In the end, the much-heralded, much-maligned Office of the Inspector General's report on the "Fast and Furious" gun scandal tells us what we already know: Attorney General Eric Holder should resign if President Barack Obama wins another term. Even viewing the documents and investigation in a light most favorable to the current head of the Justice Department, even discounting the conspiracy theories offered by the Administration's most ardent critics, the Inspector General's report tells us that Holder ultimately failed to do what he absolutely had to do at Justice when he succeeded caretaker Attorney General Michael Mukasey in early 2009.
The OIG Report concludes that Holder didn't know about Fast and Furious until February 2011, and that is likely enough to protect the Attorney General from any further legal recriminations. But avoiding perjury or obstruction of justice, or being ignorant of your department's biggest scandal, is no cause for relief. His rabid detractors will never accept the idea that Holder could have been ignorant of the program. But whether he knew or not there's no dispute that he should have known. In an exemplary Justice Department, someone, anyone, should have stepped up and said to the boss: "There's something screwy going on in Arizona."
Which brings us to Lanny Breuer, the head of the Justice Department's Criminal Division. The OIG report confirms that Breuer knew about the program in 2010 and yet failed to tell his boss about it. Never mind what Breuer then said to Congress; this initial failure to report the critical information up the line is inexcusable and unacceptable.
I have not forgotten what Lanny Breuer said to Congress, nor have I forgotten that in May 2011, Holder testified to Congress that he learned of Fast and Furious "a few weeks" earlier through media reports. He damn well should have learned it in December of 2010, if not before, through his own department.
I take no joy in writing this. I don't for a moment think that Eric Holder is another Alberto Gonzales. But even if you take the politics out of this scandal -- even if you strip it down to the bare essence of governance -- the central truth of the story is that the Justice Department failed to stop something stupid (and dangerous and, ultimately, tragic) from happening. And then, when the scandal came, the Department didn't move quickly enough to confront the truth, to reveal it, and then to take responsibility for what had happened. That wasn't good enough when the hapless Gonzales was running the show, and it's not good enough now.
Ten months to retract the lie from Lanny Breuer's team was indeed too long. I'm not sure how he knows when they will take responsibility for what happened, but whenever that does occur, I agree it will have been too long.
In other news, a central gun dealer informant from Project Gunrunner speaks out:
Wide Receiver "Good Samaritan" Clarifies Role in OIG Gunwalking Report
"I can tell you this with certainty [Tucson Resident Agent in Charge Chuck] Higman [who refused to speak with the IG] did not make a move without approval from the SAC in Phoenix. Every time my bad guys ordered a serious number of guns Chuck always wrung his hands and told me that he'd have to get approval from the SAC. Yet each time [William] Newell would give his OK. Chuck was very close to retirement and in my estimation did not want to do anything that might compromise his timeline or benefits."
"The IG report made mention of unsupervised sales to the bad guys," Detty continued. "It sounds almost as if I did this without the knowledge of the case agent. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every ‘buy’ was reported to Garcia before it happened. If he had a reason for me not to sell the bad guys I would put them off saying I was out of town or had other plans-no big deal. But with only seven agents available, sometimes they couldn't get enough guys together for surveillance. People get sick, have school events with their kids, vacations, etc. In the event of an unmonitored buy I would bring a recording of the meeting along synopsis to the case agent the following day. These buys always made me nervous-these were some pretty serious s***heads I was dealing with and to have them in my home with no help outside was just ridiculous."
"I lay blame on SAC Newell," Detty asserted. "He was on OWR from June 2006 through its end as well as another case I brought them that is rarely publicized and accounted for another 100 or so guns going to the Sinaloan cartel. No one at DOJ rebuked him for OWR. Even though some AUSA's showed concern about the guns going to Mexico no one stopped Newell. Why wouldn't he do it on a grander scale with Burke as his US Attorney? He was unstoppable!"
That tells me blame is more properly blamed on Burke, who was allowed to just walk away from the whole mess a while back. No responsibility.