The official who presided over the botched Fast and Furious gunwalking operation has stepped down as acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (known as ATF). He will move to another post at ATF, in the bureau’s Office of Legal Policy.
Kenneth Melson bucked his superiors at the Justice Department in July by revealing details about the operation to congressional investigators in a closed door meeting with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), who have been investigating the operation in their respective roles.
In a news release – which made no mention of Operation Fast and Furious – Attorney General Eric Holder had this to say:
“Ken brings decades of experience at the department and extensive knowledge in forensic science to his new role and I know he will be a valuable contributor on these issues,” said Attorney General Holder. “As he moves into this new role, I want to thank Ken for his dedication to the department over the last three decades.”
Issa, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had this to say in a release of his own:
While the reckless disregard for safety that took place in Operation Fast and Furious certainly merits changes within the Department of Justice, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee will continue its investigation to ensure that blame isn’t offloaded on just a few individuals for a matter that involved much higher levels of the Justice Department. There are still many questions to be answered about what happened in Operation Fast and Furious and who else bears responsibility, but these changes are warranted and offer an opportunity for the Justice Department to explain the role other officials and offices played in the infamous efforts to allow weapons to flow to Mexican drug cartels. I also remain very concerned by Acting Director Melson’s statement that the Department of Justice is managing its response in a manner intended to protect its political appointees. Senator Grassley and I will continue to press the Department of Justice for answers in order to ensure that a reckless effort like Fast and Furious does not take place again.