Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Melson Out At ATF

The Department of Justice released this just a bit ago announcing that Kenneth Melson is being reassigned outside of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and that the U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota B. Todd Jones is being appointed the Acting Director. At the same time, DOJ has announced that Dennis Burke, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona is leaving. More on that in another post.

It is interesting to note that Todd Jones will serve as both U.S. Attorney for Minnesota and as Acting Director of ATF. I would have thought they would have learned their lesson about a part-time Director after the experience of Michael Sullivan as both U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts and Acting Director of ATF. They didn't seem to work out too well.
Department of Justice Announces New Acting Director of ATF and Senior Advisor in the Office of Legal Policy

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice today announced the appointments of U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota B. Todd Jones to serve as Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson to become Senior Advisor on forensic science in the Office of Legal Policy (OLP).

“As a seasoned prosecutor and former military judge advocate, U.S. Attorney Jones is a demonstrated leader who brings a wealth of experience to this position,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “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 and regulations in the firearms and explosives industries.”

Jones will continue to serve in the capacity of U.S. Attorney when he assumes the role of ATF acting director on Aug. 31, 2011.

A veteran of the Justice Department, Jones has served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota under two presidential administrations. He first served from 1998 to 2001. He was nominated again in 2009 by President Obama and has been in that role since being confirmed that year.

In 2009, the Attorney General appointed him to serve as chair of the Attorney General Advisory Committee (AGAC), a group of U.S. Attorneys appointed to advise the Attorney General on policy, management and operational issues affecting U.S. Attorneys’ Offices throughout the country. Jones previously served as a member, vice chair and chair of the AGAC from 1999 to 2001.

During his several years as a federal prosecutor, Jones conducted grand jury investigations and has been the lead trial lawyer in many federal prosecutions involving drug trafficking, firearms, financial fraud and violent crime.

Throughout his career, Jones has served as a partner with Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi (2001-2009); a partner with Greene Espel, PLLP (2001; 1994-1997); First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota (1997-1998); and Assistant U.S. Attorney (1992-1994).

Following admission to the Minnesota bar, Jones went on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served as both a trial defense counsel and prosecutor in a number of courts martial proceedings.

Jones received his B.A. from Macalester College in 1979 and his J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1983.

Melson will join OLP on Aug. 31, 2011, in his new role as senior advisor where he will focus on issues relating to policy development in forensic science.

“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.”

He is a past president and distinguished fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and currently participates on behalf of the department on the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board. He has been an adjunct professor at George Washington University for almost 30 years teaching both law and forensic science courses.

Melson was appointed acting director of ATF in 2009. Prior to that, he was director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys and served several years in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Melson received his B.A. from Denison University in 1970 and his J.D. from George Washington University in 1973.
CNN also has a report up on this move which repeats the info from the DOJ release and adds some old info about Project Gunwalker.

Politico is also reporting on this move and have a reaction from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who has been spearheading hearings into Project Gunwalker.
In a statement Tuesday, Issa said “the reckless disregard for safety” by the Justice Department “certainly merits changes” in personnel.

But the committee will continue to investigate Fast and Furious “to ensure that blame isn’t offloaded on just a few individuals for a matter that involved much higher levels of the Justice Department,” Issa said. “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.”

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