Fast and Furious Defense Strategy: Keep Them Quiet

An overlooked detail of the personnel shuffling that has occurred in the wake of Operation Fast and Furious: current Acting ATF Director B. Todd Jones was in a position to be as culpable regarding the gunwalking plot as was the removed director, Kenneth Melson.

Before taking over for Melson in a DOJ push to appear to have done "something," Jones was the chairman of the attorney general's Advisory Committee. He sat in on Fast and Furious calls as early as October 26,  2009 -- a meeting Melson also attended.

With the personnel move to Jones, control merely shifted from one possible co-conspirator to another, though the administration assured that they still held a tight rein over the new acting director with the choice of Jones.

In a Christmas Eve article in the Los Angeles Times, reporter Richard Serrano revealed that Melson had blamed ATF staff for Operation Fast and Furious during confidential testimony with congressional investigators:

The deposition, which was taken in July and was recently obtained by the Washington bureau, shows that Kenneth E. Melson was irate. Even his chief intelligence officer at ATF headquarters was upset with the operation, dubbed Fast and Furious, but did little to shut it down, Melson complained. "He didn't come in and tell me, either," Melson said. "And he's on the same damn floor as I am."

Perhaps the most vital information in Serrano's article is how the DOJ is apparently intending to handle the inspector general's investigation:

At Holder's request, the Justice Department's inspector general began investigating Fast and Furious in February, a month after the controversial operation in the ATF's Phoenix field office came to light.

Jones expects the inspector general's report early next year. He said he will immediately refer it to the ATF's Office of Professional Responsibility for recommendations on job terminations or suspensions. "We sure will" be making some quick personnel decisions, he said.

In response to a gunwalking operation that put more than 2,000 firearms into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, and which led to the death of at least one U.S. law enforcement agent and more than 300 people in Mexico, the ATF will look for "recommendations on job terminations or suspensions."