JENNIFER EPSTEIN | 8/30/11 12:21 PM EDT (Epstein's Mom??)
The man who led the controversial Fast and Furious anti-gun-trafficking operation will step down as the interim head of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Justice Department announced Tuesday as it named a new acting director for the agency.
Kenneth Melson, the bureau’s acting director, on Wednesday will move to the Office of Legal Policy
(WTF?), where he will be a senior adviser on forensic science, the department said without making reference to the failed gun-tracking operation that is alleged to have ultimately put guns into the hands of criminals. Dennis Burke, the U.S. Attorney in Arizona who oversaw prosecutions in that state related to the Fast and Furious operation, is also stepping down, the department said.
“Ken brings decades of experience at the department and extensive knowledge in forensic science to his new role, and I know he will be a valuable contributor on these issues,” Attorney General Eric Holder said of Melson in a statement. “As he moves into this new role, I want to thank Ken for his dedication to the department over the last three decades.”
Melson’s replacement is B. Todd Jones, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota. Jones “is a demonstrated leader who brings a wealth of experience to this position,” Holder said. “I have great confidence that he will be a strong and steady influence guiding ATF in fulfilling its mission of combating violent crime by enforcing federal criminal laws and regulations in the firearms and explosives industries.”
(Yeah, I bet you do.)
Melson took the top spot at the ATF on an interim basis in 2009 and oversaw the execution of Fast and Furious, an effort that was aimed at rooting out gun smugglers selling weapons to Mexican cartels. Ultimately, the ATF lost track of as many as 2,000 guns that were sold during the operation, including two that were found near the scene of the killing of a Border Patrol agent.
In a separate statement, Holder commended Burke’s “decision to place the interests of the U.S. Attorney’s office above all else” in stepping down. CBS reported that Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley, who worked under Burke on Fast and Furious, will be reassigned to the Civil Division of the Justice Department.
Holder also praised Burke’s work, and said his office’s “quick response to the devastating shootings in January that claimed the lives of several people and critically injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was crucial in arresting and charging the alleged shooter.”
An investigation of the Fast and Furious operation by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee found emails showing that Melson was regularly informed of the problems with the investigation.
One associate told POLITICO that, despite news stories predicting Melson’s exit since the beginning of the summer, he may have been reluctant to resign due to issues related to eligibility for retirement. Melson started at the Justice Department in 1983 as a federal prosecutor in Virginia.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House oversight committee, initially called on Melson to resign, but reversed course in July, saying that Melson should not be forced out until the facts about the operation were fully known.
In a statement Tuesday, Issa said “the reckless disregard for safety” by the Justice Department “certainly merits changes” in personnel.
But the committee will continue to investigate Fast and Furious “to ensure that blame isn’t offloaded on just a few individuals for a matter that involved much higher levels of the Justice Department,” Issa said. “There are still many questions to be answered about what happened in Operation Fast and Furious and who else bears responsibility, but these changes are warranted and offer an opportunity for the Justice Department to explain the role other officials and offices played in the infamous efforts to allow weapons to flow to Mexican drug cartels.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) voiced dismay that Melson has been reassigned and not forced to step down. Holder, he said, should have requested Melson’s resignation and “come clean on all alleged gun-walking operations.”
In July, there was fresh evidence of distance between Melson and Justice Department leaders when he gave a lengthy interview to congressional investigators outside the presence of and without advance notice to DOJ’s legislative affairs team. In the interview, Melson said he had objected to aspects of DOJ’s plans for handing the legislative inquiries and that he had been told not to tell Congress why mid-ranking ATF officials with responsibility for the Fast and Furious operation were reassigned.
The ATF has been without a permanent director since 2006. The confirmation process for the Obama administration’s nominee, Andrew Traver, the head of the agency’s Chicago office, has stalled under opposition from the National Rifle Association.
Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories...#ixzz1WXubkT8C
As if Holder will punish any wrongdoer that is actually doing work for him ala the black panthers voter intimidation case. The negro gatos were actually enforcing Obozo's policy by telling folks who to vote for.
Heads need to roll. Really, like roll off of their shoulders onto their shoes. Like Exodus 22:24 says "And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless"