Former Secret Service agent, Senate candidate: Justice Dept. reform needed to prevent future ‘debacles’ like Fast and Furious

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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One of President Obama’s former protectors, Daniel Bongino, an ex-Secret Service agent and currently a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Maryland, told The Daily Caller he’d like to see Justice Department reform so “debacles” like Operation Fast and Furious don’t happen again.

Bongino recommends consolidating different DOJ agencies, like the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He describes an “overly bureaucratic” system in place now, and says it has to be streamlined so the officials who make decisions are the ones who are held accountable for them.

“We have to have these different agencies explain why exactly we have this overly bureaucratic mechanism,” Bongino said in a phone interview. “Why do you need a separate and distinct department with three and four different levels of management, to do something that frankly, can be done with some of the existing structures we have now if you were to be incorporated.”

Bongino stresses that he isn’t recommending laying off law enforcement agents, but rather quashing the bureaucracy and territorial self-protection political officials at the various agencies regularly partake in. “You have levels of management that don’t want to be the ones to put out the fire,” Bongino said. “So what they do is they assume the last guy okayed it and it gets kicked up the chain again.”

In 17 years of law enforcement experience and having to deal with the bureaucracy, Bongino said the political and management types in the DOJ are “the problem here.”

“I found in my experience that we have a culture of promotion and risk aversion in federal law enforcement,” Bongino told TheDC. “There’s too many firemen and not enough arson. I think the way to really clean up the problem is to flatten out the managerial chain. There’s too much bureaucracy in federal law enforcement.”

Bongino formerly protected President Barack Obama as a Secret Service agent, but now is running for U.S. Senate in Maryland against incumbent Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin. (RELATED: Bachmann: Holder should resign ‘if the facts prove to be what they appear to be’)

Bongino’s public comments about Fast and Furious indicate this may become a 2012 campaign issue. On Monday Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann was the first major political figure to call for Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation over Fast and Furious.

Bongino describes Operation Fast and Furious, the ATF and DOJ program that facilitated the sale of thousands of guns to Mexican drug cartels via “straw purchasers,” as a “debacle” and a “deadly operation.” Straw purchasers are people who could technically legally purchase weapons in the United States but did so with the known intention of trafficking them to Mexican drug cartels.

“A man lost his life here,” Bongino said. “There is a man who will never take another breath of oxygen because of this operation.”

Bongino adds that, as a federal agent, it wasn’t “uncommon” to let contraband like “counterfeit money” “walk,” or be funneled into the criminal system. He said it’s a “standard investigative tactic.”

“But to let a gun walk, and the fact that this was okayed at a number of levels of the bureaucratic apparatus is disturbing,” Bongino said. “You wonder where the common sense was. Again, Brian Terry will never take another breath because of this. Not to mention that we don’t know where those other guns are. We don’t know where this is going to end.”

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