Skip to comments.More Fallout Expected Over Botched Gun Sting
Posted on 09/01/2011 10:06:17 PM PDT by neverdem
The botched sting operation known as Operation Fast And Furious has claimed the careers of at least three Justice Department officials, with Republican lawmakers expecting even more fallout to come.
The operation, run out of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives field office in Phoenix, allowed guns to knowingly fall into the hands of violent criminals in Mexico.
A congressional investigation into the operation led by House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Senate Judiciary ranking member Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, is examining how high up within the administration the program was known about and authorized.
The Justice Department announced on Tuesday that Kenneth Melson, the acting head of the ATF bureau will be reassigned, and that Dennis Burke, U.S. attorney for the district of Arizona, is resigning. In another change, the assistant U.S. attorney responsible for the day-to-day operations of Fast and Furious Emory Hurley has been removed from his post and reassigned to the departments civil division, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Justice Department did not return a phone call seeking comment for this story.
Fast and Furious has since been halted and is under investigation by lawmakers and the Justice Departments inspector general for failing to stop guns from flowing into Mexico.
As our investigation moves forward, and we get to the bottom of this policy, I wouldnt be surprised to see more fallout beyond the resignations and new assignments announced today, Grassley said in a statement.
Issa added: 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.
Areas the congressional investigation will now focus on include who within the Justice Department reviewed and authorized wiretap applications in support of the operation, and whether other agencies had informants who knew that weapons were being bought illegally by straw purchasers, said Frederick Hill, spokesman for the House Oversight panel. Investigators are also still trying to determine when Attorney General Eric Holder first learned about the operation.
The Justice Department also has not turned over all documents the committee is seeking under a subpoena, Hill said, adding that the panel plans to hold more hearings on the operation.
Melsons fate may have been sealed when he voluntarily met behind closed doors with congressional investigators on July 4. Melson told the committee he did not learn about the operation until it became public late last year, according to Issa and Grassley. Melson said he and other ATF leaders wanted to be forthcoming with Congress about what he learned but were directed by Justice Department officials not to do so.
Congressional investigators met with Burke on Aug. 18 and expect to soon have another meeting, Hill said. Hill declined to discuss Burkes testimony but said Operation Fast and Furious was designated as a strike team which was led directly by Burke. ATF agents have previously told the committee that they wanted to stop the illegal transfer of guns but were directed not to.
Burke told the committee he knew about Operation Fast and Furious but had been unaware of the details, according to Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., top Democrat on the House Oversight panel. But Burke said he still would take responsibility for mistakes made, according to a partial transcript of his interview released by Cummings office.
Holder announced the resignation of Burke and the reassignment of Melson, praising them for their service. He did not mention Operation Fast and Furious.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota B. Todd Jones has been appointed to replace Melson as acting ATF head. Jones has served as U.S. attorney for the district of Minnesota under two presidents. He has previously been a partner at private law firms and, in 2009, was appointed to serve as chairman of the Attorney General Advisory Committee.
“Holder announced the resignation of Burke and the reassignment of Melson, praising them for their service. He did not mention Operation Fast and Furious.”
Pete Williams: ...Eric Holder had lost confidence in the two of them [Melson and Burke] and that he thought a fresh start was what ATF was needed here.
MSNBC Video report:
Has NPR covered this yet?
My congressman is on the House Oversight Committee, so he’s right in the thick of this investigation.
Um, I think the problem was that the operation consisted of smuggling guns to Mexico.
Holder ain’t going nowhere. o needs him the way clinton needed Reno. He’ll either go the way of reno or he will go the way of Ron Brown or Vince Foster.
“The botched sting operation known as Operation Fast And Furious has claimed the careers of at least three Justice Department officials”
If I am not Mistaken All have been gioven other jobs in the government. If this is a loss of career it is unlike any in the private sector. Could you immagine if you as a private sector employee came up with a program that not only embarASSED YOUR EMPLOYER BUT ACTUALY killed PEOPLE> yOU WOULD BE GONE AND PROBABLY INDICTED!
Nobody got fired, they were just transferred to a different cushy, overpaid government job.
Botched, yes, because it was leaked/discovered.
This whole operation was set up to arm the cartels with weapons which could be traced to the US so Americans could be blamed for violence in Mexico, to justify more gun control laws here or even the UN Small Arms Treaty that Bolton told them to stuff.
I seriously doubt that from the second interdiction ceased there was any 'sting' operation going, just a criminal conspiracy conducted under color of law to diminish a fundamental Civil Right.
Somewhere out there is the right memo or email with the signature that will prove this goes way up the chain of command, beyond the pawns falling now.
When the Catholic church was faced with a problem with certain Priests who preyed upon those entrusted to their care for personal sexual gratification,in violation of laws of the Priesthood—and the Catholic church attempted such latteral transfers of those guilty of violating a trust. Many good people ceased to be called Catholic over the failed attempt address the problem by covering it up and pretending it did not exist or had been already addressed by those in authority. Now the petty TYRANTS in the American system of governance have done exactly as the Catholic church leadership attempted do. Those responsible for Fast and furious —for trafficking in weapons sold to the Mexican drug cartels and to street gangs —are still employed by the same system -still trusted by the same system —and their coop in the cover-up is bought by such
illegitimate action.Until Eric Holder and Barry Soetoro that changling in the White House are IMPEACHED and NEVER allowed a position of trust How can we trust any in our failed Government?