The Justice Department’s internal investigation of the debacle known as “Operation Fast and Furious,” a poorly thought-out and worse-executed federal gun program that resulted in the death of a U.S. border agent and 1,400 guns still illegally on the street, has resulted in the retirement and resignation of two senior Justice officials.
The 471-page report, which didn’t criticize Attorney General Eric Holder, pointed to more than a dozen Justice officials who should be subject to disciplinary action and pointed to poor communications, judgment and strategies.
Under Fast and Furious — a gun-running investigation conducted in Arizona that was similar to a previous operation that the Bush administration already had tried and determined to be unworkable — agents with the Justice Department’s Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau allowed people who they believed to be working for Mexican drug gangs to buy weapons and Phoenix gun stores. The idea was they would let these low-level lackeys take them to the smugglers who the agency has been unable to corral.
ATF needed to try something different to stop the exportation of U.S. weaponry to these bloodthirsty gangsters, who had managed to get nearly 70,000 weapons over a five-year period.
We do know one victim of a crime committed with two of the weapons that federal officials watched go out of the store: border agent Brian Terry. He was shot to death with them.
The inspector general found fault at several levels — ATF leadership and staff, the U.S. attorney’s office in Phoenix and senior officials of the Justice Department’s criminal division in Washington.
Stopping the flow of guns into Mexico is a tough job, but it cannot be made easier through implementation of an ill-conceived operation that is sure to fail while also ignoring the safety of the public.
— Albany Herald