Obama tossing Melson under the bus?

posted at 8:00 am on June 18, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

The Wall Street Journal reported last night that the political fallout from Operation Fast and Furious has the White House looking for a fast and furious way out.  The acting head of the ATF, Kenneth Melson, will likely lose his job, perhaps as early as next week, the WSJ’s sources say, in what looks like an effort to contain the damage:

The Justice Department is expected to oust the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to people familiar with the matter, amid a troubled federal antitrafficking operation that has grown into the agency’s biggest scandal in nearly two decades.

Moves toward the replacement of Kenneth Melson, acting ATF director since April 2009, could begin next week, although the precise sequence of events remains to be decided, these people said.

The shakeup shows the extent of the political damage caused by the gun-trafficking operation called Fast and Furious, which used tactics that allowed suspected smugglers to buy large numbers of firearms. Growing controversy over the program has paralyzed a long-beleaguered agency buffeted by partisan battles. The ATF has been without a Senate-confirmed director since 2006, with both the Bush and Obama administrations unable to overcome opposition from gun-rights groups to win approval of nominees.

Speaking of which, the current nominee has yet to get a hearing.  Andrew Traver’s nomination came almost two years into the Obama administration, two weeks after watching his party get trounced in the midterms, and the Senate has yet to act on the nomination.  Republicans may be holding pro forma sessions during recesses with Harry Reid’s blessing in part to specifically keep Obama from making Traver a recess appointment, and not for no reason, as the Christian Science Monitor reported shortly after his nomination:

The nomination of the Naperville, Ill., native to be top gun cop is applauded by gun-control activists, who say the 5,000-employee ATF has lost ground in its regulation of the $28 billion US firearms business, having labored under interim directors since 2006.

But the idea of an ATF director who hails from Chicago, a city without gun shops, and who has conflated black market automatic weapons with legal semi-automatic “assault-style” rifles is causing Second Amendment defenders to worry that President Obama intends to blast away at gun rights by force of bureaucracy, if not law.

“This is a demonstration that Obama has … the same attitudes about Second Amendment rights now as he did [when he was an Illinois state senator], which is quite hostile,” says Dave Kopel, research director at the Independence Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Golden, Colo., that promotes free-market ideas. “He’s picked a strong anti-Second Amendment person for an administrative job that has far more influence over the practical exercise of Second Amendment rights than any other job in the country.”

One interesting tidbit from that November 2010 story, if readers will pardon a tangent, has to do with the expected rise in gun violence from the run on sales after Obama’s election:

FBI reports show gun violence in the US has declined, surprising those criminologists who saw the combination of the 2009 gun run and high jobless rates as a recipe for a spike in gun crimes and violence.

Er … surprise?  People who bought guns legally intend them for legal use.  Perhaps gun crime went down because more people decided to not be victims.  That wouldn’t surprise anyone who actually understands the 2nd Amendment and personal defense, which apparently doesn’t include “criminologists” or Andrew Traver.

Back to the ATF.  The effort to get rid of Melson looks like an attempt to appease the House, but it’s not likely to work.  Had the White House provided more cooperation with Darrell Issa on this and other investigations, a Melson resignation might have sufficed.  Instead of cooperating, Melson and Attorney General Eric Holder stonewalled the Oversight Committee for weeks, and when they finally turned over the documents subpoenaed by Issa, the heavy redactions prompted Issa to tell the the DoJ’s Assistant Attorney General that he “should be ashamed” of its conduct in an investigation into the death of one of its Border Patrol agents:

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Wednesday escalated his standoff with the Department of Justice over a gun-tracking program that might have contributed to the death of federal agent.

As the family of slain ATF agent Brian Terry pleaded for justice, Issa said officials should be “ashamed” for handing over heavily redacted documents about the program. …

After more than two months of back-and-forth between DOJ officials and Issa’s staff, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich told lawmakers that the department was cooperating and actively working to respond to the committee’s request.

Outraged, Issa held up a piece of white paper with a giant black box of entirely redacted text on it.

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” Issa said to Weich. “It doesn’t take so long if you don’t spend your life redacting it.

“The pages go on like this forever,” he said, referencing the blackened piece of paper. “You’ve given us black paper instead of white paper. You might as well have given us a ream still in its original binder. How dare you make an opening statement of cooperation.”

