Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Major Fast And Furious Report Out Today

A major report on Fast and Furious is out today, and it was an obvious attempt by the Obama Administration to find a fall guy or two and protect AG Eric Holder at all costs.

The long-awaited 400 page report was issued by the Department of Justice Inspector General hit a whole slew of federal agencies for the operation that had the Department of Justice buying thousands of weapons and shipping them to Mexican drug cartels, resulting in the death of over 300 Mexican nationals and Brian Terry, a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

 Here's a shocker...this internal probe of the DOJ, by the DOJ, while spewing condemnations at the irresponsibility of a few carefully selected players found “no evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder was informed about Operation Fast and Furious, or learned about the tactics employed by ATF in the investigation.”

Not only that, but in an unprecedented move , Attorney General Eric Holder, who was one of the people who was supposedly to be investigated  was allowed to view and edit the report before its release.

The designated fall guys are Jason Weinstein, the deputy assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division who the report names as the highest DOJ official who had oversight over Fast and Furious and former ATF acting director Ken Melman, who abruptly retired.

Weinstein didn't exactly go quietly.He claims he took issue with the report's conclusions about him and gave the inspector general a 32-page document laying out alleged errors and suggested changes for the draft report, but "virtually none" of those were incorporated, according to Michael Bromwich, who is representing Weinstein. I guess they didn't make his role as sacrifice quite clear to him:

 The report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz found the ATF and U.S. attorney's office in Arizona shared equal responsibility for the gun-walking programs. It also said senior leaders did little immediately after Terry's death to inquire about Operation Fast and Furious. It faulted ATF headquarters for insufficient oversight of the program. And it cited the "inappropriate" effort to encourage dealers to sell firearms in transactions they knew were unlawful for weapons they did not intend to seize. Now here's the contradiction in the whole matter. If Eric Holder didn't know about Fast and Furious until 2011 ( which by the way, contradicts his sworn testimoney to congress)Then why the rush to put whole swaths of subpoenaed documents under executive privilege? If it wasn’t to cover Eric Holder's personal behind from legal culpability, the only other possible reason for the use of executive privilege and the extensive stonewalling of congress was to buy him time to cover up his mismanagement of the Justice Department.

 Holder also used the coming report as an excuse not to release documents to the House committee which has investigated Fast and Furious, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa. Now that it's out, does that mean that now that he's been 'exonerated' that he'll cooperate with congress in trying to get to the bottom of this? Will President Obama release those documents he protected by what now appears more and more to be an inappropriate use of executive privilege?

Of course not. Here's the Issa Committee's response to this bolshoi:

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, issued the following statement on Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s findings of widespread failures by both senior DOJ and ATF leaders in both Operation Fast and Furious and the Department of Justice’s false denials of reckless conduct to Congress. Issa and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have led the Congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious following Justice Department denials of reckless conduct that were later retracted. Guns from the reckless program 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 Inspector General’s report confirms findings by Congress’ investigation of a near total disregard for public safety in Operation Fast and Furious. Contrary to the denials of the Attorney General and his political defenders in Congress, the investigation found that information in wiretap applications approved by senior Justice Department officials in Washington did contain red flags showing reckless tactics and faults Attorney General Eric Holder’s inner circle for their conduct. 

Former Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer who heads the Criminal Division, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, and Holder’s own Deputy Chief of Staff Monty Wilkinson are all singled out for criticism in the report. It’s time for President Obama to step in and provide accountability for officials at both the Department of Justice and ATF who failed to do their jobs. Attorney General Holder has clearly known about these unacceptable failures yet has failed to take appropriate action for over a year and a half.

The Inspector General has indicated he will continue his investigation of matters related to Operation Fast and Furious, including retaliation against whistleblowers and an effort to have the Justice Department unseal wiretap applications sealed by courts that were approved by senior officials. The Congressional investigation will also continue to seek documents wrongfully withheld from Congress.

The question remains- what did Eric Holder know and when did he know it? And given the use of Executive privilege, the same question remains for President Obama.

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