The Family of Slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry has issued a statement in reaction to the DOJ (Department of Justice) Office of the Inspector General’s report on Operation Fast and Furious. They are asking for action by Attorney General Eric Holder including firing key personnel.
On September 19, 2012, U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his long awaited “Report by the Office of the Inspector General on the Review of ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious and Related Matters.” No one in America has anticipated this report more than the parents and siblings of slain U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. The Terry family knows more about the botched gun-running investigation than most Americans and government officials because their son and brother was killed some 21 months prior by Mexican drug cartel members carrying weapons known to be purchased and trafficked by an ATF suspect straw-buyer identified early on in the Operation Fast and Furious investigation.
It is with this knowledge and perspective that the Terry family has reviewed the IG report and outlines the following specific concerns and recommendations directed to the Attorney General of the United States, the Honorable Eric Holder:
The IG report states that the Attorney General was not informed of the connection between Operation Fast and Furious and Brian Terry’s murder until late January or early February 2011. This information was not passed to Mr. Holder despite personnel from the FBI, ATF, ICE and the U.S. Attorney’s Office all knowing late on the day of Brian’s murder on December 15, 2010 that the weapons found at the murder scene were identified as Fast and Furious weapons. Those DOJ personnel that were notified of this critical information in the following hours and days and subsequently failed to pass it on immediately to the Attorney General were derelict in their duties and exhibited horrible professional judgment. We call upon the Attorney General to immediately ask for the resignations of these officials.
The IG report states that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer approved the questionable February 4th, 2011, letter from DOJ which denied ATF gun-walking. It is our contention that Mr. Breuer’s approval of the letter and his resulting silence in the weeks after that letter was released constitutes a failure of his obligations to uphold truth and justice. Mr. Breuer’s continued silence and lack of action to intercede on behalf of the ATF whistle-blowers constituted a type of silent retaliation against them. Because of this, we call upon that the Attorney General to ask for Mr. Breuer’s resignation.
The IG report details efforts by then U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona Dennis Burke to mislead the Terry family and cloud the connection of Brian’s murder to Operation Fast and Furious. In one instance, Mr. Burke traveled to Michigan to brief the family on the murder investigation and specifically told the family that the weapons found at the murder scene were not related to Operation Fast and Furious. He then claimed that the weapons were bought in Texas. We call upon the Attorney General to investigate whether Dennis Burke attempted or conspired to keep the connection between the two cases secret in an attempt to avoid responsibility for the role that Operation Fast and Furious weapons played in Brian Terry’s murder.
The IG report states that a Department of Homeland Security ICE special agent was assigned as the co-case agent on Operation Fast and Furious. This agent duplicated all written investigative reports and sent them up his chain of command; yet, the DHS Secretary claims no previous knowledge of Operation Fast and Furious prior to Brian Terry’s murder. We call upon the DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to conduct a full internal investigation within DHS and ICE to determine why information pertaining to Operation Fast and Furious was not passed up the chain of command to the DHS Secretary. We further call upon Secretary Napolitano to hold those DHS officials accountable for their decisions to allow the flawed tactic of walking guns and subsequent failure in ensuring public safety.
The IG report states that numerous intelligence failures existed within the numerous federal agencies involved in Operation Fast and Furious. Sadly, two of the main targets of ATF’s investigation had already been identified by other agencies and in some cases were working as paid informants. The most critical and actionable information for law enforcement officers on the ground in the southwest border area was that ATF was allowing hundreds of high powered assault weapons to flow to Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations. This information was not passed on to other law enforcement agencies such as the U.S. Border Patrol. Hence, Brian and his team were operating in an extremely dangerous location in the Arizona desert while searching for a group of border bandits without this critical information. If Brian and his team had known about this information, they would have been on a far more defensive posture and would have taken appropriate proactive measures to protect themselves from harm the night they initiated contact with the rip crew. We call upon the Attorney General to direct the heads of the FBI, ATF, DEA, ICE and CBP to immediately overhaul law enforcement coordination, intelligence sharing and de-confliction to ensure that officers and agents on the ground have every piece of critical information necessary to do their jobs safely.
The IG report holds at least 14 DOJ/ATF officials responsible for failing to protect the public. We call upon the AG to hold those individuals accountable. The decisions made by these officials and their failure to stop the flawed tactics of Operation Fast and Furious has created a substantial risk to public safety on both sides of the border. Their faulty judgment and failure to act has brought discredit on U.S. federal law enforcement officers whose primary mission was and must always be to protect the public. These officials failed in their primary mission and it resulted in the death of Brian Terry. We now hold the Attorney General responsible for determining the appropriate disciplinary measures of these 14 officials and hope that he will consider termination as an appropriate measure.
The IG report although comprehensive does not address one perplexing question and we continue to ask why Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano did not know about the connection between Agent Brian Terry’s murder and the Fast and Furious weapons found at his murder scene immediately after the murder. The IG report states that a Department of Homeland Security ICE special agent was assigned as the co-case agent on Operation Fast and Furious. This agent duplicated all written investigative reports and sent them up his/her chain of command; yet, the DHS Secretary claims no previous knowledge of Operation Fast and Furious prior to Brian Terry’s murder. We also know that Secretary Napolitano and CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin traveled to Tucson, AZ in the days after Brian Terry’s murder and were briefed by members of the Tucson, AZ federal law enforcement community to include the Special Agents in Charge of the FBI, ICE, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Late on December 15, 2012, (less than 18 hours after Brian Terry had been killed) these agency heads all knew that the weapons found at the scene of the murder were connected to Operation Fast and Furious. So why was this information not passed to the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Commissioner of CBP when it was a DHS/CBP agent that had been killed? We ask the Attorney General to investigate what the FBI told these two officials with respect to the weapons found at the Terry murder scene and their connection to Operation Fast and Furious. If FBI officials failed to provide accurate and comprehensive information at that briefing, we believe they are derelict in their duties and should be admonished. And we call upon DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to conduct a full internal investigation within DHS and ICE to determine why information pertaining to Operation Fast and Furious was not passed up the chain of command to her office. We further call upon Secretary Napolitano to hold those DHS/ICE officials accountable for their failures in protecting public safety.
Finally, we again call upon President Obama and Attorney General Holder to revoke their claims of executive privilege on some 80,000 pages of important documents that would shed light on the many mistakes made by members of ATF and DOJ in Operation Fast and Furious that ultimately took our son and brother from us.