Kenneth Melson, Acting Director of ATF, was scheduled to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps, and Global Narcotics Affairs this Thursday. I even speculated that this would be a great time for the Senators to grill Mr. Melson about Operation Fast and Furious.
Mr. Melson must have had the same thought because he has decided not to testify. Moreover, no one from either ATF or the Justice Department are on the new list of witnesses. Given the topic was counter-narcotics and citizen security, it would seem that DOJ might have sent someone. After all the Drug Enforcement Administration is a line DOJ agency just like the FBI and ATF.
Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News contacted the Subcommittee for more information on why Melson will not be testifying.
We contacted the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to ask why Melson is no longer scheduled to appear. They referred us to the office of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) who chairs the subcommittee holding the hearing. A press spokeswoman at the senator’s office said it was Melson’s decision not to testify, and that the subcommittee doesn’t have jurisdiction over ATF.
Later, a spokesman told us in an email, “The Subcommittee had invited, but not confirmed, Mr. Melson as well as other officials from ATF to testify at the hearing this week. In the end, ATF declined to send a representative.”
It is also speculated that one of the main reasons for the delay in confirmation hearings for Andrew Traver is the fallout from Operation Fast and Furious.
My gut feeling is that the only way we will have public, on the record, under oath hearings into Operation Fast and Furious and gunwalking is if the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform under Rep. Darrell Issa holds them. The House Judiciary Committee could also hold hearings as they have oversight over the Department of Justice.
As much as I am thankful for all the great work that Sen. Chuck Grassley has done to find the truth about Project Gunwalker, he is still only the Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Unless Sen. Pat Leahy and the Democrats decide to hold hearings into it, they just aren’t going to happen in the Senate.