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  • Morning Bell: 5 Ways Fast & Furious Tarnishes Eric Holder's Justice Department

    The Department of Justice’s inspector general released a long-awaited report on the Operation Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal this week. It marked the culmination of a 19-month investigation into the operation, which allowed as many as 2,000 firearms to “walk” into Mexico, where they were handed off to drug cartels.

    The operation, overseen by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, rocketed into the public eye when some of those guns were found near the body of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, killed in the line of duty near the Mexican border in Arizona.

    Both congressional Republicans, who have doggedly pursued allegations of wrongdoing at the top echelons of the Justice Department, and administration officials have claimed it vindicates their varying accounts of the scandal.

    While Attorney General Eric Holder is mostly exonerated of responsibility for the scandal — the report backs up his claim that he did not know about the operation until after it ceased — his apparent lack of knowledge is troubling in itself, as Heritage’s John Malcolm, a former official in DOJ’s criminal division, notes in a new report:

    It is shocking to conceive that the Attorney General of the United States was not made aware of the tactics used in an operation that lasted for months and resulted in the deaths of a federal agent and … approximately 300 Mexicans. At the very least, assuming this is true, the Attorney General was ill-served by some of his most trusted advisers, as well as by some career prosecutors in Phoenix. The report … urges Holder to “determine whether discipline or other administrative action … is appropriate.” Some of these individuals should now be disciplined, if not fired.

    The inspector general’s report is nearly 500 pages long, so we’ve pulled out the top five revelations that you need to know:

    1. The report singles out top Department of Justice officials for wrongdoing.

    “We concluded that the Attorney General’s Deputy Chief of Staff, the Acting Deputy Attorney General, and the leadership of the Criminal Division failed to alert the Attorney General to significant information about or flaws in those investigations,” the report states.

    The report faults 14 officials with various offenses, most for failing to adequately investigate the possibility that inappropriate tactics were being used. Since the report’s release, acting ATF director Kenneth Melson and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein have resigned.

    2. The report appears to contradict sworn testimony by Attorney General Eric Holder.

    “I’ve looked at these affidavits,” Holder told Rep. Ben Quayle (R-AZ) in June, referring to documents detailing ATF wiretap applications. “There’s nothing in those affidavits as I’ve reviewed them that indicates gunwalking was allowed.”

    Citing the inspector general’s report, Quayle claims Holder “lied … to my face” with that statement. The report claims those affidavits “described specific incidents that would suggest to a prosecutor who was focused on the question of investigative tactics that ATF was employing a strategy of not interdicting weapons or arresting known straw purchasers.”

    While the report does not claim that Holder misled Congress, it does say that those affidavits suggested gunwalking took place. Holder says he read those affidavits, and that they suggested no such thing. If the inspector general is correct, both claims cannot be true — either Holder did not review the affidavits, or he was not truthful about their contents.

    3. The report faults top Justice Department leadership with failing to adequately respond to the murder of an American border patrol agent.

    On December 14, 2010, U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed in a firefight with cartel operatives near the Mexican border in Arizona. Fast and Furious firearms were found at the scene.

    Top Justice Department officials, including Holder’s chief of staff, Gary Grindler, failed to take proper action upon realizing the connection between the incident and ATF’s gunwalking operation, the inspector general states.

    Neither the [Office of the Attorney General] or [Office of the Deputy Attorney General] took appropriate action after learning that firearms found at the scene [of the Terry murder] were connected to the Operation. We believe that an aggressive response to the information was required, including prompt notification of the Attorney General and appropriate inquiry of ATF and the US Attorney’s Office.  However, we found that senior officials who were aware of this information, including Grindler, took no action whatsoever.

    4. The White House refused to disclose any internal communications to the inspector general.

    “The White House did not produce to us any internal White House communications,” the report states, “noting that ‘the White House is beyond the purview of the Inspector General’s Office, which has jurisdiction over Department of Justice programs and personnel.’”

    Inspector General Michael Horowitz was not able to investigative White House communications with ATF regarding Fast and Furious. He told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that his office “did not get internal communications from the White House, and [then-White House National Security official Kevin] O’Reilly’s unwillingness to speak to us made it impossible for us to pursue that angle of the case and the question that had been raised.”

