ATF official apologizes for mistakes in gun probe

July 26, 2011 - 1:29 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — An official of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has apologized and told Congress he shares responsibility for mistakes in carrying out a controversial law enforcement operation in Arizona that resulted in high-powered weapons flowing into Mexico.

William McMahon, the head of ATF's western region, testified Tuesday that the agency had good intentions when it launched Operation Fast and Furious in 2009. But McMahon says that looking back, there are things ATF would have done differently.

McMahon, the highest-ranking ATF official to testify publicly about the operation, says he failed to keep close enough track of the investigation in Arizona. Fast and Furious focused on several Phoenix area gun shops and sought to develop cases against gunrunning ring leaders who had eluded previous tactics.