Report faults 18 officials for Fast and Furious fiasco
(CBS News) Two high-ranking officials at the Justice Department are out Wednesday, after an investigation of a botched gun case codenamed Fast and Furious. Agents of the ATF -- the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms -- watched as guns purchased in Arizona were smuggled into Mexico. They hoped it would lead them to drug dealers. On Wednesday,the Justice Department's inspector general issued a long-awaited report.
The Justice Department employees who stepped down are Jason Weinstein, number two in the Justice Department's Criminal Division; and Kenneth Melson, the former head of ATF, who was working at Justice Department headquarters.
Both men issued statements saying they disagree with the inspector general's report, which faulted them for mismanagement.
Overall, investigators say their review "revealed a series of misguided strategies, tactics, errors in judgement and management failures."
The inspector general said there was no evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder knew about the gun-running operation, but it does fault three of Holder's deputies.
It was the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry that sparked the outcry over ATF's investigative tactics. Terry was gunned down by illegal immigrants in December 2010. Two AK-47-type rifles from an operation called Fast and Furious were found at the scene.
ATF whistleblower John Dodson told CBS News he and his colleagues had been ordered to let thousands of guns fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels -- including 50 caliber rifles -- in a strategy to see if they would lead investigators to a drug kingpin. In Fast and Furious alone, ATF allowed purchased 2,000 weapons to be purchased by suspects -- yet there were no arrests or indictments until Terry was killed.
In all, the inspector general faults 18 officials from the Justice Department, to the U.S. Attorney's office on Arizona, on down to the Phoenix ATF agents who oversaw Fast and Furious.
The report says Holder was in essence let down by his deputies. Although he received numerous briefings on Fast and Furious, they didn't specifically mention gunwalking and Holder said doesn't recall reading them anyway.
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