Fast(er) & Furious(er)

If there was ever any doubt that the Justice Department was stonewalling the Congressional investigation into the ill-fated "Fast & Furious" debacle, a 262-page report released yesterday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) should assuage them.

The report lays out the fact that while most Americans considered Fast & Furious a serious breach of the law, the Department of Justice considered it as nothing much more than a PR nuisance -and operated accordingly. 

Consequently, the "internal investigation" into the failed operation was -according to the committees- "largely a sham" and "prioritized politics and spin over public safety." That's bad enough, but documents show former Attorney General Eric Holder did, in fact, manage key aspects of the Department's responses to Congress and to media inquiries rather than focusing on the DOJ's law enforcement component. In other words, he was far more concerned with damage control than law enforcement.

At one point, the report documents Holder's instructions regarding The Washington Post's coverage of the operation. They were succinct and difficult to read as anything other than a political response: "Hit back HARD" (Page 205 of the report).

And it's difficult to construct much of a case that the DOJ didn't intentionally obstruct and obfuscate the matter through the oversight review with emails from DOJ Office of Legal Counsel Special Counsel Paul Colborn sending emails discussing how DOJ would respond to requests from Congress.

"Much more likely it's the reverse: we'll provide only some and withhold a substantial number, and they concern not just the murder investigation but also the longstanding Fast and Furious investigation," he wrote (Page 116 of the report).

It's an infuriating read into the machinations of Washington- and the problems rampant at a Department of Justice under former AG Holder that was far more concerned with "optics" associate with an investigation than any goal of determining what went wrong in the poorly-conceived and even more poorly-supervised scheme to let guns "walk" illegally into Mexico for the purpose of following them to the ringleaders.

The report identifies four categories of "deficiencies" in the Justice Department's response and handling of Fast and Furious:

1. Failure to provide answers to the family of murdered border patrol agent Brian Terry. Instead, the report says DOJ viewed the family as a public relations nuisance, not a bereaved family looking for answers in the death of their son.
2. Failure to objectively gather the facts. Instead, senior officials conducted a "cursory inquiry and accepted at face value the information received from the ATF and U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona- the very offices responsible for the misconduct."
3. Lack of respect for congressional oversight. According to this report, the documents show the Justice Department officials -including the Attorney General - had a disdain for congressional oversight. Rather than conduct a thorough and impartial investigation, their tactics were to delay and withhold information from Congress. 
4. The Department's priority on politics and spin came from the Attorney General. The Committee report says documents prove Holder was managing key aspects of the Department's responses to congress and to media inquires rather than managing DOJ's law enforcement components. 

Most concerning, however, is that partisan politics arguments aside, it is obvious from the documentation that there was never a strategy devised to minimize the public danger by tracking down the more than 2,000 firearms lost along the southwest border.

Instead, the picture is pretty vividly painted of a "justice" department with leadership more concerned with the political implications of Fast and Furious than any public safety or legal issues. 

You can read the entire report for yourself at: https://oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/FINAL_REPORT_2017...
It isn't a flattering picture of the senior officials charged with upholding the laws of the country, but it's a very accurate picture of how partisan politics have corrupted every level of government.

Republished from The Outdoor Wire.

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