Homeland Security agents cooperated with the Justice Department’s “Fast and Furious” operation that allowed firearms to flow to suspected gun traffickers, despite knowing some of the tactics violated strict department policies on tracking smugglers, according to an inspector general’s report.
Homeland Security Inspector General Charles K. Edwards said supervisors and investigators from Immigration and Customs Enforcement failed to report the policy conflicts up the chain of command, leaving the department’s senior-level officials in the dark.
ICE agents connected to the operation said they believed their role was to cooperate with the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which was running the sting.
The Office of the Assistant Attorney General allegedly asked an ICE investigative unit in Arizona to stop certain investigations into weapons smuggling in order to avoid disrupting the gun-walking operation, according to the report. The Justice Department has denied that such a request occurred.
The ATF launched Fast and Furious as a way to build cases against weapons smugglers. The program caused a public uproar after two guns purchased by a suspect showed up at the crime scene where Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed in 2010.
Edwards essentially cleared Homeland Security’s top Washington brass of blame in the operation, saying they “had no awareness of the methodology.” The inspector general’s report said senior department officials did not learn of Fast and Furious until after Terry was murdered in 2010.
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, released a statement last Friday saying Fast and Furious “clearly violated ICE policy regarding weapons smuggling investigations” and that the failure of ICE leadership to report the problems to agency headquarters was “very troubling.”
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