However, a problem seems to arise when ATF Special Agent in Charge (SAC) at the time - William Newell - is brought into the picture. He apparently had involvement with both operations and his role in Wide Receiver is not likely to go unnoticed by congressional investigators. In 2006, a memo addressed to the US Attorney in Arizona by an ATF attorney expressed 'moral objections' to the proposed plan.
Via CBS News:
The memo asks then-U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton to weigh in on the gunwalking proposal. Charlton told CBS News he has no memory of the memo but "I don't believe I would have or ever did approve letting guns walk." He says his Assistant U.S. Attorney on the case at the time recently assured him the memo was disapproved.On its face, this doesn't look good for Newell at all. Whether the Justice Department wanted to or not, by pointing to Wide Receiver, they may have made life a whole lot more difficult for Newell.
"It's almost an I.Q. test," Charlton told CBS News, meaning nobody would approve the "preposterous" idea as outlined in the memo. But he notes, "Somebody did it (gunwalking) anyway, in disregard of what was disallowed, and repeated it again in Fast and Furious."
Phoenix ATF Special Agent in Charge Bill Newell oversaw both gunwalking operations. Newell was named to head the Phoenix office in June 2006. One month later came the memo seeking approval for the gunwalking. At a January press conference, Newell was asked if guns were allowed to walk in Fast and Furious, and he replied "hell, no." That answer was soon revealed as false, and Newell was transferred to ATF headquarters.
h/t Sipsey Street