Latest Fast & Furious Report Places Blame On Senior DOJ Officials

Another report has been released by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Charles Grassley on Operation Fast and Furious. This is the second in a series of three reports. The first report was released back in July.
“Though many senior Department officials were keenly aware of Fast and Furious, no one questioned the operation,” states the 104-page report, titled “Fast and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed Operation.”

“The criminal division asked no questions. The office of the deputy attorney general asked no questions. No one ordered that Fast and Furious be shut down. Instead, senior Department officials let it continue to grow.”

Katie Pavlich at reports,

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The most recent report contains damning information and documentation showing Attorney General Eric Holder’s Deputy Chief of Staff Monty Wilkinson and DOJ Official Patrick Cunningham discussing plans for Holder to participate a press conference announcing the “take-down” or the end of Operation Fast and Furious before Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed on December 15, 2010. Guns from the Fast and Furious program were left at Terry’s murder scene. Holder claims he didn’t know about Operation Fast and Furious until May of 2011. The email below was sent on December 14, 2010 at 12:28 pm, just 12 hours before Terry’s murder.

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In questioning by Congressional investigators, an attorney for former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke (who resigned in August 2011 in light of the scandal) admitted Burke was in contact with Wilkinson about Holder’s participation in the Fast and Furious press conference and suggested it was Holder’s office that requested coming out for the press conference in the first place. From the report:

Q. Okay. So this email is specifically in regard to the Attorney General coming out to join you for the take-down of Fast and Furious?
A. Correct.

As soon as the news showing the connection between Terry’s murder and Operation Fast and Furious made its way back to Washington, Holder’s participation in the press conference was cancelled.

The report finds fault with five senior DOJ officials – Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein and Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed Siskel – “for failing to supervise and for missing basic red flags.”

“Attorney General Holder’s Deputy Chief of Staff Robert ‘Monty’ Wilkinson also bears some responsibility for the poor management that lead to Operation Fast and Furious,” the release adds.

“Despite the evidence presented at the briefing of illegally-purchased firearms being recovered in Mexico and in the U.S., Grindler and Siskel failed to ask probing questions or take any significant follow-up action to monitor and supervise the conduct of the case,” the release accompanying the report continued.

The report also said that both “Monty Wilkinson and Gary Grindler were informed about the connection between Operation Fast and Furious and U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder. Grindler received detailed information about the connection. He took no additional action, however, to properly supervise the operation.”

In addition, they said “no one at Justice Department headquarters have provided complete and accurate answers to the Terry family. During their respective transcribed interviews, Monty Wilkinson stated 38 times that he ‘did not recall’ or ‘did not know.’ In a similar fashion, Gary Grindler did so 29 times, and Ed Siskel 21 times. In two different transcribed interviews, Dennis Burke said he ‘did not recall’ or ‘did not know’ a combined total of 161 times.”

Rep. Issa said, “The Justice Department has yet to evaluate these management issues and implement structural changes to prevent another disaster like Operation Fast and Furious from occurring. Furthermore, the Justice Department has taken limited action against these negligent managers.”

Sen. Grassley added that the report demonstrates that officials at the DOJ “saw any number of warnings and some even had the gunwalking information right in front of them, yet nothing was done to stop it. Countless people may be murdered with these weapons, yet the Attorney General appears to be letting his employees slide by with little to no accountability. The Attorney General needs to make changes to ensure that department leadership provides oversight of the agencies they are tasked with supervising, instead of pointing fingers at somebody else.”

A third report is due out in a few weeks.

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