Under fire for an operation that allowed smuggling of U.S. weapons across the nation’s border with Mexico, President Obama said in an interview that neither he nor Attorney General Eric Holder authorized the controversial “Operation Fast and Furious.”
The Mexican government has complained that it didn’t know about the U.S. operation that allowed guns to illegally cross the southwestern border so they could track the weapons.
Obama told Univision‘s Jorge Ramos that President Felipe Calderon wasn’t informed of the operation because he — the president of the United States — wasn’t informed either.
When asked whether he knew of the weapon smuggling plan, Obama responded that it is “a pretty big government” with “a lot of moving parts.”
The investigation into the program comes after it was connected to two weapons that were found at the scene of a border shootout that killed U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in December. Likewise, a gun smuggled from the U.S. were used to kill Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent Jamie Zapata, but it has not been determined if it was part of “Fast and Furious.”
When President Calderon came to visit Washington recently, the two presidents came together on a policy to stop drug and weapon smuggling across the border.
“Our policy is to ram up the interdiction of guns flowing south because that’s contributing to some of the security problems that are taking place in Mexico and what we’re doing is trying to build the kind of cooperation between Mexico and the United States that we haven’t seen before,” Obama told Univision.
The president said his attorney general has been “very clear that our policy is to catch gunrunners and put them into jail.”
The controversial operation was the subject of a CBS News Investigation that reported ATF was allowing traffickers to bring weapons into Mexico in order to track them rather than arresting the traffickers. Obama said Holder has assigned an inspector general to investigate what happened, because he does not know who authorized the operation.
“Letting guns ‘walk’ is not something that is acceptable,” Holder said during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing. “Guns are different than drugs or money when we are trying to follow their trail. That is not acceptable.”