ATF Director Melson’s secret Fourth of July fireworks and the post-testimony fallout

posted at 4:53 pm on July 6, 2011 by Tina Korbe

This came out this morning, but, in case you haven’t yet caught the summaries on Townhall.com, The Daily Caller or elsewhere, these facts are worth yet another review.

In a secret July 4 testimony before Congressional investigators, Kenneth Melson, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), revealed important new details of Operation Fast and Furious, the international gunrunning scandal that Obama administration officials still refuse to clear up.

Today, Congressional investigators Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) followed up on that testimony by sending a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder just to let him know what they now know and to censure the Department of Justice for continuing to obstruct investigations into Project Gunwalker.

The key takeaways of the testimony, as relayed in the letter to Holder from Issa and Grassley:

  • The ATF isn’t the only agency to bear some responsibility for the botched operation that sent guns to Mexico. The Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Agency seem to have possessed information that could have had a material impact on Fast and Furious (i.e. info that could have eliminated or reduced the ostensible ‘need’ for the operation in the first place). Or, as the letter puts it, “We have very real indications from several sources that some of the gun trafficking ‘higher-ups’ that the ATF sought to identify were already known to other agencies and may even have been paid as informants.”
  • Taxpayer money was likely used to finance the gunrunning. “The evidence we have gathered raises the disturbing possibility that the Justice Department not only allowed criminals to smuggle weapons but that taxpayer dollars from other agencies may have financed those engaging in such activities.”
  • Senior ATF officials would have preferred to cooperate with Congressional inquiries — but “Department of Justice officials directed them not to respond and took full control of replying to briefing and document requests from Congress.”
  • Melson was at no point asked to resign.

Perhaps this would have come out at Melson’s regularly scheduled testimony July 13, but it says something that Melson chose to meet secretly with Issa and Grassley and to be represented by his own personal counsel rather than DOJ and ATF counsel, who, obviously, would have had departmental interests (and the protection of higher officials, perhaps?) more in mind than what was best for Melson.

Trust Issa and Grassley to investigate this until they determine who was ultimately responsible. They clearly think it goes beyond Melson. This is how they concluded their letter:

Any decision about Mr. Melson’s future with the Department would need to be justified solely on the basis of the facts and the needs of the agency, rather than on his decision to speak to us. We encourage you to communicate to us any additional significant information about any such decision so that we can work together to ensure that it would not impede our investigation. For now, the Office of Inspector General is still conducting its review, and we are still conducting ours. Knowing what we know so far, we believe it would be inappropriate to make Mr. Melson the fall guy in an attempt to prevent further congressional oversight.

Inappropriate indeed.


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They clearly think it goes beyond Melson.

Yes! It clearly goes all the way to the oval office, and the dictator that sits in the drivers seat there.

capejasmine on July 6, 2011 at 6:51 PM

This whole thing stinks to high heaven.

I just hope that the pace of the investigation exceeds the pace of the upcoming election in time to make a difference.

Wouldn’t a Nixonesque October (’12) surprise be nice?

hillbillyjim on July 6, 2011 at 6:58 PM

So if Holder gets thrown out and in jail, with a few other mid level folks following – good. Association alone puts this admin in further jeopardy – for Dems are in 2012 panic mode and have been for 6 months now.

Odie1941 on July 6, 2011 at 6:36 PM

Not sure how reliable this Ulsterman person is, but he is allegedly a WH leaker. His posts are around the internetS and pretty much everything he has leaked has proved accurate to date.

In his last interview he advised that the Dem party plans to make things extremely uncomfortable for BHO.

Keep your eye on Evan Bayh.

Key West Reader on July 6, 2011 at 6:58 PM

They clearly think it goes beyond Melson.
Do they know who and can they prove it? Seems Melson wants to save his own hide and good for him if he spills the beans. I’m sure there is a case load of beans and plenty of blame to stew them in.

