Two whistleblowers have been vindicated as more and more is learned about the scandal called "Fast and Furious".
The Fast and Furious scandal, in which guns were sold to known criminals and members of drug cartels, with a supposed goal of tracking the weapons, led to the death of Border Agent Brian Terry. Terry was allegedly shot by one of the rifles sold illegally.
In his summary statement regarding his report, Horowitz stated that more than 40 subjects purchased over 2,000 firearms, mostly AK-47 rifles and Herstal 5.7 caliber pistols, which were paid for with approximately $1.5 million in cash.
"On January 16, 2010, one of the straw purchasers, Jaime Avila, purchased three AK-47 style rifles from a Phoenix-area gun store. ATF agents learned about that purchase 3 days later and, consistent with the investigative strategy in the case, made no effort to locate Avila or seize the rifles even though ATF had identified Avila as a suspect in November 2009. Two of the three rifles purchased by Avila on January 16 were recovered 11 months later at the scene of the murder of Agent Terry, who was shot and killed on December 14, 2010, as he tried to arrest persons believed to be illegally entering the United States."
"...Our review of Operation Fast and Furious and related matters revealed a series of misguided strategies, tactics, errors in judgment, and management failures that permeated ATF Headquarters and the Phoenix Field Division, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona and at the Headquarters of the Department of Justice. In this report, we described deficiencies in two operations conducted in ATF’s Phoenix Field Division between 2006 and 2010 – Operation Wide Receiver and Operation Fast and Furious. In the course of our review we identified individuals ranging from line agents and prosecutors in Phoenix and Tucson to senior ATF officials in Washington, D.C., who bore a share of responsibility for ATF’s knowing failure in both these operations to interdict firearms illegally destined for Mexico, and for pursuing this risky strategy without adequately taking into account the significant danger to public safety that it created. We also found failures by Department officials related to these matters, including failing to respond accurately to a Congressional inquiry about them."
Here is the video of the full hearing - be warned, it is over three hours long.
Responses to the Inspector General's Report
Governor Brewer's Statement
Inspector General's Report Confirms Mishandling, Botched Response to Operation Fast & Furious
"With today's release of the Inspector General's investigation, it is clear that 'failure' is the word that best describes the ill-conceived gun-walking probe known as Operation Fast & Furious.
"This 400-page report documents in tragic detail the failed judgment by federal authorities who concocted the Fast & Furious scheme; failed leadership by ATF and DOJ officials who allowed it to proceed under their watch; and failed accountability by the Obama administration in dodging questions and ducking responsibility at every turn.
"This much we now know: Operation Fast & Furious assisted in walking more than 2,000 firearms into the waiting arms of drug cartels and criminals. A slew of victims on both sides of the border were left in the wake of this operation – including U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Murdered in December 2010 while on-duty near Rio Rico, Arizona, Agent Terry's body was found near two AK-47s traced to Operation Fast & Furious.
"The most universal, basic responsibility of any federal law enforcement authority is to protect the public. So, there can be no more damning finding than that of the Inspector General that Obama administration officials responsible for Operation Fast & Furious were guilty of 'failure to adequately consider the risk to public safety in the United States and Mexico.'"
Congressman Paul Gosar
Congressman Paul Gosar is the only member from Arizona on the Committee for Government and Oversight Reform, which has been investigating this debacle.
Here is Representative Gosar's statement:
Representative Gosar: Fast and Furious Report Shows DOJ Disregard for Public's Safety
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar (R-AZ) released the following statement on Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz's findings in the Operation Fast and Furious report released today.
"This report confirms what I have firmly believed and said since information about Fast and Furious came to light—officials at the Department of Justice, under Attorney General Eric Holder, acted with a reckless disregard for the lives and safety of Americans and Mexicans alike," said Congressman Gosar. "The report shows a lack of accountability and transparency at main Justice, which has been the basis of congressional inquiries. I look forward to tomorrow's hearing and the opportunity to hear from Inspector General Horowitz on his findings."
"We must not forget what this report was about. The consequences of Fast and Furious are higher crime and more deaths. I remain committed to seeing justice brought for Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and the hundreds of Mexicans who have lost their lives."
"This report relied on approximately 100,000 documents and 130 people who were interviewed, many of which were not made available for congressional inquiry. The American people deserve better from their Attorney General which is why I voted to hold him in contempt, and why I am sponsoring a House Resolution of No Confidence in him (H. Res. 490). Attorney General Holder must resign, and President Obama must insist upon the agency's full cooperation during the remainder of our investigation."
Gosar is the lead sponsor of H. Res. 490, a "Resolution of No Confidence" in the Attorney General, which currently has 114 cosponsors.
Representative Gosar questioned Horowitz after the report came out:
Afterwards Gosar spoke with Cam Edwards and Ginny Simone about the report.
Gosar Follows Up
Following the questioning of the Inspector General, Gosar's office released this statement:
Representative Gosar: Time is Up! Report Proves Attorney General Must Go
WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar (R-AZ) demanded answers from the DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing today. Inspector General Horowitz provided testimony on his internal investigation into Operation Fast and Furious.
"As the Inspector General Michael Horowitz made very clear today in his testimony and in his final report, Attorney General Holder and top officials at the DOJ failed to connect the dots and realize the consequences of this ill-conceived operation. This neglect of accountability has cost lives on both sides of the border, putting the American and Mexican people at risk of increased violence," said Congressman Gosar. "To this end, it is time that Attorney General Holder recognize that his time of spinning and stalling is up. His resignation is long overdue and now would be a good time to allow us as a nation to move forward and restore the confidence of the American people in the DOJ."
"The report released yesterday was the result of over a yearlong investigation. During the time this investigation was being conducted, Attorney General Holder used it as a key excuse for stonewalling Congress. This report confirms a broad failure by the Attorney General and his inner-circle to take appropriate action for over a year. The report is available here."
"As the only member from Arizona on the Committee for Oversight and Government Reform, Congressman Gosar has been a leading advocate for the victims of Operation Fast and Furious by demanding answers and justice. Gosar is the lead sponsor of H. Res. 490, a "Resolution of No Confidence" in the Attorney General, which currently has 114 cosponsors."
Brian Terry's Family Responds
Brian Terry Family Statement on Release of Justice Department Report on Fast and Furious
"Brian Terry's Family is still reviewing the Justice Department Report on Operation Fast and Furious. The Family is pleased that, upon an initial assessment, it appears to document the serious, systemic failures of the Justice Department at all levels, from field agents in the Phoenix office of ATF and prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's office in the District of Arizona up through ATF senior leadership and the Attorney General and his top deputies in Washington, D.C. We will refrain from further comment on the report until we have had a chance to fully digest this information and the conclusions offered by the Inspector General. We also remain hopeful that all documents related to Fast and Furious are released, including those President Obama has refused to release citing 'Executive Privilege.' Only full disclosure can guarantee complete transparency.
We would like to add at this time, however, that we are disappointed in the tone and message of the Justice Department's response to the publication of the OIG report. The Department's failures chronicled in the report had deadly and tragic consequences for hundreds of innocent American and Mexican victims of violent crimes. And our son, friend, relative and hero, Brian Terry, is dead. Questions and concerns should have been raised before the weapons purchased in this failed government sting wound up in the hands of drug dealers and killers, including those who killed Brian. The focus today should not be on political spin control nor on praise for the DOJ supervisors who chose to resign in light of the report's findings, but rather on the gross negligence of the Department documented in the report and the tragic consequences of that negligence."
-Robert Heyer, on behalf of the Terry Family. Mr. Heyer was Brian Terry's cousin and serves as the Chairman of the Brian Terry Foundation.