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Congress Slams ATF Supervisors For Fast and Furious

Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Charles Grassley have issued a joint staff report titled, "Fast and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed Operation." The report is 200 pages long and is only part one of three expected to be released. This first report takes a hard look at the role ATF supervisors played in Operation Fast and Furious and the responsibility they have for the program that has left more than 300 people dead as a result. Although the report holds ATF managers William Newell, Mark Chait, David Voth, William McMahon and former Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson accountable, it does not end the investigation into the operation from the Oversight Committee. The report specifically says, "Soon, the U.S. House of Representatives will commence legal proceedings to enforce its prerogatives following the June 27, 2012, vote holding Eric H. Holder, Jr. in criminal and civil contempt." The report also mentions the Obama administration multiple times.


From Senator Grassley:

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Senator Chuck Grassley today released the first part of the final report on the joint congressional investigation of conduct in Operation Fast and Furious.  The report presents evidence detailing numerous errors and decisions by ATF officials and the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office that led to serious problems – including inter-agency communication failures between ATF, DEA, and FBI.  The failed operation might have contributed to the deaths of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and an unknown number of Mexican citizens.  It also created an ongoing public safety hazard on both sides of the border.  The failures happened because of conscious decisions not to interdict weapons and not to stop suspects in the hope that they would lead to cartel connections and a larger case.

“ATF and the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office failed to consider and protect the safety of Americans, Mexicans, and fellow law enforcement personnel throughout Operation Fast and Furious,” said Chairman Issa.  “Testimony and a persistent reluctance to fully cooperate make clear that many officials at ATF and the Department of Justice would have preferred to quietly sweep this matter under the rug.  Though they are among the most vocal objectors to oversight by Congress, this investigation has also shown that both agencies are among those most in need of additional scrutiny and attention from Congress.”

“The ATF wasted time, money and resources on wiretaps and put agents in harm’s way trying to learn about the links that other agencies had already made,” Grassley said.  “It’s a classic case of government agencies’ failure to connect the dots.  The ATF leadership claims it didn’t get the full picture from the FBI until after the case was over.  We know the DEA was actively giving information to the ATF, but the ATF dropped the ball.  Whistleblowers put the spotlight on Operation Fast and Furious.  The ATF clearly needs to clean up its act, and the Department of Justice needs to make certain this kind of program is never allowed to happen again.  This report provides a road map of what went wrong.”

This new report, “Fast and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed Operation, Part I of III,” is based on transcribed interviews with 24 individuals, some covering multiple days; informal interviews with more than 50 individuals; and the review of more than 10,000 pages of documents.  While the Justice Department has withheld tens of thousands of pages of documents and denied access to numerous witnesses, the investigation did find sufficient evidence to draw conclusions concerning the origins of Operation Fast and Furious, the detrimental effect of inter-agency miscommunications and turf issues, flawed strategies, delays, and an overall failure to effectively supervise subordinate offices.

The complete report consists of 2,359 pages, including 211 pages of text with 692 footnotes, 266 exhibits, and three appendices.


Because of the length and extensive detail of the report, Townhall will have a full story and analysis available tomorrow.

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