Democrats Release "Fast and Furious" Report

As Republicans prepare to grill Attorney General Eric Holder again over Operation Fast and Furious, the Democrats on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform have released a report. The executive summary is here. The full report is here.

Shorter version: There is no evidence higher-ups at DOJ were aware of the gunwalking operations, which were initiated during the Bush Administraton. [More...]

The report finds that gunwalking operations originated as early as 2006 as agents in the Phoenix Field Division of ATF devised a strategy to forgo arrests against low-level straw purchasers while they attempted to build bigger cases against higher-level trafficking organizers and financiers. Rather than halting operations after flaws became evident, they launched several similarly reckless operations over the course of several years, also with tragic results.

The documents obtained and interviews conducted by the Committee reflect that Operation Fast and Furious was the latest in a series of fatally flawed operations run by ATF agents in Phoenix and the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office. Far from a strategy that was directed and planned by "the highest levels" of the Department of Justice, as some have alleged, the Committee has obtained no evidence that Operation Fast and Furious was conceived or directed by high-level political appointees at Department of Justice headquarters.

...The Committee has obtained no evidence indicating that the Attorney General authorized gunwalking or that he was aware of such allegations before they became public. None of the 22 witnesses interviewed by the Committee claims to have spoken with the Attorney General about the specific tactics employed in Operation Fast and Furious prior to the public controversy.

Operation Fast and Furious was the fourth gunwalking operation since 2006. Who does the report blame? In a letter accompanying the report, Rep. Elijah Cummings lists: The ATF, under both the current and former Administrations; lax oversight by the Arizona U.S. Attorneys office in failing to agressively prosecute firearms cases; and the federal courts in Arizona for sentencing leniency towards "trafficking networks that fuel armed violence in Mexico."

The report also finds that Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey knew about failed gunwalking operations. More from Cummings' letter:

The Committee obtained documents indicating that in 2007 he was personally informed about the failure of previous law enforcement operations involving the illegal smuggling of weapons into Mexico, and that he received a proposal to expand these operations. Since the Committee failed to speak with Mr. Mukasey, we do not have the benefit of his input about why these operations were allowed to continue after he was given this information.

As to support for Attorney General Eric Holder:

[T]he evidence received by the Committee supports the Attorney General’s assertion that the gunwalking tactics in Operation Fast and Furious were developed in the field. The leaders of the two components with management responsibility for Operation Fast and Furious—ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office—informed the Committee that they themselves were not aware of the controversial tactics used in Operation Fast and Furious and did not brief anyone at Justice Department headquarters about them.

Similarly, the Attorney General’s key subordinates—the Deputy Attorney General and the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division—informed the Committee that they were never briefed on the tactics by ATF or the U.S. Attorney’s Office and never raised concerns about the operation to the Attorney General.

The report contains a "Recommendations Section", available here. Among them: Enact a new federal crime to cover firearms trafficking; Provide more funding to ATF; Repeal the prohibition against reporting crime gun trace data.

Of course, this report won't stop Rep. Darryl Issa's transparent and politically motivated plan to topple Holder. He's accusing Holder of engaging in a cover-up, demanding more documents and threatening to hold Holder in contempt. Here's the letter he sent yesterday to Holder, telling him he was obstructing the investigation and deceiving the public, and giving him until Feb. 9 to supply the requested documents or a detailed privileged log.

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  • Display: Sort:
    More government cover-ups (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by SeeEmDee on Wed Feb 01, 2012 at 10:54:36 AM EST
    I used to be a Fed civil servant, and most learn very quickly that initiative is rarely welcomed; in most cases, most civil servants are practically paralyzed when it comes to issues that skirt the boundaries of policy and won't make a single move until they hear from those with bigger salaries to make decisions.

    So...we're supposed to believe that nobody at the highest levels of government authorized this? When so many knew about previous operations? So, they're trying to tell us we have rogue Federal agencies with field offices making their own national policy as they go along, with no oversight from higher-ups? This sounds like that nonsense that the DA's in California are operating on their own in attacking medical cannabis dispensaries.

    Which is worse? Officially 'clueless' department heads or field offices making national policy? Who's in effin' charge here?

    The term "WTF!" is more than applicable...

    I can't blame republicans for being (none / 0) (#1)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Feb 01, 2012 at 07:31:44 AM EST
    suspicious.  The democrats released a report saying no one who was an elected or politically appointed  official knew about this operation and BTW, it started under bush.  That sounds pretty defensive.
    On the other hand republicans say it was a very different program under Bush etc....  I am sure they will release their report and it will be very different based on very different evidence, and just as convincing to those who want to be convinced of that point of view.  
    This is what we pay these people for?  

    Reportedly (none / 0) (#2)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Feb 01, 2012 at 07:57:34 AM EST

    the program under Bush used radio tracking devices secreted in the firearms and was done in cooperation with the Mexican government, but it was stopped because the tracking system failed.

    Fast and Furious went on for years with ZERO attempt to track weapons either within or across the border, without the knowledge or cooperation of the Mexican government, and without a single "higher up" charged.

    If this was all according to Hoyle, what possibly could be the motivation for Patrick Cunningham the chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona to plead the fifth?

    If what the administration claims is true that low level employees can routinely authorize unrestricted gun sales to straw buyers WITH NO ATTEMPT to track the weapons, then how do we know that the authorization is not made by a corrupt employee?

    Why has no one been fired or indicted?

    If as reported multiple agencies were involved then the asserted claim of no high level knowledge seems bogus.



    Higher-ups (none / 0) (#3)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Feb 01, 2012 at 08:17:08 AM EST

    Shorter version: There is no evidence higher-ups at DOJ were aware of the gunwalking operations

    If 2,000+ weapons are allowed to walk without knowledge of any higher-ups, then some higher-ups should be fired for failure to even minimally supervise their employees.  


    I Love It (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Feb 01, 2012 at 10:01:18 AM EST
    Just firing, we can't lock them up too ?

    Is this for all people, just the government, or Holder specific ?

    With all the corruption during Bush we could have fired the entire cabinet, certainly Cheney should have responsible for Scooter.  Bush definitely should have paid the price for the 30+ corruption convictions his cabinet members netted and of course Browny's epic failure.

    And we can not forget Mr Ronald Reagan who you surely agree, should have been held canned for North's shenanigans.  

    You Rock, great idea.


    ATF (none / 0) (#7)
    by womanwarrior on Wed Feb 01, 2012 at 08:48:20 PM EST
    has always been known for being out of control cowboys. What has changed?