Less than a year later, Grassley asked then-acting ATF Director Ken Melson whether guns were being allowed to walk, prompting the broad denial from Weich.
Breuer said in his statement Monday that it was a “mistake” not to alert higher-ranking officials when the information about guns walking “became public,” given his knowledge about Wide Receiver.
“Knowing what I now know was a pattern of unacceptable and misguided tactics used by the ATF, I regret that I did not alert others within the leadership of the Department of Justice to the tactics used in Operation Wide Receiver when they first came to my attention,” Breuer said.
Breuer added that he had been assured that the weapons losses under Wide Receiver weren’t being repeated by Fast and Furious.
“When the allegations related to Operation Fast and Furious became public earlier this year, the leadership of ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona repeatedly assured individuals in the Criminal Division and the leadership of the Department of Justice that those allegations were not true,” he said. “As a result, I did not draw a connection between the unacceptable tactics used by the ATF years earlier in Operation Wide Receiver and the allegations made about Operation Fast and Furious, and therefore did not, at that time, alert others within Department leadership of any similarities between the two. That was a mistake, and I regret not having done so.”
Neither Melson nor Dennis Burke, then the U.S. attorney for Arizona, are still serving in their positions. Melson was reassigned, and Burke resigned Aug. 30.