Mike Vanderboegh pointed out an article in Government Executive that seems to indicate that Ken Melson, Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, is digging in his heels about being pushed out of the agency. It surprises me a bit but I assume that his conditions on leaving are not being met by the political appointees in DOJ.
However, what really caught my eye in that article was a statement by Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign, who was opining that ATF’s problems were because they only had an Acting Director.
The fact that no one has been confirmed as ATF director is worrisome to Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “You can’t run an important agency or any agency with just an acting head,” he said. “It makes it hard to launch special projects and crime-fighting initiatives and get support from agents to carry them out. I’m a former mayor, and if we’d had an acting police chief, things would have spiraled out of control.”
Helmke “points the finger at Congress, because they made it a confirmable position, so either confirm someone or restructure the agency,” he said. “The issues in Fast and Furious need to be addressed to find out who’s responsible, but with an acting head, no one’s responsible.”
Ken Melson came on board to head ATF in April 2009. Project Gunrunner did not morph into Operation Fast and Furious until after that. If Operation Fast and Furious was not a special project, then what was it? Or does Mr. Helmke have other special projects in mind such as the Shotgun Importability Study or the Multi-Rifle Sale Reporting Requirement? Perhaps the special project he had in mind was for ATF to find a way to completely abrogate our Second Amendment rights.
As to his specious argument that “no one’s responsible”, tell that to Rep. Darrell Issa and Senator Chuck Grassley who are looking long and hard at the higher-ups in the Department of Justice. Even if Andrew Traver had been confirmed as Director of ATF, I sincerely doubt he would have had the authority to start a project like Operation Fast and Furious on his own without clearance from his DOJ superiors. It involves wiretaps, international borders, and the drug cartels.
Helmke’s comments show just how desperate the Brady Campaign has become if this is the best they can do.