Melson Won’t Take the Fall for Fast and Furious

Arnold Ahlert is a former NY Post op-ed columnist currently contributing to JewishWorldReview.com, HumanEvents.com and CanadaFreePress.com. He may be reached at atahlert@comcast.net.


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Whenever a scandal rears its head, there is usually one person who becomes the designated fall guy in order to protect people higher up the chain of responsibility. With respect to a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) operation known as “Fast and Furious,” which allowed “straw purchasers” to buy guns in Arizona and ship them to Mexico in order to track their shipment to Mexican drug cartels, that person was apparently ATF acting director, Kenneth Melson. Mr. Melson has decided not to play along. In secret testimony given over the July 4th holiday weekend, he accused the Department of Justice (DOJ) of obstructing a congressional investigation into the operation.

stunning letter sent to DOJ head Eric Holder by lead investigators Rep. Darryl Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Charles Grassely House (R-IA) noted that Melman’s hearing had “originally been scheduled through the Justice Department to occur on July 13.” The letter further noted that Melson appeared earlier “because Justice Department officials sought to limit and control his communications with Congress.” They also criticized the department for not making Melson aware that he could participate in a “voluntary interview with [his] own lawyer…rather than participate with counsel representing the Department’s interests.”

Melson testified that “ATF’s senior leadership would have preferred to be more cooperative with our inquiry much earlier in the process,” the investigators wrote. “However…Justice Department officials directed them not to respond and took full control of replying to briefing and document requests from Congress…That approach distorted the truth and obstructed our investigation.”

“The Department’s inability or unwillingness to be more forthcoming served to conceal critical information that we are now learning about the involvement of other agencies, including the DEA and the FBI…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,” the lawmakers added.

Then, the most damning paragraph of all. “It is one thing to argue that the ends justify the means in an attempt to defend a policy that puts building a big case ahead of stopping known criminals from getting guns. Yet it is a much more serious matter to conceal from Congress the possible involvement of other agencies in identifying and maybe even working with the same criminals that Operation Fast and Furious was trying to identify.”

Yet that is precisely what the Justice Department is apparently doing. Grassley and Issa have been forced to subpoena documents that would likely reveal how far up the chain of command a program that amounted to government-sanctioned, cross-border gun smuggling went. Ostensibly, the cover-up involves cooperation among the ATF, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Or perhaps more accurately, a stunning lack of cooperation. Fox News is reporting that the main target of the ATF’s investigation was a confidential FBI informant. The individual was a high-level drug dealer who had initially been deported by the DEA before the FBI recruited him as a counter-terrorism informant. He was ostensibly tasked with reporting on terrorists and/or dirty bombs moving across the country’s border. ATF only became aware of the arrangement in April following a six-month, multi-million dollar investigation paid for by the public. That investigation revealed a disturbing level of bureaucratic ineptitude: the FBI informant was picked up by a DEA wiretap, and that info was forwarded to the ATF.

An unnamed source in Washington, D.C. reveals the absurdity. “They [the AFT] were going after someone they could never have,” the source told Fox News. “The Mr. Big they wanted was using government money to buy guns that went to the cartels. The FBI knew it and didn’t tell them.” Issa and Grassley also expressed their consternation. “If this information is accurate, then the whole misguided operation might have been cut short if not for catastrophic failures to share key information,” they wrote.

Equally absurd was the program itself. Fast and Furious, also known as Project Gunrunner, began in 2009 as an effort to stop gun trafficking across the border, yet it quickly devolved into a fiasco when 80 percent of the weapons went missing. According to a Gunrunner source who didn’t want to be identified for fear of retaliation, the number of weapons involved was daunting. “The numbers are over 2,500 on that case by the way,” he said, referring to a single sting operation captured on videotape. “That’s how many guns were sold–including some 50-calibers they let walk,” he added. It should be noted that .50 caliber rifles have a confirmed kill range of 2600 yards.

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  • theleastthreat

    I think it is better to trust private citizens with guns over the Federal Gov't. I'm not saying LEs in the FBI or US Marshall's office shouldn't pack heat, but look at how the Feds have handled this weapons fiasco. Maybe our next gun control laws should be aimed at them. (Notice the pun there?)

