ATF Still Hasn’t Turned Over Info to Congressional Committee; Battle Heats Up

ATF's Kenneth Melson keeping mum/fbi photo
By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — The battle between Capitol Hill and ATF seems to be heating up.

ATF failed to meet the Wednesday deadline to turn over requested information about a controversial gun-walking operation to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Becca Watkins, a spokeswoman for the committee, told Friday morning that the committee is expected to respond to  ATF’s non-compliance later in the day.

The committee has asked for info on the controversial program “Fast and Furious”, which had straw purchasers buying guns and ATF trying to trace them to the Mexican cartels. Some guns have ended up being used in serious crimes.

Rep. Darrell Isa, chairman of the committee, and Sen. Chuck Grassley have expressed anger over ATF’s failure to turn over information about the program.  On top of that, Ken Melson, head of ATF, turned down an invitation to appear before Congress.

On Thursday, former ATF official Bernie La Forest released an email to he had sent to former colleagues saying Congress may cut ATF’s budget — or worse yet — eliminate the agency if it doesn’t start cooperating.

“This refusal is exactly what some politicians want. If the ‘failure to cooperate’ continues, ATF is in for another blood bath . . . maybe a fatal one this go-around,” La Forest wrote.

ATF did not immediately respond for comment Friday morning.

“We aren’t going to discuss matters of ongoing investigations,” said ATF spokesman Drew Wade.

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