Kissmygrits on July 6, 2011 at 7:04 PM

Key West Reader on July 6, 2011 at 6:58 PM

Having just started to follow this thread today, I may have missed something? I’m still but a mere novice me thinks. lol Could I trouble you to catch me up, or provide some links of this person you commented about? I’m intrigued.

capejasmine on July 6, 2011 at 7:13 PM

Everyone in the DOJ LE community knew about this op:

Email Confirms ‘Gunwalker’ Known Throughout Justice Department

http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/email-confirms-gunwalker-known-throughout-justice-department/

Holder had to know, and he is lying about it.

novaculus on July 6, 2011 at 7:16 PM

The whole freaking Executive Branch is dirty. Criminals all.

infidel4life on July 6, 2011 at 7:28 PM

If Holder knew about this, he should be run out of town on a rail.

If Holder didn’t know about this, he should be run out of town on a rail.

hillbillyjim on July 6, 2011 at 7:32 PM

novaculus on July 6, 2011 at 7:16 PM

Something tells me, Holder would lie, cheat, steal and maim if it meant saving his own sorry arse.

capejasmine on July 6, 2011 at 7:33 PM

and Nappy was SO confident: “the border has never been so secure”
Seems we’re now finding out just why …

/.

CaveatEmpty on July 6, 2011 at 7:36 PM

Is a jailed Holder and an impeached Obama too much of a Disneyesque happy ending to ask for?

ornery_independent on July 6, 2011 at 7:43 PM

Having just started to follow this thread today, I may have missed something? I’m still but a mere novice me thinks. lol Could I trouble you to catch me up, or provide some links of this person you commented about? I’m intrigued.

capejasmine on July 6, 2011 at 7:13 PM

Here they are. They are few, but quite telling.

Key West Reader on July 6, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Not sure how reliable this Ulsterman person is, but he is allegedly a WH leaker. His posts are around the internetS and pretty much everything he has leaked has proved accurate to date.

In his last interview he advised that the Dem party plans to make things extremely uncomfortable for BHO.

Keep your eye on Evan Bayh.

Key West Reader on July 6, 2011 at 6:58 PM

I’ve always felt the final step in squeezing BHO will be the release of the Khalidi tape. If that finally makes an appearance in the next year, that’s the signal for BHO to develop a mystery illness preventing him from running for a second term.

PatMac on July 6, 2011 at 7:55 PM

and Nappy was SO confident: “the border has never been so secure”
Seems we’re now finding out just why …

/.

CaveatEmpty on July 6, 2011 at 7:36 PM

That’s why her fatazz will be going down with Holder’s.

Question: With BHO facing the debt ceiling issue, constant campaigning, diminished Jewish vote (go to Ace of Spades), and when nobody wants his $3 dollah dinner invite with D’oh Biden? With BHO facing the potential loss of his Director of Homeland Security that is currently under intense scrutiny for mandating a 95 year old dying Lukemia stricken American that only wanted to see her family remove her Depend Undergarment? And feeling up our elderly and our children? The one who sued the State of AZ for trying their best to protect their citizenry from illegals trespassing and killing Citizens and Border Agents? Don’t forget folks, these gunrunner things have shown up in AZ.

I could go on, but because I am a kind human being I’ll just let the BHO digest these beginning issues. And I’ll let him ponder the FACT that the D party is going to make his life extremely uncomfortable in the coming days.

Key West Reader on July 6, 2011 at 7:59 PM

Bottom line is this. The D party KNOWS that they will lose their power. The R party KNOWS that they will lose their power. They are all shaking in their boots at this point.

Enough with the theatrics. Both parties know they do not have the consent of the governed.

There are a handful. A handful. Of genuine Representatives of their Constituencies that currently sit in The People’s House.

They sit at the seat of Power and they devour our hard earned money in terms of taxes.

I think BHO and all of them are in for a huge upset. Obama first. Everyone else is seconds.

Key West Reader on July 6, 2011 at 8:04 PM

Not sure how reliable this Ulsterman person is, but he is allegedly a WH leaker. His posts are around the internetS and pretty much everything he has leaked has proved accurate to date.

In his last interview he advised that the Dem party plans to make things extremely uncomfortable for BHO.

