Heartland Institute Comments on Fast and Furious Inspector General Report

September 19, 2012

A report released today by the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) concluded Attorney General Eric Holder knew nothing about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ gun-trafficking operation to Mexico, known as “Fast and Furious.” The report recommended that 14 federal law enforcement officials, including the head of the criminal division, be disciplined.

The following statements from legal experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Tammy Nash at tnash@heartland.org and 312/377-4000. After regular business hours, contact Jim Lakely at jlakely@heartland.org and 312/731-9364.


Heartland Senior Fellow for Legal Affairs Maureen Martin talked about the Fast and Furious case at CPAC Chicago in June. Watch the video of her comments at Heartland’s YouTube page.

“Operation Fast and Furious was a rogue operation enabling criminal gun traffickers to purchase ‘with impunity’ guns for drug lords in Mexico. It was supposed to reach high-level criminal traffickers who were financing the operation but was recklessly designed in ways making that goal entirely futile. It allowed ‘dangerous’ criminals to remain unapprehended and endangered the public. All that and more is plain in the U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General’s report on Fast and Furious.

“It exonerates Attorney General Eric Holder of having any knowledge of the operation before the death of border agent Brian Terry, though it recommends discipline for lower-level personnel in the Southwest, primarily Phoenix.

“But for all its girth, 512 pages, it is a complete whitewash on the core question – not who knew what when, but who should have known. One unnamed beleaguered ATF official from ‘headquarters’ tried to close down the operation but was muzzled. Who is this person? How high up? Who at DOJ and ATF headquarters should have shut it down? We still don’t know.”

Maureen Martin
Senior Fellow for Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute

“The Holder Justice Department is the most politicized since John Mitchell’s and the most inept since Janet Reno’s – a stunning combination of amateurism and dishonesty.

“Sadly, Americans can have little faith in either their attorney general or the ATF, regardless of whether this whitewash of a report is true. Holder is either too out of touch with his own rogue agents or too politicized to serve capably in his current position and should strongly consider resignation.

“Blaming this travesty on policies of the prior administration is both factually inaccurate and par for the course for this administration. Fortunately, an election is coming in seven weeks and responsible Americans have a chance to make some meaningful change.”

David L. Applegate
Policy Advisor, Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute

“The Inspector General’s report concludes that ATF engaged in a program that was colossally stupid and stunningly tragic. It concludes that neither the attorney general nor any other high-level officials at the Justice Department were aware of what was going on. The extent to which that is true and, if it is, what that says about DOJ remain to be seen.”

Richard Esenberg
Policy Advisor, Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute
Professor, Marquette University Law School

The Heartland Institute is a 28-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.