ATF wants to destroy guns from botched Obama-era Fast and Furious operation

ATF wants to destroy guns from botched Obama-era Fast and Furious operation

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has alerted Congress that it intends to destroy the guns it still possesses from the botched Fast and Furious operation, which saw the U.S. inadvertently arm Mexican cartels.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, objected to the move in a letter released Tuesday night, saying the weapons are still important “evidence.”

“Although the ATF apparently intends to forget its dangerous misconduct in Operation Fast and Furious, the scandal is still a matter of public concern,” he wrote. “I request that you immediately take steps to preserve all evidence associated with Operation Fast and Furious and confirm in writing that you have done so.”

ATF confirmed it had received Mr. Jordan’s letter but declined to comment beyond that.

Fast and Furious was the name given to an ill-fated attempt by the Obama administration to snare gun criminals by knowingly letting firearms be sold to fraudulent buyers, known as straw purchasers.

ATF was supposed to track the buyers and see in whose hands the weapons ended up.

Roughly 2,000 guns were sold under the operation and a majority of them were set adrift without being tracked. Many ended up in Mexico, where they have been recovered at myriad crime scenes linked to cartels.

The operation collapsed after a Border Patrol agent, Brian Terry, was killed by Mexican bandits operating inside Arizona in 2010. Two rifles from Fast and Furious were recovered from the scene.

The seventh and final defendant from that killing was sentenced in September.

Mr. Jordan said Mexican authorities are still making cases based on Fast and Furious guns, and he said that’s reason enough for ATF not to destroy them.

“I strongly urge you to reconsider this decision and request that you preserve this evidence,” Mr. Jordan wrote.

He is in line to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee when the GOP takes control of the chamber next month.

Operation Fast and Furious was an early black eye for former President Obama’s Justice Department.

The inspector general said it was a “series of misguided strategies, tactics, errors in judgment and management failures.”

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was held in contempt of Congress for blocking documents from the operation that had been sought by House lawmakers at the time.

It was the first time Congress had taken that step against a sitting Cabinet official, though his Justice Department underlings declined to prosecute the case against him.

Mr. Obama’s U.S. attorney in Arizona also resigned in disgrace amid questions of his handling of the operation, quitting just in time to avoid talking to the inspector general.

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