COBAMA’S ATF THREATENED WITH CONTEMPT CHARGE
By NWV News writer Jim Kouri
April 27, 2011
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, in a biting April 25 letter to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Acting Director Kenneth E. Melson, criticized the Director for failing to produce any documents in response to a subpoena issued more almost a month ago on March 31.
The subpoena was issued after ATF and Department of Justice officials failed to cooperate in good faith with the Committee’s investigation, according to Rep. Issa.
Media reports have raised questions about the handling of operations involving gun trafficking into Mexico — specifically the allegation that ATF has had a policy of permitting, and even encouraging, the movement of guns into Mexico by straw purchasers. This practice may have contributed to the deaths of hundreds on both sides of the border, including federal law enforcement agents.
“The Department’s internal policy to withhold documents from what it labels pending criminal investigations may not deprive Congress from obtaining those same documents if they are pertinent to a congressional investigation – particularly in a matter involving allegations that reckless and inappropriate decisions by top Justice Department officials may have contributed to the deaths of both U.S. and Mexican citizens,” Chairman Issa wrote in citing Supreme Court precedents and previous Congressional investigations.
“Let me be clear: we are not conducting a concurrent investigation with the Department of Justice, but rather an independent investigation of the Department of Justice – specifically, of allegations that the reckless and inappropriate decisions of Department officials have created a serious public safety hazard. We are asking for documents that relate to decisions such officials made. Congress is legally entitled to all of these documents,” stated the conservative lawmaker.