You are hereBaltimore Sun: Fast, furious and way off the mark

Baltimore Sun: Fast, furious and way off the mark

Our view: The feverish congressional investigation into a botched gun running investigation makes a scathing report of Justice Department failures seem like vindication for the Obama administration

September 20, 2012- The gun-running operation called Fast and Furious went bad when federal agents decided to let low-level traffickers go in hopes of catching bigger fish in the Mexican drug cartels. A similar mistake seems to have plagued the congressional investigation into this debacle.

A clear-eyed view of the evidence in the case has always pointed to a series of terrible decisions by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives officials in Phoenix that were not authorized by responsible officials in Washington — decisions that allowed thousands of guns to flow across the Mexican border, two of which were found at the scene of a border patrol agent's murder. That's largely what a lengthy report by the Justice Department's inspector general found.

That's not to say the operation doesn't represent a major failing for the Justice Department; some higher-ups are deservedly faulted for having failed to ask enough questions about what should have been red flags, particularly given the problems exposed during a similar, though somewhat less foolhardy, operation during the George W. Bush administration. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. reassigned 17 major officials associated with the case pending possible disciplinary action; two of them have now resigned. Indeed, the inspector general's findings, made after a careful examination of thousands of pages of documents, including some the White House has sought to shield from Congress, should be a major black eye for the Obama administration.