While doing today’s Jolt, I came across this intriguing article from Fox News from a week ago — a news development lost in the (deserved) interest in the embassy-attack stories:
Dozens of senior-level U.S. government officials turned a blind eye to public safety as they pursued an ill-conceived and poorly managed investigation into gun trafficking in Mexico, according to a long-awaited inspector general’s report on Operation Fast and Furious.
Portions of the Justice Department IG report, which has not been made public, were obtained exclusively by Fox News Channel.
The report and accompanying accounts cite a failure in leadership and a lack of accountability and oversight up and down the chain of command at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Justice Department itself and other offices. It says many senior executives knew the U.S. was helping traffic guns to Mexico that killed people but did nothing to stop it.
“We found no evidence in Operation Fast and Furious that the ATF or the (U.S. attorney’s office) attempted at any point during the investigation to balance the risks to the public safety against the long-term benefits of identifying trafficking networks and participants,” the draft report says.
This is the inspector general report that was cited, again and again, as to why Department of Justice officials hesitated to answer questions — “there’s an ongoing investigation.” This Inspector General’s investigation began in February 2011, so we’re looking at a roughly 19-month effort.
Back in December 2011, the line was that the Department of Justice was never notified of what was going on: “Justice officials said they were never told about the Fast and Furious tactics and cite ATF internal emails as evidence.”
The Fox article suggest that the report will blame three managers in the ATF — but that two of the named managers insist that they kept high-level Justice officials in the loop, and were only encouraged:
Both men recall a detailed briefing Voth delivered to senior ATF and DOJ staff in Washington on March 5, 2010. In a Power Point presentation, attended by at least two deputy attorneys general, Voth explained how the operation was run and how almost two-dozen largely unemployed men bought 1,026 assault weapons with $650,000 in just over four months, then smuggled the guns to Mexico while under surveillance.
“Following the briefing . . . Mr. Voth received accolades from his superiors. No one in ATF leadership or at Main Justice raised any concerns with Mr. Voth about the direction of the investigation. If anything, they were encouraging him,” Voth attorney Joshua Levy said.
If nothing else, it shouldn’t be too hard to verify whether or not that briefing took place, and who attended.
It appears the defense from Attorney General Eric Holder will remain, “I had no idea any of these people who report to me were doing this, or that any of this was going on.”