Ken Melson, the acting director of ATF, who seemed like a goner last month, is now acting as if he might be around for a while.
In fact, Melson is making an effort to show more leadership by communicating more with the troops. Last week, he conducted a town hall meeting at headquarters to discuss the state of ATF with employees, according to several law enforcement people familiar with the situation.
And since then, he’s been conducting meetings with groups of special agents in charge, who head up ATF offices around the country.
One person familiar with the meetings said the townhall meeting at headquarters dealt primarily with ATF’s budget and other agency matters. But at least one person asked Melson about Operation Fast and Furious, the controversial operation that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell weapons to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels.
ATF lost track of a lot of those weapons, some of which surfaced at crime scenes. That triggered a major controversy for ATF, perhaps the biggest since Waco.
In meeting with SACs in recent days, Melson has tried to assure the officials that Fast and Furious was a Phoenix Division issue and was not a systemic problem within ATF, according to one person.
However, the ATF officials in the field told Melson that the Fast and Furious issue went far beyond the Phoenix Division — at least when it came to harming morale inside the agency.
Many SACs were also angry about the recent Congressional testimony of William Newell, who headed the Phoenix office during the Fast and Furious Operation. They felt his testimony was less than forthright.
Melson indicated that no punitive action would be taken against anyone at ATF until the Office of Inspector General issues a report on the matter.
No punitive action?!? I guess not, when you send a message like making the perjurer McMahon in charge of ATF internal affairs.