Following an investigation that has lasted for a year-and-a-half, the Office of Inspector General (IG) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) finally released its report last week on Operation Fast and Furious, the Obama administration’s gun-walking program that led to the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and countless Mexican citizens.
Labeling Operation Fast and Furious “a risky strategy” that failed to “adequately take into account the significant danger to public safety that it created” the IG recommended that disciplinary action be taken against as many as 14 DOJ officials. Attorney General Holder, of course, is not among them.
A bombshell report released Wednesday on Operation Fast and Furious faulted a range of federal agencies for the failed anti-gunrunning program and accused officials in charge of a “disregard” for public safety. In the wake of the report, one Justice Department official resigned.
The sprawling report by the department’s inspector general is the most comprehensive account yet on the deadly operation which allowed weapons to “walk” across the U.S.-Mexico border and resulted in hundreds of firearms turning up at crime scenes in both countries.
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.
(CNN notes: “Within minutes of the report’s release, Justice announced that former acting ATF chief Kenneth Melson was retiring and another official, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, had resigned.”)
Now the spin from the liberal media, of course, is that the report clears Eric Holder of wrongdoing. He didn’t know until February 2011, so says the report. So case closed, right?
Not so fast.
Few seriously advanced the argument that Holder knew from the get-go about Fast and Furious. The report does confirm that Holder’s top deputies knew the awful detail of Fast and Furious’ ties to Terry’s death, but the report found no evidence that Holder was told at the time. Assuming that the protestations of Holder’s ignorance are credible, the report’s conclusions are no “exoneration” of Holder (or, for that matter, Obama.)
To remind you of Holder’s current problem: he is refusing to turn over documents in response to congressional subpoenas (which led to a historic contempt of Congress citation), he stonewalled the release of records, and, as noted by The Daily Caller’s Matthew Boyle, the report appears to confirm that Holder lied under oath:
Arizona Republican Rep. Ben Quayle told The Daily Caller that Attorney General Eric Holder gave him false testimony under oath about Operation Fast and Furious wiretap application documents during a June 7 House Judiciary Committee hearing.
Quayle said the Department of Justice’s inspector general report proves that Holder lied to him while under oath during the hearing.
“I saw earlier that Holder is basically doing a victory dance and that he thinks this [inspector general] report exonerates him and there was no dishonesty with Congress — that’s just a blatant lie,” Quayle said in a phone interview. “I mean, he lied to me — to my face — during questioning, saying they had reviewed the wiretap applications after the fact and claiming that there was no reference to gunwalking, which is blatantly false.”
There’s also the matter of the DOJ’s February 4, 2011, letter to Congress saying that the allegations regarding Fast and Furious were false. It took the DOJ 10 months to rescind a letter they (including Attorney General Holder) knew or should have known was inaccurate and misleading.
And there is also the utter incompetence. If this report says nothing else, it is most certainly a stunning indictment of Eric Holder’s management abilities. We’re talking about his top deputies who are excoriated in this report. These are high ranking officials, who, presumably in some cases, were hand-picked by Eric Holder himself. He is responsible for hiring them and for supervising them. That’s at least how it works in virtually every sector of society outside of Washington, DC.
Senator Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), who was one of the leading congressional investigators probing Fast and Furious emphasized the point:
“Operation Fast and Furious was the height of irresponsibility on the part of a number of people from the ATF Phoenix field office all the way up to the Justice Department headquarters.
“We still don’t know the full extent of any White House involvement because they refused to be transparent and provide documents requested by the Inspector General.
“It’s clear that both the ATF and the Justice Department failed to provide meaningful oversight of Operation Fast and Furious.”
Meanwhile, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, headed by Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA), has posted its summary of the key highlights from the report as it pertains to corruption and incompetence at the Holder Justice Department.
Eric Holder may try to declare victory after the release of this report. But this is not over folks. Judicial Watch, for its part, has a number of investigations and lawsuits ongoing over Fast and Furious. In fact, as I told you last week, we’re in court trying to get our hands on the records kept shielded from Congress by President Obama’s inappropriate invocation of Executive Privilege. What we know about Fast and Furious is shocking and disturbing for sure. But it’s what we don’t know that worries me most.
The IG also confirmed this week that Congress has been refused documents that are pertinent to evaluating Fast and Furious and that the White House itself refused to cooperate with the investigation. (We have another lawsuit about that very issue.)
And Obama himself is still defending his administration’s obsession with blaming American guns and the U.S. Constitution for Mexican drug violence. Obama falsely blamed George W. Bush for Fast and Furious, and said during a town hall with Univision:
And this issue of guns flowing south is a hard issue to solve. Because this country respects the Second Amendment; we want to protect the rights of gun owners and those who are seeking to purchase firearms. But oftentimes that’s exploited as well. And so we’ve got to make sure that we’re properly balancing the rights of U.S. citizens, but making sure that we’re also interdicting those arms that would get into the hands of criminals.
The Obama administration sent guns down to Mexico. Hundreds were killed, including Brian Terry – no wonder it is a “hard issue to solve”!
Obama continues to defend his pliant attorney general, Eric Holder. And he continues to protect him by improperly withholding information from the American people.
So don’t believe those who tell you that Fast and Furious doesn’t implicate Obama or Holder directly. They own the scandal as surely as Nixon owned Watergate.