'Gunwalker' Whistleblower: ATF Director 'Horribly Irresponsible'
One of the original whistleblowers on Operation Fast and Furious -- which allowed thousands of guns to cross the border into Mexico -- said Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Ken Melson's testimony before congressional investigators on July 4 was nothing but "smoke and mirrors." ATF Special Agent Vince Cefalu continued:
At this point he's doing what anyone would do, he's saving his own ass.
Cefalu was served with a notice of termination just one day after Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who is chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to the ATF warning them against retaliation towards agents who come forward to testify about the operation.
According to a release from Issa's office, Melson secretly talked to House and Senate investigators with his personal attorney present -- former United States Attorney Richard Cullen -- and did so without the knowledge of the ATF or the Department of Justice.
Per the letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder by both Issa and Grassley:
[Melson’s] interview had originally been scheduled through the Justice Department to occur on July 13 in the presence of DOJ and ATF counsel. As you know, however, under our agreement Department witnesses who choose to attend a voluntary interview with their own lawyer are free to exercise that right rather than participate with counsel representing the Department's interests.
Cefalu questioned the presence of Melson's lawyer:
Why would he need an attorney, why would you need all this protection if it doesn't happen (that ATF retaliates against whistleblowers)?
According to Cefalu this is an attempt by Melson to avoid responsibility for the operation which led to the deaths of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata, and more than 150 Mexican nationals. New reports now say that guns from Fast and Furious are being found in Arizona, having come full circle from the operation which was based in Phoenix. Said Cefalu:
He's horribly irresponsible. He's not taking responsibility for what he's done. At the end of the day he made decisions on behalf of ATF and people died for it.