5 years, 8 months ago
From The LA Times:
The Justice Department is trying to protect its political appointees from the Fast and Furious scandal by concealing an internal “smoking gun” report and other documents that acknowledge the role top officials played in the program that allowed firearms to flow illegally into Mexico, according to the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Kenneth E. Melson, the ATF’s acting director, also told congressional investigators this month that the affidavits prepared to obtain wiretaps used in the ill-fated operation were inconsistent with Justice Department officials’ public statements about the program. Justice Department officials advised him not to raise his concerns with Congress about “institutional problems” with the Fast and Furious operation, Melson said.
“It was very frustrating to all of us,” Melson told congressional investigators in a private meeting over the Fourth of July holiday, “and it appears thoroughly to us that the department is really trying to figure out a way to push the information away from their political appointees at the department.”
Not only was the department slow to react, Melson said, but Justice Department officials indicated they did not want him to cooperate with Congress.
A transcript of his comments was released Monday by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Melson said he wasn’t attempting to shield his agency from its share of the blame. He acknowledged an instance in which his agents failed to intercept high-powered weapons when they could have.
“The deputy attorney general’s office wasn’t very happy with us” at the ATF, Melson said, “because they thought this was an admission that there were mistakes made. Well, there were some mistakes made.”
No one is surprised by this information. As I’ve said before, it isn’t in the DNA of this administration to be forthcoming or accountable in its actions. It appears that Melson made the decision to “turn state’s evidence,” so to speak. But I do disagree with one thing. He admitted to “mistakes.” The trafficking of weapons in violation of the National Firearms Act and Export Control Act isn’t a “mistake.” It’s an illegality.
The combination of illegalities and coverups by the administration is why we need a special prosecutor.
Operation Fast and Furious (F&F) – a program run by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that allowed thousands of lethal weapons to cross the Mexican border – was apparently no secret among high-level political authorities at the Department of Justice (DOJ). Among those in the know? Newly-confirmed Deputy Attorney General James Cole.