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Fast and Furious: why inspector 'struggled to understand' what he found (+video)

The inspector general who investigated the Fast and Furious 'gunwalking' scandal absolved Attorney General Eric Holder, and Republicans agreed. But he was 'troubled' by what he found. 

A Republican House committee chairman says a watchdog report on a bungled gun-trafficking probe in Arizona is a step toward restoring public faith in the Justice Department.
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The US inspector general assigned to get to the bottom of the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” fiasco on Thursday debunked the notion that Attorney General Eric Holder knew about the program – or that it was a White House conspiracy to push for tougher gun laws.

But he did tell Congress that he was amazed how such a large project could be run with the assistance of the Department of Justice without the attorney general knowing about it. “We struggled to understand how an operation of this size and importance, with this potential impact on the country, could not have been briefed up to the attorney general,” Michael Horowitz said.

Republicans suggested that the report – together with a new willingness by Mr. Holder to share documents – should go a long way toward resolving a potentially drawn-out legal affair over the House's decision to hold Holder in contempt on civil and criminal charges in June. But Horowitz's investigation continues, and he told the House Oversight and Reform Committee Tuesday that he remains “troubled” by what he found inside key parts of the Justice Department.

He said the main fault lay in “tactical and strategic” decisions made by agents on the ground, but he was also concerned by:

  • The process by which deputy assistant attorney generals review wiretap affidavits.
  • The quality and thoroughness of communication inside the agency.
  • Evidence of retaliation against whistleblowers who revealed the government’s role in a segment of the borderland gun trade.
  • A pattern of spinning news as evidenced by interagency “emails that were more concerned about what the public’s reaction would be after learning about gunwalking.”
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