I’ve been waiting to link to Representative Issa’s letter to Kenneth Melson, the Acting Head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [above left]. The official webpage was broken. Click here to view a pdf of the doc, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal. The bottom line: the ATF continues to stonewall Representative Issa’s and Senator Grassley’s investigations in the cluster-you-know-what known as Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious. Both ATF ops enabled thousands of guns to flow from U.S. gun stores to Mexican drug cartels—despite dire warnings from both the gun dealers and agents within the ATF. Drug thugs used two such weapons to kill ICE Agent Zapata and Border Patrol Agent Terry. So if Melson doesn’t deliver the requested information . . .
Congress will cite him for contempt. Click here for a full discussion of Congressional contempt. Here’s the summary:
Congress’s contempt power is the means by which Congress responds to certain acts that in its view obstruct the legislative process. Contempt may be used either to coerce compliance (inherent contempt), punish the contemnor (criminal contempt), and/or to remove the obstruction (civil contempt). Although arguably any action that directly obstructs the effort of Congress to exercise its constitutional powers may constitute a contempt, in the last seventy years the contempt power (primarily through the criminal contempt process) has generally been employed only ininstances of refusals of witnesses to appear before committees, to respond toquestions, or to produce documents.
If Melson continues to withhold the required information, there’s only one way for him to avoid sanction: the President must invoke Executive Privilege.
That’s not a blanket “get out of airing your dirty laundry free” card. But it sure would slow things down. More to the point, if Obama goes down that road, it will not help him politically. This is, after all, the same man who made a clear [as yet unfulfilled] pledge for government openness. Who wants four more years as Commander-in-Chief.
Remember: the Gunwalker probe is, essentially, a double homicide investigation. It’s one thing to stonewall about, I dunno, secret contributions from lobbyists. It’s another to prevent Congress from obtaining justice for two murdered federal agents.
Then again . . . whatever lies under the rock labelled Operation Fast and Furious must be pretty bad if Melson is willing to take the heat for stonewalling not one but two Congressional investigations.
The truth about the ATF may be so bad that the Obama administration is willing to go all Richard Nixon on Issa’s ass. Collusion with the Mexicans to arm the Sinaloa cartel? Who knows? But we just might find out.