WASHINGTON – Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Monday, released the second installment of their final report on Operation Fast and Furious. This report chronicles the U.S. Department of Justice’s management failures, specifically finding fault with five senior Justice Department officials for failing to identify red flags indicating reckless tactics.
“The report discloses widespread management failures within the hierarchy of the Justice Department,” said Issa. “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.”
“Officials in the Justice Department 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,” Grassley said.
Operation Fast and Furious contributed to the deaths of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and an unknown number of Mexican citizens. It also created an ongoing public safety hazard on both sides of the border. The failures happened because of conscious decisions to encourage gun dealers to sell to known traffickers and avoid interdicting those weapons or even questioning suspects, all in the hope that would lead law enforcement to cartel connections and a larger case.
A detailed account of the interview with former ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson.
The Obama Administration’s new focus on trafficking and targeting of drug cartels, which led to the strategy behind Operation Fast and Furious.
Testimony from senior Justice Department officials about Operation Fast and Furious and the management problems it entailed. The report finds fault with five senior DOJ Officials for failing to supervise and for missing basic red flags. Those officials are Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein and Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed Siskel. 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.
Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler, Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed Siskel, and other officials from the Office of the Deputy Attorney General attended a detailed briefing on Operation Fast and Furious in March 2010. 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.
ATF officials asked both the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and ODAG for assistance in speeding up the indictments in Fast and Furious. The Justice Department, however, took no action to intervene. Instead, officials at Department headquarters only showed concern about preparing for the press impact of the indictments.
Deputy Chief of Staff to the Attorney General Monty Wilkinson discussed Attorney General Holder participating in the press conference announcing the take-down of Operation Fast and Furious prior to the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
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.
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.