ATF head removed by DOJ after 'Fast and Furious' controversy
By Jordy Yager - 08/30/11 01:30 PM ET
The head of the ATF has been removed after months of speculation about his role in a botched gun-tracking operation that could have contributed to the death of a Border Patrol agent.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Tuesday that acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Kenneth Melson was being replaced. Melson is being transferred to the Office of Legal Policy, where he will be a senior adviser.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota Todd Jones will take over as acting ATF director, according to the Department of Justice.
Melson had been in Congress’s crosshairs for the majority of this year as Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) investigated the ATF’s botched gun-tracking operation, dubbed "Fast and Furious." The operation oversaw the sale of thousands of firearms to known and suspected straw purchasers for Mexican drug cartels.
Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, called for Melson’s resignation in June; two weeks later he backed away from those demands when Melson came to Capitol Hill during the July 4 holiday with his own personal lawyer to conduct a transcribed interview with Issa and Grassley’s staff.