Keep your eye on Evan Bayh.

Key West Reader on July 6, 2011 at 6:58 PM

I am a big fan of Ulsterman – been following him at triond.com for awhile.

Also know a few folks here and there in DC.

Odie1941 on July 6, 2011 at 8:08 PM

Eric Holder in an orange jumpsuit. Nothing less.

CurtZHP on July 6, 2011 at 8:16 PM

Eric Holder in an orange jumpsuit. Nothing less.

CurtZHP on July 6, 2011 at 8:16 PM

Eric the Red in a bold orange, inmate-laundered Graybar Hotel Tuxedo is just too perfect a mental picture. Now thats Justice with a capital ‘J’.

If he authorized this, or knew about it after the fact and did nothing to stop it, a case could be made for depraved indifference. I’m not sure which state laws would apply, as I’m not familiar with the state laws over yonder in the Southwest, but it would seem that a federal charge or three would be in order as well.

Rep. Issa and the IG absolutely must not let this fade into oblivion no matter how much the mainstream news outlets refuse to call attention to this abomination.

hillbillyjim on July 6, 2011 at 8:35 PM

I for one am waiting for one our members of the esteemed oppressive-left justifying this death dealing fiasco.

Well how’s about it Girls and boys, the ‘Omelet’ is civilian disarmament – what you think is a worth while goal to somehow to protect the innocent by taking away their means of self-defense for the ‘Greater good’ or some such hogwash.

So have at it, was it worth the resultant deaths, the broken eggs?

Let’s hear your ‘logic’ on the subject.

Chip on July 6, 2011 at 8:59 PM

C-BS to their credit has been flogging this story, but the reason is simple-they broke it in the first place.

Should be interesting to see if the new C-BS anchor person mentions it on tonight’s broadcast.

Del Dolemonte on July 6, 2011 at 5:22 PM

I’m Shocked.

C-BS “News”, which broke this story a month ago and has been flogging it ever since, seems to have decided that the investigation is getting too close to Dear Leader for comfort. Here’s my log of tonight’s C-BS Evening “News” with Katie replacement Scott Pelley:

Sequence of stories…

1. al Qaeda Body Bomb

2. “Breaking News” drop in story of AQ bad guy al-Kashmiri’s meeting with a Hellfire Missile.

3. O’bama writing condolence letters to the survivors of military members who killed themselves in theater.

4. Debt meeting.

5. Dust Storm in Phoenix

6. Violent Weather

7. Whitey Bulger

8. Brit tabloid hacking story

9. Roger Clemens Trial

10. $22 Billion Treasure in India

Yep, it’s down the rabbit hole.

Del Dolemonte on July 6, 2011 at 8:59 PM

Yep, it’s down the rabbit hole.

Del Dolemonte on July 6, 2011 at 8:59 PM

The second C-BS Evening “News” feed, which is the West Coast feed (9:30 PM EDT, 6:30 PDT) was a carbon copy.

The story they originally broke has now been vanished.

Del Dolemonte on July 6, 2011 at 9:58 PM

Something tells me, Holder would lie, cheat, steal and maim if it meant saving his own sorry arse.

capejasmine on July 6, 2011 at 7:33 PM

Lets face it, Holder is trying to protect “his people” so let’s blame the WHITE BOY” Discrimination, thy name is Eric Holder!

Vntnrse on July 7, 2011 at 1:20 AM

Looks like CBS got the memo after all. Suddenly the stakes were too high and this might not just take out a mid-level bureaucrat, it might actually hurt their beloved Democrats.

I don’t see how Holder could possibly have *not* been a decision-maker on this. Hopefully the rumors about a second operation targeting Honduras will be vetted tomorrow (Codrea is apparently the source).

The only shocking part is how many people were involved on this, and nobody vetoed it – I mean, seriously, the question of what the point of the exercise was never came up? I don’t buy that. They were coordinating *something* that involved getting guns to criminals, without interdiction, and they agreed that should be done.

Somebody had better order more orange jumpsuits.

