VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 35   |   AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 6, 2011


Gunrunner probe too hot for ATF Director and U.S. Attorney?

Only moments after Burke’s announcement, a statement was issued by Holder on the matter

kenneth melson
Kenneth Melson

WASHINGTON – On Aug. 30, acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson was removed from his post by the Department of Justice (DOJ), following months of speculation over his role in a gun tracking operation that resulted in the murder of a Border Patrol agent.
However, Melson wasn’t terminated; he was simply transferred to become a senior advisor at the Office of Legal Policy.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota Todd Jones has been named as Melson’s replacement as acting ATF Director.

As chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Cal., has grown weary of the stonewalling by Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Melson’s failure to respond to a subpoena. He threatened contempt proceedings a few months ago.

The documents at issue are related to the ongoing probe of Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious, in which ATF permitted straw buyers to purchase weapons they knew would be smuggled into Mexico and sold to drug cartels.

While ATF claimed the goal was to track the weapons back to the cartels in Mexico, the agency lost track of nearly 2,000 guns after they crossed the border, until two of those weapons wound up at the crime scene where Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered in Arizona and other crime scenes in the United States and Mexico.

Also on Aug. 30, U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona Dennis K. Burke delivered his letter of resignation to President Obama.

Appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona in 2009, Burke’s resignation was effective immediately.

Burke stated, “My long tenure in public service has been intensely gratifying. It has also been intensely demanding. For me, it is the right time to move on to pursue other aspects of my career and my life and allow the office to move ahead.”

Ann Scheel will serve as acting U.S. Attorney until Attorney General Eric Holder or the president makes an interim or permanent appointment.

Only moments after Burke’s announcement, a statement was issued by Holder on the matter, in which he said “… Burke has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, first as a line prosecutor over a decade ago and more recently as U.S. Attorney.”

In conclusion Holder stated, “I am grateful to Dennis for his dedication and service to the Department of Justice over these many years and commend his decision to place the interests of the U.S. Attorney’s office above all else.”

Meanwhile, amidst the various announcements about Melson and Burke, bloggers commented on TheHill.com where a report of Melson’s removal as head of ATF was posted.
Many who commented were incensed Melson was simply transferred to another position rather than fired.

Falcon wrote, “We need a separate Department of Justice to deal with the corruption of the current Department of Justice. The DOJ is the most corrupt arm of a corrupt Obama administration.”

Carlos posted, “This is not the end of the story. Many others will hang before sunset!”

Dahhn asked, “What does he have to do to get fired, commit murder?” adding, “Oh, I forgot, that’s what the guns were for.”

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