    5. The report fails to consider evidence that a top DOJ official knew the department misled Congress.

    Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), who has led the Senate side of the Fast and Furious investigation, claims that the inspector general made a “factual error” in concluding that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who heads the department’s criminal division, was for the most part uninvolved in the crafting of a February 4, 2011, letter to Congress denying any knowledge of gunwalking tactics. DOJ later withdrew that letter when internal documents showed that officials had misled Congress about their knowledge of those tactics.

    “We found that Breuer had no direct involvement in drafting, editing, or approving the Department’s inaccurate February 4 letter to Sen. Grassley,” the inspector general found. But internal DOJ emails reveal that Breuer did see the February letter before it was sent to Congress, and in fact personally signed off on a draft. “Great work, as usual,” he wrote to one of the letter’s authors.

    Why this matters

    Operation Fast and Furious is by far the most serious scandal to rock the Justice Department. But there are other troubling developments that have happened on Holder’s watch. They include the misguided lawsuits against Texas and South Carolina over voter ID laws, an ongoing investigation of Pennsylvania’s statute, and legal campaigns mounted against states attempting to secure their borders from illegal immigration.

    Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky, who worked at the Justice Department as counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights, last year documented in an 11-part series the politicized hiring at the Department of Justice – a liberal litmus test for all new career attorneys. It exposed the crass political agenda of Holder and his deputies. Now, the Fast and Furious report raises even more concerns about Holder’s leadership and judgment.

    “For veterans of the department, it is another illustration of how low the professionalism and competence of a once-great law-enforcement agency has fallen,” von Spakovsky writes for National Review Online. “And it shows just how dangerous DOJ can be when its power is misused and abused.

    >> Today at noon ET, Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky and author John Fund will speak about their new book, “Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk.” It debunks the liberal myths about voter fraud. Watch it live on Heritage.org.

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    20 Responses to Morning Bell: 5 Ways Fast & Furious Tarnishes Eric Holder's Justice Department

    1. toledofan says:

      This administration will go down in history as one of the most corrupt in modern times. The corruption, lying, stealing and cheating makes Watergate look like no big deal. At the end of the day, no matter how you try and frame this it's clear that Holder is still lying and covering up probably for himself and Obama. The real injustice in all of this is the mainstream medias continued covering for the Obama Administration in general, they are just not telling the American people the truth. The hypocracy in the media is just beyond my comprehension.

      • Nixon's actions were intended to keep the Demonrats out of power (there was a personal element, but still). The true importance of this philosophy is now becoming quite clear. The Demonrats and the Republicrats through increased federalism have brought us to this absurd spot. I swear, it has to be a comedy show on some alien planet. They must be laughing their asses off!

    2. @LJCambria says:

      Tarnishes? They prove time and again their image is golden and preserved by their propaganda machine. If there's no Constitution to abide by

    3. The report is a whitewash. Nothing more.

      Folks… just consider this:

      We – the United States government – were involved in gun-running… deliberately supplying weapons to criminal cartels – IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY.

      This could be considered an act of war. (Imagine if China or Iran or North Korea or Venezuela or Cuba or Russia or… well… you get the idea… had been caught supplying American criminal cartels with weapons.) I mean… sure… our "excuse" was that we were doing so for the right reasons… but we did so unilaterally… without the cooperation – let alone the permission… let alone the knowledge – of the Mexican authorities.

      Again, folks… Act of War at worst… but even at best… we're talking the risk of a major international incident!

      And supposedly Eric Holder didn't KNOW about this…???

      Heck… you'd think that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would have been in the loop on such a sensitive operation that again… was a FOREIGN operation… not a domestic operation.

      No, folks… I don't buy this whitewash. Neither should you.

    4. Jim Uberti says:

      Holder will NEVER fire any of the so-called guilty because they might just decide to write a book to make up for their sudden loss of income.
      A corrupt White House, coupled with a corrupt media, has insured that no BIG heads will role.
      I often wonder what the voter who bought the "Hope and Change" thing is thinking these days??

    5. Tim Lee says:

      holder knew all about fast@furious and he must be held accountable…..just look at the hugh amount of money used in the operation….holder approved the money to be moved to the mexican cartel….

    6. Ken says:

      Is it tarnished if that is what they wanted.

    7. Lloyd Scallan says:

      The very first sentence says it all, "the DOJ's inspector general". Does anyone expect that one of Eric Holder's ilk would find him at fault, despite his lies and distortions. So the IG and Holder trout out sacrificial lambs to be slaughtered. How can we expect the honorable thing to be done when not one of Obama's lackeys have the slightist bit ot honor.

