While criticism surrounding Operation Fast and Furious has so far focused on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, three other federal agencies knew about the operation and some of their agents tried to stop it, according to the former chief of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Tucson.
Tony Coulson, the DEA’s agent in charge of Southern Arizona during Fast and Furious, says many federal field agents knew the ATF was walking guns to Mexico, but supervisors told them to back off when they objected.
“Clearly, we went too far,” Coulson said. “The question we had among rank and file law enforcement was, ‘When is someone going to call ATF on this, when is someone going to tell them to stop?’”
Coulson’s remarks jibe with what is already known about the operation. The DEA, the FBI and ICE, also known as Immigration Customs and Enforcement, all played roles in the investigation.
Coulson said those agencies share the blame since top officials knew, but did little to stop, the gunrunning effort. Coulson is among the first senior public officials, current or former, who admit knowing about the botched operation.
Coulson claims he raised objections to then-DEA chief Elizabeth Kempshall, but was told it was taken care of. After attending a meeting with ATF agent in charge Bill Newell, Coulson said that’s when he and other agents “knew (Fast and Furious) was not some sort of benign, pie-in-the-sky publicity stunt. Guns were actually getting in the hands of criminals.”
According to Congressional testimony and documents obtained by Fox News, the other agencies involved include: