Fox News Baselessly Claims Stimulus Funds Went To ATF's Operation Fast And Furious

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

Fox News is baselessly reporting that funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 went to Operation Fast and Furious, a controversial initiative of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) operation Project Gunrunner in which agents knowingly allowed guns to be trafficked across the border to Mexico in order to identify other members of a trafficking network. In fact, stimulus funds earmarked for Project Gunrunner were not distributed in Arizona, where a GOP report indicates Fast and Furious took place.

Doocy Baselessly Claims Stimulus Funded Operation Fast And Furious

Doocy On Fast And Furious: "Where Did The Money Come From? Stimulus." From the July 8 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

MOLLY LINE (guest co-host): And not only is taxpayer money being spent on this, of course, but we're learning that 43 weapons were found in a Phoenix bust so some of these weapons are still here on American soil. They didn't all go to Mexico with the plans to track them.

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): Yeah, they stopped a car. Apparently it was full of crystal meth. They arrested five guys. There were about 50 guns; 43 were from the Fast and Furious program, and Molly kind of just touched on that. Where did the money come from? Stimulus. Apparently, $90 million went to help with the trouble down there. Ten Million transferred to ATF for Project Gunrunner. Stimulus money. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/8/11, emphasis added]

Fast And Furious Was A Project Gunrunner Operation Undertaken In Arizona

GOP Report: Operation Fast And Furious Undertaken By Phoenix ATF Office, U.S. Attorney's Office In Arizona. From a June 14, 2011, "joint staff report" prepared for House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA):

In the fall of 2009, the Department of Justice (DOJ) developed a risky new strategy to combat gun trafficking along the Southwest Border. The new strategy directed federal law enforcement to shift its focus away from seizing firearms from criminals as soon as possible--and to focus instead on identifying members of trafficking networks. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) implemented that strategy using a reckless investigative technique that street agents call "gunwalking." ATF's Phoenix Field Division began allowing suspects to walk away with illegally purchased guns. The purpose was to wait and watch, in the hope that law enforcement could identify other members of a trafficking network and build a large, complex conspiracy case.

This shift in strategy was known and authorized at the highest levels of the Justice Department. Through both the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona and "Main Justice," headquarters in Washington, D.C., the Department closely monitored and supervised the activities of the ATF. The Phoenix Field Division established a Gun Trafficking group, called Group VII, to focus on firearms trafficking. Group VII initially began using the new gunwalking tactics in one of its investigations to further the Department's strategy. The case was soon renamed "Operation Fast and Furious," and expanded dramatically.


ATF and DOJ leadership were interested in seeing where these guns would ultimately end up. They hoped to establish a connection between the local straw buyers in Arizona and the Mexico-based DTOs. [Joint Staff Report on The Department Of Justice's Operation Fast And Furious: Accounts Of ATF Agents, 6/14/11, emphases added]

Project Gunrunner Is A National ATF Program With Resources Concentrated Along The U.S.-Mexico Border. From the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General's November 2010 review of AIF's Project Gunrunner:

To help combat firearms trafficking into Mexico, ATF began Project Gunrunner as a pilot project in Laredo, Texas, in 2005 and expanded it as a national initiative in 2006. Project Gunrunner is also part of the Department's broader Southwest Border Initiative, which seeks to reduce cross-border drug and firearms trafficking and the high level of violence associated with these activities on both sides of the border.

In June 2007, ATF published a strategy document, Southwest Border Initiative: Project Gunrunner (Gunrunner strategy), outlining four key components to Project Gunrunner: the expansion of gun tracing in Mexico, international coordination, domestic activities, and intelligence. In implementing Project Gunrunner, ATF has focused resources in its four Southwest border field divisions. In addition, ATF has made firearms trafficking to Mexico a top ATF priority nationwide. [DOJ IG report, Review of ATF's Project Gunrunner, November 2010]

Stimulus Funds Earmarked For Project Gunrunner Did Not Go To Arizona

Recovery Act Included $10,000,000 For Project Gunrunner. From H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (commonly referred to as the "stimulus"):

For an additional amount for "State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance", $40,000,000, for competitive grants to provide assistance and equipment to local law enforcement along the Southern border and in High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas to combat criminal narcotics activity stemming from the Southern border, of which $10,000,000 shall be transferred to 'Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Salaries and Expenses' for the ATF Project Gunrunner. [H.R. 1, accessed 7/8/11, via]

ATF Plan For Management Of Recovery Act Funds Called For Establishing And Staffing Offices In CA, NM, TX, And Mexico -- Not Arizona. From DOJ's May 2009 ATF "Program-Specific Plan for Management of Recovery Act Funds":


ATF's Recovery Act funding will be used to pay the salaries of the new positions created under Project Gunrunner, as well as other operational expenses, including the purchase of armored vehicles. Given that overall safety of U.S. citizens will increase due to the Recovery Act funding distributed through Project Gunrunner, the general public is expected to benefit. State and local law enforcement will also benefit indirectly by the increased presence of Federal agents.


