Who in the DOJ knew about "gun walking"? (ATF letting guns go to Mexico)

"Project Gunrunner" was a BATF scheme in which they encouraged gun stores to sell to those who were likely to send the purchased guns to Mexico to be used in that country's drug wars. Two of those guns might have been used to kill Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and ICE agent Jamie Zapata.

The supposed goal of Gunrunner was to trace the guns to Mexico in order to catch the higher-ups, but it apparently had very little success. And, it would be nearly impossible for their not to be a political component. The Obama administration has been harping on guns being sent to Mexico for two years, despite that apparently not being that great an issue. One goal of Gunrunner might have been to save face, and another part might be a component of a larger, anti-gun agenda.

In any case, the question is: who knew about this and who approved it?

Obama claimed in an interview with (Mexican citizen) Jorge Ramos of Univision that neither he nor Eric Holder of the Department of Justice knew about it (link).

However, from this:

In an exclusive interview with CBS News, the lead ATF official in Mexico at the time Darren Gil says somebody in the Justice Department did know about the case. Gil says his supervisor at ATF's Washington D.C. headquarters told him point-blank the operation was approved even higher than ATF Director Kenneth Melson.

"Is the director aware of this," Gil asked the supervisor. Gil says his supervisor answered "Yes, the director's aware of it. Not only is the director aware of it, D.O.J.'s aware of it... Department of Justice was aware of it."

Gil goes on to say senior Justice official Lanny Breuer and several of his deputies visited Mexico amid the controversy last summer, and spoke to ATF staff generally about a big trafficking case that they claimed was "getting good results." Gil says Melson, ATF's Acting Director, also visited Mexico City. Gil's Deputy Attache and his Analyst questioned Melson about the case that surrounding all the weapons showing up in Mexico. "His response was 'it's a good case, it's still going on,'" recalls Gil, "and we'll close it down as soon as we possibly can."

According to justice.gov/agencies/index-org.html, there are only two people higher-up than the ATF Director: Holder, and the Deputy Attorney General. Until February 2010 that was David W. Ogden (link). Since then it's been James M. Cole.

And, per this:

The ATF operates under Justice Department, and two assistant U.S. attorneys in Phoenix authorized virtually every wiretap, affidavit and investigation conducted in Operation Fast and Furious [note: the Phoenix version of Project Gunrunner].

Chuck Grassley tried to obtain information from the DOJ but was apparently rebuffed. Now, Darrell Issa is trying. Tweet him @DarrellIssa and encourage him to subpoena the DOJ if they won't provide the documentation voluntarily.

4/1/11 UPDATE: Issa has now issued a subpoena demanding documents related to Project Gunrunner.