14 employees of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Justice Department responsible for management failures in “Fast and Furious” gun-trafficking operation; Attorney General Holder not informed of operation until 2011
Attorney General Eric Holder released the following statement today on the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General’s report on Operation Fast and Furious:
“I have reviewed the Office of the Inspector General’s report on Operation Fast and Furious and the key conclusions are consistent with what I, and other Justice Department officials, have said for many months now:
- The inappropriate strategy and tactics employed were field-driven and date back to 2006;
- The leadership of the Department did not know about or authorize the use of the flawed strategy and tactics; and
- The Department’s leadership did not attempt to cover up information or mislead Congress about it.
“Beginning in 2011 – shortly after public concerns were first raised about Operation Fast and Furious – I referred this matter to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). Throughout the next several months, I instituted significant policy reforms, stronger internal controls and made key personnel changes to prevent the flaws that plagued this investigation, as well as the earlier investigation, Operation Wide Receiver, from recurring. I’m pleased that the OIG report appropriately recognizes these reforms.
“Based upon the information in the OIG report and other related information, I am also announcing additional personnel changes today.
“First, Kenneth Melson, the former Acting Director at ATF, has retired from the Department, effective immediately. Ken has served the Department in several important roles for over thirty years, including as a United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and more recently as an advisor on forensic science issues. I want to thank him for his dedication and service to the Department over the last three decades.
“Second, those individuals within ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona, whom the OIG report found to have been responsible for designing, implementing or supervising Operation Fast and Furious have been referred to the appropriate entities for review and consideration of potential personnel actions. Consistent with the requirements of the Privacy Act, the Department is prohibited from revealing any additional information about these referrals at this time.
“Finally, I have accepted the resignation of Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, a longtime career prosecutor who most recently served in the Criminal Division where he led our violent and organized crime, computer crimes and intellectual property enforcement efforts. Jason has dedicated much of his career to fighting violent crime and has led highly successful efforts around the country in this effort. The American people are safer because of his work. His commitment to the Department has been unwavering, and I deeply appreciate his 15 years of distinguished service here at Main Justice as well as in Baltimore and New York.
“It is unfortunate that some were so quick to make baseless accusations before they possessed the facts about these operations – accusations that turned out to be without foundation and that have caused a great deal of unnecessary harm and confusion. I hope today’s report acts as a reminder of the dangers of adopting as fact unsubstantiated conclusions before an investigation of the circumstances is completed.
“I want to assure the American people that I, and my colleagues at the Department, will continue to focus on our mission of protecting their rights and their security, and doing so in a manner that is consistent with the high standards of the Department of Justice. This includes continuing to seek justice on behalf of Agent Brian Terry and his loved ones.
“The FBI and the United States Attorney from the Southern District of California have been working for many months with Mexican authorities to identify and apprehend the fugitives involved in the murder of Agent Terry, who made the ultimate sacrifice in serving his country. We now have two men in custody and we will continue to aggressively pursue the remaining fugitives to ensure justice for Agent Terry, his family and his fellow law enforcement agents who put their lives on the line each day to keep this country safe.”
A copy of the Department of Justice Office Inspector General Report “A Review of ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious and Related Matters” can be found at: http://www.justice.gov/oig/reports/2012/s1209.pdf