When US Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry was killed in a shootout with Mexican bandits two years ago, weapons that were later seized and alleged to have been used in the shootout were thought to have links with Operation Fast and Furious the U.S. government’s controversial gun-trafficking operation. “Fast and Furious” was an endeavor to trace and stem the flow of guns from the US into Mexico.
However, the much anticipated report released on Wednesday showed that there was no substantiation that Attorney General Eric Holder was aware of the bungled effort to trace the flow of guns to Mexico’s drug cartels, before it became public knowledge in January 2011.
Justice Department’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz in the report said that there is “no evidence that … Holder was informed about Operation Fast and Furious, or learned about the tactics employed by ATF in the investigation.”
However, the report attributes the stings failure to it being recklessly handled and that it was “seriously flawed,” a fact that was not brought to the notice of acting deputy attorney general, Gary Grindler. Federal officials in Arizona continued with it, in spite of its obvious flaws, hoping that they were on track to a huge gun-trafficking case that would bring them fame and glory.
ATF agents were told to allow gun runners for the Mexican cartels to smuggle the guns into Mexico and then follow them, assuming that they would lead them to the real kingpins. Sadly it did not work that way. The gun-runners probably understood the move and around 2,000 guns, most of the AK-47 type made their way to Mexico, into dangerous hands, before ATF realized that they had been taken for a ride.
A Mexican legislator, Humberto Benitez Trevino, had claimed last year that guns smuggled from across the border, have been responsible for killing or maiming at 150 Mexican civilians.
Strangely, even after some of these weapons were found at the site where Terry was shot, senior ATF officials did not soul-search where they had faltered. What they were more concerned about was who was leaking inside information to the media that was make them look a trifle stupid and foolish. The report said that Kenneth Melson, the then ATF director was trying to stifle news that they were responsible for messing up the operation.
The report has recommended 14 current federal employees for potential disciplinary action.
The report exonerates Holder and says, ”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 in his statement. ”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,” he said.