Thursday, February 16, 2012
Wide Receiver vs. Fast and Furious
Didn't this all start under Bush? Didn't he do the same thing? Didn't his "Wide Receiver" operation use the same tactics?
The short answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT. The longer and more accurate answer follows.
Under the Bush administration, several sting operations were conducted in which straw buyers were allowed to purchase guns and attempts were made to follow the guns to, and in some cases over, the border. The largest and most well known operation was called “Wide Receiver”. The other operations were similar. During these operations approximately 200-250 firearms “got away”. The fact that some guns did cross the border is the only similarity between the Bush era program and Fast and Furious.
Let’s compare the two programs:
Cooperation with Mexico:
Wide Receiver: Mexican Law Enforcement notified, Mexico consented and was a full partner.
Fast and Furious: Mexico intentionally kept in the dark. No coordination or consent.
Surveillance of Firearms:
Wide Receiver: Agents attempted to keep track of the guns at all times.
Fast and Furious: Agents were ordered not to track the guns after they were purchased.
Use of Tracking Devices:
Wide Receiver: Extensive – placed in every lot of guns purchased
Fast and Furious: One “agent built” device in one gun
Performance of Tracking Devices:
Wide Receiver: Smugglers figured out how to defeat trackers
Fast and Furious: Smugglers didn’t have to do anything
Number of Firearms Sent to Cartels:
Wide Receiver: About 250
Fast and Furious: Exact number unknown, but over 2,500
Actions at the Border:
Wide Receiver: Attempted to hand off surveillance to Mexican law enforcement
Fast and Furious: ATF worked with Customs to make sure guns were not stopped at border
Reaction to guns “getting away”:
Wide Receiver: Program terminated. William Newell wrote memo saying “never again”
Fast and Furious: Program continued – recovered guns tracked and mapped.
Ironically, Wide Receiver provides an excellent example of a truly “botched sting operation”. The purpose of the Bush era programs was to track the guns to and over the border where Mexican law enforcement would make arrests. It was poorly planned and executed – but it at least has some potential to work and serve a law enforcement purpose. Make no mistake – Wide Receiver should result in heads rolling – but the program was not designed to send guns to the cartels.
Another point: Since the Phoenix ATF had experience with this kind of operation, why would they think that a program with many less safeguards would ever work? Why was such an operation begun with months of President Obama taking office and immediately after their bogus numbers on US retail sourced guns going to Mexico were exposed as false? Sadly, the answer is obvious.
In contrast, Fast and Furious was designed to pump guns into Mexico, without the knowledge of the Mexican government. Without their knowledge and cooperation, their was no chance of making arrests as a result of allowing guns to cross the border. Therefore, there was no law enforcement purpose. It was designed and executed for the purpose of sending guns from US retail outlets to the cartels. It was not a “botched sting operation” – it was a correctly executed plan with a very evil purpose.
This begs the question: What was the purpose of sending these guns into Mexico, where they were used to kill hundreds of Mexicans?
If one looks at what this could accomplish, the only answer on the table is the same one named by both the whistle blowing agents and the former head of the Pheonix DEA office who was “in the loop”: The passage of new gun control laws in the US.
If you still think these operations were “the same” or “used the same tactics” – please follow the link below and listen to Eric Holder tell you that the two programs were not similar.
Nov. 8, 2011 - Sen. Cornyn Grills Holder on Wide Receiver vs Fast and Furious (Wide Receiver questioning starts at about 3:00)