Some in the Obama Administration must have thought that the furor over Project Gunwalker might blow over if Kenneth Melson and Dennis Burke were gone. I don’t think they are going to get their wish.
Rep. Darrell Issa’s statement on resignation of Dennis Burke and the reassignment of Kenneth Melson:
(WASHINGTON) House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) today released the following statement regarding Department of Justice personnel changes involving Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley:
“While the reckless disregard for safety that took place in Operation Fast and Furious certainly merits changes within the Department of Justice, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee will continue its investigation to ensure that blame isn’t offloaded on just a few individuals for a matter that involved much higher levels of the Justice Department. There are still many questions to be answered about what happened in Operation Fast and Furious and who else bears responsibility, but these changes are warranted and offer an opportunity for the Justice Department to explain the role other officials and offices played in the infamous efforts to allow weapons to flow to Mexican drug cartels. I also remain very concerned by Acting Director Melson’s statement that the Department of Justice is managing its response in a manner intended to protect its political appointees. Senator Grassley and I will continue to press the Department of Justice for answers in order to ensure that a reckless effort like Fast and Furious does not take place again.”
While Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has not issued a statement yet, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) did issue one. Cornyn, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is one of the newer critics of Project Gunwalker as it seems to have spread to his home state of Texas.
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and former state Attorney General, today responded to reports that Kenneth E. Melson, the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and other Department of Justice officials who oversaw the “Fast and Furious” gun-walking operation, have been reassigned to new positions within the Justice Department:
“Instead of reassigning those responsible for ‘Fast and Furious’ within the Department of Justice, Attorney General Holder should ask for their resignations and come clean on all alleged gun-walking operations, including a detailed response to allegations of a Texas-based scheme.”
Earlier this month, Sen. Cornyn sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder demanding answers following recent press reports of alleged Texas-based “gun-walking” programs similar to the “Fast and Furious” operation currently being investigated by Congressional lawmakers. To date, Attorney General Holder has refused to respond.
The Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee seem to be rather quiet on the whole change. Nothing is listed on the minority section of the committee’s website nor on Ranking Member Elijah Cummings’ page. Checking the Queen Bee of Gun Control Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s website and there is nothing there either. Finally, checking Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s site there is no mention of Melson being reassigned either.
UPDATE: Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) represents the 1st District of Arizona. He is also a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. In what must be a disappointing sign to administration officials, Gosar says the investigation into Project Gunwalker must go forward.
Congressman Gosar’s Statement on Arizona U.S. Attorney Burke’s Resignation and BATFE Acting Director Melson’s Reassignment
Safford, AZ –Congressman Paul Gosar (AZ-01) issued the following statement regarding the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) Acting Director Kenneth Melson’s demotion to the Department of Justice Office of Legal Policy, and the resignation of Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke:
“The resignation of U.S. Attorney Burke and the demotion of Acting ATF Director Melson are only small steps on the long road to accountability for the Department of Justice. As the only Arizona congressman who serves on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, please be assured I will continue to press the Department of Justice for answers about Operation Fast and Furious.”
“I will not rest until the American people are informed about who authorized the program, who allowed it to continue despite grave misgivings on the part of dedicated ATF agents, and who is responsible for the lack of transparency from DOJ thus far.”
Congressman Paul A. Gosar, a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, represents Arizona’s First Congressional District. For more information on Congressman Gosar’s involvement in the investigation into Operations Fast and Furious, please visit http://gosar.house.gov.
UPDATE II: The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire has some comments by Senator Chuck Grassley on the “reassignment” of Ken Melson and resignation of Dennis Burke.
“There’s a lot of blame to go around. As our investigation moves forward, and we get to the bottom of this policy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more fall out beyond the resignations and new assignments announced today,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa)….
Mr. Grassley called the shakeup “an admission by the Obama administration that serious mistakes were made in Operation Fast and Furious, and is a step in the right direction that they are continuing to limit any further damage that people involved in this disastrous strategy can do.”
UPDATE III: Sen. Chuck Grassley posted the following reaction to today’s events at ATF and DOJ on his website this evening:
Grassley Reacts to New Fall-out from ATF Oversight
Senator Chuck Grassley made the following comment after the resignations and new assignments of several officials involved in the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives strategy known as Fast and Furious.
“Today’s announcement is an admission by the Obama administration that serious mistakes were made in Operation Fast and Furious, and is a step in the right direction that they are continuing to limit any further damage that people involved in this disastrous strategy can do.
“There’s a lot of blame to go around. As our investigation moves forward, and we get to the bottom of this policy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more fall out beyond the resignations and new assignments announced today.
“The Justice Department and the ATF have yet to answer a majority of the questions and still must produce many of the documents Congressman Issa and I have asked for. We’re looking for a full accounting from the Justice Department as to who knew what and when, so we can be sure that this ill-advised strategy never happens again.”