Dem wants Bush AG to talk ‘gun walking’

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on Friday asked House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to bring former Attorney General Michael Mukasey to Capitol Hill to discuss his role in allowing guns to “walk” from the United States into Mexico as a tactic to try to dismantle firearm-trafficking routes.

The “gun walking” method lets criminals take possession of weapons without immediately arresting them. It has come to the center of Republicans’ investigation into the botched Operation Fast and Furious, which oversaw the sale of thousands of firearms to known and suspected straw buyers for Mexican drug cartels.

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According to a 2007 document subpoenaed and recently received by Issa, and first reported by The Associated Press on Friday, Mukasey was briefed about a gun-tracking operation being run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that — while not explicitly calling it “gun walking” — used the tactics.

Attorney General Eric Holder has come under intense fire over Operation Fast and Furious as Issa’s investigation has tried to discover whether Holder knew about, or even authorized, the “gun walking” tactics. Holder has denied any knowledge of the tactics used in the operation.

According to the AP, the 2007 memo is the first official record showing that an attorney general knew about the tactics. Mukasey served as then-President George W. Bush’s attorney general from 2007 until President Obama took control of the White House in 2009.

“Of particular importance, ATF has recently worked jointly with Mexico on the first-ever attempt to have a controlled delivery of weapons being smuggled into Mexico by a major arms trafficker,” states the 2007 memo.

“While the first attempts at this controlled delivery have not been successful, the investigation is ongoing, and ATF would like to expand the possibility of such joint investigations and controlled deliveries — since only then will it be possible to investigate an entire smuggling network, rather than arresting simply a single smuggler.”

Cummings, ranking member on the Oversight Committee, said Issa’s investigation into Fast and Furious and the “gun walking” tactics, which may have contributed to the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, would “not be viewed as credible, even-handed or complete” without Mukasey’s testimony.

Cummings also pointed to Operation Wide Receiver, a smaller-scale gun-tracking operation launched in 2006 under Bush that let known and suspected criminals take possession of 350 firearms using the “gun walking” tactics.

Holder is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week when the panel’s ranking Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), who launched Congress’s investigation into Fast and Furious, has said he will question Holder further about what he knew and when he knew it.

Holder has launched an independent Inspector General investigation through the Justice Department.