It’s moments like this that will almost certainly lead Melson to join millions of other Americans looking for work.  But thanks to the conduct of Holder and Weich, that’s not going to be enough.  Issa now will go after the DoJ for its conduct in the investigation, because Holder and Weich have certainly acted as if they have something to hide.  And the sudden desire to throw Melson under the bus seems to indicate that the White House would like to end this probe rather quickly, too.  At this point, even a resignation by Weich wouldn’t slow Issa’s probe.

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Go after them like they did Nixon.I want to hear “What did he know and when did he know it.”

docflash on June 18, 2011 at 9:08 AM

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BINGO!
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RalphyBoy on June 18, 2011 at 12:25 PM

At this point, even a resignation by Weich wouldn’t slow Issa’s probe.

It better friggin’ not.

We have at least one fallen Border Agent, and Lord knows how many dead innocents.

We’ll be seeing the repercussions of this for years to come.

Melson, Weich AND Holder belong in a damn Jail-Cell.

Tim_CA on June 18, 2011 at 12:31 PM

Holder is a thug, like his boss.

Schadenfreude on June 18, 2011 at 12:50 PM

“The Smartest Man in the World” is about to learn what others have learned – also the hard way. “It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup”.

GarandFan on June 18, 2011 at 10:08 AM

You Couldn’t be more wrong.

AnthonyWeiner on May 29, 2011 at 8:00 AM

.

.

.

Tim_CA on June 18, 2011 at 1:00 PM

There’s the possibility of Mexican criminal charges against administration players, too. These charges could use any and all testimony given before Congress, even that forced by a congressional grant of immunity (which would not bind the Mexican government). This, more than any fear of the political fallout, may explain the extreme lack of cooperation.

PersonFromPorlock on June 18, 2011 at 1:06 PM

It is about time Texas began an investigation regarding the commission of crimes by Federal employees.

pat on June 18, 2011 at 1:12 PM

Oh…and by the way Mr. Holder….Gun stores are where Law-Abiding, Legal, U.S. Citizens buy their personal means of self / property defense (the right to bear arms dontcha know).

They’re not toy stores for Liberal, DOJ hacks trying to make names for themselves.

It still just boggles the mind what you idiots did here….I mean you treated semi-automatic assault-rifles like they were candy-bars.

Yet it’s NRA supporting conservatives that are irresponsible gun freaks and whack jobs?

You guys REALLY need to STFU. Seriously.

Tim_CA on June 18, 2011 at 1:24 PM

blockquote>Tim_CA on June 18, 2011 at 12:31 PM

agree

cmsinaz on June 18, 2011 at 1:56 PM

It is about time Texas began an investigation regarding the commission of crimes by Federal employees.

pat on June 18, 2011 at 1:12 PM

Damn straight

Roy Rogers on June 18, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Offer Melson a plea deal.

Put all the cards liberals on the table.

Speakup on June 18, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Kenneth Melson, will likely lose his job, perhaps as early as next week, the WSJ’s sources say, in what looks like an effort to contain the damage

What damage? Your average unengaged distracted with stupidity American doesn’t even know about this… go ask your neighbors about this and see if they even know what you are talking about…

CCRWM on June 18, 2011 at 2:09 PM

Anti-gun advocates get elected and give hundreds of guns to foreign criminals while scheming to find ways to keep law biding Americans from exercising their rights to legally own firearms to protect themselves from criminals.

Must be Leftist Democrats.

Hening on June 18, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Holder and Obama are wussie thugs, the worst kind. They use the office power and subordinates to bully while neither has been in an actual foght in their lives.

Bevan on June 18, 2011 at 2:13 PM

There sure are a lot of people under that bus. It must be hard to get traction by now you’d think.

Yakko77 on June 18, 2011 at 2:22 PM

“The Smartest Man in the World” is about to learn what others have learned – also the hard way. “It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup”.

GarandFan on June 18, 2011 at 10:08 AM

Well, the crime is pretty substantial this time. Arming hostile forces who happen to be next door, and are shooting up your and your allies citizens is kind of a Big Thing

Anti-gun advocates get elected and give hundreds of guns to foreign criminals while scheming to find ways to keep law biding Americans from exercising their rights to legally own firearms to protect themselves from criminals.

Must be Leftist Democrats.

Hening on June 18, 2011 at 2:10 PM

We’re actually at the “thousands”. Current tally is between 1,700 and 2,000 assault riffle derivatives. And they did it in complete violation of standing US law.

Voyager on June 18, 2011 at 2:27 PM

FBI reports show gun violence in the US has declined, surprising those criminologists who saw the combination of the 2009 gun run and high jobless rates as a recipe for a spike in gun crimes and violence.

