Ex-ATF Chief Blames Underlings for Fast and Furious

Ken Melson/atf photo
By Allan Lengel

The then-acting head of ATF, Ken Melson, told Congressional investigators back in July that he was irate that his underlings didn’t tell him about the controversial agency program Fast and Furious, an operation that encouraged gun dealers in Arizona to sell to “straw purchasers” with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Melson, who made the statement during a July deposition, complained that his chief intelligence officer at ATF was upset with the operation, but did little to shut it down, the Times reported.

“He didn’t come in and tell me, either,” Melson said, according to the LA Times. “And he’s on the same damn floor as I am.”

Melson resigned under pressure in August.

B. Todd Jones, the current acting head of ATF who replaced Melson, commented, saying Melson let field agents and supervisors violate the agency’s approved tactics.

Jones told the Times that the weak management structure at ATF — five acting directors in the last six years — provided a green light for some field agents to ignore Washington and act independently.

“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, according to the Times.

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