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July 06, 2011

Uh-Oh: ATF Head Melson Secretly Testifies, Without Notice to ATF or Department of Justice

Hello!

This morning, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Charles Grassley released a copy of a letter they sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on July 5 about Melson’s testimony. 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.

Very interesting is the letter to Holder written by Grassley and Issa, accusing the DoJ of obstruction.

If you recall, we (or at least some of us) had questions about how the DoJ could block someone from testifying. Based on this letter, here's the answer: The DoJ will provide you with a lawyer to advise you, but will only do so when the DoJ agrees you should testify.

They'll pick up the legal expenses of testifying, then, but only if you're a very good boy.

However, nothing prevents you from voluntarily appearing, on your own recognizance, and hiring your own lawyer to advise you, if you so choose.

Apparently the DoJ told Melson about the first thing but forgot to advise him of the second. But he was made aware (probably by Issa or someone like that) that he could do so, and so did.

The letter goes on to accuse Holder of deliberate obstruction of a lawful investigation:

According to Mr. Melson, he and ATF's senior leadership team moved to reassign every manager involved in Fast and Furious, from the Deputy Assistant Director for Field Operations down to the Group Supervisor, after learning the facts in those documents. Mr. Melson also said he was not allowed to communicate to Congress the reasons for the reassignments. He claimed that ATF's senior leadership would have preferred to be more cooperative with our inquiry much earlier in the process. However, he said that Justice Department officials directed them not to respond and took full control of replying to briefing and document requests from Congress. The result is that Congress only got the parts of the story that the Department wanted us to hear. If his account is accurate, then ATF leadership appears to have be en effectively muzzled while the DOJ s ent over false denials and bur i ed its he ad in the sand. That approach distorted the truth and obstructed our investigation.

You guys know no one in the media is reporting on this, right?

As I said with Anthony Weiner: Damn, the media's going to be all over this here story and leave us in the conservative alternate media with no scoops whatsoever. They'll just pick this carcass of every bit of meat and leave us nothing but bones.

Not Testifying "Before Congress"? Drew's not sure about the way I described this:

Not to be pedantic but I don't think saying he "testified before congress" is really accurate. That implies a hearing with members present. This was with investigators. Strikes me as more akin to a deposition or meeting with cops than testifying in court.

Okay, well at the least he testified before Congressional investigators.


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posted by Ace at 12:58 PM

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