This was such a dumb idea.
'Furious' report slams 'disregard' for public safety as DOJ officials quit
A bombshell report released Wednesday on Operation Fast and Furious faulted a range of federal agencies for the failed anti-gunrunning program and accused officials in charge of a "disregard" for public safety. In the wake of the report, one Justice Department official resigned and another retired.
The sprawling report by the department's inspector general is the most comprehensive account yet on the deadly operation which allowed weapons to "walk" across the U.S.-Mexico border and resulted in hundreds of firearms turning up at crime scenes in both countries.
The report says Attorney General Eric Holder was not made aware of potential flaws in the program until February of last year. But the report cites 14 other department employees -- including Criminal Division head Lanny Breuer -- for potential wrongdoing, recommending the department consider disciplinary action against them.
One congressional source told Fox News the report was "more brutal than was expected."
The report also marked Jason Weinstein, the deputy assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division, as the highest-ranking DOJ employee in a position to stop the program. Weinstein, who disputes the findings, is nevertheless resigning in the wake of the report.
Another official criticized for not asking enough questions about the Furious operation, former ATF acting director Kenneth Melson, retired after the report came down.
The nearly 500-page report was completed after investigators reviewed 100,000 documents and interviewed 130 people.
The report slams both ATF Phoenix and the U.S. Attorney's Office for not taking action. The program caught the attention of Congress and the rest of the country after weapons from Fast and Furious were found at the crime scene of murdered Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
"Indeed, no one responsible for the case at either ATF Phoenix Field Division or the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona raised a serious question or concern about the government not taking earlier measures to disrupt a trafficking operation that continued to purchase firearms with impunity for many months," the report said. "Similarly, we did not find persuasive evidence that any supervisor in Phoenix, at either the U.S. Attorney's Office or ATF, raised serious questions or concerns about the risk to public safety posed by the continuing firearms purchases or by the delay in arresting individuals who were engaging in the trafficking.
"This failure reflected a significant lack of oversight and urgency by both ATF and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix, and a disregard by both for the safety of individuals in the United States and Mexico," the report said.
The report faults both Breuer and Weinstein for not notifying superiors about a prior Bush-era program called Wide Receiver when questions about Fast and Furious arose. The report also said Weinstein knew about Fast and Furious from discussions with an ATF official in early 2010 and his review of wiretaps that year.
Weinstein told Fox News that he's resigning so as to not "distract" from the department's work. But he took issue with the report's conclusions about him -- he 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.
The inspector general's report cites a conversation Weinstein had with ATF official Bill McMahon in April 2010.
At the time, the department was trying to bring indictments in the Wide Receiver investigation. Weinstein said he was so upset to learn that ATF walked guns that he met with McMahon and others on April 28, 2010 to talk with them about it. After the meeting, McMahon told Weinstein about another operation ATF Phoenix was conducting, describing it to McMahon as "the opposite of Wide Receiver," and insisting it didn't involve gun-walking and that ATF was aggressively interdicting guns, according to Weinstein. That was Fast and Furious.
Months later, according to Weinstein, McMahon told Weinstein that some ATF officials in Phoenix felt wiretap applications were moving too slowly and the delay was having an effect on the investigation, so Weinstein helped push that along. Weinstein says he only read the cover sheets of wiretap applications. But the IG report says Weinstein was in a position to stop the program.
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.
DOJ officials Monty Wilkinson and Gary Grindler were also criticized for failing to inform Holder that two guns connected to Fast and Furious were found at the Terry murder scene.