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Justice Department Faulted in Gun-trafficking Operation; 2 Resign

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Justice Department’s internal watchdog is faulting the agency for misguided strategies, errors in judgment and management failures during a bungled gun-trafficking probe in Arizona that resulted in hundreds of weapons turning up at crime scenes in the U.S. and Mexico.

In a 471-page report, Inspector General Michael Horowitz referred over a dozen people for possible disciplinary action for their roles in Operation Fast and Furious. The report did not criticize Attorney General Eric Holder.

The inspector general’s report cited misguided strategies, errors in judgment and management failures during the bungled operation. More than a dozen people were referred for possible disciplinary action for their roles in the probe and an earlier investigation that was carried out during the George W. Bush administration.

The report found no evidence that Holder was informed about the operation before Jan. 31, 2011, or that the attorney general was told about the controversial gun-walking tactic employed by the department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Two senior Justice Department officials are leaving their jobs, after the release of a report that faulted the agency’s handling of a gun-trafficking probe in Arizona.

One of those criticized in the report, Kenneth Melson, retired upon release of the report. He was the former acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The report said he “made too many assumptions about the case.”

And Justice Department career attorney Jason Weinstein has resigned. He was a deputy assistant attorney general in the department’s criminal division in Washington.  The report said he was in a position to see the similar “inappropriate tactics” used in the two probes.

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Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Material may not be redistributed.

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