Merovign on July 7, 2011 at 1:23 AM

If Holder knew about this, he should be run out of town on a rail.

If Holder didn’t know about this, he should be run out of town on a rail.

hillbillyjim on July 6, 2011 at 7:32 PM

Well, nobody can claim you aren’t even-handed. (grins)

SKYFOX on July 7, 2011 at 6:15 AM

The Voice of Russia, doing the job the American Democrat Media refuses to!

http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/07/07/52921155.html

While the FBI tried to turn Kenneth Melson, Acting head of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, into a scapegoat, he managed to prove that he had not known about the operation until its details became public. Moreover, during a closed meeting with members of Congress, Mr. Melson stated that the Department of Justice had tried to prevent him from cooperating with the inquiry.

Still pretty much total silence this morning from the “journalists” here in America who got O’bama elected simply by refusing to do their jobs…

Del Dolemonte on July 7, 2011 at 10:30 AM

How this isn’t forcing a Holder resignation, at minimum, is beyond belief.

Oh that’s right, everyone was so flippin’ worried about airing the Anthony trial.

DaSaintFan on July 7, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Email Confirms ‘Gunwalker’ Known Throughout Justice Department

Attorney General Holder’s credibility takes another hit.

The operation was a snipe hunt. Operation Fast and Furious was chasing a phantom network that DOJ either imagined or was desperate to create in order to perpetuate the Obama-administration lie that 90-percent of crime guns in Mexico originated from the United States.

Let us lay this out as clearly and unambiguously as possible, so there can be no mistake.

Senior law enforcement officers within the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security, including government appointees, potentially committed felonies that led to the deaths of dozens, if not hundreds of Mexican police, soldiers, and civilians, and the murders of least two American federal agents. This program was put in place in order to pursue a phantom gun-smuggling network that only seemed to exist in the the minds of those pushing a political agenda of gun control championed exclusively by the left wing of the Democratic Party, Attorney General Eric Holder himself, and the president of the United States, Barack Obama.

NMRN123 on July 7, 2011 at 10:37 AM

Breaking News: Source claims ATF’s Tampa SAC walked guns to Honduras

Part of ‘Operation Castaway’?

Exclusive Special Report by Mike Vanderboegh and David Codrea

NMRN123 on July 7, 2011 at 10:38 AM

If Holder knew about this, he should be run out of town on a rail.

If Holder didn’t know about this, he should be run out of town on a rail.

hillbillyjim on July 6, 2011 at 7:32 PM

Absolutely correct! But it won’t happen.

Gang-of-One on July 7, 2011 at 11:05 AM

Rep. Issa and the IG absolutely must not let this fade into oblivion no matter how much the mainstream news outlets refuse to call attention to this abomination.

hillbillyjim on July 6, 2011 at 8:35 PM

Part of me actually thinks the media silence is a good thing – FOR NOW. It lets these guys build an iron-clad case without having to endure the media glare (with its requisite shrieks of “RACISM!!!!”). They’re presently not distracted by stupid questions from even more stupid reporters.

Let them build their case in peace.

CurtZHP on July 7, 2011 at 11:05 AM

This program was put in place in order to pursue a phanta political agenda of gun control om gun-smuggling network that only seemed to exist in the the minds of those pushing championed exclusively by the left wing of the Democratic Party, Attorney General Eric Holder himself, and the president of the United States, Barack Obama.

That’ only half the story -it is about gun control -but no one seems to ask why the left wants it so badly and what is it theintend to do if theyare successful? Why did no one really get upset when Obama voiced a desire for an unconstitutional civilian army as big as the military? What would a man that demands we kill helpless babies outside the womb do to unarmed adults? Is the fact that without guns we too will be as helpless -important or not?

Sanity requires that we get solid answers to those reasonable questions. We need to wake up before the disaster -not as did Germany, after their nation was reduced to rubble.

