The Memo Bush AG Mukasey Got On ATF’s ‘Gun Walking’

Two days after former Attorney General Michael Mukasey took over as head of the Bush administration’s Justice Department in 2007, he got a memo describing a failed effort by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to track weapons as they “walked” into Mexico.

TPM has obtained a copy of the memo, which was first reported on by Pete Yost of the Associated Press, which was turned over to the House Oversight Committee this week.While not specifically using the phrase “gun walking,” the memo described the operation as the “first-ever attempt to have a controlled delivery of weapons being smuggled into Mexico by a major arms trafficker.”

One ATF employee — in a separate 2007 email that was turned over to the Oversight Committee over the summer — objected to saying the memo was the first time gun walking had been tried out.

“I am going to ask DOJ to change ‘first ever’… there have [been] cases in the past where we have walked guns,” ATF’s Carson Carroll wrote in a Nov. 15, 2007 email.

The Mukasey memo goes on: “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 simply arresting simply a single smuggler.”

Oversight Committee Ranking Member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) wrote a letter to Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) requesting that Mukasey appear to testify about “gun walking” tactics.

“Given the significant questions raised by the disclosures in these documents, our Committee’s investigation will not be viewed as credible, even-handed, or complete unless we hear directly from Attorney General Mukasey,” Cummings wrote.

Issa has said that his committee will “get to the bottom” of whether “this practice might have began, in a smaller way, under the Bush watch,” but a spokeswoman said that “throwing out the ‘Bush Administration did it too defense’ reeks of desperation.”