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For Immediate Release
December 8, 2011

Facts are STUBBORN Things...The Administration's Response to Gunwalking

“Facts are STUBBORN Things”
“…and whatever our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” - John Adams, December 1770


Senator Charles Schumer, Press Statement, Dec. 7, 2011
House Judiciary Committee Oversight Hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder, Dec. 8, 2011

Response to Gun Walking

•    Senator Schumer: “Contrary to Sen. Grassley’s assertions, it was this administration – and specifically the criminal division, [headed] by Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer – that identified that these ‘gun-walking’ tactics had been used and approved of in the past administration.  It was this administration that confronted ATF leadership about the problems of using these tactics.”

•    Attorney General Holder: “Soon after learning about the allegations raised by ATF agents involved with Fast and Furious, I took action designed to ensure accountability.  In February, I asked the Department’s Acting Inspector General to investigate the matter, and in early March I ordered that a directive be sent to law enforcement agents and prosecutors prohibiting such tactics.”

In Operation Wide Receiver, which ran from 2006-2007 and did involve gun-walking tactics, few documents have been produced about which officials from the U.S. Attorney’s office or Main Justice were involved.  One November 16, 2007, memo addressed to the Attorney General, which would have been Michael Mukasey at the time, does not refer to Operation Wide Receiver, but rather to a case called Hernandez, involving a controlled delivery and cooperation with the government of Mexico rather than gunwalking.

Unlike the actions Attorney General Holder would later take under pressure from Senator Grassley’s public inquiries when he found out that there might have been gun-walking in Operation Fast and Furious, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer did not take “action designed to ensure accountability” when directly informed by his deputy in April 2010 of gun-walking in Operation Wide Receiver, such as asking the Department’s Inspector General to investigate the matter or ordering that a directive be sent to law enforcement agents and prosecutors prohibiting such tactics.

Rather than “confront[ing] ATF leadership,” emails indicate Mr. Breuer’s concern was simply letting ATF “know the bad stuff that could come out.”  After Mr. Breuer’s deputy, Jason Weinstein, followed those instructions by meeting with ATF leadership, he emailed Mr. Breuer on April 30, 2010, to say that the outcome of the meeting was concluding: “[T]he best way to announce the case without highlighting the negative part of the story and risking embarrassing ATF” was to make it public “as part of Project Deliverance, where focus will be on aggregate seizures and not on particulars of any one indictment.”

This focus on press strategy alone carried through to October 2010, when Mr. Beuer’s subordinates were clearly still concerned about the public relations impact of both Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious.  Weinstein wrote: “Do you think we should try to have Lanny participate in press when Fast and Furious and Laura’s Tucson case [Wide Receiver] are unsealed?  It’s a tricky case, given the number of guns that have walked…”

Documents supporting the FACTS.