Homeland Security leaders in Arizona never read agent's report of flaws in Fast and Furious gun buys
By The Los Angeles Times
Published: Friday, March 22, 2013, 7:27 p.m.
WASHINGTON — Even as they lost scores of illegal firearms in their Fast and Furious operation, federal ATF agents asked their Border Patrol counterparts not to pursue criminal leads or track gun smuggling in southern Arizona so they could follow the firearms themselves, and senior Homeland Security agents “complied and the leads were not investigated,” according to a new Department of Homeland Security inspector general's report.
The report, obtained on Thursday by the Los Angeles Times, also said that a Homeland Security special agent on the border was collaborating with the ATF in Fast and Furious, but his “senior leaders” in Arizona never read his updates about fundamental flaws with the failed gun tracking operation. Had they done so, Homeland Security officials could have tried to close the operation before one of their Border Patrol agents, Brian Terry, was killed not far from Tucson.
Furthermore, the report determined that top Department of Homeland Security officials in Washington did not learn about Fast and Furious until Terry was shot to death in December 2010 and two of the 1,430 lost firearms were found at the scene of his murder.
Fast and Furious has led to a number of high-ranking demotions within the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and a contempt of Congress citation against Attorney General Eric Holder.
Now the new Homeland Security inspector general's findings for the first time document that the ATF also managed to mostly keep their Border Patrol counterparts in the dark about Fast and Furious.
Officials at Department of Homeland Security headquarters in Washington, responding to the report, agreed to enact a series of recommendations to better coordinate law enforcement operations on the border.
Radha Sekar, acting executive associate director for management and administration for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told the inspector general that they would assess whether senior Phoenix officials “fulfilled their duty to enforce the weapons smuggling statutes,” and would review their own policies for collaborating with other law enforcement agencies.
Charles Edwards, the deputy Homeland Security inspector general, said in his report that shortly after ATF started Fast and Furious in Phoenix in October 2009, Homeland Security special agents learned of the operation while conducting their own investigation into a Mexican gun smuggling ring.
ATF agents told the Homeland Security special agents that the firearms were “related” to Fast and Furious and asked them to “refrain from further efforts to identify the smuggling ring's transportation cell.”
The top Homeland Security agent in Phoenix “agreed to the request,” largely because federal prosecutors supported Fast and Furious.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Enrollment surging in state-run health insurance exchanges
- Food stamp cut proposal much less than GOP sought
- Senators defy Obama in bid to back Israel
- Death penalty executions drop
- Illegal immigrants want relief from deportations
- Deadline extended for first Obamacare premiums
- Volume drop could end Saturday mail delivery
- Ga. lawmaker defends remark about poor kids
- Jury says O’Neal owns Warhol work
- Capitol dome to undergo restoration
- Judge: U.S. aids smugglers in illegal immigrant cases