July 6, 2011 - 8:05 am
Acting ATF Director Ken Melson testified in front of investigators from the House Commitee on Oversight and Government Reform on July 4.
According to a release from Rep Darrell Issa, the chariman of the committee, Melson’s testimony directly contradicted testimony given to the committee by previous witnesses:
Contrary to denials by the Justice Department, Acting Director Melson acknowledged the agents had in fact witnessed transfers of weapons from straw purchasers to third parties without following the guns any further.
The ATF group executing Operation Fast and Furious had been placed under the direction of the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s office.
In a letter to Attorney General Holder, signed by both Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley, (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Issa and Grassley decry apparent administration attempts to force Melson out and note Melson said ATF would have liked to have been more cooperative earlier but was prevented by the Justice Department.
He claimed that ATF’s senior leadership would have preferred to be more cooperative with our inquiry much earlier in the process. However, he said that Justice Department officials directed them not to respond and took full control of replying to briefing and document requests from Congress. The result is that Congress only got the parts of the story that the Department wanted us to hear. If his account is accurate, then ATF leadership appears to have been effectively muzzled while the DOJ sent over false denials and buried its head in the sand. That approach distorted the truth and obstructed our investigation. The Department’s inability or unwillingness to be more forthcoming served to conceal critical information that we are now learning about the involvement of other agencies, including the DEA and the FBI.
The excrement just keeps getting deeper for the administration on this one. It’s time for Holder and the heads of any federal agency which was involved even peripherally with this debacle to resign forthwith.