Officials: Bush-Era Probe Permitted Guns Transfer

By PETE YOST | October 4, 2011 | 3:05 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two federal law enforcement officials say that during the presidency of George W. Bush, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Tucson, Ariz., ran an operation called Wide Receiver in which it permitted hundreds of guns to be transferred to suspected arms traffickers.

That is the same tactic Republicans in Congress have criticized the Obama administration for using in a separate operation called Fast and Furious. That operation was run out of the ATF's Phoenix office.

The fact that there were two such ATF investigations years apart in separate administrations raises the possibility that agents in other cases may have not have kept the guns in federal custody.

The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter was still under investigation.