The following table provides the planned completion dates for the significant activities associated with ATF's distribution of Recovery Act funds.

ATF 2009 chart

[DOJ report, ATF Program-Specific Plan for Management of Recovery Act Funds, 5/15/09]

DOJ IG Report Shows That ATF Used Recovery Act Funds To Pay ATF Personnel Outside Of Arizona. From a September 2009 DOJ IG interim report:

In FY 2009 and FY 2010, ATF plans to create new Gunrunner teams in five offices along the Southwest border and place additional agents in U.S. consulates in Mexico. According to the Program Plan, a document ATF submitted to Congress summarizing its planned activities and categories of expenditures using Recovery Act funding, by September 30, 2010, ATF will establish new Gunrunner teams in (1) McAllen, Texas; (2) El Centro, California; and (3) Las Cruces, New Mexico, including a satellite office in Roswell, New Mexico. In addition, four ATF agents will be located in Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana, Mexico, to provide Gunrunner support to the government of Mexico. ATF plans to staff these locations with a total of 37 employees by hiring new employees and relocating experienced personnel. Table 1 shows the type of personnel planned for each team using the Recovery Act funding, and Appendix II provides a description of the general duties for each of these job categories.

DOJ IG chart

[DOJ IG report, Interim Review of ATF's Project Gunrunner, September 2009, footnote omitted]

June 2010 DOJ Report Also Shows Recovery Act Funds Spent Outside Of Arizona. From DOJ's June 2010 update to the ATF "Program-Specific Plan for Management of Recovery Act Funds":


The Department of Justice's (Department) Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) received $10 million of the Federal aid issued through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). The Recovery Act provides additional funding for Project Gunrunner, an existing ATF program, which is aimed at disrupting arms trafficking between the United States and Mexico. The funding is to be used to establish three new field offices and one new satellite office along the southwest border, as well as two offices in U.S. Consulates in Mexico. An estimated 37 new employees will be recruited, hired, and trained to fill positions made available by the funding or to backfill vacancies created as a result of the transfer of more experienced employees to these new offices.



The following table provides the planned completion dates for the significant activities associated with ATF's distribution of Recovery Act funds.

ATF 2010 chart

[DOJ report, ATF Program-Specific Plan for Management of Recovery Act Funds, 6/1/10]

Even Right-Wing Critic Bob Owens Has Noted That Conservatives Are Wrongly Conflating Gunrunner, Fast And Furious

Right-Wing Blogger Owens: Fast And Furious And Gunrunner "Are Not The Same Thing," Conservatives Should Use "Caution" To Avoid Confusion. From a July 8 post from right-wing blogger Bob Owens:

I've seen several claims in the past 24 hours that "prove" that Attorney General Eric Holder, or Congress, or the President, or the Pope, knew about Gunwalker/Fast and Furious because of a speech someone made, or because of legislation being proposed or because of a line item in the Stimulus bill.

I would strongly urge caution in these matters.

Please Keep in mind that Gunrunner is a long-term cartel weapons interdiction program that kicked off during the previous administration. there is no indication that Gunrunner has ever been anything but above-board. The program/project framework has long been used in business and government, with the program being the general vision, with individual projects/operations as steps towards realizing that vision.


Gunwalker/Fast and Furious was a specific secret operation or project within the much larger framework of Gunrunner. A list of all operations with the Gunrunner program is not publicly available, but I would be stunned if the total number of projects wasn't several dozen, or more, with many or most of them being covert and unknown to the public.

Gunwalker and Gunrunner are not the same thing even though they are related. [Confederate Yankee, 7/8/11]

Owens Previously Speculated That Fast And Furious Was "A PR Op For Gun Control." From a June 20 Pajamas Media post by Owens, headlined "Mega-Scandal: Was 'Gunwalker' a PR op for Gun Control?": "As there is a pattern of behavior to suggest that Gunwalker was not a botched law enforcement operation, but was instead an effort by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department to carry out a subversive anti-gun policy of the Obama administration, it is pertinent to examine Obama's past associations with anti-gun groups." [Pajamas Media, 6/20/11]

  • Owens Later Acknowledged He Lacked "Any Direct Evidence Of This Allegation." From a June 22 post by Owens:

In an earlier post we made an explosive allegation. We asserted that this plot to arm Mexican narco-terrorists was issued from the very top of the executive branch, and that these federal agencies were attempting to fulfill Barack Obama's goal of trying to enact gun control measures "under the radar," as the president said to proponents of gun control earlier this year.

We admittedly do not have any direct evidence of this allegation, but the circumstantial case made has proven strong enough to have few detractors and raises questions that must be answered. At the very least, the president's views toward guns was known throughout the executive branch. His administration has fostered an anti-gun atmosphere and created a hostile environment for gun owners and dealers. In that ugly petri dish, a program like Gunrunner could be born. [Pajamas Media, 6/22/11]

Posted In
Government, Cabinet & Agencies, Justice & Civil Liberties, Guns
Fox News Channel
Steve Doocy
FOX & Friends
Operation Fast and Furious
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.