“No evidence of Mexico cooperation in Tucson ATF probe,” Tim Steller of The Arizona Daily Star reports.
There seems to be an emerging talking point related to the Operation Fast and Furious scandal that “The Bush administration did it too, but they did it right by working with Mexico.”
…From what I’ve seen so far, that’s not true.
That certainly looks bad for those maintaining the Bush-era probe was different from the Obama administration’s incarnation.
Case settled? “No evidence”?
Documentation exists, and curiously, Steller even refers to it in his report:
[AP reporter Pete] Yost wrote a follow up story, published Oct. 14, revealing the second Bush-era ATF investigation that involved allowing guns into Mexico. In that case, ATF agents followed the car carrying the guns to the border at Nogales and notified Mexican officials. While that incident certainly can be described as “informing” Mexico, I’m not sure if “coordinating” is an appropriate word, because it implies working with Mexican officials on the broader investigation.
What evidence does Steller need to admit that “coordinating” is precisely the “appropriate word”? Do internal ATF emails discussing just that count? Ones with familiar names to those following the unfolding Gunwalker outrages, like Billy Hoover, William Newell, and Hope McAllister? And with documentation, such as this September 28, 2007 revelation from Carroll W. Carson (currently Assistant Director, Enforcement Programs and Services of “Kill the Firearms Freedom Act” notoriety):
Last night…the ATF MCO were working closely in coordination with the ATF Phoenix AZ. Field Division and the Government of Mexico…regarding weapons going south through the US/Mexico/Nogales, AZ. Border…
The ATF MCO, S/A McAllister and AFI were simultaneously on the phone until the suspect vehicle crossed…We, the ATF MCO did not get a response from the Mexican side until 20 minutes later, who then informed us that they did not see the vehicle cross.
For the first time we are working hand in hand with the GOM and this is what we get!…The ATF MCO is currently obtaining names of those Mexican supervisors that were on scene and will have a meeting here in Mexico with the various different heads of agencies that participated in this joint international operation [emphasis added].
“The first time”? So does that mean higher-ups at the time knew and kept mum, as some would have us believe? And does this support Steller’s thesis that the Bush administration evidently left Mexico in the dark?
As has been discussed before in this column, unlike with Gunwalker, evidence points to the Justice Department having been in the dark themselves on Wide Receiver. From the TPM Muckraker report that posted the internal emails:
A later email from Anne Marie Paskalis, senior counsel in charge of field operations on Oct. 5  indicated that the U.S. Attorney’s office “is not yet fully on board with this investigation.”
Additionally, Wide Receiver confidential informant Mike Detty, a direct source interviewed and quoted by Steller, told Gun Rights Examiner:
It had nothing to do with Bush or even DOJ…
See the sidebar graphic for the un-abbreviated email and click here to access the complete set of emails. There is a wealth of information there for any journalist (or anyone interested in the truth) who wishes to study it and use it as a beachhead from which to launch a deeper investigation.
Here are a few threads someone with the resources of a major newspaper or network might pull:
- Were the names of the Mexican Law enforcment supervisors who somehow “missed” a coordinated interception ever disclosed? If so, what happened to them?
- How is it that when this correspondent wanted to obtain documentation, a FOIA was required resulting in a mostly unresponsive and heavily- redacted response, and when Rep. Darrell Issa wanted to obtain documentation, a subpoena was required resulting in a mostly unresponsive and heavily-redacted response, but left-leaning TCM Muckraker is able to produce complete and detailed correspondences in an attempt to bolster the “Bush did it too” meme? Does anyone believe this was not a tactical release fully vetted by administration strategists and lawyers?
The problem with Gunwalker reporting is hardly a lack of evidence. An agenda on the part of most of the mainstream press to either ignore inconvenient truths or shill for the administration is another matter altogether. And there’s plenty of evidence for that.
UPDATE: Addressing a reader comment referring to this article, Mr. Steller responds:
@Henry B. — your link is interesting but the documents it cites are not related to Operation Wide Receiver. They’re related to a later investigation, initiated in Phoenix in 2007. So they don’t do anything to refute this blog item.
First of all, Steller is the one who brought up the investigation run out of Phoenix, the so-called “second Bush era investigation” (which presumably would have an operation name of its own?). The mixing into his story of two similar ATF operations in such close proximity both in terms of time and location, and managed by the same players required they both be addressed. But there is an additional confusion/conflation factor, as per this October 6 story from The Washington Post, which acknowledges “’Operation Wide Receiver’…was run out of Tucson between 2006 and 2007,” but then goes on to further state:
ATF’s new acting director, B. Todd Jones, when asked by The Washington Post, said that Operation Wide Receiver was launched out of ATF’s Phoenix division…
The bottom line is, all evidence points to the DOJ not being “on board” until late in the program and to the Mexican government being brought into the investigation in 2007.
- A Journalist’s Guide to ‘Project Gunwalker’ Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five and Part Six for a complete list with links of independent investigative reporting and commentary done to date by Sipsey Street Irregulars and Gun Rights Examiner. Note to newcomers to this story: “Project Gunrunner” is the name ATF assigned to its Southwest Border Initiative to interdict gun smuggling to Mexico. “Project Gunwalker” is the name I assigned to the scandal after allegations by agents that monitored guns were allowed to fall into criminal hands on both sides of the border through a surveillance process termed “walking” surfaced.
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