Head of ATF to Be Removed?

Posted: Jun 18, 2011 2:26 PM

Amidst the fallout from Operation Fast and Furious, the Justice Department is looking to toss acting head of ATF Kenneth Melson. The Wall Street Journal reports that he may be on his way out as early as next week:

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. 

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.

The shakeup shows the extent of the political damage caused by the gun-trafficking operation called Fast and Furious, which used tactics that allowed suspected smugglers to buy large numbers of firearms. Growing controversy over the program has paralyzed a long-beleaguered agency buffeted by partisan battles. The ATF has been without a Senate-confirmed director since 2006, with both the Bush and Obama administrations unable to overcome opposition from gun-rights groups to win approval of nominees.

President Obama actually did nominate someone back in November, but his nomination was stalled due to his hostility towards the Second Amendment. Hot Air has the whole story on Andrew Traver, who hails from Chicago and is lauded by anti-gun activists.