Surprise July 4 Kenneth Melson Deposition to Congress

BY Herschel Smith
10 years, 2 months ago

I enjoyed the largest citizen (non-professional) fireworks display on earth on July 4th at Myrtle Beach, S.C., with my oldest son, grandchildren and dog (74 pound red and rust Dobie), up and down the coast, literally as far as the eye could see at dusk and just after.  Thankfully, Congressional investigators were busy with other things.

In a secret deposition on the Fourth of July, the embattled head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed to congressional investigators new potential lapses in a bungled U.S. gun trafficking sting  that has stirred controversy on both sides of the Mexican border, according to people familiar with the interview.

While many Americans celebrated over barbecues and fireworks, acting ATF director Kenneth Melson arrived Monday with a private attorney on Capitol Hill for the interview, the sources said, speaking only on the condition of anonymity.

During hours of questioning, Melson told investigators for the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that he has recently learned that other federal agencies may have withheld crucial information about possible drug cartel connections to the gun trafficking ring that his agency had tried to crack during a 15-month operation that used controversial tactics, the sources said.

[ … ]

In his interview, Melson said most of the operational decisions for the Fast and Furious operation were approved by the U.S. attorney’s office in Phoenix, which was leading a special strike force on gun trafficking, and that even he didn’t know about the specific orders to let straw buyers walk off with guns until after the controversy erupted, according to the sources.

He told the investigators he has subsequently learned that ATF agents during the operation did observe straw buyers transferring guns they had purchased to third parties, a possible legal violation, but did not interdict the weapons at the instructions of their immediate supervisors, the sources added.

[ … ]

Melson also disclosed the existence of documents about the ATF case that have not yet been turned over to congressional investigators, the sources added.

Melson has decided to play ignorant.  So be it.  Let’s allow the evidence to play out and see where the blame lies.  Whatever the end result, either Melson is lying, or he isn’t lying and he was truly ignorant.  In the former case he has perjured himself.  In the later he is merely incompetent.  In both cases, the finger of blame is still pointing higher.  We’re nowhere close to being done with this investigation.  We’re just getting started.

But one thing stands out in the testimony above, albeit from this brief and stilted report.  Melson is playing a card from a successful hand post-9/11, i.e., the “federal bureaucracy didn’t work well together” meme.  The right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing, there wasn’t information sharing, if we had only known more we could have … this, that and the other, on and on, so on and so forth, ad nauseam.

No, and a thousand times no.  The ATF isn’t some international intelligence organization that should be bent on mitigation of terrorist threats.  If it sees itself that way, then the argument for dismantling the ATF has just grown stronger by an order of magnitude.  A decision was made to violate the National Firearms Act and the Arms Export Control Act, and that’s not acceptable regardless of the decision maker(s).  I cannot violate those laws, and so the ATF cannot do it either.  Period.  There is culpability, and it must be followed through to its completion.

To simply assign blame for failure to share information is cheap, and this excuse wore out ten years ago.  Let me issue a warning on behalf of me and my dog to would-be finger pointers concerning Project Gunrunner: That dog won’t hunt.

Prior: Project Gunrunner Category


Comments

  1. On July 6, 2011 at 8:57 pm, scott s. said:

    ATF should go back to the reason it was created: collect taxes, and leave the G-man playing to others.

  2. On July 7, 2011 at 8:11 pm, Joseph Zernik, PhD, Human Rights Alert (NGO) said:

    ATF ‘Gun Walking’ Kenneth Melson – Key Figure in Corruption of the Justice System
    ____
    News regarding the imminent departure of Deputy Director Kenneth Melson in the wake of the ATF ‘gun walking’ scandal may be premature. Convoluted relationships between President Obama, FBI, and US Department of Justice are part of corruption of the US justice system that has reached the level of an unprecedented constitutional crisis…
    LINKS:
    [1] 11-07-06 PRESS RELEASE: ATF ‘Gun Walking’ Kenneth Melson – Key Figure in Corruption of the Justice System
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/59417750/

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This article is filed under the category(s) BATFE,Obama Administration,Project Gunrunner and was published July 6th, 2011 by Herschel Smith.

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