  • jacob

    If I would have any say so in Congress, I would ask for the immediate removal of OBAMA's choice for Attorney General and, since as in the proverb, the passenger is
    recognized by his suitcase, this fiasco has all the signs of having been conceived
    or at least, authorized by the same one who had the brainstorm of processing
    terrorists in civil courts….

    I guess it is time already for JANET RENO's sidekick in the infamous return of the
    boy ELIAN to Castro's "paradise" to hit the road…
    As CHURCHILL said about CHAMBERLAIN, he has been here too long for all the
    good he might have done.
    GO AND LETS BE DONE WITH YOU…!!!

  • Larry Pelhan

    Eric Holder killed people. Do you think his boss didn't know what he was doing? This was a staged event to prove that Mexican Guns come from America. It is a guncontrol PR stunt gone wrong. Think about that, they are willing to let or make someone die to get what they want.

  • AntiFascist18

    Eric Holder should be hanged for treason. The little bastard knows how to sue Arizona and jeopardize the lives of American citizens, but boy does he scream for an ILLEGAL who raped and murdered a teenage girl. He's scum – but that's typical of a scum filled admin.

    No, he should be tried and hanged, with his buddies Bonzo and Shrillary forced to watch it.

    • Mike Giles

      But don't you understand? The murderous, raping, illegal was one of the "oppressed" /sarcasm off. Speaking of which, why aren't leftist feminists screaming for his gonads on a platter for trying to get a rapist spared?

  • Raymond in DC

    The two words I want to hear are "independent prosecutor". Justice can't be relied on to investigate its own actions. All this of course happened on Holder's watch, and as a point of honor he should resign immediately. We know that won't happen of course.

  • mrstarry76

    Ironic that they want to take away our guns while they let this treasonist ? crap go on! That we should trust the government to control anything is beyond me!!! This makes me so angry. I'm sure this will cost tons of money to investigate and the real criminals (Holder & co.) will get off.

    • johnnywoods

      Hey mrstarry I just hope that millions of voters remember this fiasco this coming Election day. Maybe we can get a president with reasonable sense of justice who will launch criminal probes into the entire Obummer administration. One can only hope.

  • Soylent Green

    I believe that one of the main goals, if not the ONLY one, was a political one. It was simply to further the liberal agenda of demonizing the Second Amendment rights of American citizens. It's a lot harder to suppress a country that is armed than one that is not. Dictatorships never want a populace with the means to defend themselves.

    • johnnywoods

      That is exactly why we have the Second Amendment.

  • SwampRat2u

    2500 weapons constitutes a whole lot purchases/purchasing. Those pictured are not the ones bought from Foreign Countries such as the AK47 groups. This entire farce is Holders part in shutting down Gun Dealers and the confinscation of all guns in the U.S.
    It is Americas fault the Drug Lords are given access to the U.S. market through our unsecured borders but nothing is being done about that little trip since too much money exchanges hands . Holder and company are after the destruction of 2nd amendment rights not the sale of Drugs.

  • Asher

    The NRA advised many of us to write to Barbara Terrell at the ATF about the authority to require all of the 8,500 firearm dealers in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to report all sales of two or more semiautomatic rifles. This is an assault on Deer Hunters. All the guns going into Mexico were not from America, they were from other countries, including the Middle East, but this gave the DOJ an idea…The Fast and Furious Program was designed to Trace the weapons that went into Mexico, but the weapons couldn't be traced until found at the death scene of two border agents. Another stunt by the Obama administration to try and claim that they needed to put a moratorium on rifles. Its quite clear the ok from High up the Ladder. They aren't fooling any of us anymore…Go Get em Issa!

  • DogWithoutSlippers

    Those in charge are guilty of "war crimes" and must be brought to justice. Watergate pales in comparison and calls for Nixon's Impeachment were resounding. Here we have murder and invasion. Is this part of the plan to destroy America from "within?"

