The Republican report “Fast and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed Operation” tells how the idea of gunwalking was formulated within the offices of the Department of Justice in Washington, DC.
Guns from Fast & Furious are linked to the deaths of Border Patrol Brian Terry and 300+ Mexicans, including Mario Gonzalez, brother of then State Attorney General Patricia Gonzalez. They have been found at twelve crime scenes across America and 1,400 guns out of 2,000+ are still missing.
Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa revealed in the contempt case against Attorney General Eric Holder that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, head of the Criminal Division in the DOJ, was one who knew about Fast & Furious. This report mentions Bruer was the author of an August 19, 2009 memo to Mr. Holder with recommendations of the Firearms Trafficking Working Group, which would help stop the flow of guns into Mexico.
A few months later then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, another man directly below Mr. Holder, wrote the draft for “Strategy for Combating the Mexican Cartels.” This would prove to be the blueprint for Operation Fast & Furious.
The draft says “seizing firearms through interdiction will not stop firearms trafficking to Mexico” and they “must identify, investigate, and eliminate the sources of illegally trafficked firearms and the networks that transport them.” Instead of concentrating on the straw purchases Mr. Ogden wanted them to concentrate on the bigger picture.
But overall the report was vague and didn’t give the Phoenix team a fixed framework. Mr. Ogden never explained exactly how this would be executed and he specifically mention gunwalking is not allowed. Special Agent in Charge Bill Newell, known for his controversial tactics, seized on this opportunity to reopen his failed Operation Wide Receiver, which allowed guns to walk under President Bush. Newell was punished or reprimanded for that technique even though it was known he allowed guns to walk before. Mr. Breuer even sent resources to help prosecute people they arrested under Wide Receiver.
To the Phoenix ATF agents, this strategy was a blessing. Another new name to pop up was Assistant Special Agent in Charge George Gillett. In his testimony he said the Phoenix ATF was unable to get any straw purchase prosecutions because of the way the US Attorney’s office interpreted the law.
“So this strategy in October 2009 handed down by the [Deputy Attorney General]’s office, actually from the Phoenix perspective, was well timed and provided us with direction on how to proceed in these types of firearms trafficking investigations,” he said.
While the drafts and memos do not say anything about allowing gunwalking they also don’t prohibit it. Also incriminating, is that Mr. Breuer knew far in advance Mr. Newell allowed guns to walk before. This report does prove the seeds were planted by top officials at the Department of Justice by men directly below Mr. Holder.