Correction: After a conversation with Grassley's office, it has been clarified that officials in Mexico did not know about tactics being used in Operation Wide Receiver, but did know about tactics used in the Hernandez case, as shown by linked documents. However, this doesn't change the fact that during Wide Receiver guns were lost as a result of mistakes made, where as in Fast and Furious, putting guns into the hands of criminals was the plan and mandated, not the result of mistakes. Other points that remain unchanged: Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer knew guns had walked yet submitted false information about his knowledge of gun walking to Grassley's office in a February letter.
“Allowing loads of weapons that we knew to be destined for criminals, this was the plan. It was so mandated.” –Special Agent John Dodson ATF Phoenix Field Division, testimony about Fast and Furious June 2011.
As the heat on Attorney General Eric Holder has been turned up in the past two months about his role in the lethal Obama Justice Department program Operation Fast and Furious, the DOJ communications department has been pulling out all the stops to try and avert attention away from the Holder and onto the Bush Administration. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer claimed in testimony two weeks ago that the Bush Justice Department was using the "same" gun walking tactics in a program known as Operation Wide Receiver, as the Obama Justice Department was using in Operation Fast and Furious. The mainstream media, including the New York Times and the Associated Press, also claimed the "exact same gun walking" tactics were used under Bush. Turns out, that just isn't true.
Senator Charles Grassley's office has done some digging on Operation Wide Receiver and has found the Bush program was a controlled delivery of guns in cooperation with the Mexican Government. The main differences between Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious are these: Under Wide Receiver, 300 guns were involved and the Mexican government was fully informed about the operation. Under Fast and Furious, 2,000 guns were involved and the Mexican government was left in the dark by the Obama Justice Department about the program. Guns were not being "walked" in Wide Receiver, however, 2,000 guns were walked and lost in Fast and Furious under Obama. Documentation provided by Grassley's office also shows a solid effort by ATF to intercept guns before they could be trafficked back into Mexico.
Operation Wide Receiver ran from 2006 to 2007, and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer has said that approximately 350 guns were walked in the case. The Justice Department has produced very few documents from the time period when Wide Receiver was conducted, but what they have provided indicates that the case involved a cooperating gun dealer and real-time notice of suspect purchases, and yet multiple guns ended up in Mexico. When the Justice Department revived the case for prosecution in 2009 to 2010, the prosecutors recognized these factors constituted gun walking.
On the other hand, the Hernandez investigation took place in late 2007 and involved a controlled delivery, not gunwalking. In a controlled delivery, law enforcement watches to see that their target goes through with the steps of a crime in order to see that they have the requisite intent, but then interdicts the guns afterwards. Documents produced by the Justice Department make clear that in the Hernandez investigation, Mexican law enforcement waiting on the other side of the border failed to interdict the weapons. The Hernandez investigation is different from Fast and Furious and apparently from Wide Receiver in that those cases involved no safeguards and the government of Mexico was never informed about them.
So there you have it, during
Wide Receiver (corrected) the Hernandez case, the Mexican government dropped the ball, guns were not being "walked." Nice try, Holder. Time to get a new tactic that doesn't involve blaming President Bush.