The speculation on the blogs began last night on not if but when Obama would be throwing the DOJ’s AG Eric Holder under the bus.
Three reports coming. The first nails no less than five ATF officials directly blamed for the government’s major-failed Gunwalker operation, “Fast and Furious“, that resulted in the deaths of a US Border Patrol Agent and an ICE Agent.
WASHINGTON – Congressional Republican investigators have singled out five employees in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to blame for the botched anti-gunrunning operation known as Fast and Furious, in a report on the scandal obtained by Fox News.
The report, the first of three to be issued from the congressional investigation, concludes that the five employees were responsible for an operation “marred by missteps, poor judgments and inherently reckless strategy.” All five have since been reassigned but remain employed in the agency.
The findings, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, put additional pressure on the Obama administration in an ongoing battle over what higher-level officials knew, if anything, about the ATF operation.
The congressional investigative report, to be issued Tuesday, specifically faults Acting Director Kenneth Melson; Deputy Director William Hoover; William Newell, special agent in charge of the Phoenix Field Division; William McMahon, deputy assistant director for field operations, and Mark Chait, assistant director for field operations.
Melson told investigators he felt the Justice Department was making him a scapegoat for the operation’s failure.
“I think they were doing more damage control than anything,” he testified, as quoted in the investigative report. “My view is that the whole matter of the department’s response in this case was a disaster.”
The congressional investigators noted that Melson “was concerned that Fast and Furious did not end sooner”, but they also faulted him for never ordering it to be shut down.
The report faults Hoover for knowing Newell had employed “risky tactics” but allowing them to continue. Chait, for his part “paid a surprisingly passive role during the operation,” while McMahon seemed to be nothing more than a “rubber stamp” for field operations, the report concludes.
The two other reports being prepared for release will focus more on the Justice Department’s oversight role in the operation and its dealings with congressional investigators. Republicans have suggested Justice officials have resorted to political stonewalling in an attempt to cover up the truth, while administration officials have described the Republican investigation as a witch hunt.
But several Democrats joined House Republicans in voting for the contempt resolutions after Holder failed to give congressional investigators documents in response to a subpoena last year. Meetings in the run-up to the vote failed to reach a compromise, after President Obama asserted executive privilege over the documents.
Can’t wait to hear what the next two reports reveal…