Justice report faults ATF, DOJ officials for 'Fast and Furious'

Justice report faults ATF, DOJ officials for 'Fast and Furious'

The Justice Department’s inspector general has found Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderHolder redistricting group targets GOP control in states IG poised to reignite war over FBI’s Clinton case Justice Dept sidelines office dedicated to expanding legal aid to poor citizens: report MORE did not know about controversial gun-walking tactics used in the "Fast and Furious" program before learning of them from Congress. 

The 471-page IG report issued Wednesday after an 18-month investigation recommends more than a dozen agency officials receive administrative or disciplinary action. 

It found that agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the U.S. Attorney’s office were responsible for not raising serious concerns about the tactics used in “Fast and Furious,” which may have contributed to the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry after the program lost track of some of the weapons.

The report found Holder did not know about the controversial tactics before Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Cybersecurity: Tillerson proposes new cyber bureau at State | Senate bill would clarify cross-border data rules | Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up breach Overnight Finance: Senators near two-year budget deal | Trump would 'love to see a shutdown' over immigration | Dow closes nearly 600 points higher after volatile day | Trade deficit at highest level since 2008 | Pawlenty leaving Wall Street group Grassley to Sessions: Policy for employees does not comply with the law MORE (R-Iowa) sent him a letter raising questions about the operation he had received from whistleblowers within ATF. 

However, Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that four high-ranking DOJ officials, including Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, knew enough about the dangers of the operation that they should have raised concerns with their immediate superiors.

The Justice Department announced shortly after the report's release that former acting director of the ATF Kenneth Melson and Weinstein had both resigned. Melson headed the ATF while "Fast and Furious" was ongoing, stepped down last summer, and was reassigned to a lower level position

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who has led Congress’s investigation of Fast and Furious, along with Grassley, called on President Obama to hold the officials named in the IG’s report accountable for their mistakes in the operation.

“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,” said Issa in a statement following the report’s release.

The report found that no high-level DOJ officials knowingly approved of the gun-walking tactics. But it also states that Weinstein approved wiretap applications for the operation with a knowledge that similarly controversial tactics had been used in a previous operation years earlier.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said the report exonerates Holder and proves that many of the claims that Republicans have made — that the attorney general knew about the failed tactics and intentionally misled Congress — are false.

“The IG’s comprehensive report debunks many of the extreme allegations made by Republicans and confirms many of the conclusions reached in a report I issued nearly a year ago,” said Cummings in a statement. “Neither the Attorney General nor senior DOJ officials authorized or approved of gunwalking in Fast and Furious, that gunwalking started under the Bush Administration in 2006, and that ATF agents in Phoenix and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona share responsibility for misguided operations spanning five years.”