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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Justice Department trying to shield officials in guns scandal, ATF chief says



The Justice Department is trying to protect its political appointees from the Fast and Furious scandal by concealing an internal "smoking gun" report and other documents that acknowledge the role top officials played in the program that allowed firearms to flow illegally into Mexico, according to the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Kenneth E. Melson, the ATF's acting director, also told congressional investigators this month that the affidavits prepared to obtain wiretaps used in the ill-fated operation were inconsistent with Justice Department officials' public statements about the program. Justice Department officials advised him not to raise his concerns with Congress about "institutional problems" with the Fast and Furious operation, Melson said.

"It was very frustrating to all of us," Melson told congressional investigators in a private meeting over the Fourth of July holiday, "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."

Not only was the department slow to react, Melson said, but Justice Department officials indicated they did not want him to cooperate with Congress. Full Story


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