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Fast and Furious Hearing: Some Answers, But Case Not Closed

by on September 21, 2012

Capitol Hill-The Department of Justice [DOJ] Inspector General [IG] Michael Horowitz testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform committee Thursday and answered questions about his recently released report [OIG] from his office about Operation Fast and Furious.

The internal investigation into Operation Fast and Furious has been going on for 18 months.

In his opening remarks, Chairman Darrell Issa said the IG report and its findings are huge steps toward restoring the faith of the American people in the DOJ, but that the Committee’s work “is not done yet.”   “Operation Fast and Furious is a poster child for what you don’t do with deadly weapons,” Issa said. “Only the tragic lost of U.S. Border Agent  Brian A. Terry brought an end to Fast and Furious.”

THE MISSING LINKS

“We did not get internal communications from the White House” Horowitz said during the hearing adding, “Mr. O’Reilly’s refusal to speak to us made it impossible,” to get answers about White House involvement.

According to the report, Horowitz was told “the White House is beyond the purview of the Inspector General’s Office, which has jurisdiction over Department of Justice programs and personnel.”

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano did not make Immigration and Customs Agent Layne France, a co-case agent on Fast and Furious, available to Horowitz, and declined the his request to be interviewed.

At this point, Congress still has not received 74,000 documents requested through subpoenas, something Horowitz found unnecessary and said documents relevant to his investigation should be made available for Congress to review.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

Another conflict of interest getting lost with the release of the OIG report, is the fact Horowitz wasn’t the IG in charge of the bulk of the internal Fast and Furious investigation.

“I wasn’t here for the first 13 months,” Horowitz said.

Horowitz became the IG after Cynthia Schnedar quietly left her post as the DOJ IG in March 2012. Schnedar is a long time personal friend of Attorney General Eric Holder and worked for him during his time as the U.S. Attorney for Washington D.C.

FALLOUT AND CONSEQUENCES

Resignations have already started. Yesterday Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein submitted his resignation and former ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson “retired.” Both Weinstein and Melson are part of 14 officials referred by name for discipline in the OIG report. Issa called for the resignation of the 14 officials held responsible in the report.

Although Horowitz referred 14 officials for discipline, he noted in his testimony, “It’s up to the AG to decide what discipline is taken.”

HOLDER VINDICATED?

Despite Attorney General Eric Holder’s victory lap yesterday, celebrating that the IG report didn’t hold him responsible for the majority of Fast and Furious, he isn’t off the hook and hasn’t been “vindicated,” as many in the mainstream media have tried to portray.  When asked directly if Holder was “vindicated by the report,” Horowitz refused to say yes.

“Finally, the report exonerates ATF whistleblowers who stepped forward to allege and end serious wrongdoing.  I hope the Department will finally recognize these brave men for their contributions and your office acts aggressively to hold those who tried to intimidate them to account,” Issa said. “Are you pursuing criminal investigations into whistleblower retaliations?” Issa asked.

Horowitz agreed and applauded whistleblower courage of coming forward to expose wrongdoing within the department. He also said his office was looking into cases of whistleblower retaliation and taking them very seriously.

Rep. Dan Burton asked Horowitz if he knew anything about the interaction between Media Matters and the DOJ Press Office, in particular Public Affairs Director Tracy Schmaler’s efforts to smear reporters, whistleblowers and Congressman exposing Fast and Furious. Horowitz said he hasn’t looked into the relationship between Media Matters and DOJ’s public affairs office, but read about it through news reports this week.

WHERE WE GO FROM HERE

President Obama’s executive privilege over Fast and Furious documents after February 4, 2011 still stands. Chairman Issa made it clear today this “isn’t over” and the lawsuit challenging the executive privilege will move forward. Issa did say he hopes there will be more cooperation in the coming days in order to avoid a court battle over Holder’s civil contempt citations, which was a result of his refusal to turn over documents requested through Congressional subpoenas.

In the end, we still don’t have the answer to one simple question: Who came up with the idea for Fast and Furious?

Read entire article at:   http://townhall.com/columnists/katiepavlich/2012/09/20/hearing/page/full/

One Comment
  1. Obama needs to be questioned on what he meant, specifically, when he said to Sarah Brady, “We’re working on gun control under the radar.” Was that a reference to the F&F Operation???

    http://nation.foxnews.com/guns/2011/05/25/obama-were-working-gun-control-under-radar

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