Attempting to clearly demonstrate that gun walking also occurred under a Republican president, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday asked the Justice Department’s Inspector General to include the George W. Bush administration in her probe into the controversial tactic.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) wrote to Acting Inspector General Cynthia Schnedar, in an attempt to guarantee that her probe goes beyond Operation Fast and Furious, an operation conducted during the Barack Obama administration.
“[I]n connection with Operation Wide Receiver in 2006, hundreds of weapons apparently moved beyond the custody and control of the ATF and possibly into Mexico and Arizona,” Leahy’s letter to Schnedar states. “Recent documents also show that [former] Attorney General [Michael] Mukasey may have been briefed in 2007 on the ATF’s operations on the southern border, including an indication that guns may have entered Mexico out of the control of law enforcement officials. ”
Attorney General Eric Holder is set to appear before a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on Tuesday, where he is expected to face tough questioning about Fast and Furious, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms Explosives operation during which guns were allowed to “walk” across the Mexican border.
Holder asked Schnedar to launch an inquiry into Operation Fast and Furious on February 28, after it emerged that weapons used to kill Border Patrol agent Brian Terry were linked to straw buyers employed in the operation. Republicans have criticized the tactic and accused Holder of misleading them about his knowledge of the operation.
However, DOJ documents suggest that Mukasey may have been briefed about gun walking during the previous administration.
On Friday, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking Democrat on the House oversight committee, asked chairman of the House oversight committee, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif), to schedule a hearing into Operation Wide Receiver.