  • DogWithoutSlippers

    It is time for all liberty minded Americans to arm
    themselves against these mutants in Government.
    Freedom will only be preserved by those who "lock
    and load!"

    • palidin 911

      I bought another case of ammo today dog.

  • Alfonz Shmedlap

    F., 07/08/11 common era

    Eric Holder should resign and return to private practice. If he then starts to chase ambulances, in connection with a Nike or Rebok endorsement, that would be an ethical step upward. There are currently only 5 Supreme Court Justices who believe that the 2nd Amendment confers an individual right ti keep and bear arms; that's scary. Politicians and bureaucrats
    with security details and/or concealed carry handgun permits somehow think that their lives are inherently more valuable than the life of an the ordinary law-abiding U.S. citizen. For them, the Constitution is now a quaint artificat of a past, unenlightened era.
    Many Ivy League law school professors seem to share this unAmerican view.

    • johnnywoods

      The other four Justices need to read the Constitution in one sitting . Maybe we could get Walter E. Williams to teach them what each Amendment stands for and why each was added.

  • Iron Yank

    Anyone notice how this story seems to have dissappeared from the radar of ALL of the Liberal news sites, apparently its not even worth talking about to them. Casey Anthony all day long, but this is no big deal to them even though people died from these guns. Issa needs to push this thing to the limit & find out who at the top authorized this then try to get a resignation out of them. Sites like this one along with Fox news need to keep this story hot.

  • AUSTIN L. BYERS

    Rush Limbaugh reported this morning that the initial funding for this fiasco was in the first stimulus bill back in 2009 in the amount of $10 million (no Republican voted for that Bill). Subsequently, Congress provided additional funding so that the current total has reached $57+ million . Requests for this funding apparently came from the White House.

  • http://garyfouse.blogspot.com gary fouse

    As a retired DEA agent, I can tell you that this outrageous operation could never have been conducted solely at the local level without approval from higher-ups in ATF in Washington if not DOJ itself. That the heads of several federal agencies held a meeting on the operation, which included a high-ranking DOJ official tells me that Holder is not telling the truth when he says he knew nothing about it.

    This is another Watergate because it calls into question our entire federal law enforcement apparatus. We already have two dead BP agents killed by at least one documented gun that was allowed to "walk". It is disgraceful. Where is Janet Napolitano and the BP head demanding accountability? Moreover, the media is ignoring it. It is easy to see why; this goes right to the top (Holder and maybe beyond).

    What is needed is a special prosecutor. It is time to put everybody involved under oath-including Holder.

    Gary Fouse
    DEA retired

    • Chezwick_mac

      Sounds to me Gary like this is an obvious case of obstruction of justice.

  • Robert F.

    Hello my fellow country. This terrible and outright debauchery will probably just fade away so all the Presidents men will be able to escape any form of justice. Once again I see the system breaking the law yet not much will happen to those involved except of course a few scapegoats. I'm in no way a fan of Obama buy doesn't anyone remember the Iran-Contra Affair. It won't be long after the heat's turned up on this sad situation that somebody will start screaming National Security,have Senate hearings over coffee and donuts and in the end business as usual. P.S. Putting those involved under oath is a joke. These bastards lie all the time with a straight face so I don't see what that will accomplish. Nice to try though. Bye

    • Tom D

      The Iran-Contra affair involved a government that we did not recognize (but which the U.S. government was – stupidly – courting on one side), and an anti-communist insurgency that the U.S. was government publicly supporting. If that insurgency was veering toward criminal activity in either the countries hosting them (Honduras, Costa Rica) or in its area of operations then there would be a reasonable expectation that the U.S. government would take steps to stop the activity. Supporting an insurgency presupposes that the insurgency is working towards a justifiable end, such as the overthrow of a dictator. And such goals do come under national security, even if the effort is debatable as to practicality or morality.

      Arming drug cartels in Mexico lacks oversight and a justifiable end. It makes Mexico into a victim in a way that Nicaragua was not (if supporting the contras was justified then Nicaragua was an object of liberation). There is no national security issue in this scandal.

