Congressional Fast and Furious report places blame on senior Justice Department officials

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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A new congressional report on the investigation into Operation Fast and Furious finds several senior Department of Justice officials at fault for their roles in the scandal.

According to a release, the report finds fault with five senior DOJ officials – Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein and Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed Siskel – “for failing to supervise and for missing basic red flags.”

“Attorney General Holder’s Deputy Chief of Staff Robert ‘Monty’ Wilkinson also bears some responsibility for the poor management that lead to Operation Fast and Furious,” the release adds.

The report is the second installment in a three-part series from Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley and House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa.

In the report, the congressional investigators say Grindler, Siskel and others “attended a detailed briefing on Operation Fast and Furious in March 2010.”

“Despite the evidence presented at the briefing of illegally-purchased firearms being recovered in Mexico and in the U.S., Grindler and Siskel failed to ask probing questions or take any significant follow-up action to monitor and supervise the conduct of the case,” the release accompanying the report adds.

The congressional investigators also said that both “Monty Wilkinson and Gary Grindler were informed about the connection between Operation Fast and Furious and U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder. Grindler received detailed information about the connection.  He took no additional action, however, to properly supervise the operation.”

In addition, they said “no one at Justice Department headquarters have provided complete and accurate answers to the Terry family. During their respective transcribed interviews, Monty Wilkinson stated 38 times that he ‘did not recall’ or ‘did not know.’ In a similar fashion, Gary Grindler did so 29 times, and Ed Siskel 21 times. In two different transcribed interviews, Dennis Burke said he ‘did not recall’ or ‘did not know’ a combined total of 161 times.”

Issa said in a statement that this report “discloses widespread management failures within the hierarchy of the Justice Department.”

“The Justice Department has yet to evaluate these management issues and implement structural changes to prevent another disaster like Operation Fast and Furious from occurring,” Issa added. “Furthermore, the Justice Department has taken limited action against these negligent managers.”

Grassley said the report shows DOJ officials “saw any number of warnings and some even had the gunwalking information right in front of them, yet nothing was done to stop it. Countless people may be murdered with these weapons, yet the Attorney General appears to be letting his employees slide by with little to no accountability. The Attorney General needs to make changes to ensure that department leadership provides oversight of the agencies they are tasked with supervising, instead of pointing fingers at somebody else.”

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