Richard Serrano reports in the Los Angeles Times that ATF Acting Deputy Director William Hoover saw Operation Fast and Furious falling apart almost as soon as it began, and quickly became involved in trying to orchestrate a way to end the operation:
Acting Deputy Director William Hoover called an emergency meeting and said he wanted an “exit strategy” to shut down the program. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for decades had dedicated itself to stopping illegal gun-trafficking of any kind. Now it was allowing illegal gun purchases on the Southwest border and letting weapons “walk” unchecked into Mexico.
But those at the meeting, which included a Justice Department official, did not want to stop the illegal gun sales until they had something to show for their efforts. Hoover suggested a “30-day, 60-day or 90-day” exit plan that would shut Fast and Furious down for good — just as soon as there were some indictments.
But indictments did not come for another 10 months.
The indictments that came were little more than smokescreens designed to protect the government from the operation’s clear failures in the wake of Agent Terry’s death. The individual straw purchasers and smugglers taken into custody were all known to federal authorities prior to the start of the operation, and could have been arrested without letting thousands of guns flow into criminal hands.
Hoover’s comments to the Times, Acting ATF Director Ken Melson’s still secret July 4 testimony, and recent comments from the DEA administrator to congressional investigators indicate that officials within the Justice Department grasp the criminality of Gunwalker, and are beginning to come forward to tell their side of the story so that they cannot be scapegoated and forced to take the fall for an operation that appears to have started at the highest levels of government.