Two weeks ago Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his report detailing many of the failures within the department and its operations related to Operation Fast and Furious. Immediately after, this administration and numerous media outlets kicked their spin machines into high gear in defense of Attorney General Eric Holder. Their number one mission: convince the American public that the search for answers is over and celebrate the exoneration of Attorney General Holder.
The message they were sending, as with most messages throughout the course of the multiple investigations into Fast and Furious, ignores the facts and plain truth. In the end fingers were pointed, fall men were designated, and problem areas were discovered, but the man responsible for all the employees and all the operations has clearly not been exonerated.
In the conclusions section of the report the third conclusion stated a "Lack of Meaningful Oversight by ATF Headquarters." Who, if not the attorney general, is responsible for meaningful oversight of the department and its operations?
In the analysis of individuals cited in the report, Horowitz pointed out that, "Although the Office of the Attorney General received various weekly reports from components in the Department that mentioned Operation Fast and Furious, we found that Attorney General Holder did not personally review these reports at the time that his office received them and that his staff did not highlight them for his review." Who, if not the attorney general, is responsible for putting in place the proper people and procedures for assuring he is briefed on sensitive and dangerous operations?
A recurring theme throughout the report is the lack of oversight and accountability by top officials at the Department of Justice which allowed for the flow of thousands of weapons to Mexican cartels.
While our attorney general may feel vindicated and his supporters may rejoice, where are the rest of us left? Residents of border states like my home state of Arizona are left in the coming months and years to watch and wait for the weapons to cross the border and end up at additional crimes scenes.
Americans across the nation are left with a lack of confidence in the operations of the Department of Justice and its management. They are left with the reality that President Obama stands by an attorney general held in contempt. It is important to note that his citation of contempt of Congress was not for the operation, not for the actions of the employees under his supervision, but for his own actions in failing to provide access to witnesses and documents that would have allowed Congress to do its job in providing oversight and giving the American people answers.
While the number of questions related to the operation -- from its design, purpose, and implementation -- are still are too numerous to list, the goals moving forward are simple.
First and foremost, we must ensure justice for those who have fallen victim to crimes carried out with weapons connected to Fast and Furious; particularly the family of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
We must demand accountability at the Department of Justice, including but not limited to severe disciplinary action and the termination of the staff responsible. Additionally, the same standards should be held to those who should have been aware and responsible for oversight but instead are claiming ignorance, laziness and general apathy towards their responsibilities as a defense. This includes Attorney General Holder.
A plan should be put in place to monitor the long-term effects of this program and to ensure that nothing like it can happen in the future.
The final inspector general report and testimony from Mr. Horowitz confirmed that there are still answers we must seek. Notably, the issues surrounding the use of executive privilege as well as the retaliation of the department on the brave whistleblowers who came forward to ensure that justice and truth were served.
This report was a good start but our journey to justice and closure is far from over. I will continue to fight for those on the front lines. I will continue to seek answers to the unanswered questions, and I will continue to push for the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder.
There is much more work to be done moving forward and the American people deserve confidence in their Attorney General--that level of confidence cannot and will not be restored in Holder.