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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Five ATF Agents Blamed For Fast and Furious

The first of three reports that will be issued by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform finds 5 ATF personnel are responsible for Fast and Furious, an operation “marred by missteps, poor judgments and inherently reckless strategy.” The report states that then Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson "stayed above the fray" rather than bringing what was an apparent failed operation to a speedy conclusion.
The report also for the first time revealed that two guns from Fast and Furious were found at the murder scene of Mario Gonzalez, the brother of Patricia Gonzalez, then attorney general for the Mexican state of Chihuahua. ATF then attempted to hide the operation from the Mexican government. ATF Agent Tonya English urged Agent Hope MacAllister and their supervisor, David J. Voth, to keep it under wraps. “My thought is not to release any information,” she told them in an email.
The joint staff report, authored by Congressman Darrell Issa and Senator Charles Grassley was highly critical of the ATF supervisors. It found that William Newell, the special agent-in-charge in Phoenix, consistently pushed the limit with risky investigative techniques. His boss, Deputy Assistant Director for Field Operations William McMahon "rubber stamped" documents crossing his desk and is charged in the report with giving false information to Congress. Mark Chait and William Hoover are we found to have exhibited very little responsibility or leadership.
The investigators said, ATF agents said that they were hamstrung by federal prosecutors in Arizona from obtaining criminal charges for illegal gun sales, and that Melson “even offered to travel to Phoenix to write the indictments himself. Still, he never ordered it be shut down.”
The report stops short of accusing any ATF agents of criminal wrong doing during the operation but two more final reports will deal with “the devastating failure of supervision and leadership” at the Department of Justice and an “unprecedented obstruction of the congressional investigation by the highest levels of the Justice Department, including the attorney general himself.”
This first report should give Eric Holder warning that he will have a starring role in one of the next two reports. As usual, the cover up is worse than the original act.

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