The latest congressional report on Operation Fast and Furious found that the gunwalking-program-turned-scandal was the result of a “deliberate strategy created at the highest levels of the Justice Department aimed at identifying the leaders of a major gun trafficking ring.”
The report is the second installment in a three-part series from Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley and House oversight committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa.
That “deliberate strategy,” congressional investigators argue, sprang from “a series of speeches about combating violence along the Southwest border” that Attorney General Eric Holder delivered shortly after taking office.
“Although [the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] ATF did not officially open the Fast and Furious investigation until the fall of 2009, the groundwork for the strategy that would guide the operation began shortly after new leadership took control of the Department of Justice nine months earlier,” the report reads. “On February 25, 2009, just one month after Attorney General Eric Holder took office, he gave a speech noting the danger of the Mexican drug cartels, focusing on the Sinaloa cartel in particular.”
On Feb. 25, 2009, Holder said the drug cartels “are lucrative, they are violent, and they are operated with stunning planning and precision” and, under his leadership, he promised “these cartels will be destroyed.”
A little more than a month later, on April 2, 2009 in Cuernavaca, Mexico, congressional investigators say Holder “gave further insight into the department’s new strategy for combating these dangerous cartels.”
“He spoke about the development of a prosecution and enforcement strategy with respect to firearms trafficking, noting that the ‘administration launched a major new effort to break the backs of the cartels,’” the report reads. “In particular, the attorney general said that the Justice Department was committed to adding ‘100 new ATF personnel to the Southwest Border’ and that Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would add ‘16 new positions on the border.’ Most importantly, the attorney general noted that there must be ‘an attack in depth, on both sides of the border, that focuses on the leadership and assets of the cartel.’”