The congressional overseers of the investigation into Operation Fast and Furious today released the first report in a three-part series on the botched gunwalking operation, concluding that it might have contributed to the deaths of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and an unknown number of Mexican citizens.
The 2,359-page report is based on transcribed interviews with 24 individuals, informal interviews with more than 50 individuals, and the review of more than 10,000 pages of documents.
“ATF and the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office failed to consider and protect the safety of Americans, Mexicans, and fellow law enforcement personnel throughout Operation Fast and Furious,” said House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Issa (R-Calif.). “Testimony and a persistent reluctance to fully cooperate make clear that many officials at ATF and the Department of Justice would have preferred to quietly sweep this matter under the rug.”
“Though they are among the most vocal objectors to oversight by Congress, this investigation has also shown that both agencies are among those most in need of additional scrutiny and attention from Congress,” he added.
“Though Attorney General Holder testified that the case was ‘fundamentally flawed’ and President Obama has stated that mistakes may have been made, all responsible ATF officials still work either at the ATF or within the Department of Justice,” states the report. “The two men most closely identified with the failed strategy of the case and who bear the brunt of responsibility for supervising the operation on a day-to-day basis, William Newell and David Voth, have both kept their jobs at ATF.”
Noting that this first report “is not intended to imply in any way that the mistakes and responsibility for Operation Fast and Furious are limited to ATF and other federal officials who were based in Arizona,” the forthcoming second report of the joint Congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious promises to detail “the mistakes and culpability of Department of Justice officials based in Washington, D.C.”
“The ATF wasted time, money and resources on wiretaps and put agents in harm’s way trying to learn about the links that other agencies had already made,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said. “It’s a classic case of government agencies’ failure to connect the dots. The ATF leadership claims it didn’t get the full picture from the FBI until after the case was over.”
“We know the DEA was actively giving information to the ATF, but the ATF dropped the ball,” Grassley continued. “Whistleblowers put the spotlight on Operation Fast and Furious. The ATF clearly needs to clean up its act, and the Department of Justice needs to make certain this kind of program is never allowed to happen again. This report provides a road map of what went wrong.”