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Jay Evensen: 'Fast and Furious' project backfires, must never happen again

Published: Monday, Sept. 24 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Federal police officers escort Ricardo Benitez Servin aka 'El Mudo', center, upon his presentation to the press in Mexico City, Monday, Aug. 15, 2011.

Arnulfo Franco, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Jay Evensen's column "On Second Thought" will resume next week.

The following editorial appeared recently in the Kansas City Star:

The "Fast and Furious" project designed to track U.S. firearms given illegally to Mexican drug cartels was a dismal failure. Why did anyone ever think this would be a good way to halt killings by the cartels and to nab drug lords?

As we noted several months ago, the best way to deal with this controversy was to insist on a complete, thorough airing of how the effort went awry - and how almost 2,000 weapons wound up in the hands of criminals.

A new, 512-page report by Justice Department investigators provides sobering answers and withering criticisms. Many are aimed at Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives officials who were involved in Fast and Furious and in a similar operation begun during the Bush administration.

Oversight was poor. Strategies were muddled. Judgment errors were made. Misleading statements were given to Congress.

The Justice Department report should lead to discipline that includes dismissals.

The congressional investigation earlier this year into what went wrong also had its low points, especially the politically tinged and unprecedented vote by House Republicans to cite an attorney general for contempt.

Despite calls by the GOP for the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder, the new report concludes he did not authorize the flawed tactics that doomed Fast and Furious, and notes he has taken good steps to repair the damage.

But that's small comfort to Americans. This was a regrettable, bungled project, the likes of which must never be repeated.

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