An internal Department of Justice investigation cleared Attorney General Eric Holder of wrongdoing in the "Fast and Furious" operation, a program that came under fire in an investigation led by California congressman Rep. Darrell Issa (R), who alleged that Holder's negligence had botched the operation. According to Talking Points Memo, Holder released a statement slamming the investigation as a "baseless" waste of time and resources.
“It is unfortunate that some were so quick to make baseless accusations before they possessed the facts about these operations – accusations that turned out to be without foundation and that have caused a great deal of unnecessary harm and confusion," Holder said. "I hope today’s report acts as a reminder of the dangers of adopting as fact unsubstantiated conclusions before an investigation of the circumstances is completed."
Republicans leading the charge against Holder voted to hold him in contempt of Congress, the first time in U.S. history that an Attorney General has been handed such a ruling.
Fourteen officials in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and U.S. Department of Justice face disciplinary action over their mishandling of "Fast and Furious," which the Inspector General's report says was done in by a "series of misguided strategies, tactics, errors in judgment and management failures." No one involved with the operation currently faces criminal charges.
Bush administration officials conceived "Fast and Furious" as a plan to track operations by drug and weapons traffickers in Mexico. Senior ATF officials, line agents and prosecutors reportedly let the operation get out of control, leading to the slaying of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in December of 2010.
The Inspector General found that Holder was only made aware of "Fast and Furious" in 2011, after Terry's death, and ruled that blame for the botching of the operation was spread between officials in Washington and the Arizona field offices of ATF and the Department of Justice.
In June of this year, former Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that the Republicans' campaign against Holder was simply retribution for his attempts to stop vote-suppressing Voter ID laws that were enacted by the GOP.
"It is no accident, it is no coincidence, that the attorney general of the United States is the person responsible for making sure that voter suppression does not happen in our country," Pelosi said. "These very same people who are holding him in contempt are part of a nationwide scheme to suppress the vote."
[image via Flickr user ryanjreilly, creative commons licensed.]