After ouster of ATF head, where does Fast and Furious probe go now?
ATF acting head Ken Melson stepped down Tuesday amid a probe into the ill-fated Fast and Furious gun tracing program. But Congressional investigators believe there's more blame to go around.
The acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Kenneth Melson took the fall for the ill-conceived Fast and Furious gun tracing program on Tuesday. But his departure is far from a clean break between the Obama administration and an operation that allowed over 2,000 guns to "walk" from US gunshops into the hands of Mexican cartels.Skip to next paragraph
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The move, which also included reassigning two other close to the program, is the boldest attempt yet by the Justice Department to distance itself from the potential political fallout of a scheme that some administration critics liken to the 1980s Iran-Contra arms scandal.
But congressional investigators say they have more unanswered questions:
- Are there are other similar "gunwalking" programs in existence?
- What is the extent of involvement by 12 top Justice officials, including three political appointees: Deputy Attorney General James Cole, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, and former Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler, who now works in US Attorney General Eric Holder's office?
- How were smugglers carrying Fast and Furious arms allowed to resume their travels after being caught in traffic stops?
- What role, if any, did the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) play in the scheme?
IN PICTURES: Mexico's drug war
"There’s a lot of blame to go around," said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) of Iowa. "As our investigation moves forward, and we get to the bottom of this policy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more fall out beyond the resignations and new assignments announced today."
The two officials reassigned by the Justice Department were Dennis Burke, the US attorney in Arizona who had been involved with the operation, and another Arizona investigator who was demoted from criminal case work to civil litigation.