Defense & National Security

Three Fall Guys Won’t Make Fast and Furious Go Away

On Tuesday, Aug. 30, Kenneth Melson, then-acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), was reassigned because of his involvement in the gunrunning operation known as Fast and Furious.  At the same time, it was announced that Dennis Burke, the U.S. attorney in Phoenix, was resigning his post due to his involvement in Fast and Furious, and that federal prosecutor Emory Hurley would be moved from “the criminal division in the U.S. attorney’s office in Phoenix” to the civil division.
 
In other words, after 2,500 guns were bought with illegal intent, transferred to various criminals of one type or another, and used to kill well over 1,100 people to date, the Department of Justice announces that they’re going to deal firmly with three people who were involved in the operation by reassigning them and/or accepting their resignations.
 
Wow.  There are huge problems here.
 
For starters, it looks like these three are taking the fall for bigger fish higher up the administration food chain.
 
We know that ATF supervisors William McMahon and William Newell knew about Fast and Furious and were directly involved in it.  And we also know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Attorney General Eric Holder knew about Operation Gunrunner, which ultimately morphed into Fast and Furious.  He bragged about his involvement in Gunrunner during a speech in Mexico on April 2, 2009.
 
Moreover, we know that one White House official was receiving regular updates on Fast and Furious.  That official, Kevin O’Reilly, security director for North America, was briefed on the operation when it was taking place.  And now we know that he wasn’t the only White House official being briefed.  The Los Angeles Times has uncovered e-mails that show Dan Restrepo, senior Latin America adviser, and Greg Gatjanis, another White House national security official, were also kept in the loop.
 
Yet, the ATF plays dumb, Holder claims he didn’t know about Fast and Furious until the spring of 2011, and President Obama just grins and says neither he nor Holder directly authorized such an operation.
 
And after all this, we’re supposed to feel like our government has done a good job policing itself because two people got re-assigned and an attorney quit his job?  (Moreover, the two ATF supervisors directly involved in Fast and Furious, McMahon and Newell, were actually promoted.)
 
Folks, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out something isn’t right here.  Even CBS News is starting to talk about the coverups involved with this operation.
 
This is all one big mess.  It’s a tangled web of death, law infractions and destruction that only gets uglier the more one looks into it.  And to make matters worse, the three people who appear to be taking the fall for the operation—Melson, Burke and Hurley—aren’t even facing criminal charges.
 
I bet there are a lot of people serving time in prison for far less serious gun-related crimes who wish they’d been able to resign or be reassigned instead of going to the big house.

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