The people responsible for the Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal “will be held accountable,” President Barack Obama pledges during an interview for "Nightline" Tuesday night.
“It’s very upsetting to me to think that somebody showed such bad judgment that they would allow something like that to happen,” Obama told ABC News’ Jake Tapper. “And we will find out who and what happened in this situation and make sure it gets corrected.”
Obama told Tapper, “People who screwed up will be held accountable,” according to a report on ABCnews.com
in advance of the broadcast.
His comments came on the day that the Senate voted to block funds for any similar operation in the future.
It also came as a fourth Republican congressman, freshman Allen West, called for the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder for his role in the fatally flawed scheme which saw hundreds of assault weapons fall into the hands of violent Mexican drug cartels.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV
, West said Holder “definitely could be complicit in what could be criminal actions.” The Florida representative added, “He should do the honorable thing and resign and take full responsibility for what has happened.”
Obama’s comments show that pressure from Republican investigators led by House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa of California and Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa is paying off.
Last week, Issa subpoenaed hundreds of documents to discover how high in the administration knowledge of the scheme went. He has accused Holder of failing to cooperate in the investigation.
In his “Nightline” interview, Obama said, “Our overarching goal consistently has been to say we’ve got a responsibility not only to stop drugs from flowing north, we’ve also got a responsibility to make sure we are not helping to either arm or finance these drug cartels in Mexico.”
Operation Fast and Furious has become a major embarrassment for the Obama administration. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were told not to intervene when they knew guns were likely to go south of the border to the cartels.
The idea was that the weapons would be traced and would lead to cartel kingpins. But instead, nearly all went missing and have been used in dozens of crimes in Mexico, including the April murder of U.S. Immigration officer Jaime Zapata.
They also have turned up in at least 12 crimes in this country, and two Fast and Furious weapons were used in the murder of U.S. Border Agent Brian Terry in Arizona in December.
The scandal has cost the jobs of acting ATF director Kenneth Melson and U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona Dennis Burke.
But Holder insisted he didn’t hear of the scheme until this spring, even though emails dating from July 2010 have been discovered in which he was told of its existence.
Just two weeks ago, Obama said he had “complete confidence” in Holder, “and I’ve got complete confidence in the process to figure out who, in fact, was responsible for that decision and how it got made,”
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