by Katie Pavlich
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. Horowitz and his staff reviewed over 100,000 pages and conducted interviews with 140 people.
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 Brian A. Terry brought an end to Fast and Furious.”
The hearing and OIG report stressed the fact ATF and DOJ officials who carried out Fast and Furious had no regard for public safety, despite the risk to public safety being immediately evident through wiretap applications.
“There was a disregard for the safety of individuals in the United States and Mexico,” Horowitz said. “If you were focused and looking at the topic of gunwalking you would have read these affidavits and seen red flags……Wiretap applications did contain red flags about reckless tactics.”
THE MISSING LINKS
On July 26, 2011, we learned during a Congressional hearing White House National Security Advisor Kevin O’Reilly had been in contact with former ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Division Bill Newell about Operation Fast and Furious. Immediately after this revelation, O’Reilly was shipped off to Iraq and made unavailable to Congress and the IG office for questioning. The White House has also declined Fast and Furious document requests.
“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.
Democrat Ron Barber said it was unacceptable that it has taken this long to bring answers to the Terry family.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST