By Pat Shannan
Two top United States officials have now been forced out of their positions as a result of a congressional investigation into “Fast and Furious,” a U.S. operation that had law enforcement looking the other way as Mexican drug gangs purchased guns in the U.S. and smuggled them into Mexico. The mainstream media was largely dismissive of the scale of these official programs, but AMERICAN FREE PRESS remained focused on the scandal, which has resulted in the death of a Border Patrol officer, fired on by weapons purchased during one of the U.S. government-run operations.
Just before this newspaper went to press, Justice Department (DoJ) officials announced that the stand-in director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), Kenneth Melson, had been “reassigned” at the DoJ’s headquarters in Washington. Shortly before that, Dennis Burke, the U.S. attorney in Phoenix—the scene of the federal government’s Fast and Furious gunrunning crime—announced he would be resigning from his post.
Meanwhile, Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) says that the controversy is not over and that he and Senator Charles Grassley (D-Iowa) will continue the probe, suggesting other senior officials could be held responsible.
This has Americans wondering if Attorney General Eric Holder’s head will be the next to roll. As reported on the pages in AFP but little mentioned elsewhere, Holder was caught lying to the Issa-Grassley panel last May when he said under oath that he had known of the project for “only a few weeks.”
Video from April 2, 2009 clearly shows Holder lauding the program. At another joint investigation hearing on July 4, Melson testified that he became “sick to his stomach” upon learning “the full story” of the operation and saw he was becoming the “fall guy” when, in truth, the orders for the illegal operation that provided some 2,500 high-powered weapons to Mexican drug cartels came from much higher up in the chain of command.
While Operation Gunrunner was conceived in the White House and born of the BATFE, Melson fingered other federal agencies during his July testimony, such as the FBI and DEA, as being instrumental in the cover-up. The secret project resulted in the death of Border Agent Brian Terry last December, which triggered the AFP stories and the eventual congressional investigation earlier this year.
Congressional investigators released testimony from August 18 showing that Burke took full responsibility for the Arizona segment of the illegal gun purchases. He said on that day: “This is a case that should not have been done the way it was done, and I want to take responsibility for that.”
Pat Shannan is an AFP contributing editor and the author of several best-selling videos and books.