Originally Posted by pnac
There's your answer right there. "Why not do it, nobody got in trouble for doing it before."
I think countzero meant "produced no high-level indictments of weapons smugglers not working for the federal government directly." Wide Receiver only resulted in 7 straw-purchasing indictments, which weren't brought until several years after the investigation ended (from what I've read, the FFL involved alleges ATF lied to the AUSA about the success of the weapons tracking and when the AUSA learned he refused to prosecute. So no charges were brought until a new AUSA came in with the election of the current Administration.)
Personally, I don't see how contrasting "Wide Receiver" and "Fast and Furious" is going to make anyone feel better about "Fast and Furious." You've got many of the same people involved at the ATF level. The big difference is Wide Receiver used tracking devices and attempted to interdict the weapons on this side of the border. When it became clear more weapons were getting away than being interdicted, the program was ended.
By contrast, Fast and Furious didn't use any tracking devices (with the exception of a single frustrated agent trying to jury-rig a GPS device out of Radio Shack parts) and instead of interdicting the weapons, agents were ordered to stand down and NOT interdict weapons on several occasions.
If Wide Receiver was so unsuccessful it had to be shut down and couldn't even be prosecuted, then you've got to ask yourself why you would remove two of the safeguards in Wide Receiver and then run the same operation on an even bigger scale?