Yesterday, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced that Kenneth Melson would be stepping down from his position as Acting Director.
In a press release the ATF explained the reason for Melson’s departure: “he is leaving the agency to become Senior Advisor to the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy (OLP) where he will specialize in forensic science policy issues at the Department of Justice.”
A sizable portion of those untracked firearms have ended up in the hands of infamous Mexican drug cartels and, as a result, have been popping up at crime scenes all across Mexico. Also, it should be noted that the majority of those firearms have not been recovered and two of those weapons are linked to the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brain Terry.
In a press conference, Melson said, “ATF employees are hard working and dedicated to the mission of protecting the public every day, and in my time here I have seen firsthand their extraordinary commitment to stopping violent crime.” He added, “I will miss working with them, but know that my continued work at the Department will contribute in their pursuit and prosecution of violent criminals.”
Some believe Melson saw the writing on the wall after Congressional investigators uncovered a series of internal blunders made by the ATF as a result of their minimal surveillance and non-interdiction tactics.
Critics of Melson point to the fact that in the weeks leading up to this announcement, Melson made sure to take care of his own. That is, around mid-August, Melson promoted three ATF supervisors who were directly involved with Operation: Fast & Furious, citing their “skills and abilities they have demonstrated throughout their careers,” as a reason for their new positions.
However, no public apology has been made.
Many are incensed with the reassignments. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), told reporters, “Instead of reassigning those responsible for Fast and Furious within the Department of Justice,” Cornyn said, “Atty. Gen. Holder should ask for their resignations and come clean on all alleged gun-walking operations, including a detailed response to allegations of a Texas-based scheme.”
A replacement for Melson has already been announced. The Department of Justice appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, B. Todd Jones, to serve as Acting Director of the ATF.