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White House Likely to Replace Head of ATF

ATF's Kenneth Melson /fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Obama White House  had no intention of keeping Ken Melson, acting head of ATF.

In fact, last November it nominated Andrew Traver, head of the Chicago ATF office, to become the permanent head of the agency.  But the confirmation process seemed to hit a big bump as the pro-gun lobbying groups attacked him, claiming he was hostile to gun owners.

But things may be changing.

Wall Street Journal reporters Evan Perez and Devlin Barrett report that the Justice Department is likely to soon oust Melson. The move would come as  the agency is coming   under sharp attack by some Congressional members for a questionable ATF operation known as Fast and Furious, which encouraged gun dealers in Arizona to sell to straw purchasers — all with the hope of tracing the guns to Mexican drug cartels.

Problem was, agents lost track of the guns and authorities say some of the guns were linked to the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry late last year.

The Journal reported that  Traver is set to travel to Washington on Tuesday to meet with Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole.

The Journal said the administration is trying to figure out whether it should name Traver acting director or name someone else as “acting” in the interim  while Traver awaits  Senate action.

ATF spokesman Scot Thomasson told the Journal : “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. We are not going to comment on any speculations.”

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