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Republican Report Faults Finger-Pointing After Gun Effort

Oct. 29 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Justice Department failed to heed the warning signs raised by a federal gun operation, according to a report released today by two Republican lawmakers.

Senator Charles Grassley and Representative Darrell Issa released their second of three reports on Fast and Furious, a law enforcement effort that allowed illegal gun purchases in the U.S. in an effort to link the weapons to Mexican cartels.

Two of the guns from Fast and Furious were found at the scene of the 2010 killing in Arizona of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Senior officials at the Justice Department failed to recognize the problems presented by the operation “until it was too late,” according to the report released today.

“Every senior Department official interviewed during the Committees’ investigation claimed either ignorance of Fast and Furious or that it was someone else’s responsibility to ask questions or draw connections,” the 104-page report said. “Senior managers placed blame elsewhere and retained plausible deniability.”

The report comes a month after Justice Department’s inspector general released a 471-page report that outlined management failures at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Justice Department, as well as flaws in the program that lost track of about 2,000 guns purchased by straw buyers. ATF is part of the Justice Department.

The inspector general recommended 14 officials for disciplinary action. Two of those officials resigned the day of the report’s release.

Attorney General Eric Holder, in a statement on the day of the inspector general report’s release, said that it outlined a strategy that had been in place -- and was driven by field agents -- since 2006 and that the department’s leadership did not know or authorize “the use of the flawed strategy or tactics.”

Along with the resignations, the department put in place changes in policy and to internal controls aimed at preventing a repeat of the operation.

Grassley, of Iowa, is the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. California Republican Issa is the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

To contact the reporter on this story: Phil Mattingly in Washington at pmattingly@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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