Department of Justice officials “knew or should have known” that they were providing Congress with false claims that Operation Fast and Furious was not allowing guns to be smuggled into Mexico, according to the inspector general.
The report faults DOJ for failing to take Grassley’s first question about Fast and Furious — especially as it implicitly pertained to the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry — seriously.
“We found that the statement in the May 2 letter – ‘It remains our understanding that ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious
did not knowingly permit straw buyers to take guns into Mexico’ – reasonably could have been understood by Congress and the public as at least a partial reaffirmation of the February 4 letter,” the Justice Department’s inspector general report says. “However, we concluded that when the letter was drafted, Department officials knew or should have known based on information available to them that the February 4 letter contained inaccurate information and could no longer be defended in its entirety.”
The report also said that the Department officials who wrote the initial February 4 denial “should have done more to inform themselves about the allegations in Sen. Grassley’s letter and should not have relied solely on the assurances of senior officials at ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office that the allegations were false.”
In fact, the inspector general suggests that the Department of Justice did not take Grassley’s initial inquiry about Fast and Furious seriously.
“The allegation in Sen. Grassley’s January 27 letter that ATF had sanctioned the sale of hundreds of assault weapons contained the implication that among these weapons were two that may have been used in a firefight that resulted in the death of a federal law enforcement officer,” the report states. “We do not believe that the gravity of this allegation was met with an equally serious effort by the Department to determine whether ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office had allowed the sale of hundreds of weapons to straw purchasers.”