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Mak reports: "The Justice Department released documents Thursday on the Bush-era Wide Receiver gun-walking operation that suggest the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was aware that guns were likely flowing into Mexico but allowed it to continue in the hopes of penetrating deeply into US-Mexico gun trafficking networks."

File photo: Alleged drug traffickers of the Sinaloa Cartel are presented to the press in Mexico City after their arrest, 11/14/10. (photo: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)
File photo: Alleged drug traffickers of the Sinaloa Cartel are presented to the press in Mexico City after their arrest, 11/14/10. (photo: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)



The Bush Administration's Own Fast and Furious

By Tim Mak, Politico

08 January 12

 

he Justice Department released documents Thursday on the Bush-era Wide Receiver gun-walking operation that suggest the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was aware that guns were likely flowing into Mexico but allowed it to continue in the hopes of penetrating deeply into U.S.-Mexico gun trafficking networks.

DOJ's documents were delivered in response to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa's subpoena on Operation Fast and Furious and were also made available to the press.

Guns linked to Fast and Furious were found at the murder scene of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in 2010. His killing first brought the tactic of gun-walking to broad attention, and subsequent investigations showed that investigators lost track of thousands of firearms purchased in the U.S., many of which crossed the border into Mexico.

Attorney General Eric Holder has come under fierce attack for Fast and Furious, and dozens of Republican members of Congress have called for his resignation. Holder is expected to testify before Issa's committee on Feb. 2

An August 2006 briefing memo on Wide Receiver, which was conducted from 2006 to 2007, shows that "there is currently sufficient documentation to conclude" a criminal case from the investigation.

In addition, the memo suggests that it was "highly unlikely," due to the limited recovery of firearms, that weapons had not already entered gun trafficking conduits to Mexico.

Regardless, ATF decided to forge ahead with the investigation. Additional documents indicate that they did so in an attempt to infiltrate deeper into criminal gun trafficking organizations operating along the U.S.-Mexico border.

By the end of 2006, the targets of the investigation had purchased 181 firearms. Hundreds of firearms were sold to the targets of the investigation before it ended in 2007.

No charges were filed against the targets of the investigation until 2009, during the Obama administration. Six individuals have since been convicted of offenses related to the Wide Receiver operation.

Issa's office slammed the new documents as evidence that senior Justice officials must have known about the tactics used in Operation Fast and Furious.

"It is deeply discouraging that top Justice officials knew such details about problems in Operation Wide Receiver yet were still so quick to dismiss warnings from whistleblowers about reckless and dangerous tactics happening on a much larger scale in Operation Fast and Furious," said Becca Watkins, a spokewoman for Issa's office.

 

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+11 # giraffee2012 2012-01-08 11:40
Issa should go to Gitmo until he admits to his own shady past with hoodlums. Google the guy for a wake up call.

Bush & company should stand trial on war crimes, contributing to the enemy, and so very much more.

Get the $$ out of our politics! Get the Supremes on limited terms. Fire Scalia/Thomas who sleep with the Koch bro = "person hood" - and then, maybe, we can get our democracy back - Good bye GOP/TP

Never ever vote gop/tp
Vote 2012 - the most important election for a NON-GOP democracy
 
 
-13 # lnason@umassd.edu 2012-01-08 12:41
The issue is not the tactic of allowing criminals to purchase contraband -- this is a tactic that is used by all enforcement agents -- guns, drugs, child porn, etc.

The issue is that the Bush-era program actually tracked or at least attempted to track the guns in order to develop a case against the felons while the Obama-era program apparently made no attempt to track the guns.

Thoughtful people would blame neither Bush nor Obama for these programs even though the Bush-era version allowed the escape of a few guns and the Obama-era version allowed the escape of thousands of illegal firearms.

But we should hold the highest ranking individual who approved the non-tracking Fast and Furious Program accountable. Especially since Holder gave inaccurate testimony to the Congressional Committee, an error that landed Scooter Libby in jail, it would appear that he should be at least fired.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
 
 
+7 # Gringaryan 2012-01-08 16:12
Doesn't anyone get it that arming the Drug Lords in Mexico is EXACTLY the desired result. Who in their right mind thinks you send guns into a region and somehow magically the gun finds it's own way to your target and then what? You say you are under arrest for owning a gun? Really???
 
 
+1 # BobbyT7 2012-01-10 14:19
Operation Wide Receiver differed in two major ways from Fast & Furious. First, both the White House and the DOJ were involved from the very beginning. Our Department of State was fully briefed in advance. Secondly, the Mexican government fully participated. Unfortunately, the electronic tracking devices, which were planted on the weapons failed. The operation was swiftly ended, and some guns were recovered.

Fast & Furious, if you listen to DOJ and the ATF managers, they didn't know much, especially about the guns "walking."

This is very difficult to believe, because I'm a retired federal special agent and I know very well how the system is supposed to work. Operations like this require approval at several levels of our government. It was a sanctioned operation under the DOJ Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). Approval has to start with the ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Office, William Newell, at the time.

The local U.S. Attorney has to approve, then it goes to the regional OCDETF office, which is in Houston and is run by a DOJ prosecutor. The regional prosecutor calls in all of the member agency representatives that comprise OCDETF membership (FBI, DEA, ATF, ICE/DHS, U.S. Marshall's, and IRS/CID U.S. Treasury). These representatives are supposed to scrutinize a very detailed operational proposal that should have been submitted by an ATF case agent.
 
 
+1 # BobbyT7 2012-01-10 14:20
At what level of the U.S. Government do you think the decision was made to allow guns to be "walked" into Mexico? Don't think for a second that any career civil servant has that kind of authority.

It came from very high up and many had to have known!
 
 
0 # Gringaryan 2012-01-11 12:39
Yes, & while I was not as aware as I imagine I am now... this is somewhat reminiscent of the Contra business during GW Bush feeding guns into an area to create trouble for who knows what reason.. that only becomes clearer as time passes.
as a professional what are your thoughts?
 

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