The Justice Department’s inspector general cleared Attorney General Eric Holder and his top lieutenants on Wednesday of knowing about the gun-walking operation known as Fast and Furious that allowed thousands of weapons to cross into Mexico.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that there were “serious failures” at both the Justice Department and its Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives dating back more than six years, CBS News reported.
Horowitz’s 471-page report found that no one running the operations – not the agents, nor prosecutors or managers – ever questioned the wisdom of letting guns vanish across the border into Mexico, where they ended up in the hands of drug traffickers.
Two of those weapons were found at the scene where Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed during a shootout in 2010 with drug traffickers.
Horowitz heaped most of the blame for Operation Fast and Furious on investigators in Phoenix, but one senior official, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, was found culpable for not acting to stop the tactics.
Weinstein resigned Tuesday night. His lawyer told CBS Radio News that the report was badly flawed.
“Jason has dedicated much of his career to fighting violent crime and has led highly successful efforts around the country in this effort,” Holder said in a statement released Wednesday. “The American people are safer because of his work.”
Horowitz referred over a dozen people for possible disciplinary action for their roles in Operation Fast and Furious.
Holder said in a statement released Wednesday that the report was “consistent” with what he’s said about the botched operation.
“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,” Holder said. “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.”
The report found no evidence that Holder was informed about the operation before Jan. 31, 2011, or that the attorney general was told about the controversial tactic.