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 and another retired.
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.
One congressional source told Fox News the report was “more brutal than was expected.”
The report marked Jason Weinstein, the deputy assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division, as the highest-ranking DOJ employee in a position to stop the program. Weinstein, who disputes the findings, is resigning in the wake of the report.
Another official criticized for not asking enough questions about the Furious operation, former ATF acting director Kenneth Melson, retired after the report came down.
The nearly 500-page report was completed after investigators reviewed 100,000 documents and interviewed 130 people.
The report slams both the Phoenix office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for not taking action. The program caught the attention of Congress and the rest of the country after weapons from Fast and Furious were found at the crime scene of murdered Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
“Indeed, no one responsible for the case at either ATF Phoenix Field Division or the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona raised a serious question or concern about the government not taking earlier measures to disrupt a trafficking operation that continued to purchase firearms with impunity for many months,” the report said. “Similarly, we did not find persuasive evidence that any supervisor in Phoenix, at either the U.S. Attorney’s Office or ATF, raised serious questions or concerns about the risk to public safety posed by the continuing firearms purchases or by the delay in arresting individuals who were engaging in the trafficking.
“This failure reflected a significant lack of oversight and urgency by both ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix, and a disregard by both for the safety of individuals in the United States and Mexico,” the report said.
The office said it “identified serious failures” by ATF leaders in supervising the operation.
The report faults both Breuer and Weinstein for not notifying superiors about a prior Bush-era program called Wide Receiver when questions about Fast and Furious arose. The report also said Weinstein knew about Fast and Furious from discussions with an ATF official in early 2010 and his review of wiretaps that year.
Weinstein told Fox News that he’s resigning so as to not “distract” from the department’s work. But he took issue with the report’s conclusions about him.
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