    8. Jim Lewis says:

      DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE THE DOJ'S OWN INSPECTOR GENERAL DID A REAL INVESTIGATION? THIS IS THE MOST CORRUPT DOJ EVER, PERIOD, I TRUST NOTHING THAT COMES FROM IT. THE ONLY WAY TO BE SURE IS TO HAVE AN INDEPENDENT PROSECUTER INVESTIGATE THIS WHOLE MATTER.

    9. United States Attorney General Eric.Holder has to be the worse of the worse lawmen of all time.

    10. jeanie harrison says:

      In the current administration justice moves very slowly, all the while the Terry family has waited for answers. While some have been answered it still is not enough. It has been to little to late in all aspects of this case. Eric Holder himself has not been honest from the very beginning and should have been fired along with the others involved. Still the Terry family suffers, they always will because this administration was not capable of running this department from the very beginning. Hopefully soon they will all be gone with a change in administration.

    11. Gary Bell says:

      #1, if Holder was not made aware of the goings on, then it was because he had told his underlings not to consult him of anything that might be illegal. This in itself is grounds for his removal.
      #2, of course he knew about. Common sense dictates that even if he was not “officially” informed, certainly his innermost circle informed him.

    12. shaun evertson says:

      So truth is politically fungible in this administration, and the ag is at best too stupid to hold the job or at worst guilty of perjury. Nothing new here. Do real American citizens object to a murderous scheme to attack the second amendment? We shall see.

    13. reggiec says:

      F&F terrorism (feel free to copy, paste to a document and send the following to all your elected officials)
      As a retired law enforcement officer here is my take:
      The most basic reason that Holder, Obama and the “Dims” are fighting full disclosure of “Fast and Furious “ by involvement of high placed officials in the Obama administration and others is the following:
      Fact #1. The people that started the program and then allowed it to continue knew at that time that the majority of the guns were going to end up in the hands of drug cartels or their members on both sides of the border.
      Fact #2. According to testimony by whistle blowers; no effort was made to track the weapons purposely. In fact when complaints were made about the lack of tracking efforts, agents were ordered to “stand down”.
      Fact #3. These same people knew that these guns would be used to kill people. They also knew that some of the people killed would be innocents. This is what happens when you help criminals get guns. Especially vicious criminals in the drug cartels who knowingly and purposely use terror to promote their activities without any regard as to innocent victims.

      • reggiec says:

        If you believe that fact 1, Fact 2 and Fact 3 above are true, then:
        Those involved should be arrested, indicted and then tried for being knowing and active participants in promoting terrorism against citizens of both Mexico and the United States. They are in fact accessories to mass murder. Holder should not just be held in contempt of Congress; a special prosecutor should be appointed by Congress to begin indictments for criminal charges against Holder and any others who put this Fast and Furious in place and facilitated its implementation.

        • reggiec says:

          The elements of a crime are “unity of act and intent” F&F meets that criteria. The intent was to put firearms into the hands of narcoterrorists and then continue that program after guns began turning up at crime scenes to support more gun control regulations. The act was “walking the guns” and telling gun shops to keep selling to the straw buyers even after they began to question the sales encouraged by the ATF. If the president was aware and allowed this program it is not a misdemeanor, it is a massive series of high crimes. It now seems that Obama was complicit. How else can he invoke “executive privilege”?
          The obstruction by the present administration is in fact a concerted effort to close and lock any door that opens to the truth and to weld shut the manholes covering the cesspool that is being exposed. “We” are out to get the truth and if that “gets” Holder and Obama; so be it.

    14. Bill Hess says:

      Was anything discovered by the IG that would legitimately justify the invoking of executive privelege by Obama?

    15. Ed Irby says:

      If one assumes the rumors are true about Fast and Furious being a ploy for stopping gun sales in border states as the first step to doing it nation-wide. Then the joke is Venezuela, thanks to Cavez, has a Russian built or licensed plant to supply all the AKs any drug cartel or insurgent might desire and a heck of a lot cheaper than paying retail in the USA.

    16. Rich Kamins says:

      No matter how bad it looks, the media has sealed Holder away from most of America and he's unscathed. This entire administration has been covered by the media so that they don't look bad…Can you say "collusion?"

    17. Jeanne Stotler says:

      Obama will not fire Holder, theyboth know too much about each others crimes.

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