Skip to comments.The IG Report and Holder (The inspector general indicts the DOJ and the ATF.)
Posted on 09/21/2012 11:46:08 AM PDT by neverdem
Eric Holder claims that the just-released Office of Inspector General report on Operation Fast and Furious vindicates his claims that he knew nothing about this reckless operation. He seems oblivious to the fact that the almost-500-page report is a damning indictment of his lack of leadership, supervision, and judgment.
Holder supposedly knew nothing about (and his senior leadership failed to alert him to) a major investigation that resulted in the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent, hundreds of deaths in Mexico, and more than 2,000 weapons’ ending up in the hands of criminals there. It is a chilling comment on how badly the Justice Department is run today. As the attorney general, essentially the CEO of the Department of Justice, Holder is directly responsible for what the inspector general calls 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 the report, the IG says he has “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 . . . 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.” He also found “failures by [DOJ] officials related to these matters, including failing to respond accurately to a Congressional inquiry about them.” The adjectives used in the IG report to describe the conduct and supervision of Operation Fast and Furious range from “significantly flawed” to “irresponsible.”
The report notes that none of the five deputy assistant attorneys general who reviewed the wiretap applications “identified any issues or raised any concerns about the information contained in the applications.” In fact, three of the DAAGs who agreed to be interviewed admitted that they did not read the agents’ supporting affidavits that were submitted with the wiretap applications. That documentation is essential to determining whether a wiretap application meets the factual and legal standards of the law.
Those affidavits, which contained information about firearms’ being trafficked into Mexico, should have “caused a prosecutor . . . particularly one who was already sensitive to the issue of ‘gun walking,’ to have questions about ATF’s conduct of the investigation.” That they were not reviewed by several DOJ officials who were tasked with doing so reflects a lapse of professionalism and competence.
When I was a counsel to the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, it was my job to review all of the reports and memoranda sent to the AAG on investigations and operations. If I had neglected to do so, I would have been severely derelict in my responsibilities. In fact, I would have been fired. And yet such dereliction of duty occurred under the direct supervision (or lack thereof) of Lanny Breuer, the assistant attorney general of the Criminal Division and a former Clinton-administration lawyer.
The IG also notes that while Holder received weekly reports on Operation Fast and Furious, his immediate subordinates, including the “the Attorney General’s Deputy Chief of Staff, the Acting Deputy Attorney General, and the leadership of the Criminal Division[,] failed to alert the Attorney General to significant information about or flaws in those investigations.”
Again, this is an astonishing finding and one that reflects poorly on Holder’s subordinates, including Lanny Breuer, as well as Holder’s supervision of them. It is their job to keep the attorney general advised about major investigations, prosecutions, and cases being conducted by the Justice Department. This would be particularly true of an operation that could affect our relations with another country.
The IG report asserts that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives never advised senior DOJ leadership of the gunwalking aspect of the operation. But even when, for example, Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler received an e-mail on December 17, 2010, informing him of the connection between Operation Fast and Furious and the two weapons found at the murder scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, he took no action. He failed to notify his immediate superior, Eric Holder, or take any other steps whatsoever in response. Two weeks later he became Holder’s chief of staff.
Lanny Breuer also failed to inform the AG of the connection. It speaks poorly of Holder’s leadership and choice of personnel that there were so many glaring failures up and down the line in the Justice Department, from ATF line agents and prosecutors in Arizona all the way up to the senior leadership of DOJ that reports directly to Holder.
The report also makes it clear that DOJ senior officials misled Congress. It notes that Senator Chuck Grassley asked DOJ on April 13, 2011, whether the department stood by its February 4 assertion that the ATF did not knowingly “allow the sale of assault weapons to straw purchasers” who transferred the weapons into Mexico.
On May 2, DOJ told Senator Grassley that the ATF “did not knowingly permit straw buyers to take guns into Mexico.” The IG says that DOJ “should not have made this statement.” DOJ officials, including Deputy Attorney General James Cole, the No. 2 official in the department, tried to argue to the IG that this statement was literally true because they were distinguishing between the “ATF knowingly allowing firearms to go to Mexico versus negligently allowing firearms to go to Mexico.” This was a false distinction, because by May 2, senior DOJ officials “knew or should have known” that the “ATF had in many instances allowed straw purchasers to buy firearms knowing that a third party would be transporting them to Mexico.” Officials in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General “knew or should have known that they could not reaffirm the accuracy” of the February 4 letter.
DOJ compounded this problem when it sent Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich (who resigned some time ago) to testify before Congress on June 15, 2011, where he similarly claimed that the “ATF doesn’t sanction or approve of the transfer of weapons to Mexico.” This suggests that James Cole sanctioned DOJ’s continuing to mislead Congress. He did not correct this until December.
In an interesting note on possible White House involvement, the report states that Kevin O’Reilly, a member of the National Security Council staff who corresponded with ATF agent Bill Newell about Operation Fast and Furious when it was ongoing, refused to be interviewed by the IG. The White House also refused to produce “any internal White House communications,” because it “is beyond the purview of the Inspector General’s Office.” Does anyone seriously doubt that O’Reilly would have cooperated with the IG if the White House had told him to do so?
