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Bombshell report: Investigation leaves many feeling 'Furious'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 20th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

One Justice Department official resigned and another retired following an official report on Operation Fast and Furious was released this week. The report named a range of federal agencies for the failed anti-gunrunning program. In addition, officials were slammed for their callous disregard for public health and safety. 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The new report is the most comprehensive yet on the deadly operation which allowed weapons to "walk" across the U.S.-Mexico border, resulting in hundreds of firearms turning up at crime scenes in both the U.S. and Mexico.

Nearly 500-pages in length, the report was finished after investigators reviewed 100,000 documents and interviewed 130 people.

Attorney General Eric Holder, the report maintains, was unaware of the potential flaws in the program until February of last year. The report cites 14 other department employees, including Criminal Division head Lanny Breuer for potential wrongdoing, recommending the department consider disciplinary action against them.

The scathing report marked Jason Weinstein, the deputy assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division, as the highest-ranking DOJ employee in a position to stop the program. Weinstein has since resigned in the wake of the report.

Former ATF acting director Kenneth Melson, another official who was criticized for his failure to act, has retired after the report came down.

The report calls on both the Phoenix office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Attorney's Office for not taking action. Weapons from Fast and Furious were found at the crime scene of murdered Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, prompting a congressional investigation.

"Indeed, no one responsible for the case at either ATF Phoenix Field Division or the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona raised a serious question or concern about the government not taking earlier measures to disrupt a trafficking operation that continued to purchase firearms with impunity for many months," the report said.

"Similarly, we did not find persuasive evidence that any supervisor in Phoenix, at either the U.S. Attorney's Office or ATF, raised serious questions or concerns about the risk to public safety posed by the continuing firearms purchases or by the delay in arresting individuals who were engaging in the trafficking.

"This failure reflected a significant lack of oversight and urgency by both ATF and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix, and a disregard by both for the safety of individuals in the United States and Mexico," the report said.

Both Breuer and Weinstein were blamed in the report for not notifying superiors about a prior Bush-era program called "Wide Receiver" when questions about Fast and Furious arose. The report also said Weinstein knew about Fast and Furious from discussions with an ATF official in early 2010 and his review of wiretaps that year.

Weinstein says he took issue with the report's conclusions about him.

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