Er … surprise? People who bought guns legally intend them for legal use. Perhaps gun crime went down because more people decided to not be victims. That wouldn’t surprise anyone who actually understands the 2nd Amendment and personal defense, which apparently doesn’t include “criminologists” or Andrew Traver.

Thanks, Ed

Caststeel on June 18, 2011 at 3:24 PM

The word that is necessary to describe those working together to undermine the law: conspiracy.

The nature of a conspiracy to supply weapons to internationally lawless groups is: terrorism.

Conspiracy to aid, abet and cause terrorism.

Not just Congressional investigations, please, but IGs in both the DoJ and BATFE… plus if there is demonstrable evidence of highers-up coordinating this, then it is not only conspiracy but that other T word, with multiple citizens in the government able to acknowledge it.

And the other T word is: Treason.

Conspiracy to commit treason and abuse power to cover up such treason by trying to stop agents from enforcing the law when terrorist gun sales could have been stopped by those agents.

No, the bus is coming far too late to save them.

ajacksonian on June 18, 2011 at 3:25 PM

Melson, Weich AND Holder belong in a damn Jail-Cell.

Tim_CA on June 18, 2011 at 12:31 PM

You forgot one…

… that thing sitting in the Oval Office who started this all.

Seven Percent Solution on June 18, 2011 at 3:27 PM

Some more ‘Walkergate’ news items:

(Foxnews)Two AK-47s Used to Murder Mexican Lawyer Were ‘Fast and Furious’ Guns From U.S., Sources Say

Out of control much, ATF? By Steve D. Jones Fort Smith Gun Rights Examiner

The Congressional hearings into the actions of the ATF concerning Operation Fast and Furious (otherwise known as Project Gunwalker) began on Wednesday, June 15, and they are already bringing revelations that the ATF is out of control… again.

Peter Forcelli, the group supervisor with ATF’s Phoenix field division testified Wednesday, and revealed some interesting eye-opening details. Amazingly, it appears the gun Jared Loughner used to shoot U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson could have easily been one that the ATF allowed to “walk”, and they were genuinely worried that the firearm Loughner used in January was an ATF ‘Gunwalker’ gun.

There are others that believe Operation Fast and Furious had a political motive; to prove guns were being bought in the U.S. and moved across the Mexican border, so new gun controls could be enacted. But gun control advocates are trying to say this event shows the ATF actually needs more power!

Insert witty screen name here on June 18, 2011 at 3:35 PM

On Gunwalker – The Ultimate False Flag Operation Posted by Ann Barnhardt

Bottom line:

Gunwalker never, ever had ANYTHING to do with drug enforcement or stopping the cartels. NOTHING.

“See? These Mexicans are dead because of weapons sourced in the U.S. If it weren’t for the U.S. and the Second Amendment, none of this would have happened.”

Yeah, except the Obama regime specifically handed the weapons in question to the Mexican cartels, and then explicitly FORBADE the ATF agents from interdicting them.

Insert witty screen name here on June 18, 2011 at 3:42 PM

CSPAN has video of the testimony from June 15, but here’s a link to a transcript of the full testimony. It’s 99 pages long but well worth reading, if you don’t watch the video. http://www.nraila.org/pdfs/hearingtranscript.pdf

How could the DEA, ATF, FBI and ICE, plus the US Attorney in AZ all be involved in Fast and Furious but Obama and Holder not know anything about it? I bet Big Sis knew too! And nobody had enough respect for the family of Border Patrol agent Terry to tell them about the gun in his murder being linked to Fast and Furious. Instead, Mrs. Terry said she learned about it through the news media.

This program was initiated in 2009, by someone in the Obama administration, yet none of the weasels have the backbone to step up and take responsibility for this idiocy. The buck stops in the Oval Office. Richard Nixon had to resign over a lesser crime. Why is Obama still in office?

GrannySunni on June 18, 2011 at 4:04 PM

No question, Melson’s scalp might have been enough if Obama and Holder had acted once the story first broke. Instead they decided to stonewall the House’s requests for information. They acted as if they had something to hide (because apparently they did have something to hide) and Melson is too little, too late.

Let’s up the ante here and insist on all the information – including the internal memos after the story broke. Everyone involved in the cover-up attempt must go, period.

That probably includes Holder. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Adjoran on June 18, 2011 at 4:04 PM

Very good timeline of the ‘Walkergate’ scandal:

Reasoned Politics: Hillary, Eric, Wikileaks and the BATFE Scandal: An Overview and Timeline

Timeline updated June 18, 2011 00:45 pt

Insert witty screen name here on June 18, 2011 at 4:58 PM

How much dough will Melson collect in retirement? Plenty, I’ll bet.