      • Chezwick_mac

        I always felt that arming the Contras, though a technical violation of US law at the time, served the national security interests of the USA. It was the selling of arms to Iran that I found so inexplicable. Like Pope John-Paul 1, Reagan had thoroughly read the Soviet playbook, but neither man could grasp implications of Islam.

    • Supreme_Galooty

      Iran Contra was Reagan's way of expressing his respect for Congress. I shared his estimation of that august group of poseuers, pettifoggers and poofters. It was also a power struggle between the Legislative and Administrative branches of our government which Reagan won handily. I remember fondly Col. North's testimony before that collection of buffoons where he literally shamed them and tied knots in their tails.

  • anonymous

    Fast and Furious maybe just the tip of the iceberg. Does anyone recall the rise to power of general Noriega? How about Olly North? Simply stated, individuals intent on turning every child in America into a lifelong methamphetamine addict are receiving military aid from the Obama administration. Article 3 of the US Constitution defines treason as providing aid and comfort to America's enemies, and there must be 2 witnesses. The Kingpin Act states that the Mexican drug trafficking organizations are America's enemies. To date there are 4 Border Patrol agents as witnesses, and now also their boss. Where is the outrage Mr. president? Why is it that Wienergate should result in a resignation, yet Fast and Furious deserves the code of silence? Every mother and father in America is terrified that their child's life journey will encounter methamphetamine, just who's side is the President on?

  • http://www.infowars.com Grant Smith

    What a sad, sad world. The worst part of all of this being that I have to try and explain to my co-workers how corrupt our elected 'officials' have become, and then be lectured about how we live in the greatest country on earth. These men are a disgrace to humanity, and should be hung as an example to others who might think of doing the same.

  • nocal

    What difference does it make? The whole upper echelon of our government is a corrupt and criminal enterprise. Its one thing to shine the light on these cockroaches. Its another to get justice when the leader of the Justice Department is the Chief Roach! This may go all the way to Obama. There are alot of folks invested in this guy so he is well protected, currently. The only hope I see is a change in administrations,that will investigate and prosecute AND Penalize with a lengthy prison sentence. I'm not holding my breath that this will likely happen EVER!

  • Supreme_Galooty

    It appears that Mr. Holder is guilty of criminal activity. He should resign, of course, prior to his trial on charges of malfeasance and manslaughter. It is decidedly third world for a succeeding adminstration to criminalize acts of a preceding administration, and in this case America deserves a criminal proceeding filed BEFORE the current SOB-in-chief is voted out next year. With any luck, Elena Kagan and/or Sonia Sotomayor can be implicated in this fiasco and impeached.

  • Ann

    HOLDER AND OBAMA IN PRISON FOR LIFE FOR ARMING THE DRUG CARTEL AND THE MUSLIMS IN MEXICO. YES, PEOPLE THE DRUG CARTEL AND THE MUSLIMS ARE WORKING TOGETHER WITH THE HELP OF HOLDER AND OBAMA—THEY ARE BOTH TRAITORS TO OUR COUNTRY AND SHOULD BE PUT IN PRISON NOW!!! THEY ARE GUILTY OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLES DEATHS — THE BLOOD IS ON THEIR HEADS!!!THE MUSLIMS ARE AT THE BOARDER OF SAN DIEGO WAITING FOR THEIR TIME TO CROSS ,SEE IT ALL TIES TOGETHER!OPEN BOARDERS, LOVE FOR MURDERS,GOING AGAINST THE PEOPLE,LIKE LITTLE DUCKS IN A ROW IN A POND, IT ALL FLOWS TOGETHER VERY NICELY DON'T YOUR THINK!!! JAIL NOW FOR THE TRAITORS!!!

  • Sabre

    If Barry Soetero and Eric "the white" Holder are tried, guilty and executed for treason then tickets for Fat Cat progresives can be sold and the money used yo help staunch the debts Alias Obama and his America hating Ho are racking up in their endless junkets to India, Spain, Ireland etc. at the cost OF BILLIONS !!!

  • Mike Giles

    Even worse.
    Since they weren't tracking the guns, they wanted to disarm you in the face of criminals they just used your tax dollars to arm.