The acting director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is strongly resisting pressure to step down because of the controversy over the agency’s surveillance program that allowed U.S. guns to flow unchecked into Mexico, reports the Los Angeles Times. Kenneth Melson, who has run the bureau for two years, is eager to testify to Congress about the extent of his and other officials’ involvement in the “Fast and Furious” operation.
Melson does not want to be “the fall guy” for the program, in which ATF agents allowed straw purchasers to acquire more than 1,700 AK-47s and other high-powered rifles from Arizona gun dealers. The idea was to track the guns to drug cartel leaders. The guns turned up at shootings in Mexico, as well as at the slaying in Arizona of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in December. “He is saying he won’t go,” said one source. Said a second source: “He’s resisting. He does not want to go.” Melson has not been given Justice Department approval to appear before Congress.