(CNSNews.com) – Attorney General Eric Holder, in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, could not identify a single Justice Department official who was held accountable for the botched gun-walking program known as Operation Fast and Furious.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) asked Holder, “Can you name me one person who’s been held accountable for this Fast and Furious Operation? Just one in the Department of Justice?”
“Well we have made a number of changes with regard to personnel both in the Phoenix U.S. Attorney’s Office, also at the ATF headquarters here,” Holder said. “I will certainly await the report that comes out of the Inspector General. And I will assure you and the American people that people will be held accountable for any mistakes that were made in connection with Fast and Furious.”
Two people connected to Fast and Furious resigned in August -- U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke and former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Active Director Kenneth Melson.
Holder did not mention the three ATF supervisors who were closely involved in the operation – William McMahon, William Newell and David Voth – all of whom were either promoted or moved to new management positions at the agency's headquarters in Washington after whistleblowers complained to Congress.
Operation Fast and Furious, which began in September 2009, was a Justice Department program in which law enforcement knowingly allowed guns to flow from the U.S. to Mexican drug cartels with the intent of tracing the guns and arresting cartel members. However, federal law enforcement lost track of the guns, and two of them later turned up at the place where U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered. The operation was halted after that, in December 2010.
Holder told the committee that he considers gun walking to be an unacceptable tactic, but he also urged lawmakers not to lose sight of the larger goal – to “combat gun trafficking and violence on our Southwest Border.”