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Old 06-21-2011, 03:46 PM
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Default ATF Director may have to resign

http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/06/...Top+Stories%29

Quote:
Washington (CNN) -- Kenneth Melson, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, is expected to resign under pressure, perhaps in the next day or two, in the wake of the controversy over Operation Fast and Furious, two senior federal law enforcement sources said Monday.

In the operation, straw buyers were allowed to purchase illegally large numbers of weapons, some of which ended up in the hands of cartels in Mexico.

Attorney General Eric Holder will meet Tuesday with Andrew Traver, head of the ATF field office in Chicago, about possibly becoming the agency's acting director, according to senior federal law enforcement sources, who are familiar with the details of the controversy.

The Justice Department refused comment. White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters he had no new information on the issue.

The operation has come under intense criticism since the December killing of a U.S. Border Patrol officer.

Operation Fast and Furious was "a colossal failure of leadership," Peter Forcelli, a supervisor at the bureau's Phoenix field office, said recently.

The program focused on following people who legally bought weapons that were then transferred to criminals and destined for Mexico. But instead of intercepting the weapons when they switched hands, Operation Fast and Furious called for ATF agents to let the guns "walk" and wait for them to surface in Mexico, according to a report by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The idea was that once the weapons in Mexico were traced back to the straw purchasers, the entire arms smuggling network could be brought down. Instead, the report argues, letting the weapons slip into the wrong hands was a deadly miscalculation that resulted in preventable deaths, including that of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Terry was killed last year north of the Mexican border in Arizona after confronting bandits believed to be preying on illegal immigrants. Two weapons found near the scene of the killing were traced to Fast and Furious.

"I was flabbergasted. I couldn't believe it at first," Terry's mother, Josephine, said when she learned the ATF may have let some of the guns used in the attack slip through its fingers. Terry's relatives said they want all those involved in his killing and who helped put the weapons in their hands to be prosecuted.

"We ask that if a government official made a wrong decision, that they admit their error and take responsibility for his or her actions," Robert Heyer, Terry's cousin and family spokesman, said in a hearing last week by the House panel.

The committee's chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, called the operation "felony stupid." As many as 2,000 semiautomatic rifles reached the hands of cartels as a result, and Issa said the top two ATF officials were briefed on the program regularly.

In Mexico, the case has drawn nationwide attention and sharp criticism from top officials, who have long stressed that U.S. weapons are fueling the country's drug war.

The Mexican attorney general's office demanded a quick U.S. investigation of the matter in March and said authorities must hold accountable anyone who was responsible for the operation.

"As the United States government has signaled, the government of Mexico was not informed of any operation that would include the controlled transport of weapons to Mexico," the office said.
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Old 06-21-2011, 04:15 PM
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Talk about a clusterfuck, huh? Personally I think the asshats who approved this operation should be brought up on charges of murder rather than just made to "resign". It's like a fucking slap to the wrist. I agree with Brian Terry's relatives that there should be some actual punishment here.

Kenneth Melson... Isn't that the guy who said in a televised news report that airsoft guns were "easily converted" into live-fire weapons?

"Operation Fast and Furious". LOL XD
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Old 06-21-2011, 04:40 PM
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Personally I think the asshats who approved this operation should be brought up on charges of murder rather than just made to "resign". It's like a fucking slap to the wrist.
When you say this, I think that you are speaking mostly out of a hatred of the ATF in general, and a desire to punish them for what they are, as opposed to this particular incident.

But I do agree that Melson's resignation is not enough. When the ATF busts irresponsible FFLs for providing firearms to criminals (or other people who are prohibited from owning them), the dealers don't just lose their licenses and stores. Often, they do face criminal charges. I think a case could be made that a similar punishment is appropriate here. Even though Melson and his people obviously didn't intend to provide firearms to the cartels, it could be argued that they are still guilty of some type of criminal negligence.

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"Operation Fast and Furious". LOL XD
Yeah, WTF? Wonder who came up with that?
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Old 06-21-2011, 06:00 PM
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When you say this, I think that you are speaking mostly out of a hatred of the ATF in general, and a desire to punish them for what they are, as opposed to this particular incident.
No, I've no hatred whatsoever for the ATF in and of itself, but this guy approved of this operation knowing exactly what the weapons would be used for and look what happened. Some kind of punishment beyond a simple resignation needs to be handed out.

