UPDATE: 8/30/11, "But agents were often told to abandon surveillance of the weapons, allowing them — and the straw buyers — to disappear, according to testimony from numerous agents before the House." The Hill
8/11/11, "ATF's gun surveillance program showed early signs of failure," LA Times, Richard A. Serrano
"In March 2010, the No. 2 man at the ATF was deeply worried. His agents had lost track of hundreds of firearms. Some of the guns, supposed to have been tracked to Mexican drug cartels, were lost right after they cleared the gun stores.
Five months into the surveillance effort — dubbed Operation Fast and Furious — no indictments had been announced and no charges were immediately expected. Worse, the weapons had turned up at crime scenes in Mexico and the ATF official was worried that someone in the United States could be hurt next.
Acting Deputy Director William Hoover called an emergency meeting and said he wanted an "exit strategy" to shut down the program. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for decades had dedicated itself to stopping illegal gun-trafficking of any kind. Now it was allowing illegal gun purchases on the Southwest border
- and letting weapons "walk" unchecked into Mexico.
But indictments did not come for another 10 months. By then, two semiautomatics had been recovered after a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed south of Tucson, and
- nearly 200 had been found at crime scenes in Mexico."...