Wednesday, June 15, 2011

ATF Leadership Not Ignorant Of Gunwalking

In his opening statement, Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) revealed that the upper management of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was intimately aware of what was going on with Operation Fast and Furious.

The documents can be found here.

George Gillett, Jr. was the ASAC of the Phoenix Field Division. When he saw that he was going to be thrown under the bus, he became a whistle-blower. The impact of that decision can be seen in the documents which I assume he furnished the Committee. As I said back in April, Gillett becoming a whistle-blower was the equivalent of a John Mitchell, H.R. Halderman, or John Ehrlichman rolling over on Richard Nixon during the Watergate Scandal.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Moments ago in his opening statement at today's hearing, Operation Fast and Furious: Reckless Decisions, Tragic Outcomes, Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) released three e-mails detailing the intimate involvement of ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson and Acting Deputy Director Bill Hoover in Operation Fast and Furious:

• The first e-mail from March 10, 2010, to Operation Fast and Furious Group VII Leader David Voth indicates that the two most senior leaders in ATF, Acting Director Kenneth Melson, and Deputy Director Billy Hoover, were "being briefed weekly on" Operation Fast and Furious. The document shows that both Melson and Hoover were "keenly interested in case updates."

• A second e-mail from March 12, 2010, shows that Deputy Assistant Director for Field Operations William McMahon was so excited about Fast and Furious that he received a special briefing on the program in Phoenix - scheduled for a mere 45 minutes after his plane landed.

• A third - and perhaps the most disturbing – e-mail from April 12, 2010, indicates that Acting Director Melson was very much in the weeds with Operation Fast and Furious. After a detailed briefing of the program by the ATF Phoenix Field Division, Acting Director Melson had a plethora of follow-up questions that required additional research to answer. As the document indicates, Mr. Melson was interested in the IP Address for hidden cameras located inside cooperating gun shops. With this information, Acting Director Melson was able to sit at his desk in Washington and – himself – watch a live feed of the straw buyers entering the gun stores to purchase dozens of AK-47 variants.

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