Don L on July 7, 2011 at 12:31 PM

NMRN123 on July 7, 2011 at 10:38 AM

So Gunrunner/Fast and Furious wasn’t limited to Phoenix and Mexico. “Operation Castaway” is another Gunwalker operation. Some of us have speculated that other offices may have run similar ops, and the DOJ was desperate to prevent the investigation from broadening at the base as the trail went higher and higher at DOJ.

How many Gunwalker operations did DOJ run?

novaculus on July 7, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Hmmm…just saw this post at FreeRepublic. Were these programs funded by the Stimulus Bill?

Something about Project Gunrunner (gunwalker, fast and furious) has been bugging me but I just couldn’t put my finger on it.

This morning when I woke up I remember seeing Project Gunrunner in a bill that was discussed here. The original thread about it was a rumor thread that HR45 had been rolled into the stimulus package.

In that thread I scanned the text of H.R.1 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for gun, firearm, etc and came up with a hit.

I posted in the thread: “Only time “gun” or “firearm” appears is in the part that give $10,000,000 to the ATF for Project Gunrunner. That was H.R. 495, asking for 15,000,000 for Gunrunner”.

H.R. 495 that I mentioned never made it out of committee, but it looks as it was to specifically fund Gunrunner.

Instead portions of it were rolled into the stimulus package a month later. That text found in H.R.1 is:

For an additional amount for ‘State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance’, $40,000,000, for competitive grants to provide assistance and equipment to local law enforcement along the Southern border and in High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas to combat criminal narcotics activity stemming from the Southern border, of which $10,000,000 shall be transferred to ‘Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Salaries and Expenses’ for the ATF Project Gunrunner.

Notice that’s $40,000,000 for Southern border enforcement, $10,000,000 of which specifically for Project Gunrunner. What does $10 million pay for here? It didn’t hire any new agents that I am aware of.

What this tells me is that several congressmen also had knowledge of what Gunrunner was going to entail. This isn’t just the ATF and DOJ. This is all levels and areas of government. Even members of the House and Senate knew what Project Gunrunner was.

Del Dolemonte on July 7, 2011 at 1:01 PM

Del Dolemonte on July 7, 2011 at 1:01 PM

WOW.

Odie1941 on July 7, 2011 at 1:05 PM

The blood of two American LE agents is on the hands of folks in our government. If this isn’t bigger than Watergate, I don’t know what is.

txmomof6 on July 7, 2011 at 1:32 PM

Don L on July 7, 2011 at 12:31 PM
Del Dolemonte on July 7, 2011 at 1:01 PM

It’s time to start putting all these pieces together and it looks to me like the puzzle is taking shape beautifully. I’m starting to agree. Maybe the MSM ignoring this is a good thing. No one is going to pay attention to the pieces but the whole picture is going to be tough to ignore.

ORconservative on July 7, 2011 at 2:04 PM

How this isn’t forcing a Holder resignation, at minimum, is beyond belief.

Oh that’s right, everyone was so flippin’ worried about airing the Anthony trial.

DaSaintFan on July 7, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Please be patient – the snowball’s just getting started.

They have incontrovertible proof that he lied about when he says he first learned of the program, and that’s just one lie among others he’ll be forced to admit. He’s toast.

Bizarro No. 1 on July 7, 2011 at 2:12 PM

I hope they can amass enough evidence to bring these SOB’s down hard. I hope they wait until the election season is in full swing and use this as a bludgeon to beat them into the ground and possibly prison.

MJZZZ on July 7, 2011 at 2:13 PM

More from FreeRepublic

Now a single traffic stop in Phoenix has revealed 43 weapons with serial numbers traceable to the the ATF scandal – taken from 4 illegal aliens arrested in the stop.

Del Dolemonte on July 7, 2011 at 2:29 PM

How long before Obama loses his mind? This is getting awfully close to him.

ORconservative on July 7, 2011 at 2:30 PM

More from FreeRepublic

Now a single traffic stop in Phoenix has revealed 43 weapons with serial numbers traceable to the the ATF scandal – taken from 4 illegal aliens arrested in the stop.

