Independent voices from the TWT Communities
The ranking Democrat on a House committee investigating the failed "Fast and Furious" gunrunning operation wants the former director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives called as a witness to better explain how the investigation originated and who authorized it.
Kenneth E. Melson, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who was caught this year in a firestorm over the "Fast and Furious" undercover gun investigation, was reassigned Tuesday and will be replaced by U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones of Minnesota.
Weapons purchased during ATF's controversial "Fast and Furious" undercover investigation, which included the sale to "straw buyers" of hundreds of AK-47 assault rifles, have turned up at a dozen violent crime scenes across the Southwest, the Justice Department told a Senate committee.
A senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday described as "inconceivable" a Justice Department decision to promote key Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) personnel who oversaw the controversial "Fast and Furious" weapons investigation that allowed hundreds of guns to be walked into Mexico.
Several top ATF officials will testify Tuesday before a House committee investigating the controversial "Fast and Furious" weapons program and likely will be asked whether they were ordered not to tell Mexican authorities that guns recovered at crime scenes in that country had been illegally purchased in the U.S.
Two Republican lawmakers investigating a controversial Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives weapons operation known as "Fast and Furious" have asked the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration to explain what role their agents played in the investigation.
The closed-door testimony of ATF's acting director, saying that the Justice Department was obstructing a congressional investigation, has prompted an expansion of that ongoing probe into the controversial "Fast and Furious" weapons-smuggling operation.
The Justice Department blocked senior ATF leaders from cooperating with Congress in its investigation of the "Fast and Furious" weapons operation, ordering them not to respond to questions and taking full control of replying to briefing and document requests, the agency's top boss told Congressional investigators.
The Senate Judiciary Committee's ranking Republican, who has questioned whether the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed suspected gun smugglers to purchase assault rifles that later were used to kill a U.S. Border Patrol agent, wants to know whether ATF ordered its agents not to cooperate in his investigation of the shooting.
A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives initiative to reduce the flow of weapons from the United States to Mexico has "significant weaknesses" that undermine its effectiveness, including ATF's failure to share intelligence information with Mexican authorities and some of its U.S. law enforcement partners, a report said Tuesday.
Mr. Melson also told the investigators that some of the suspected gun traffickers targeted by ATF in the Fast and Furious probe may actually have been informants for the FBI and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — without ATF's knowledge.
"ATF employees are hardworking and dedicated to the mission of protecting the public every day, and in my time here I have seen firsthand their extraordinary commitment to stopping violent crime," he said.