By now everyone has heard of Operation Fast and Furious, and how the Congressional investigation of it is getting closer and closer to Attorney General Eric Holder. But did you know that Operation Fast and Furious was not the first such operation? Operation Wide Receiver, predecessor of Fast and Furious, was an operation during the George W. Bush administration.
Operation Wide Receiver, begun in 2006 and ended in 2007, had 500 weapons straw purchased, while Fast and Furious, begun in 2009 and ended in late 2010, shortly after border agent Brian Terry’s death, had at least 2000 guns involved. Of the 2,000 guns released by ATF agents in Operation Fast and Furious, only 600 were recovered, leaving 1,400 guns unrecovered. (Some reports put the number of unrecovered guns at over 2000)
Pete Yost, reporter for the Associated Press, “The federal government under the Bush administration ran an operation that allowed hundreds of guns to be transferred to suspected arms traffickers – the same tactic – that congressional Republicans have criticized President Barack Obama’s administration for using, two federal law enforcement officials said Tuesday. [emphasis mine]
Did both operations allow for straw purchasers to buy guns? Yes, but… the primary difference between Operation Fast and Furious under Obama and Operation Wide Receiver under Bush is that under Obama guns were allowed to go back into Mexico without interdiction or arrests. The “same tactic” was not used under President Bush. Project Gunrunner, started as a pilot program in Laredo, Texas, of which Operation Wide Receiver was a part, involved straw purchasers buying weapons, but those purchasers were immediately apprehended before crossing back into Mexico or transferring arms to dangerous criminals. In fact, straw purchaser arrests and prosecutions have been way down under Obama’s administration, so much so it’s almost as if the Obama Justice Department has no interest in prosecuting illegal straw purchasers at all.
The House Oversight Committee, chaired by Darrell Issa (R-CA), is ready to look at any evidence that the Obama administration will turn over regarding Operation Wide Receiver, but the Justice Department has so far refused to turn over documentation relating to that case, even though his committee subpoenaed them months ago.
Unlike the Obama Administration’s Fast and Furious operation, there actually was an attempt made to track the Operation Wide Receiver weapons. But in the case of Fast and Furious, there was absolutely no effort to track guns. ATF agents have testified they were expressly ordered to stand down when they tried to follow the cartel straw purchasers. Operation Wide Receiver was shut down after its weapons dropped off the grid, and the ATF realized it had blundered. Operation Fast and Furious was shut down because two of its weapons were discovered at the scene of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder.
Operation Wide Receiver was a botched law enforcement operation, while the gun-walking programs of the Obama administration were intentionally criminal, and arguably terrorist acts, arming violent narco-terrorists waging war on Mexico, a U.S. ally.
Operation Wide Receiver did not amount to much in the way of interdiction, enforcement, or prosecution, despite the millions of dollars expended. But nowhere in all my research did I find that the weapons from Operation Wide Receiver murdered anyone, much less a border agent (Brian Terry) and thousands of Mexican civilians. Please let me know if your research finds different information.