"Acting ATF director dismisses speculation he's quitting."
Kenneth Melson, acting director of the troubled Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, is paying little heed to news reports speculating that he may step down in the wake of a House oversight panel's investigation suggesting he had advance knowledge of an ATF gun smuggling operation that went awry.
"Acting Director Kenneth Melson continues to be focused on leading ATF in its efforts to reduce violent crime and to stem the flow of firearms to criminals and criminal organizations," Scot Thomasson, the bureau's chief of public affairs, told Government Executive on Wednesday. "We are not going to comment on any speculations."
Despite my worries Melson got to speak at the ATF Gay Pride party:
“ATF works to ensure sexual orientation discrimination and prejudice are not tolerated in our workplace,” said Kenneth Melson, acting ATF director. “ATF is an equal employment opportunity environment where effective and equitable participation is encouraged. . . “We are grateful that the Honorable Rep. Frank could share his experiences with our workforce as we celebrate diversity today,” added Melson.
So life for Melson in the bunker goes on as if the loud noises outside are summer lightning and not artillery.
Is Melson channeling Jimmy Durante?
The thing is, neither Holder nor Obama are laughing, I guarantee you. If Melson refuses to resign, then they'll have to fire him, which is just begging for Melson to go all rogue on them, something they can't afford.
Allan Lengel, writing at Tickle the Wire, describes Melson thusly (and misspells his name in the process):
As for Meslon. Well, he was decent guy and a smart one at that. But agents thought the ex-federal prosecutor didn’t really understand the agency culture and the agents’ mindset.
As one veteran ATF agent told me: “A lot of guys thought he wasn’t the best fit. He was a nice man, but at times he could be arrogant. I don’t think he intended to come across that way. I kind of feel sorry for him.”
Street agents have told me that they viewed Melson as a "go along, get along" guy who was the tool, willing or not, of the Chief Counsels Office
Our good friend Waldo, the fifth floor point man of the Coalition of Willing Lilliputians, pointed out to me that this refusal to go is uncharacteristic of Melson -- who throughout his career has been the model of the willing public servant -- but it reflects his new reality: abject fear of what will happen to him when the public finds out the truth of Gunwalker and the legal wheels begin grinding his bank account to dust and himself to bloody incarcerated pulp.
"When somebody does a complete about-face in the behavior they've exhibited all their life," Waldo said, "it is almost always for one reason -- their world has collapsed and they're scared shitless. A cornered rat is the most dangerous. A cornered human is even more dangerous."
And that truth is enough to scare the bejeezus out of Holder and Obama. Their careers, and perhaps more, are riding on what Melson does next.