Grass­ley: Where’s re­port on ‘Fast and Fu­ri­ous’?

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY CHUCK NEUBAUER

The rank­ing Re­pub­li­can on the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee says a Jus­tice Depart­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the botched “Fast and Fu­ri­ous” gun­run­ning op­er­a­tion has taken “an aw­fully long time to fin­ish” and, as a re­sult, “should meet the high­est stan­dards of ac­cu­racy and in­de­pen­dence.”

“Op­er­a­tion Fast and Fu­ri­ous failed to live up to the stan­dards set by the Amer­i­can peo­ple, and we need to know how that could ever hap­pen,” said Sen. Chuck Grass­ley of Iowa, who first ques­tioned the Bureau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives (ATF) op­er­a­tion more than a year ago.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric H. Holder Jr. asked the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s of­fice at the Jus­tice Depart­ment in Fe­bru­ary 2011 to in­ves­ti­gate the op­er­a­tion af­ter Mr. Grass­ley and Rep. Dar­rell Issa, Cal­i­for­nia Re­pub­li­can and chair­man of the House Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee, dis­cov­ered that ATF had al­lowed more than 2,000 weapons — in­clud­ing AK-47 as­sault ri­fles — to be “walked” across the bor­der to drug smug­glers in Mex­ico.

Fast and Fu­ri­ous was an ATF at­tempt to al­low “straw buy­ers” in Ari­zona to walk weapons into Mex­ico with a goal of track­ing them to drug car­tel lead­ers. But ATF lost track of hun­dreds of the weapons, 1,400 of which still are un­ac­counted for.

Mr. Holder’s re­quest fol­lowed harsh chal­lenges by Mr. Grass­ley and Mr. Issa con­cern­ing the op­er­a­tion af­ter Fast and Fu­ri­ous weapons were found at the site of the De­cem­ber 2010 shoot­ing of U.S. Bor­der Pa­trol Agent Brian A. Terry, 40, who was killed in a gun­fight 10 miles north of the Ari­zona bor­der town of No­gales. Two Ro­ma­nian-made AK-47S found at the scene were iden­ti­fied as hav­ing been pur­chased in a Glen­dale, Ariz., gun shop as part of Fast and Fu­ri­ous.

Jay Lerner, spokesman for the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s of­fice, said “the re­view is on­go­ing” but de­clined to elab­o­rate.

Mr. Grass­ley ini­tially expressed con­cern that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was be­ing con­ducted with­out an in­de­pen­dent Se­nate-con­firmed in­spec­tor gen­eral run­ning the of­fice. Act­ing In­spec­tor Gen­eral Cyn­thia A. Schnedar has not been through the Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion process, and Mr. Grass­ley ques­tioned whether she could “chal­lenge se­nior of­fi­cials with tough ques­tions.”

Pres­i­dent Obama’s nom­i­nee as in­spec­tor gen­eral, Michael E. Horowitz, is await­ing Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion.

Rep. Ted Poe, Texas Re­pub­li­can and a mem­ber of the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, said the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s re­view has “taken longer than the War­ren Com­mis­sion re­port on the Kennedy as­sas­si­na­tion.” He said the in­quiry “comes across that it is be­ing stonewalled un­til af­ter the elec­tion.”

Mean­while, Pa­trick Mc­groder, an at­tor­ney for the Terry fam­ily, said the fam­ily was “frus­trated” and “im­pa­tient” with the pace of the var­i­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tions and pro­ceed­ings in­clud­ing the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s re­view but in the end “just want peo­ple to tell the truth, as­sume re­spon­si­bil­ity and make sure it doesn’t hap­pen again.”

“The Ter­rys feel strongly about not let­ting Brian’s life be­come a po­lit­i­cal foot­ball,” he said.

Op­er­a­tion Fast and Fu­ri­ous has drawn wide­spread crit­i­cism, spark­ing ques­tions of who in­side ATF and at the Jus­tice Depart­ment knew that weapons were be­ing pur­chased by straw buy­ers in Ari­zona and de­liv­ered to drug deal­ers in Mex­ico. Mr. Obama has said he did not au­tho­rize the pro­gram, and Mr. Holder has pleaded ig­no­rance.

Sen. Chuck Grass­ley

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