ATF Chief Who Oversaw Botched Gun Plan Resigns

Kenneth Melson reassigned after 'Fast and Furious' failure
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2011 12:35 PM CDT
ATF Chief Kenneth Melson Resigns After Botched 'Fast and Furious' Gun Smuggling Plan
Kenneth Melson is stepping down as acting chief of the ATF today.   (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

The ATF is getting a new chief today, the fallout from a botched scheme to catch gun smugglers supplying Mexico's drug cartels. Kenneth Melson is returning to lesser duties with the Justice Department, and his role as overseer of Operation Fast and Furious wasn't even mentioned in a glowing farewell given by Eric Holder, notes the Los Angeles Times. Critics, including GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, already are saying that Melson got off too easy and are demanding a fuller accounting of all cases related to the operation.

Fast and Furious probably seemed like a great idea at the time: ATF agents would watch guns be illegally purchased on the US side of the border, then follow the trail straight to Mexico's drug cartels. Except the sting went horribly wrong—agents lost track of most of the weapons sold and many turned up at crime scenes, including the murder of a US Border Patrol agent, notes Politico. Click for more on how the plan went awry. (Read more Kenneth Melson stories.)

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