Dysfunctional government: Head of ATF sacked as evidence mounts of a cover-up

Wednesday, September 07, 2011 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: ATF, Fast and Furious, health news

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(NaturalNews) If you have ever wondered why the national government is dysfunctional, you needn't look any further than the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Revelations regarding this renegade agency over the past few days are enough to make more than a few of us shake our heads in disbelief, as culpable federal officials are, once again, not being held accountable for their misdeeds.

First, a little history lesson about an operation formed and executed by the U.S. Justice Department and the ATF known as Fast and Furious.

Essentially, both agencies developed a scheme to help facilitate the sale of guns to Mexican drug cartel members so they could track them back to the cartels, but at some point along the way, they lost track of them. Eventually, some 2,000 guns were allowed to "walk" across the U.S. border into Mexico, where the agencies promptly lost track of them.

Two of the weapons eventually turned up again: at the murder scene of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, 40, who was gunned down near Rio Rico, Ariz., by suspected Mexican drug cartel operatives last December. And there have been more operation-related weapons discovered at additional crime scenes north and south of the U.S. border since. The government admitted last month that it knew of a total of 11 weapons used in crimes that were tied to the operation, but inquisitive lawmakers have found out it's really nearly double that number.

There are more "untruths." According to revelations reported this week, not only did the government lie about the number of guns it has discovered at crime scenes that are tied to the operation, but Justice Department officials knew immediately that the one used to kill a fellow federal agent was a Fast and Furious weapon.

In a letter to Anne Scheel, newly appointed U.S. District Attorney for Arizona, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., are demanding to know why Assistant U.S. District Attorney Emory Hurley and then U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke failed to disclose the connection, choosing instead, according to an internal email between them, to keep it secret, so as not to "divulge our current case (Fast and Furious) or the Border Patrol shooting case."

"The level of involvement of the United States Attorney's Office in the genesis and implementation of this case is striking," both lawmakers said in their letter to Sheel.

More like criminal, mostly because the discovery of Fast and Furious related weapons at future crime scenes is only likely to grow. Grassley, in a statement released earlier in the week, said the number of weapons "will likely rise until the more than 1,000 guns that were allowed to fall into the hands of bad guys are recovered most likely years down the road."

What about Ken Melton, the former acting head of the ATF who helped run the operation? Well, he was just sacked in what the government, most likely, hoped would be a satisfactory "punishment."

Only, Melton isn't facing any criminal charges. In fact, he's still got a taxpayer supported government job. Rather than holing up in a jail cell somewhere, Melton has been moved to the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy, where he reportedly will become senior advisor for forensic science.

How does a guy responsible for running an operation that helped provide weapons to criminal drug cartels, one of which was used to kill a fellow federal agent, wind up with a job at the Justice Department's legal policy office? Simple; it's the age-old case of the cover-up, and it's one of the main reasons why American government bureaucracy these days is so often a case study in dysfunction.

One other thought to ponder. Let's say, for a moment, that this same operation was being run by a private security firm like Blackwater USA, and during the management of this operation a federal agent was killed.

Who seriously thinks that the people associated with that operation wouldn't be sitting behind bars right now instead of behind the desk of another security firm? Or in a government office?

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