Tuesday, June 28, 2011

ATF’s Melson to testify on Fast and Furious

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms acting director Kenneth Melson will testify next month before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the agency’s botched gun-trafficking sting The Daily Beast reports.

Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and ranking member Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, have brokered a deal where Republicans will gain full access to ATF documents, Melson, and other witnesses in exchange for votes on the nominations of Jim Cole to be deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco to be assistant attorney general for national security, and Virginia Seitz to be head of the Office of Legal Counsel.

Melson, who reportedly was expected to resign last week, allegedly watched guns being sold to suspected Mexican drug cartel traffickers from his desk in Washington, DC. The surveillance, but not arrest, of suspected gun traffickers was a departure in policy for the ATF field agents who were ordered to participate in the program. In total, the ATF purposely allowed as many as 2,000 lethal weapons to be sold to representatives of Mexican drug cartels. The operation was canceled the day after two Fast and Furious guns were found at the murder scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent 18 miles inside the U.S.

Attorney General Eric Holder has denied knowing anything about Operation Fast and Furious. Melson may be able to confirm or contradict those statements.

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