Jason Weinstein, Lanny Breuer’s chief of staff in the Criminal Division, resigned when the IG report was released Wednesday, and Ken Melson, a former acting director of the ATF, retired. But there are many other officials in DOJ and the ATF who need to be disciplined or terminated for their conduct, starting with James Cole, the deputy attorney general who misled Congress for ten months.
As my colleague at the Heritage Foundation John Malcolm, a former prosecutor and deputy assistant attorney general in the Criminal Division, says, the IG report shows that many of the critics of this operation, such as Senator Grassley and Representative Darrell Issa, were correct in their assessments.
According to Malcolm, this was a “misguided investigation employing exceedingly risky tactics [that] was initiated and allowed to continue for months on end, with guns turning up at more and more crime scenes, while higher-ups within ATF and DOJ ignored the many red flags that emerged and failed to ask even rudimentary questions about what the heck was going on both during the investigation and prior to sending” information about the operation to Congress.
For veterans of the department, it is another illustration of how low the professionalism and competence of a once-great law-enforcement agency has fallen. And it shows just how dangerous DOJ can be when its power is misused and abused.
— Hans A. von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department.
If Robert Ludlum was writing this as a novel, at this point in the story, one of the “noncooperating witnesses” would soon be found in a stairwell with a few .22s in his skull, or he’d be found in the Potomac after a “boating accident.” Dead men, tales, etc.
Eric Holder claims that the just-released Office of Inspector General report on Operation Fast and Furious vindicates his claims that he knew nothing about this reckless operation>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Thats because Holder and Obama stonewalled the Congressional Comittee that demanded to talk to White House staff.The evidence was choked off.We do know that there were e-mail exchanges between White House Staff and Holders office, and ATF management about F & F.We could not find out the contents of those e-mails.
The actions of Obama and Holder constituted an act of War against Mexico, 200 or so Mexicans were killed, along with 2 ATF agents ( so far as we know.)Yet Obama dismisses it as just the opposition wanting to play petty politics?
Obama and Holder should be tarred, feathered and run out on a rail for the obvious contempt in which they hold these lives lost. I would love to put Obama and Holder with the relatives of the Mexican and American deceased in a sealed room for a few hours. Who in hell do Obama and Holder think they are anyway? Their actions prove they are fascists.
They utterly (and illegally) stonewalled Congress. 0bastard and withHolder feel free as birds to lie like rugs.
Obama administration full of two bit thugs and proud of it.
He knew nothing because he says that he did not read all of the communications sent to him on this subject. But apparently he was well versed on a number of other subjects such as racial profiling, black panther case, etc.
This sounds like the excuse that a ten year old would come up with. Is there such a thing as criminal incompetence? Does negligent homicide apply in a case like this? dereliction of duty maybe? Malice aforethought? Premeditated discrimination?
If he’s not complicit or doesn’t know what is subordinates are doing, then he’s incompetent. Either way, he should be fired!
I have never studied any of the reports or documents in depth but to even a casual witness, it is obvious what was going on.
What was going on was Obama and Holder were trying to create an atmosphere of gun crimes in Latin America in which U.S. gun dealers and so called lax American gun laws would be blamed.
There is no other reason which makes any sense at all.
Speaking to one of Grassley's staffers on Judiciary on the phone and via email was like speaking to a couple of counsels on Burton's Oversight back in Chinagate days.
The latter described the dance Trie did upon acquittal.
With Holder FF what's needed is an independent prosecutor.
Sinaloa got weapons; Los Zetas got immunity.
The border's open to the mass shipment of marijuana and meth.
The War on Drugs is against small-scale domestic competition to the government's RICO op.
FF is consistent with use of CIA and NATO for Arab Spring islamization, ditto NASA, sensitivity training (neutering) for military and FBI.
I am sure most of us remember several years ago when people such a Hillary were complaining about 90% of guns recovered from crime scenes in Mexico coming from the U.S.
A claim which turned out to be totally false btw.
Next you have, not dozens or even hundreds, but thousands of American guns being purposely allowed into Mexico by our government.
No effort at all was made to actually trace these guns. Any agents who tried were immediately told to cease any such efforts.
Is there no one in the government who can put 2 and 2 together and not come up with zero? Even the people who appear to want to investigate this, give the Obama administration credit for wanting to trace guns and stop their walking into Mexico.
The country has gone totally crazy.
Why does the media constantly leave Jiame Zapatas' name out of the Fast & Furious debacle?
If there more than one pair of balls in all of Congress Obama would be impeached by now. Screw the campaign rhetoric, I want to see action. Since we haven’t been seeing any action then I must assume all those in Congress outside of a handfull couldn’t care less and are not going to help make things better.
Kevin OReilly has not returned from Iraq yet...
Sure there are. The MSM is not giving them any credibility.
Or die in a tragic helicopter accident.
Obama/Holder are just running out the clock to Nov 7th, and praying that
1/ They are reelected, and can breathe easy
2/ They are turned out, but their blackmail holds continue to have effect.
Iraq is a very dangerous place. I have never heard or read that Kevin had any military training.