Officials high in the Justice Department and its Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives endangered the public with their lax oversight of Operation Fast and Furious, a new report concluded.
However, the report says Attorney General Eric Holder was not one of those officials who had an early opportunity to intervene in the flawed, Phoenix-based gun-trafficking investigation, says the report by the department's Office of Inspector General.
Holder did not learn until February 2011 that agents allowed the sales of hundreds of firearms to suspected gun traffickers, the report concludes. By that time, the operation was over.
The report also explores Operation Wide Receiver, a Tucson-based investigation that began in 2006 and also involved agents allowing suspected gun-traffickers to buy hundreds of weapons.
"Both Operation Wide Receiver and Operation Fast and Furious were seriously flawed and supervised irresponsibly by ATF’s Phoenix Field Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, most significantly in their failure to adequately consider the risk to the public safety in the United States and Mexico," the report concludes.
The report singled out Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein for criticism, and Weinstein resigned from his position today.
Weinstein learned of "gun walking" in Operation Wide Receiver in March and April 2010, and should have known about similar problems with Operation Fast and Furious by the next month, the report says.
He also reviewed wiretap applications in May and June 2010 that could have raised concerns about the agents' tactics in the investigation, the report says. And Weinstein was partially responsible for an inaccurate Feb. 4, 2011 letter to Congress in which the Justice Department denied that investigators had lost control of weapons during the investigation.
Weinstein's lawyer, Michael Bromwich, called the report's criticism "profoundly wrong" and "deeply flawed."
The Associated Press contributed to this report