Del Dolemonte on July 7, 2011 at 2:29 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mSyBqBLX0I

novaculus on July 7, 2011 at 3:50 PM

As to whether or not Obama was involved, I just do not believe federal agencies would send thousands of lethal weapons into the hands of criminals inside a foreign, sovereign country without an OK from the president. This was something like an act of war.

I find it hard to believe something this stupid, even for this administration, could have happened and it certainly should disqualify Obama for a second term. This man should be impeached for incredible incompetence!

Chessplayer on July 7, 2011 at 4:02 PM

It is doubtful that we will get Obama much less Holder.

But please beg your congressional leader and the in 2012 to have the next AG remember that Holder went back and reviewed previous cases, including the CIA.

So the Holder Rule says that Holder and Obama will be reinvestigated by political appointees. That includes NLRB, EPA, NASA and the rest of the alphabet.

barnone on July 7, 2011 at 5:48 PM

Things are heating up. Jake Tapper posted about this on his ABC blog, acting like they’d been talking about it all along, instead of ignoring it. http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2011/07/latest-on-fast-and-furious-from-our-abc-team-in-phoenix.html

For those just tuning in,For those we have been hiding this story from, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, under the Obama administration, started a program to run guns in hopes they would lead them to Mexican criminals.

There Jake, FIFY

txmomof6 on July 7, 2011 at 6:33 PM

Holder, the former Asst. AG under Reno when Waco happened and he facilitated the Marc Rich pardon…

Holder, the AG for the obamanation, who presided over F&F aka Gunwalker…

Not much has changed in 10 years…

Gohawgs on July 8, 2011 at 1:38 AM

Hmmm…will this become Obama’s “Watergate”?

Carl on July 8, 2011 at 8:36 AM

As a retired DEA agent, I can tell you that such an operation would have had to be approved at the highest levels of ATF-at the least. That the heads of several federal law enforcement agencies-including DEA met during the operation is troubling. Also present was a high-ranking DOJ official. Eric Holder has told Congress he was unaware of this operation. That is highly improbable.

This is a major scandal that calls all of federal law enforcement into question. We have two dead border patrol agents killed by at least one of the documented weapons that were allowed to walk. What is needed is a special prosecutor rather than allow DOJ to investigate itself.

Also in question is why such a massive operation for the sake of intelligence only rather than enforcement. Why would DOJ do this? To back up their questionable assertion that 80% of the guns used by cartels are coming from the US? Why are they so hot to do that? To break down the 2nd amendment, perhaps?

gary fouse
DEA retired

gary fouse on July 8, 2011 at 5:32 PM

Also in question is why such a massive operation for the sake of intelligence only rather than enforcement. Why would DOJ do this? To back up their questionable assertion that 80% of the guns used by cartels are coming from the US? Why are they so hot to do that? To break down the 2nd amendment, perhaps?

gary fouse
DEA retired

gary fouse on July 8, 2011 at 5:32 PM

Officer Fouse: first thank you for your service, second thank you for that comment. It is in agreement to a comment I made weeks ago stating the exact same premise

Vntnrse on July 9, 2011 at 3:24 AM

Holder is an over-his-head ambulance-chaser who belongs behind bars.

Enough already.

Tim_CA on July 9, 2011 at 3:27 AM

It seems almost trite to say this, but if the Bush Administration had done ANY of the things the administration is accused of now, the Articles of Impeachment would have already been drafted and in the hands of the New York Times.

Mr. Grump on July 9, 2011 at 7:02 AM


http://www.justice.gov/ag/speeches/2009/ag-speech-090402.html

Holder knew about it, and so did the whitehouse. Fire them both.
-
-

Last week, our administration launched a major new effort to break the backs of the cartels. My department is committing 100 new ATF personnel to the Southwest border in the next 100 days to supplement our ongoing Project Gunrunner, DEA is adding 16 new positions on the border, as well as mobile enforcement teams, and the FBI is creating a new intelligence group focusing on kidnapping and extortion. DHS is making similar commitments, as Secretary Napolitano will detail.

tx2654 on July 9, 2011 at 11:28 AM

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