Inspector General Report on Fast and Furious Leaves Biggest Questions Unanswered

The early comments regarding Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz's report on Operation Fast and Furious reveal a media both ignorant of the case and eager to defend the Obama administration.

David Ingram of Reuters: "[The report] cleared Attorney General Eric Holder of any wrongdoing. ... Screw-ups of 'systemic' scope that risked public safety but no cover-up."

Media Matters (which has been closely, unethically coordinating with DOJ Spokesperson Tracy Schmaler) claims:

The right-wing media's conspiracy theory that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Operation Fast and Furious was hatched as a nefarious plot by the Obama administration to impose draconian gun control upon the United States has been debunked by an independent investigation into the failed gun trafficking sting.

Both reactions dishonestly reflect the contents of the 483-page report. It neither clears Attorney General Eri Holder or any of his subordinates of possible criminal action nor addresses possible synchronicity between the gunrunning plot and the desires of key cabinet-level officials to enact gun-control measures.

The report actually spends just 194 pages discussing Operation Fast and Furious itself, after spending considerable time exonerating Bush-era officials from Democratic and Obama administration claims that they ran a similar operation.

What Inspector General Horowitz's report does not discuss is perhaps more telling than what it shares. Horowitz does not address:

  • strong evidence of the existence of other gunwalking operations that happened in parallel with Operation Fast and Furious, including a Texas-based ATF gun-walking operation which supplied weapons used in the ambush of ICE Agents Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila;
  • documents showing the existence of an ATF gunwalking operation in Indiana that provided weapons to fuel Chicago's gang wars, dubbed "Gangwalker";
  • evidence of a parallel State Department program that sent guns to the Zetas drug cartel.

Horowitz doesn't debunk or refute allegations of these parallel programs. His report expresses no interest in the well-documented parallel operations concurrently run by other elements of the Obama administration.

The Foreign Military Sales program (run by the Defense Department) and the Direct Commercial Sales program (administered by the State Department) provided tens of thousands of weapons to the cartels by providing them to known corrupt state and non-state actors. The latter program saw roughly 25% of the guns diverted to the cartels. The Obama administration responded by dramatically increasing sales to Mexico, to the point that by 2009 we were providing more weaponry to Mexico than we were providing to Iraq and Afghanistan.