Skip to comments.Fast and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed Operation (Executive Summary)
Posted on 10/29/2012 12:14:15 PM PDT by markomalley
Operation Fast and Furious was not a strictly local operation conceived by a rogue ATF office in Phoenix, but rather the product of a deliberate strategy created at the highest levels of the Justice Department aimed at identifying the leaders of a major gun trafficking ring. This strategy, along with institutional inertia, led to the genesis, implementation, and year-long duration of Fast and Furious.
Shortly after he took office, Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. delivered a series of speeches about combating violence along the southwest border. He focused specifically on fighting Mexicos Sinaloa Cartel, and in the fall of 2009, the Justice Department released a document crystallizing the Attorney Generals vision, entitled Department of Justice Strategy for Combating the Mexican Cartels.
As part of this new strategy, the Department of Justice made a tactical decision to shift its focus from arresting straw purchasers to identifying members of large illegal trafficking networks. These investigations would involve multiple federal agencies, and local U.S. Attorneys offices would coordinate them. In October 2009, the Deputy Attorney General led a newly created Southwest Border Strategy Group designed to ensure the effective implementation of this strategy.
The ATF Phoenix Field Division received the Departments new strategy favorably. Leaders of the Phoenix Field Division believed that the new strategy allowed agents to witness illegally purchased weapons being transferred to third parties without interdiction, even if lawful interdiction was possible. Consistent with a desire for a new emphasis on prosecuting gun trafficking cases, at around the same time, Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, assigned a prosecutor to a dormant firearms trafficking case out of the ATF Phoenix Field Division known as Operation Wide Receiver. Under prior Department leadership, Wide Receiver was not prosecuted, in part due to the reckless tactics used in the investigation. Both Breuers resurrection of the prosecution and the Departments new strategy, however, provided the imprimatur for the Phoenix Field Division to create Operation Fast and Furious.
Though the Criminal Division assigned an attorney to assist with Fast and Furious, the operation quickly spun out of control. Straw purchasers bought hundreds of weapons illegally while federal agents watched. Armed with this information, beginning in the spring of 2010, the Departments Criminal Divisionin particular, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinsteinauthorized several applications for wire intercepts to monitor the phones of straw purchasers. In the summer of 2010, a second attorney from the Criminal Division began assisting with Fast and Furious, and the Criminal Division authorized additional applications for wire intercepts. Fast and Furious was growing even larger.
The Criminal Division was not the only component of the Justice Department overseeing Fast and Furious. The Office of the Deputy Attorney General was also involved. Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler and his staff were briefed extensively on the enormous volume of firearms involved in the case. Individuals in that office, including Ed Siskel, received constant updates on recoveries of large numbers of weapons connected to Fast and Furious.
Though many senior Department officials were keenly aware of Fast and Furious, no one questioned the operation. The Southwest Border Strategy Group asked no questions. The Criminal Division asked no questions. The Office of the Deputy Attorney General asked no questions. No one ordered that Fast and Furious be shut down. Instead, senior Department officials let it continue to grow.
Officials in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General were ill-prepared to understand and approve Fast and Furious. Ed Siskel, the Associate Deputy Attorney General responsible for the ATF portfolio, had no prior training or experience with ATF, and he did not make any effort to gain information about ATF while at his position. Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler admitted that he did not appreciate the massive size of Fast and Furious, even though it was the largest firearms trafficking case involving Mexico ever undertaken.
The hands-off management approach taken by these senior managers meant that they expected problems to be reported to them, failing to seek out information themselves. Siskel and Grindler did not ask any questions about Fast and Furious because they did not know what questions they should have been asking about Fast and Furious.
Monty Wilkinson, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Attorney General, contributed to the Departments lack of supervision over Fast and Furious. While Wilkinson read memos to the Attorney General about Fast and Furious, he did not believe it was his role to manage and supervise components of the Department, including ATF and the Arizona U.S. Attorneys Office. Wilkinson, like other senior Department officials, never asked questions about Fast and Furious.
In fact, just before the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, Monty Wilkinson was inquiring about the possibility of the Attorney General traveling to Phoenix to help announce Fast and Furious at a press conference. Once the weapons found at the Terry murder scene were traced to Fast and Furious, though, this idea was quickly scrapped.
Department leaderships failure to recognize Fast and Furious was a problem until it was too late was the result of a pass-the-buck attitude that emanated from the highest echelons of the Department of Justice. Every senior Department official interviewed during the Committees investigation claimed either ignorance of Fast and Furious or that it was someone elses responsibility to ask questions or draw connections. Senior managers placed blame elsewhere and retained plausible deniability. This environment allowed Fast and Furious to fester for over a year.
Thus far, the Department has failed to reprimand any senior Department officials for their actionsor lack thereofduring Fast and Furious. In fact, several have received promotions. The management culture of the Department must change to prevent such a deadly operation from occurring again. Time is of the essence. Change must begin now.
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Let Freedom Ring,
“Failed?” An act of war on a friendly nation is a ‘failed operation?’
So what would the reasons for impeachment be?
I’m not a lawyer. If by some miracle -0- is re-elected...can congress force the details into the open?
Can we impeach him on this?
At least someone in the republican party has to be thinking this...
I didn’t mention impeachment but committing an act of war on a friendly nation, with no statement of cause whatsoever, would certainly be charge enough. One would hope some Republicans are thinking impeachment but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
There’s still not a word about the store front gun dealers actually making the sales. If they don’t all have written immunity letters in their pockets their butts are hanging way out also. And I’ve been expecting Obamuzzie to start with prosecuting them in the interestes of “cleaning up” the neighborhood.
The state controlled media won't report this, and that's fine. According to the Geneva Convention of 1949 rules of land warfare, it is an act of war.
It maybe, one day, that journalist in this country will need security to get to their place of work.
I would agree with that. I think I’ve posted just that many times in fact. What else would you call it when a gov agency arms narco-terrorists in another nation? It’s the kind of thing Iran and N. Korea do.
Yes, indeed. That day may be coming down the road like a fast train too.
Could I get an Article/Section citation for that claim?
Good / Thank you.
What else would you call it when a gov agency arms narco-terrorists in another nation? Its the kind of thing Iran and N. Korea do.
And there are some who get hopping-mad if you imply that the US is corrupt, that it may be untrue that it is "the least corrupt nation in the world."
Could I get an Article/Section citation for that claim?
You can go to icrc.org and find all of the 4 Convention's articles, protocols, and rules. To save you time I think the 2nd Convention article 2, 4 Convention Rule 57 Chapter 18 apply for starters.