CBS News reported this week that the Department of Justice's Inspector General's draft report on "Operation Fast and Furious" places most of the blame for the debacle on Phoenix‑based agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and on the Phoenix U.S. Attorney's Office staff. According to sources who have seen the report, those singled out include BATFE's then‑Special Agent in Charge Bill Newell, lead "Fast and Furious" agent Hope MacAllister, group supervisor David Voth, then‑US Attorney Dennis Burke, his lead deputy Emory Hurley, and Acting BATFE Director Kenneth Melson.
According to standard practice, the DOJ will have the opportunity to respond to the draft, and a final report will then be made available to the public.
Along with examining "Fast and Furious," the report is said to have reviewed "Operation Wide Receiver," which took place during the Bush Administration, and several smaller operations of a similar sort, including "Too Hot to Handle" in Dallas, and "Castaway" in Tampa. While defenders of "Fast and Furious" claim that it was no different from "Wide Receiver," hoping to minimize the seriousness of the former, while taking their habitual jab at President Bush, the two operations were fundamentally different. In "Wide Receiver," a coordinated effort was made with Mexican law enforcement officials to track guns smuggled into Mexico. In "Fast and Furious," however, the BATFE allowed hundreds of guns to disappear into Mexico and never said a word about it to the Mexican police.
The report ostensibly details the ongoing finger-pointing between the Phoenix-based personnel and their superiors in Washington, whom the subordinates claim were fully informed of the operation's details and approved its most questionable aspects.
How much closer the report gets us to determining who should be held responsible for "Fast and Furious" remains to be seen. Meanwhile, Congress's investigation of the operation and its possible cover-up continues.