Reporting Requirement For Semi-Auto Rifles Originally Intended For More States

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released the first of three parts on its Final  Joint Report on Operation Fast and Furious yesterday. The report itself is 211 pages long while the three appendices comprise another 2,148 pages. To say it is detailed is an understatement.

It will take days before anyone can digest everything that is contained in the report and appendices. That said, a quick browse turned up a very interesting memorandum from then-Acting Director of ATF Kenneth Melson to Attorney General Eric Holder. (See Appendix III, page 173). The memo, received on March 26, 2010, was making the case to Holder for approval of a pilot project to use demand letters to Federal Firearms Licensees in certain states to force them to report multiple sales of semi-automatic rifles in a caliber greater than .22 and with the ability to accept detachable magazines.

This request was sent months before the Department of Justice Inspector General had released a report criticizing the effectiveness of ATF’s Project Gunrunner. Among the recommendations of the OIG’s reports was that reporting of multiple sales of long guns be explored. Melson concurred with this recommendation but said at the time “that this may require a change to the Gun Control Act which is beyond ATF’s and the Department’s authority.”

As we now know, ATF did get permission to do their one year pilot program to require reporting of multiple sales of certain rifles. It went into effect on August 14, 2011 in the Southwest Border states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas.

What makes Melson’s letter particularly interesting is that he was requesting authority from the Attorney General to not only request demand letters in the four border states but an additional eight more. These eight additional states included Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Washington State. The rationale given is that these (and the Southwest Border states) were the top 12 source states for firearms recovered and traced in Mexico in FY2009.

I think it has been assumed that the impetus for the multi-rifle reporting requirement was the Office of Inspector General’s report. As the Melson memo makes clear, ATF was pushing for this almost nine months earlier. Moreover, it was not limited to just states that bordered Mexico but major Mid-Western states such as Illinois and Southeastern states such as Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina. When you add in a state like Washington which is as far from Mexico as you could get, it doesn’t take too much of an imagination to assume that the so-called pilot program was meant to be a predecessor to rolling this out nationwide even though the Gun Control Act of 1968 did not give ATF this authority. Perhaps this is what Obama meant when he said to Sarah Brady that they were working “under the radar” on gun control.

Reactions On Capitol Hill To Melson “Reassignment”

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

 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.”

Melson Out At ATF

The Department of Justice released this just a bit ago announcing that Kenneth Melson is being reassigned outside of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and that the U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota B. Todd Jones is being appointed the Acting Director. At the same time, DOJ has announced that Dennis Burke, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona is leaving. More on that in another post.

It is interesting to note that Todd Jones will serve as both U.S. Attorney for Minnesota and as Acting Director of ATF. I would have thought they would have learned their lesson about a part-time Director after the experience of Michael Sullivan as both U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts and Acting Director of ATF. They didn’t seem to work out too well.

Department of Justice Announces New Acting Director of ATF and Senior Advisor in the Office of Legal Policy

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice today announced the appointments of U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota B. Todd Jones to serve as Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson to become Senior Advisor on forensic science in the Office of Legal Policy (OLP).

“As a seasoned prosecutor and former military judge advocate, U.S. Attorney Jones is a demonstrated leader who brings a wealth of experience to this position,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “I have great confidence that he will be a strong and steady influence guiding ATF in fulfilling its mission of combating violent crime by enforcing federal criminal laws and regulations in the firearms and explosives industries.”

Jones will continue to serve in the capacity of U.S. Attorney when he assumes the role of ATF acting director on Aug. 31, 2011.

A veteran of the Justice Department, Jones has served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota under two presidential administrations. He first served from 1998 to 2001. He was nominated again in 2009 by President Obama and has been in that role since being confirmed that year.

In 2009, the Attorney General appointed him to serve as chair of the Attorney General Advisory Committee (AGAC), a group of U.S. Attorneys appointed to advise the Attorney General on policy, management and operational issues affecting U.S. Attorneys’ Offices throughout the country. Jones previously served as a member, vice chair and chair of the AGAC from 1999 to 2001.

During his several years as a federal prosecutor, Jones conducted grand jury investigations and has been the lead trial lawyer in many federal prosecutions involving drug trafficking, firearms, financial fraud and violent crime.

