Gunwalker case hits the fan on Tuesday
Top Justice Department officials have settled on a strategy for explaining a botched gun-trafficking probe that includes blaming the now-ousted U.S. attorney in Phoenix.
The department has spent much of the year dealing with questions about federal agents' use of investigative tactics that resulted in the smuggling of firearms into Mexico. The issue is coming to a head Tuesday, when Attorney General Eric Holder is set to answer questions at a Senate hearing.
A hostile reception likely awaits from Republican lawmakers, who have pushed to make Mr. Holder accountable. More than 30 have called for him to resign.
At issue is a tactic that was employed by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to allow suspects to buy and transfer firearms in the hopes of landing big-time smugglers.
In the 2009-10 Operation Fast and Furious, suspects were allowed to buy about 2,000 firearms, hundreds of which remain unaccounted for.
An earlier operation called Wide Receiver, conducted in 2006-07 under the Bush administration, let suspects buy more than 400 firearms.
Mr. Holder and the Justice Department's criminal division chief, Lanny Breuer, have condemned the practice and said they wouldn't have permitted its use in the Fast and Furious operation. . . .