September 20, 2012 Tom Ackerman / Al Jazeera & Kevin Johnson / USA Today
An independent investigation has cleared Eric Holder, the US attorney general, of covering up a botched anti-gun running operation. But the report by the justice department's internal watchdog cited 14 officials for allowing thousands of guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug
US Officials Implicated in Gun-running Probe Report cites 14 people for allowing thousands of guns to fall into hands of Mexican drug cartels Tom Ackerman / Al Jazeera
WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 20, 2012) -- An independent investigation has cleared Eric Holder, the US attorney general, of covering up a botched anti-gun running operation. But the report by the justice department's internal watchdog cited 14 officials for allowing thousands of guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug
WASHINGTON (September 19, 2012) -- Fourteen federal law enforcement officials were recommended for discipline Wednesday, including the head of the Justice Department's criminal division, related to a botched gun-trafficking operation that allowed an estimated 2,000 firearms to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartel enforcers, according to an internal Justice Department review.
The 472-page report by the department's inspector general concluded that Attorney General Eric Holder was not informed of the program's controversial tactics run by the department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives until after it had been shut down in late 2010.
For months, House Republicans had called on Holder to step down and voted to hold him in contempt of Congress, suggesting that he allowed the flawed gun operation known as "Fast and Furious'' to continue. The 19-month review "found no evidence'' that Holder was alerted before late January or early February 2011.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has been leading a separate congressional review of the operation, has scheduled a hearing Thursday to question Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz about his findings.
In the report, Horowitz identified "serious failures" at virtually every level of oversight in Fast and Furious and a similar program initiated in the Bush administration dubbed "Wide Receiver." The report singled out Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer â?? the head of the criminal division â??among more than a dozen others for not recognizing the programs' dangerous flaws.
The report did not suggest that officials should be subject to criminal prosecution.
The operation was stopped when two of the weapons in the trafficking probe were found at the scene of the Dec. 14, 2010, slaying of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. The gun used to kill Terry has not been identified.
Shortly after the report was made public, Holder announced that former interim ATF director Kenneth Melson, assigned from the post in the midst of the inquiry, was retiring from the department. Holder also said that he had accepted the resignation of Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, who was criticized in the report for failing to recognize the risk associated with the investigative tactics.
"It is a horribly sad day for this country when a professional who has dedicated his life to law enforcement and the rule of law falls victim to criticism that is so profoundly wrong and so deeply flawed,'' Weinstein's attorney Michael Bromwich said.
Holder did not publicly address sanctions involving Breuer.
"The inspector general's report confirms findings by Congress' investigation of a near total disregard for public safety in Operation Fast and Furious," said Rep. Darrell Issa, R.-Calif., chairman of the House investigating panel.
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