Throughout his career, Jones has served as a partner with Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi (2001-2009); a partner with Greene Espel, PLLP (2001; 1994-1997); First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota (1997-1998); and Assistant U.S. Attorney (1992-1994).

Following admission to the Minnesota bar, Jones went on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served as both a trial defense counsel and prosecutor in a number of courts martial proceedings.

Jones received his B.A. from Macalester College in 1979 and his J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1983.

Melson will join OLP on Aug. 31, 2011, in his new role as senior advisor where he will focus on issues relating to policy development in forensic science.

“Ken brings decades of experience at the department and extensive knowledge in forensic science to his new role and I know he will be a valuable contributor on these issues,” said Attorney General Holder. “As he moves into this new role, I want to thank Ken for his dedication to the department over the last three decades.”

He is a past president and distinguished fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and currently participates on behalf of the department on the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board. He has been an adjunct professor at George Washington University for almost 30 years teaching both law and forensic science courses.

Melson was appointed acting director of ATF in 2009. Prior to that, he was director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys and served several years in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Melson received his B.A. from Denison University in 1970 and his J.D. from George Washington University in 1973.

CNN also has a report up on this move which repeats the info from the DOJ release and adds some old info about Project Gunwalker.

Politico is also reporting on this move and have a reaction from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who has been spearheading hearings into Project Gunwalker.

In a statement Tuesday, Issa said “the reckless disregard for safety” by the Justice Department “certainly merits changes” in personnel.

But the committee will continue to investigate Fast and Furious “to ensure that blame isn’t offloaded on just a few individuals for a matter that involved much higher levels of the Justice Department,” Issa said. “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.”

Cap’n Crunch Doesn’t Like CUTAF

In an interview with CNN reporter Abbie Boudreau in May 2010, ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson was highly critical of the website He objected to ATF critics hiding behind made-up screen names. You know, like Vincent Cefalu and Jay Dobyns. Oh, wait – those are their real names. He does mention “Thor” which was the name of the Norse God of Thunder. Thor, according to Wikipedia, is also charged with the protection of mankind. Given the important role that the members of CUATF have played in exposing Project Gunwalker, I would say Thor is an appropriate screen name.

As one might imagine, the CUATF people who have posted this video are none too thrilled with Mr. Melson. From the webmaster:

Many of us here at used to believe that Kenneth Melson was simply another clueless career bureaucrat, who, although he might not be a bad guy personally, had not the slightest idea what was really happening in the agency he was supposedly responsible for “leading”. Although that would make him patently incompetent (which seems to have been rather conclusively established at this point), many of us gave him a certain benefit of the doubt in terms of personal integrity. That misconception has now been irrevocably clarified.

The simple fact is that Kenneth Melson is a bald-faced LIAR.

In the interview shown below, Melson states that he has an “open door” policy. However, on the basis of repeated conduct, such a claim is an unequivocal lie. A significant number of employees have, while using their real names, attempted in good faith to make Melson aware as to just how screwed up ATF is in terms of managerial malfeasance, corruption and unlawful conduct, only to either be retaliated against, or to receive nothing but a big, fat cold shoulder.

“Open-Door” Policy? Our ass.

You might also recall that when confronted about the fact that Whistleblower Special Agent Vince Cefalu had been deliberately relegated to twiddling his thumbs all day (at significant taxpayer expense) by his vicious, retaliatory, corrupt, perjuring managers (who all work directly for Kenny-Boy, Melson told the nation, “Not on my watch”. However, Melson then proceeded to do precisely NOTHING about that ridiculous abuse of taxpayer monies (and complete waste of Cefalu’s 25 years of top-notch training, experience and accomplishments), and Cefalu remains in the same basket-weaving status to this very day, more than a YEAR after Melson’s shameless whoppers.

Once again, there is a word for what Melson did; it’s called LYING. You are a professional prevaricator, Melson…an unmitigated, unadulterated, dyed-in-the-wool fibber. You might manage to somehow save your own ass in this ginormic fiasco you have overseen, but you’re still a liar by any reasonable measure.

Also, you’ll note that Melson laughably contradicts himself in the most amateurish manner by first pompously stating that he personally blocked (from access through government computers) “because no employee should be exposed to such lies and distortions” (in so many words), but in the same breath, saying that he encourages employees to visit the site(!), as long as it’s on their own time. Only the most dronishly jaded lifelong federal bureaucrat could make such an incomprehensibly muddled and logically incompatible statement.