What would happen to you or I if we gave or sold a weapon to someone we knew would use it to hurt or kill someone else? We'd be sitting in prison cell with a 300 pound skinhead named Bubba in a hot minute.
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Old 06-21-2011, 07:16 PM
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No, I've no hatred whatsoever for the ATF in and of itself, but this guy approved of this operation knowing exactly what the weapons would be used for and look what happened. Some kind of punishment beyond a simple resignation needs to be handed out.

What would happen to you or I if we gave or sold a weapon to someone we knew would use it to hurt or kill someone else? We'd be sitting in prison cell with a 300 pound skinhead named Bubba in a hot minute.
Re-read my post. I didn't disagree with you on any of this - just the part where you suggested he could (and should) be tried for murder.
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Old 08-30-2011, 11:23 PM
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Got an update on this incident.

Quote:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Justice Department replaced three officials Tuesday who played critical roles in a flawed law enforcement operation aimed at major gun-trafficking networks on the Southwest border.

The department announced that the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. attorney in Arizona had resigned and an administration official said a prosecutor who worked on the operation was reassigned to civil cases.

The operation, known as Fast and Furious, was designed to track small-time gun buyers at several Phoenix-area gun shops up the chain to make cases against major weapons traffickers. It was a response to longstanding criticism of ATF for concentrating on small-time gun violations and failing to attack the kingpins of weapons trafficking.

A congressional investigation of the program has turned up evidence that ATF lost track of many of the more than 2,000 guns linked to the operation. The Justice Department inspector general also is looking into the operation at the request of Attorney General Eric Holder.

The operation has resulted in charges against 20 people and more may be charged.

Kenneth Melson will be replaced as ATF's acting chief by B. Todd Jones, the U.S. attorney in Minnesota.

With Republicans in Congress and the department bickering over the investigation, Melson finally testified recently to Hill investigators in private. He said his department superiors "were doing more damage control than anything" and trying to keep the controversy away from top officials.

Also leaving was Dennis Burke, U.S. attorney in Arizona, whose office was deeply involved in Operation Fast and Furious. Burke will be replaced on an acting basis by his first assistant, Ann Scheel.

In a related change, the line prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix who worked on the Fast and Furious investigation, Emory Hurley, was reassigned from criminal cases to civil case work, according to an administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity about the personnel matter.

The moves are the latest and most significant effort by the Justice Department to address the controversy. In earlier personnel changes, three ATF agents were laterally transferred starting in May from operational positions to administrative roles.

Jones will continue to serve as U.S. attorney when he assumes the top ATF spot on Wednesday. In a statement, Holder called Jones "a demonstrated leader who brings a wealth of experience to this position."

In an interview, Jones said that ATF personnel "have been hugely distracted in some parts of the country with other things" and that he plans to listen to people within the agency, then "we'll get everybody refocused, to the extent they are not focused."

Melson will become senior adviser on forensic science in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy, a development that brought an objection from Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. Instead of reassigning those responsible for Operation Fast and Furious, Holder should oust them, said Cornyn.

ATF intelligence analyst Lorren Leadmon testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform committee last month that of more than 2,000 weapons linked to Fast and Furious, some 1,400 have not been recovered.

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California, chair of the House panel, said in a statement that "the reckless disregard for safety that took place in Operation Fast and Furious certainly merits changes."

Issa said his committee will pursue 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."

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, whose investigation brought problems with Operation Fast and Furious to light, called for a full accounting from the Justice Department as to "who knew what and when, so we can be sure that this ill-advised strategy never happens again."

The strategy behind Fast and Furious carried the risk that its tracking dimension would be inadequate and some guns would wind up in the hands of criminals in Mexico or the U.S. and be used at crime scenes - which did happen to some of the guns.

In testimony to congressional investigators, Melson said that in at least one instance ATF agents did not intercept high-powered weapons when they could and should have. In congressional testimony in July, William McMahon, the head of ATF's Western region, apologized for failing to keep close enough track of the investigation in Arizona. Another ATF official, William Newell, formerly in charge of the Phoenix field office, acknowledged mistakes had been made in the agency's handling of the operation. Newell called for more frequent assessments of risky strategies like that used in Fast and Furious.

