SF Chronicle Story Repeats AP 'Fast & Furious' Misinformation

Bush also did it!

Bush also did it!

That is the current talking point desperately being promoted by the Associated Press, and now picked up by the San Francisco Chronicle, to try to explain away the selling of guns to members of the Mexican drug cartel by the Obama administration. The only problem is that the Associated Press left out a key detail as pointed out by Katie Pavlich of Townhall. First the misleading claim by AP:

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.

When Bush, a Republican, was president, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Tucson, Ariz., used a similar enforcement tactic in a program it called Operation Wide Receiver. The fact that there were two such ATF investigations years apart in separate administrations raises the possibility that agents in still other cases may have allowed guns to "walk."


And now Pavlich explains how incredibly misleading that AP claim about Bush allowing guns to walk is:

The problem is, the "same tactic" under heavy criticism by the House Oversight Committee was not used under President Bush. Operation Fast and Furious started in Fall 2009 and was an offshoot of the Project Gunrunner program implemented under the Bush Administration. Project Gunrunner started as a pilot program in Laredo, Texas and went national in 2006. Project Gunrunner involved the surveillance of straw purchasers buying weapons, but those purchasers were immediately apprehended before crossing back into Mexico or tranferring arms to dangerous criminals. Shortly after Obama took office, Operation Fast and Furious allowed straw purchasers working for Mexican drug cartels to purchase mass amount of weapons in the United States and then take them back to Mexico in addition to allowing them to be lost at stash houses and tranferred to dangerous cartel members. ATF agents who have testified before Congress about the program said the idea was to "trace" those weapons, but the tracing ended up being a total failure as GPS batteries ran out and thousands of guns were lost in Mexico and only found at final violent crime scenes. Did both operations allow for straw purchasers to buy guns under ATF/DOJ surveillance? Yes, however, the key difference between Operation Fast and Furious under Obama and Project Gunrunner under Bush is that under Obama guns were allowed to go back into Mexico without interdiction or arrests. According to Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa, straw purchaser arrests and prosecutions have been way down under this administration, so much so it's almost as if the Obama Justice Department has no interest in prosecuting illegal straw purchasers at all. (A straw purchaser is someone who buys guns illegally for those who cannot buy them. In this case, cartels members can't buy guns, so they hired "straw purchasers" to buy weapons for them).

So what the AP conveniently neglects to mention is that under the Bush administration, the guns were quickly apprehended BEFORE crossing the border. And now that the AP has set up a Fast & Furious excuse to pathetically explain away the Obama administration allowing guns to cross the border, the San Francisco Chronicle has latched onto the same excuse by citing this misinformation promoted by AP as you can see in this article by the Hearst Washington Bureau correspondent, Puneet Kollipara:

Texas GOP Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, on Tuesday demanded an independent investigation of whether Attorney General Eric Holder misled Congress on what he knew about the botched gun-tracking operation known as "Fast and Furious" - and when he found out about it.

Also on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that the George W. Bush administration conducted a program similar to Fast and Furious, in which Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents were instructed to let Mexican drug cartel straw purchasers buy guns in the Phoenix area to follow the trail to higher-ups.

Known as Operation Wide Receiver, the Bush-era operation also let guns be transferred to suspected arms traffickers. Justice Department prosecutors have brought charges against nine people involved in the operation, according to AP; two have pleaded guilty.

And now we await a correction of this misinformation making it seem that the Bush administration also allowed guns to cross the border  from both the Associated Press and copycat misinformer Kollipara in 5...4...3...2...

San Francisco Chronicle Eric Holder
P.J. Gladnick's picture