Ken Melson, you are a disgrace and a stain on the honor of decent, hard-working law enforcement agents. You have failed miserably in your duties as Acting Director of ATF, a position for which you were clearly not qualified or competent. We call on you to resign immediately and spare yourself, ATF, DOJ and this nation further embarrassment.

“Pama” is a bit more forgiving of Melson but agrees that he is lying about what he knew and his involvement in Project Gunwalker.

Although Melson was obviously involved in “supervising” and directing Fast and Furious, it equally obviously was not his idea. I personally believe this came directly from Obama, Holder, Breuer and a few other political appointees. I believe the State Department and Homeland Security were involved in planning this deplorable debacle or at the least, were well aware of it and approved of it. I have a secret suspicion that FnF is why Hillary and Mueller are leaving the Regime. Melson was appointed in April or May of 2009. I believe the planning for this operation was already well underway by that time. That being said, he is clearly lying about what he knew and about his involvement. However Holder and Obama are chiefly responsible. Everyone involved needs to be exposed, prosecuted and pilloried.

If this interview were recorded today as opposed to a year ago, I wonder what Melson would be saying about CUATF.

Melson: DOJ Response to Fast and Furious Investigation Intended to Protect Political Appointees

Attorney General Eric Holder is not as politically astute as I previously thought despite having been groomed by the Clintons. If he were more politically astute, he would have known better than to make a career bureaucrat the fall-guy for Operation Fast and Furious because they are exceedingly adept at in-fighting. Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson is currently serving in a slot set aside for a political appointee. However, Melson had been a career employee of the Department of Justice from 1983 until 2009 when he was appointed Acting Director with the understanding he would return to the career service. He didn’t get to the Senior Executive Service on talent and good looks alone.

When Melson was made the designated fall-guy, he balked. Moreover, he began to talk to Congressional investigators which led to today’s 10-page letter to Holder from Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley asking about “the smoking gun” so to speak.

Chairman Issa and Senator Grassley Press Attorney General Holder with Key Testimony

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley today pressed Attorney General Eric Holder about the Justice Department’s unsatisfactory responses and lack of cooperation with an investigation into the highly controversial Operation Fast and Furious. A letter sent by the two lead investigators highlighted testimony indicating internal disputes within the Justice Department and a statement from the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) that the Justice Department is attempting to protect its political appointees.

“It was very frustrating to all of us, and it appears thoroughly to us that the Department is really trying to figure out a way to push the information away from their political appointees at the Department,” ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson said of his frustration with the Justice Department’s response to the investigation in a transcribed interview.

“The Department should not be withholding what Mr. Melson described as the ‘smoking gun’ report of investigation or Mr. Melson’s emails regarding the wiretap applications,” wrote Issa and Grassley. “Mr. Melson said he reviewed the affidavits in support of the wiretap applications for the first time after the controversy became public and immediately contacted the Deputy Attorney General’s office to raise concerns about information in them that was inconsistent with the Department’s public denials. The Department should also address the serious questions raised by Mr. Melson’s testimony regarding potential informants for other agencies.”

The full text of that letter can be found here. It is very interesting. The letter and Melson’s testimony leads one to believe that an active cover-up is in process at DOJ and that documents have been created after the fact.

William Newell, Whistle-Blower?

William Newell had been the Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Division and was slated to become the ATF Attache to Mexico. His appointment to the U.S. Embassey in Mexico and his position as SAC of the Phoenix Field Division ended when Project Gunwalker exploded into the national consciousness. As one of the principals behind this so-called attempt to bring down a Mexican drug cartel, it appeared that he would be one of the fall guys.

Newell must have been speaking with George Gillett, former Assistant SAC of the Phoenix Field Division, who abandoned ship earlier this year and became an official whistle-blower. Gillett, who was also deeply involved in Operation Fast and Furious, saw the writing on the wall. Now it is obvious that Newell did too.

Buried within the usual gun control drivel of the House Oversight Committee Democrats’ report “Outgunned” was this tidbit.