PattyJ on June 18, 2011 at 5:51 PM

People were murdered over this. A guy losing his job isn’t really…enough.

DrAllecon on June 18, 2011 at 8:54 PM

Arming narcos…

Got to hand it to the left in their never ending quest for our insecurity

there was some BS story dominating the tube when holder was getting reamed in court

what was it?

Sonosam on June 18, 2011 at 10:33 PM

I’m sure that WaPo and NYT are all over this with their volunteer brigades.

My question is this:

Is this operation all about trying to create favorable circumstances to attempt to further gun control, or was that only part of the scheme? Were U.S. officials purposefully taking steps to further break down civil society and erode law and order in Mexico in order to create conditions so miserable that it induces a flood of emigration to the U.S.?

With this bunch in power, I wouldn’t put anything past them.

hillbillyjim on June 19, 2011 at 4:40 AM

There is only one solution that would strike me as being “justice”

The total dissolution of the ATF. Every agent dismissed summarily from government service. Every lab person, secretary, janitor. The entire ATF and Eric Holder walked to the door and told “Get out!” and permanently barred from ever serving the U.S. Government again for the rest of their lives.

The ATF has undertaken a deliberate war to strip Americans of their rights. They don’t stage no-knock raids to search for untaxed cigarettes. They don’t drop from helicopters to look for untaxed booze. And I really wouldn’t care as much if they did.

They do those things and worse to law abiding citizens looking intimidate, harass and abuse. The agency is rotten through and through and can not be salvaged. It is corrupt, twisted and utterly rotten.

They need to be done away with and everyone who joined them in their war against the law-abiding needs to go away from power forever.

Eric Holder needs to go because he has obstructed justice in this case and in multiple other cases, abusing public office for partisan politics.

Hyunchback on June 19, 2011 at 6:32 PM

Opposition from gun rights groups?

You mean this board was supposed to regulate our gun rights? Oh dang…

/sarc

Hyunchback on June 19, 2011 at 6:32 PM

I agree completely.

Paid for by the Committee to Erect Anthony Weiner on June 20, 2011 at 12:26 AM

Insert witty screen name here on June 18, 2011 at 3:42 PM

You know what’s coming, don’t you? The left will accuse you of only caring about dead Mexicans if it reflects badly on Obama. They will probably suggest that you’d be just fine with those guns being used by US citizens to mow down “undocumented workers” crossing the border illegally. Get ready for that meme.

SKYFOX on June 20, 2011 at 6:58 AM

Hyunchback on June 19, 2011 at 6:32 PM

You are too kind. The ATF was ‘out of control’ in the 80s even before Waco and Ruby Ridge. You are right, they never busted down doors for cigs or booze. But they DID bust down doors to get peoples ‘collections’ of rare and expensive one of a kind firearms. Did you know the ATF are all the LOW scores on the Fed test? And the ATF held racist rallies in Tenn.?

I say try them all for Treason and HANG THEM. No Presidential pardon for them then. I admit it would be a first, no ones been hung for treason yet.

So answer me this: Wheres OReilly, Wheres Hannity, Wheres Limbaugh on this? Wheres Greta (oh I know shes the b1tch standing behind a pile of guns trying to demonstrate how evil the US is towards Mexico). I suppose they are all busy writing some book….

Where is SOMEONE WITH A VOICE, who can get the lid blown off this thing. No one.

orbitalair on June 20, 2011 at 8:44 AM

Wheres OReilly, Wheres Hannity, Wheres Limbaugh on this? Wheres Greta (oh I know shes the b1tch standing behind a pile of guns trying to demonstrate how evil the US is towards Mexico). I suppose they are all busy writing some book….

Where is SOMEONE WITH A VOICE, who can get the lid blown off this thing. No one.

orbitalair on June 20, 2011 at 8:44 AM

You are being unfair.

Rush.
Hannity (with the Boss Emeritus).

Rebar on June 20, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Er … surprise? People who bought guns legally intend them for legal use. Perhaps gun crime went down because more people decided to not be victims. That wouldn’t surprise anyone who actually understands the 2nd Amendment and personal defense, which apparently doesn’t include “criminologists” or Andrew Traver.

From the same people who are surprised that crime goes down even though more people are in prison…

To be a liberal is to be constantly surprised.

tom on June 20, 2011 at 1:11 PM

Holders head should be the next one to roll!

MCGIRV on June 20, 2011 at 9:11 PM

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