The Justice Department is expected to oust the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to people familiar with the matter, amid a troubled federal antitrafficking operation that has grown into the agency's biggest scandal in nearly two decades.Sipsey Street, which has developed quite the track record for being excellent prognosticators, is predicting that if Melson goes, he will turn State's evidence:
Moves toward the replacement of Kenneth Melson, acting ATF director since April 2009, could begin next week, although the precise sequence of events remains to be decided, these people said.
If Melson goes, Melson will roll. The documents revealed so far take this far higher than him. There are all manner of laws, domestic and international, that Melson and his crew broke at the behest of his superiors. Insiders believe that he will trade Congressional immunity for a full confessional. THAT hearing will make "Black Wednesday" look like a happy affair for Eric Holder and his fellow Gunwalker conspirators.Back to WSJ:
ATF spokesman Scot Thomasson said: "Acting Director Kenneth Melson continues to be focused on leading ATF in its efforts to reduce violent crime and to stem the flow of firearms to criminals and criminal organizations. We are not going to comment on any speculations."Echoing the likelihood that this will become a full-blown scandal (think Watergate with murder), WSJ says Fast and Furious is at least as big as the Branch Davidian raid in Waco in 1993:
Mr. Melson is the most senior official so far implicated in a congressional probe of the Fast and Furious operation. The ATF Phoenix office ran the program in 2009-2010 to monitor weapons purchases by suspected gun smugglers. Agency officials hoped eventually to build a case against major arms smugglers serving Mexican drug cartels. The ATF has struggled to stanch the flow of U.S. weapons to Mexican drug gangs.
At a House hearing this week, Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, disclosed internal documents showing that Mr. Melson was closely involved in managing Fast and Furious operation. One email among ATF officials described Mr. Melson's request for an Internet link to hidden cameras the ATF had planted in gun shops cooperating with the operation, Mr. Issa said, citing the documents. That allowed Mr. Melson to watch a live feed of suspected "straw buyers," who purchase firearms on behalf of others, buying AK-47-style rifles, he said.
Fast and Furious has grown into the agency's worst crisis since the ATF's 1993 raid on a religious sect in Waco, Texas, which triggered a gunbattle that killed four ATF agents. The fallout from the raid and subsequent government assault on the sect's compound led to years of recriminations and investigations of the ATF.Meanwhile, all Rush Limbaugh talked about ALL WEEK was his new brand of Tea. If he isn't careful, he's going to miss the boat and jump the shark.
The Fast and Furious operation caused dissent in the ATF Phoenix office, according to three ATF agents who testified at a House hearing Wednesday. The agents said they battled supervisors who insisted on doing surveillance instead of arresting suspected straw buyers.
Despite the Justice Department's internal probe, the hearing helped cement the view among top Justice Department officials that Mr. Melson needed to be moved out before pressure from lawmakers grew more intense, according to the people familiar with the matter.
Read it all.