Justice officials won’t face discipline over roles in ‘Fast and Furious’

Mark Wilson/GETTY IMAGES - Michael Horowitz, Inspector General of the Department of Justice, testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Sept. 20, 2012. Gary G. Grindler, the current chief of staff to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., was cited in a report by Horowitz for his failure to tell Holder that two firearms were linked to the Fast and Furious operation.

Two senior officials who were criticized for their roles in the “Fast and Furious” gun-running operation by the Justice Department’s inspector general will not be disciplined because the department disagrees with the criticism, according to a Justice official.

Gary G. Grindler, the current chief of staff to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and his former deputy attorney general, was cited in a report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz for his failure to tell Holder that two firearms found at scene of a border agent’s death were linked to the operation, which was being run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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Grindler told the inspector general that he did not recall taking any action with respect to the December 2010 killing of the agent, Brian Terry, or having conversations with his staff or the attorney general. He said he was confident that the investigation was being taken “extraordinarily seriously,” the FBI was investigating, an assistant U.S. attorney had been assigned to the matter, and the suspect had been arrested, according to the IG report.

“We found that Grindler’s reliance on the FBI was misplaced given that it did not have the responsibility to determine whether errors in ATF’s investigation led to the weapons ending up at the murder scene or why ATF failed to take law enforcement action against [the suspect] for nearly one year and did so only after Agent Terry’s murder,” the IG said in his report.

The inspector general also criticized Monty Wilkinson, Holder’s former deputy chief of staff and now the principal deputy director and chief of staff at the Executive Office for United States Attorneys. Wilkinson forwarded e-mails to Holder about Terry’s case and the investigation by the FBI and the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office.

But Horowitz said that Wilkinson learned from the Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke on Dec. 15, 2010, that the two firearms found at the scene of Terry’s killing were linked to an ATF firearms-trafficking investigation, but “failed to notify the Attorney General of this fact.”

“Wilkinson should have promptly informed the Attorney General of the link given that the information implicated significant Department interests,” the report concludes.

Holder did not learn of the link until early 2011, around the time he first became aware of Operation Fast and Furious, according to the report.

A Justice official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said officials did not believe any disciplinary action was necessary against Grindler or Wilkinson based on their responses to the IG report.

Wilkinson and Grindler could not be reached for comment.

 
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