[The report] laid primary blame on what he portrayed as a dysfunctional and poorly supervised group of Arizona-based federal prosecutors and agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, describing them as “permeated” by “a series of misguided strategies, tactics, errors in judgment and management failures” that allowed a risky strategy to continue despite the danger to public safety.
The report singled out the actions of 17 officials — two of whom have resigned — for a closer look, recommending that most be reviewed for possible discipline or administrative action.Details of the Fast & Furious scandal aside, considering the Justice Department's track record on using internal processes to hold its own accountable, I'm not holding my breath for discipline for the 17 officials fingered in the Inspector General's Report. The Justice Department's internal processes failed to hold anyone accountable for the two biggest scandals of the Bush Administration - torture and warrantless wiretapping. Since institutional precedent is that even the worst conduct - authorizing torture - goes unpunished, it would seem hypocritical that the "lesser" conduct identified by the more recent Inspector General Report would yield discipline.
I have a well-founded basis for my skepticism about the Justice Department's internal processes. As far as I know, I am still the only person to be referred to the bar association as a result of a Department of Justice Inspector General/Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) investigation into a torture-related case, and my advice was to permit an American terrorism suspect to have counsel. My bar referral to the D.C. Bar is still pending ten years later.
Even when OPR investigated the torture memo authors (John Yoo and Jay Bybee) and found that they had committed professional misconduct, Yoo and Bybee were permitted ample opportunity to respond to the investigation's findings. (I was referred to the bar based on a secret report to which I had no access). Worse still, despite OPR's findings of professional misconduct, Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis rejected the findings, effectively immunizing Yooo and Bybee from accountability, and refused to allow OPR to refer Yoo and Bybee to their respective bar associations. The architects of torture policy are now enjoying prestigious legal careers: my law school classmate Yoo is a tenured professor and Bybee has a lifetime appointment as a federal judge.
Despite the Inspector General's extensive investigation into the Fast & Furious scandal, when internal investigations yield no disciplinary results for the architects of torture, actual accountability for the 17 officials the Inspector General identified seems an unlikely prospect. If the Justice Department's internal processes are to be effective, the the accountability after an investigation is as important as the investigation itself.