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Fast and Furious and… GONE! Melson of BATFE reassigned…

… and scapegoated?

Today, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the reassignment of Kenneth Melson, the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) as a senior advisor on forensic issues as of Wednesday. Melson will be replaced as acting director by B. Todd Jones, a U.S. attorney from Minnesota. In a separate announcement, U.S. Attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke, resigned in the aftermath of Operation Fast and Furious for which he gave legal advice to BATFE, and about which I wrote in June of this year. Congress is currently investigating Operation Fast and Furious, after two weapons that were sold during Operation Fast and Furious were found at the scene of the murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in Rio Rico, Arizona in December.

CNN says of Operation Fast and Furious:

“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.”

Accompanying statements by Attorney General Eric Holder, Melson, Jones, and Burke avoided any mention of Operation Fast and Furious. (Maybe if we don’t talk about it, it will go away! :-) ) The timing of Melson’s reassignment and Burke’s resignation suggested the desire of the Justice Department to distance itself from the operation, which allowed large numbers of semiautomatic rifles and other weapons to be delivered to Mexican drug cartels.

According to CNN, U.S. Representative Lamar Smith (Republican, TX) said :

“This move by the administration indicates that Director Melson may be being used as a scapegoat for a much larger problem within ATF and DOJ.”

(You will recall that the almost-obligatory requirement for a scapegoat is a characteristic of Myers-Briggs “Thinking-Judging” types, who cannot take responsibility for their own actions. This HUGE personality defect has not prevented them from occupying upwards of 90% of the positions in corporate executive management. :-) Talk about overcoming a handicap!) (Note added September 7, 2011: … or the Peter Principle, whichever you prefer! :-) )

Sources from a closed, July 4 meeting between investigators and Melson said that Melson indicated the involvement of the FBI and DEA in Operation Fast and Furious. (BIG surprise, there! 😉 ) Melson had been fighting to keep his job and to keep from being a “fall guy” for the operation.

CNN says:

“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.”

Yeah, like THAT’S going to happen! 😉

It is very much as a comedian (Carlin?) once said, that Watergate taught us all the difference between “responsibility” and “blame.” In Watergate, the people who were “blamed” went to jail – the people who were “responsible” did not.

Maybe Operation Fast and Furious will work out the same way.

Since I live in a state in which the government is intent upon disarming law-abiding citizens, it is ASTONISHING to read the details of a government operation that armed Mexican drug cartels. I’ll bet that someone made a lot of money in it.

(Note added September 8, 2011: The L.A. Times reports:

“In the second violent crime in this country connected with the ATF’s failed Fast and Furious program, two Arizona undercover police officers were allegedly assaulted last year when they attempted to stop two men in a stolen vehicle with two of the program’s weapons in a confrontation south of Phoenix.”

The two weapons from the BATFE’s Fast and Furious program were a Beretta pistol and AK-47 semiautomatic rifle found in the stolen Ford truck. The report may mean an AK-47 that has been modified to be semi-automatic.)

(September 28, 2011: Some 40 firearms from Fast and Furious, as well as bulletproof vests, have turned up in El Paso, TX, awaiting shipment to Mexico.)

-Bill at

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