Committee staff also conducted a transcribed interviewed of William Newell, the former Special Agent-in-Charge of the Phoenix Field Division. When asked how the lack of a firearms-trafficking statute impacts his work, he stated:

So when you have a firearm that’s taken from lawful commerce into unlawful commerce, that technically is the definition of firearms trafficking, by my understanding or under our definition. So, not having a statute that would address a pattern of activity by a group of individuals that are engaged in some form of diversion of firearms from legal to illegal creates a situation for us where we have to go and look at each individual transaction by a particular purchaser.

What Newell said is actually irrelevant. That he was interviewed by investigators of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is relevant. According to the footnote, he was interviewed on June 8, 2011. It does not say whether his interview was given under whistle-blower status or whether he was served with a subpoena.

From a strategic standpoint, I’m not sure how smart it was on the part of the Democrats to let the cat out of the bag that Newell had been interviewed. He becomes the highest ranking ATF official so far to go on record about Operation Fast and Furious. Knowing that Newell has testified makes it less likely that Acting Director Kenneth Melson will hold back when he is interviewed in July by House and Senate investigators.

If the goal of Rep. Elijah Cummings and the Democrats on the House Oversight Committee was to divert attention from the poltical higher-ups in the Justice Department – who were all put there by the Obama Administration – then they have just failed. If Kenneth Melson is the John Dean of Project Gunwalker, then what is Bill Newell? The Charles Colson or G. Gordon Liddy?

Melson To Testify According To Report

The left-leaning on-line news site, The Daily Beast, is reporting that Senators Patrick Leahy and Chuck Grassley have brokered a deal whereby ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson will cooperate with Senate investigators and testify next month. In exchange, Senator Grassley released the hold he had put on three Department of Justice nominations.

The testimony—expected next month from Kenneth Melson, the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives—was brokered as part of a deal between Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and the committee’s top Republican, Iowa’s Charles Grassley. Grassley and his fellow Republicans were given full access to ATF documents, Melson, and other key witnesses; and in return, Grassley agreed to release three Obama administration nominees he had been blocking, according to correspondence obtained by NEWSWEEK and THE DAILY BEAST.

Grassley had been fighting to get full access for months. He finally got it with a letter Leahy wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting access for both his staff and Grassley’s investigators to the evidence and witnesses in the gun-sting investigation. In return, Grassley agreed to let proceed the nominations of Jim Cole to be deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco to be assistant attorney general for national security, and Virginia Seitz to be head of the Office of Legal Counsel, the letter shows.

 Melson has been resisting pressure to resign claiming that he had done no wrong in Project Gunwalker and that it had been approved in DOJ. Rep. Darrell Issa and others have flatly stated that the approval goes to the highest levels of the Justice Department.

As head of the agency that conducted the controversial sting, Melson has faced calls for his resignation. But in private conversations with congressional investigators in recent days, Melson has indicated he does not believe he did anything wrong because he carried out his bosses’ wishes and is eager to testify to describe the full picture, according to sources familiar with those conversations.

Issa, who is among those to previously call for Melson’s ouster, is hopeful the acting ATF director can answer crucial questions about what was known above him. “Director Melson has had a long and distinguished career at the Department of Justice. But in the eyes of the public he is, so far, the highest-ranking official who [knew] about gun walking,” Issa told THE DAILY BEAST over the weekend. “[But] I don’t believe he was the highest-ranking official at Justice who knew about or authorized this operation.

“He may still have an opportunity to set the record straight for his agency and get away from being the focus of demands for accountability. We certainly want to hear his full story and see all the evidence about what happened,” Issa said.

I’m surprised that Senator Leahy went along with the agreement. He has always been fiercely partisan and his cooperation will more than likely lead to more trouble for the Obama Administration. If Attorney General Eric Holder survives Project Gunwalker after Melson’s testimony, I’d be surprised.

Fireworks And Ken Melson?

In a public service message released yesterday on YouTube by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Acting Director Kenneth Melson warns of the dangers of fireworks as we approach the 4th of July. For a moment I thought he was alluding to the impact of his testimony if he is allowed to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee but I guess not.

I don’t know when this video was recorded. However, when you combine this video with the Gay Pride Observance held earlier this week, they seem to be using these mundane events to promote the image that everything is peachy keen at ATF. It has the same impact as a little kid holding his hands over his ears and singing so as not to hear bad news – it doesn’t change anything.

“Special Projects”

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.