But congressional hearings also brought complaints from ATF agents about the difficulty of arresting straw purchasers at the time of sale. More than half a dozen law enforcement officials who testified in the congressional probe warned that penalties for illegal straw purchases are completely inadequate - with the result that U.S. Attorneys' offices often decline to prosecute illegal straw purchasing cases.

One witness, ATF agent Peter Forcelli, a senior group supervisor in Phoenix, testified that if the option in straw purchaser cases was "doing some jail time, you might get some cooperation, so the guy would come in" and offer information and agents "would be able to develop intelligence to build a case."

Jones is a former military judge advocate as well as a prosecutor. Holder said, "I have great confidence that he will be a strong and steady influence guiding ATF in fulfilling its mission of combating violent crime by enforcing federal criminal laws."

The attorney general said Melson brings decades of experience at the department and extensive knowledge in forensic science to his new role. Holder also praised Burke for demonstrating "an unwavering commitment" to the Justice Department and the U.S. attorney's office, starting over a decade ago when he was a line prosecutor. Burke served as chief of staff to former Gov. Janet Napolitano, now U.S. Homeland Security Secretary and he was a top aide to Napolitano when she was Arizona attorney general.
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories...MPLATE=DEFAULT
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Old 08-31-2011, 03:24 PM
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Foreign Policy (which I read every day) has an article on this, too, but it takes a highly pro-ATF position and has some factual inaccuracies. It does make some good points, though:

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article...lette?page=0,0
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Old 08-31-2011, 03:42 PM
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Foreign Policy (which I read every day) has an article on this, too, but it takes a highly pro-ATF position and has some factual inaccuracies.
It's kinda funny that the majority of the anti-gun rhetoric in there has absolutely nothing to do with the operation. Policing the border means stopping weapons from being moved illegally, not stopping Americans buying guns and owning them legally. You might as well say that people-trafficking means we should try to reduce the populations of countries the people are smuggled from and make it harder for them to have kids.

It's also full of the usual idiot alarmism, including that old chestnut that .50 cal rifles can shoot down low-flying aircraft. Nevermind that no crime like this has ever actually happened, it's reason to go gun-grabbing!

Last edited by Evil Tim; 08-31-2011 at 03:45 PM.
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Old 08-31-2011, 05:58 PM
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It's kinda funny that the majority of the anti-gun rhetoric in there has absolutely nothing to do with the operation. Policing the border means stopping weapons from being moved illegally, not stopping Americans buying guns and owning them legally. You might as well say that people-trafficking means we should try to reduce the populations of countries the people are smuggled from and make it harder for them to have kids.

It's also full of the usual idiot alarmism, including that old chestnut that .50 cal rifles can shoot down low-flying aircraft. Nevermind that no crime like this has ever actually happened, it's reason to go gun-grabbing!
Agreed, the article is highly alarmist, and full of factual errors about the cross-border weapons trade and gun laws (and firearms themselves). I think the author's most cogent argument regards the BATF themselves. For years, I've argued - against most fellow RKBAers - that the ATF isn't really the Orwellian apparatus of oppression that the NRA makes it out to be. I think Operation Fast and Furious is a testament to their incompetence and/or impotence (the FP columnist argues that it's mostly the latter). If BATF is unable to stop weapons from reaching cartels across the U.S.-Mexico border, I'd like to know how anyone expects them to enforce a federal gun ban/confiscation program that would involve collecting millions of firearms across the entire country - assuming that the political capital to legislatively enact such a ban ever existed (which it never will).

In other words, this is why I think gun-ban alarmists need to shut up - permanently. Not that I expect they will...
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Old 08-31-2011, 06:18 PM
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I'd like to know how anyone expects them to enforce a federal gun ban/confiscation program that would involve collecting millions of firearms across the entire country
Well, thing is that owner lists have used to go gun-grabbing; California used registration lists when they banned the SKS and New York did the same in 1991, despite promising they wouldn't use owner registers to confiscate legally held guns when they were introduced in the 60s. There's things like Associated Press demanding Illinois' entire FOID database, essentially publically listing everyone in the state who legally owns a firearm (and, by extension, providing a burglar-friendly database of everyone who does not).

Basically, it's a hideous violation of the gun-owner's right to privacy, and potentially dangerous to those who choose not to own a gun who can be named by omission if the registry is released publically.
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