Republicans leading the probe into the Fast and Furious gunrunning debacle have named five government officials they say are responsible for the scheme that saw hundreds of guns fall into the hands of violent Mexican drug cartels.
Rep. Darrell Issa of California and Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa say the problems went all the way up to Kenneth Melson, the acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco, and Explosives (ATF) at the time the scheme was running from any blame, the Los Angeles Times
But it is men who served under Melson who bear the brunt of responsibility for the scheme, which resulted in the murders of two federal agents by gunmen who had Fast and Furious weapons, the report from Issa and Grassley says.
The men named in the report by Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and Grassley, the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee are:
• William Newell, special agent in charge of the ATF’s Phoenix field office, who “repeatedly pushed the envelope of permissible investigative techniques;”
• William McMahon, the deputy assistant director for field operations, who “rubber-stamped critical documents that came across his desk without reading them;”
• Mark Chait, assistant director for field operations, who “failed to provide oversight that his experience should have dictated and his position required;”
• William Hoover, deputy director, who was “derelict in his duty to ensure public safety was not jeopardized;” and
• Melson, who “often stayed above the fray,” instead of ending the scheme earlier.
None of the five men remain in their jobs, the Times reports.
The report, which says Fast and Furious was “marred by missteps, poor judgments, and inherently reckless strategy,” is due to be released this week, but the Times obtained it early. Two further reports will deal with problems at the Department of Justice which oversees the ATF.
Fast and Furious came to light after the killing of Border Agent Brian Terry in December 2010. Two guns that the ATF was supposed to have traced in a bid to reach the heads of the cartels, were found at the scene.
Immigration officer Jaime Zapata, who was working for the U.S. government in Mexico was also killed with guns that were allowed to “walk” across the border after being bought in the United States.
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