In a confidential deposition with congressional investigators, the then-head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives blamed agents, field supervisors and even his top command for never advising him that for more than a year, his agency allowed illegal gun sales along the southwestern U.S. border.The deposition, which was taken in July and was recently obtained by the Washington bureau, shows that Kenneth E. Melson was irate. Even his chief intelligence officer at ATF headquarters was upset with the operation, dubbed Fast and Furious, but did little to shut it down, Melson complained. "He didn't come in and tell me, either," Melson said. "And he's on the same damn floor as I am."
Oh, yes, poor little Ken. Far more interesting though is that my sources tell me that the Democrats leaked this to Serrano, not the GOP side of the committee. What does that tell you. "They're doing battlefield preparation for the hearing," one said. "It is all the fault of the ATF." Serrano's story seems crafted to portray the meme:
But B. Todd Jones, Melson's replacement as acting director of the agency, said in an interview that Melson allowed overzealous field agents and supervisors to go beyond approved tactics.Pointing out that the ATF has had five acting directors in the last six years, Jones said the resulting weak management structure has given some field agents a license to operate independently of Washington."There was a vacuum. Fast and Furious went off the rails, and there were plenty of opportunities to pivot so none of this would happen," Jones said. . ."Anybody, including Mr. Melson, who waits for things to happen or waits for information to come to them, that is something I personally am not a believer in," Jones said. "I'm a believer in management by walking around. If you're not hearing it, you seek it out. And there are a lot of ways to do that other than sitting in your corner office waiting for memos to come in."
Yes, well, since ole B. Todd has been "walking around around, he's had an opportunity to sack those involved with the Gunwalker Scandal and hasn't -- has had an opportunity to sack people in the Chief Counsels' Office of ATF, who continue, behind the scenes to make like for the whistleblowers a living hell. One wonders what kind of "walking around" ole B. Todd has done in a job that is only part-time for him.
But the most revealing paragraphs of the Serrano story are these last ones:
Justice officials said they were never told about the Fast and Furious tactics and cite ATF internal emails as evidence.Hours after Terry was killed south of Tucson, David J. Voth, the ATF group supervisor for Fast and Furious in Phoenix, sent an email to lead Agent Hope A. MacAllister. He titled the email, "no more rose colored glasses.""If you have not heard a Border Patrol agent was shoot and killed here in Arizona," he told her. "The trace came back to Fast and Furious…Ugh...! Call as soon as you can, things will most likely get ugly."
"Justice officials said they were never told about the Fast and Furious tactics and cite ATF internal emails as evidence."
From the very beginning of the breaking of this scandal with the death of Brian Terry, the DOJ and White House have sought to deny, first, the very existence of gunwalking, then when that was no longer deniable, knowledge of "the tactics" of gunwalking.
Yet, no one has yet asked specific questions -- under oath in hearings -- about FBI and DEA participation; about the March 2009 meeting between "Gunwalker Bill" Newell and the White House; about the 26 October 2009 teleconference at DOJ with Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, ATF Director Kenneth E. Melson, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Michele Leonhart, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller and the top federal prosecutors in the Southwestern border states, including Phoenix's Dennis Burke where they are reported to have decided on a strategy to identify and eliminate entire arms trafficking networks rather than low–level buyers.
Because of these failures of omission -- of questions or witness lists -- the White and DOJ have been able to get away with the meme: "Why we're shocked, SHOCKED, to find gunwalking going on here!"
This reporter is told that all the chickens will come home to roost at the next hearing, that this has all been "a careful and deliberate stalk to get the big game," in the words of one source. We shall see.