ATF chief: Response to gun-tracking inquiry a ‘disaster.’

The acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms…

The acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said the Justice Department has been withholding key information from congressional officials and that the department sought to protect its political appointees from criticism over a failed anti-gun trafficking operation that allowed hundreds of weapons to be smuggled to Mexico.

Kenneth Melson told investigators earlier this month that among the materials in Justice’s possession was “a smoking gun” document related to the inquiry into Operation Fast and Furious that is being headed by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the Judiciary Committee’s ranking member, and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“My view is that the whole matter of the department’s response in this case was a disaster,” Melson told congressional investigators in a July 4 interview.

Grassley and Issa released passages of the interview Monday in a joint letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, demanding increased cooperation in the congressional inquiry.

Source: Kevin Johnson for USA Today.

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