ATF Director Kenneth Melson (AP/Pat Sullivan)The embattled head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) claims in new testimony that he knew nothing about the much-criticized "Fast and Furious" operation that sold guns to small-time buyers in the hopes they would sell them to drug cartel members--and, so the theory went, place cartel leaders in the path of federal law enforcement. Agents intended to trace the guns using wiretaps and video surveillance to make bigger-name arrests up the cartel food chain.
In December, two of the guns sold in the program were found near where Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was shot and killed, NPR reports. ATF-provided guns have also reportedly shown up at other crime scenes south of the border. Lawmakers began investigating Fast and Furious, and rumors flew that the ATF chief's head would roll.
But acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson testified this week that he had no idea the operation was under way, and added that he was "sick to his stomach" when he reviewed f0r the first time hundreds of documents on the operation. Melson claimed he immediately demoted the agents who were responsible, and said the Department of Justice told ATF leadership not to answer any requests for information about Fast and Furious, effectively tying his hands.Read More »from ATF head says he didn’t know about disastrous ‘Furious’ operation