Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has given a “seriously flawed response” to the failure of the so-called “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking scheme.
“There are no more excuses for inaction,” Grassley said today in remarks on the Senate floor (watch the 19-minute video of Grassley’s speech here).
Federal agents in Arizona hoped to build a gun-smuggling case by letting suspects they believed were working for Mexican drug cartels to buy weapons in the U.S. and “walk” the guns into Mexico, but the agents lost track of most of the guns.
“Senior officials in both the Justice Department and the ATF knew or should have known that ‘Operation Fast and Furious’ was putting guns in the hands of criminals,” Grassley said. “But they ignored the risk and failed to take steps to protect the public safety.”
An independent Inspector General issued a report last week faulting mid-level and senior officials in the Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for failing to notify the attorney general of problems. One manager resigned and another retired when the report was released last week, but Grassley said that’s not good enough.
“The attorney general has been saying for months that he would hold off on any personnel action until the inspector general’s report was released,” Grassley said. “We’ve been hearing that for almost a year — ‘Let the inspector general finish his work and then we’ll decide what to do.’ So, Mr. Attorney General, it’s time to hold people accountable.”
About 1400 guns involved in the tracking program have vanished into Mexico and have not been recovered.