U.S. Rep. Ron Barber today questioned a Justice Department investigator about who was to blame for the botched Operation Fast and Furious gun-running investigation.
During his questioning at a House Oversight Committee hearing, Barber referred to the December 2010 murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry who was killed in Southern Arizona by border bandits. Two guns that were allowed to illegally enter Mexico as part of Fast and Furious were found at the scene of Terry's slaying.
"To me it is outrageous that they have not gotten answers sooner," Barber said, of Terry's family. " . . . They want to know who made the decision to launch Fast and Furious. They want to know who should be held accountable for these decisions and what consequences they will face."
Barber directed his questions at Michael Horowitz, inspector general for the Department of Justice, who yesterday issued a lengthy report on Fast and Furious. He concluded that officials high in the department and within its Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives endangered the public with their lax oversight of Fast and Furious.
The hearing was held by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Although Barber is not a member of the committee, he was invited to participate by Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the committee chairman.
"The Terry family is beginning -- but just beginning -- to get the answers they deserve that are long overdue," Barber said today. "I don't believe they have yet received the answers to all of their questions."
"Your findings prove that serious flaws in policy and inadequate oversight and flagrant disregard for public safety allowed American weapons to fall into the hands of violent Mexican criminals and drug cartel members as a part of Operation Fast and Furious," Barber added. "It should never have been a policy of this government to allow these firearms to be smuggled knowingly into Mexico. The program should never have been approved and it must never happen again."
Barber asked Horowitz what steps have been put into place to prevent a reoccurrence of Fast and Furious, whether there was a coordinated effort to keep information from Terry's family and whether the operation continued because of disputes between the ATF and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona.
Earlier this week, Barber presented the Law Enforcement Badge of Bravery to Terry's family at a dinner in Tucson that benefitted the Brian Terry Foundation. Barber also attended a ceremony in which the Border Patrol station in Southern Arizona where Terry was based was named in his honor.