DHS IG Report Fails to Detail Post-Fast & Furious Communications
The Department of Homeland Security released their inspector general’s report on Operation Fast and Furious. The first part explores how the top officials became aware of Fast and Furious.
Operation Fast and Furious was a gun-walking operation through the Phoenix ATF office. Agents allowed known straw purchasers to buy 2500+ guns and put them into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. Hundreds of these weapons are still missing and the guns are linked to the deaths of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and 300+ Mexican citizens. So far, no one within the government have been held accountable.
Deputy IG Charles Edwards' report goes into detail about how the information about Fast and Furious leaked up the chain of command, but offered no explanation as to why the director of ICE and the DHS secretary were not informed about the specifics of until March 2011. The IG's office claims they could not find evidence that these top officials knew about Fast and Furious before March, despite their subordinates having information about the operation.
Edwards also found that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials at headquarters did not learn about Fast and Furious until after Agent Terry died on December 15, 2010. ICE Director John Morton was not informed about Fast and Furious until January 2011 and did not know about the methodology of the operation until mid-March 2011, the same time DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano learned about it. But Edwards' report did not explain how it took ICE Director Morton two months to find out the details about the operation after initially learning about its existence. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) did not know about the operation methodology either, but they did know HSI Arizona had a special agent involved in the operation in December 2010.
Morton had his staff members comb over evidence once congressional investigators started demanding answers. The team found that the HSI team was misled by the ATF as to how the operation was run, but Edwards said senior officials of HSI “had the information available to conclude that ATF had opportunities to seize weapons that were destined for Mexico.” No information is presented that indicated how that conclusion was reached.
In June 2011, a few staff members went to Arizona to get information on Fast and Furious and read through 6,000 emails. The members did not document their findings, but also came to the conclusion the ATF mislead the HSI team. The IG's office was able to review more documents and said they could not reach the same conclusion as the team members. The IG report fails to tell the differences and instead says “it appears that the team made a good faith effort to collect important facts.”
Just like the Department of Justice's Inspector General report, this one does not answer questions about communications between team members. Even though Edwards did not reach the same conclusions about Fast and Furious, he does not tell why or how. There are no specific details and leaves the readers with more questions.