A lot of big developments have happened in the scandal.
Our first story is four days old. (Sorry, I’ve been busy.) Kenneth Melson, the acting director of the ATF, looks like he’s not going gentle into that good night. He appears to be ready to rage against the dying of the light of truth, and is apparently turning state’s evidence and becoming a whistleblower:
In a blockbuster development in the Operation Fast & Furious gun-running scandal, Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson secretly testified before House and Senate investigators on July 4 with his own personal lawyer present, former United States Attorney Richard Cullen, without the knowledge of the ATF or the Department of Justice. . . . Melson’s revelations raise even more serious issues not only about the operation itself, but about apparent attempts by the Justice Department to mislead Congress on the details of the operation.
Contrary to the Justice Department’s denials, according to Melson, ATF agents specifically witnessed transfers of weapons from straw purchasers to third parties without taking any further action. Melson claimed that it was not until the public disclosure of the operation that he personally reviewed the “hundreds of documents” related to the case. He said he became “sick to his stomach” when he learned the full story. Even more shocking is that some of the “gun trafficking ‘higher-ups’ that the ATF sought to identify were already known to other agencies and may even have been paid as informants” by agencies such as the FBI and the DEA.
Melson provided detailed information and documents to the Office of the Deputy Attorney General at the Justice Department. But that information was not given to Congress by then-Acting Deputy Attorney General James Cole. In fact, “Melson was not allowed to communicate to Congress” and “Justice Department officials directed [ATF’s senior leadership] not to respond and took full control of replying to briefing and document requests from Congress.” According to the letter Issa and Grassley sent to Holder, it was “two days after [Melson] told [Cole] about serious issues involving lack of information sharing” that the Wall Street Journal suddenly reported that Melson was about to be ousted by the Obama administration.
Meanwhile, a recently captured leader of the Zetas cartel says that, yeah, most of our weapons came from the U.S. Why, he adds, they were actually coming from the U.S. Government!
Meanwhile Thursday, Mexican police released a videotaped interview of Jesus Enrique Rejon Aguilar, in which the recently captured No. 3 leader of the Los Zetas drug cartel said “all the weapons” the Zetas use were “bought in the United States” and that “even the American government itself was selling the weapons.”
I will add that it appears to be commonly accepted that a Gunrunner weapon was found, not just at the murder scene for Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, but also at the scene of Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata:
At least three of those weapons, including two AK-47 assault rifles, later were found at the site of separate shootings that claimed the lives of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by Rejon Aguilar’s Zetas, and U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry.
Those of you with long memories might remember back to March 4, when that possible connection was made on my blog (due to a tip from a perceptive reader). Back then, it seemed like only a possibility. Now, it appears solid.
Always trust content from Patterico.
Legal Insurrection had a good post yesterday showing how Obama, at the same time he was trying to ban the sale of certain weapons, was presiding over an administration that was actively forcing gun dealers to sell those very same weapons to straw purchasers for Mexican cartels.
I believe that, with the debriefing of Melson, we will learn much more about DoJ’s knowledge of the operation, and the strongarm regulatory tactics used by the ATF to force gun dealers to participate in these unwise transactions.
Again: always trust content from Patterico.
The takeaway news of the day: Allen West says Obama must remove Eric Holder, or be seen as complicit in this operation.