred under long-standing department policy. ATF agents in Arizona allowed suspected "straw purchasers," in these cases believed to be working for Mexican drug gangs, to leave Phoenix-area gun stores with weapons in order to track them and bring charges against gun-smuggling kingpins who long had eluded prosecution.

Lambidakis reports that between November 2009 and mid-April 2010, straw buyers purchased approximately 1,300 firearms for more than a million dollars, "yet agents made no arrests and just a single seizure," the report states.

Because of thin ATF staffing and weak penalties, the traditional strategy of arresting suspected straw buyers as soon as possible had failed to stop the flow of tens of thousands of guns to Mexico — more than 68,000 in the past five years. The operation was a response to criticisms of the agency’s anti-smuggling efforts.

The inspector general found fault with the work of the senior ATF leadership, the ATF staff and U.S. attorney’s office in Phoenix and senior officials of Justice’s criminal division in Washington. He also said that poor internal information-gathering and drafting at Justice and ATF caused the department to initially misinform Congress about Fast and Furious.

Fast and Furious has produced charges against 20 gun traffickers, 14 of whom have pleaded guilty so far.

Two senior officials left the department, one by resignation and one by retirement, with the report’s release.

While Horowitz heaped most of the blame for Fast and Furious on investigators in Phoenix, one senior official, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, is blamed for not acting to stop the tactics.

"Weinstein was the most senior person in the department in April and May 2010 who was in a position to identify the similarity between the inappropriate tactics used in Operations Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious," the report said. ATF agents in Arizona conducted Wide Receiver in 2006 and 2007 and began Fast and Furious in October 2009.

Weinstein resigned Tuesday night, CBS Radio News reports. Weinstein’s lawyer, Michael Bromwich, called the report’s criticism "profoundly wrong" and "deeply flawed."

In a statement released Wednesday, Holder said: "Jason has dedicated much of his career to fighting violent crime and has led highly successful efforts around the country in this effort. The American people are safer because of his work."

One of those criticized in the report, former ATF acting director Kenneth Melson, who headed that office during the Fast and Furious investigation, retired upon release of the report.

"Melson made too many assumptions about the case," the report stated. "Melson should have asked basic questions about the investigation, including how public safety was being protected."

Melson responded in a written 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."

The report did not criticize Holder, but said lower-level officials should have briefed him about the investigation much earlier. The inspector general also said he found no evidence that former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who took office late in the Bush administration after Wide Receiver was ended, was ever informed that it used gun-walking.

Holder, who the Republican-led House of Representatives cited for contempt in a dispute over Fast and Furious documents earlier this year, said that the report was "consistent" with what he’s said about the botched operation.

[...]


Read the full article at: cbsnews.com



Related Articles
Holder went on ‘Reefer Madness’-like campaign to distract from Fast and Furious
Fast and Furious: Obama’s Potential Watergate Is About Eric Holder’s Missing E-Mails
What conspiracy lies behind Eric Holder and ’Fast and Furious’?


Latest News from our Front Page

The Jewish Roots of Leonard Nimoy and What the ‘Live Long and Prosper’ Hand Symbol Really Means
2015-02-28 0:20
Leonard Nimoy first saw what became the famous Vulcan salute, “live long and prosper,” as a child, long before “Star Trek” even existed. The placement of the hands comes from a childhood memory, of an Orthodox Jewish synagogue service in Boston. The man who would play Spock saw the gesture as part of a blessing, and it never left him. “Something ...
Baby born still INSIDE his amniotic sac is hailed a ‘medical miracle’ by doctors [Video]
2015-02-27 22:46
What an incredible miracle… Not only was the little boy three months early – he was born inside his amniotic sac. I’ve never heard of this happening before. If you look at the picture, you can see him clearly with his little arms and legs curled up. He was still being given oxygen by his mom until the sac was ...
California Infant Dies after 8 Vaccines, Family Gets Him Back from Hospital Cremated
2015-02-27 21:55
Parents in California are distraught after losing their infant son after being vaccinated. He died in his sleep and was taken to the hospital already deceased. Hospital staff ruled his death as sudden infant death syndrome. The couple was told an autopsy was required to be performed on their son. After returning home, waiting to get an update, they never received ...
DNA: Data-storage for eternity
2015-02-27 20:57
How can we preserve our knowledge today for the next millennia? ETH researchers have found a way to store information in the form of DNA, preserving it for nearly an eternity. Scrolls thousands of years old provide us with a glimpse into long-forgotten cultures and the knowledge of our ancestors. In this digital era, in contrast, a large part of our ...
Hypercleanliness is making us sick - Children develop allergies and eczema
2015-02-27 20:31
Could using a dishwashing machine increase the chances your child will develop allergies? That's what some provocative new research suggests — but don't tear out your machine just yet. The study involved 1,029 Swedish children (ages 7 or 8) and found that those whose parents said they mostly wash the family's dishes by hand were significantly less likely to develop eczema, ...
More News »