Dennis Burke Resignation Tied to Fast and Furious Scandal; U.S. ATF Acting Director is Booted From Post

The resignation of Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, announced minutes ago by his office, comes a couple of weeks after he testified before Congress on the Fast and Furious scandal.

Kenneth Melson, acting director of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, lost his office today over the scandal. He's being reassigned as senior advisor on forensic science, Office of Legal Programs, news reports say.

What Burke said to Congress in the closed-door meeting on August 18 hasn't been revealed, but Burke's knowledge of the scandal has been known for months. A Congressional investigation in May dug up an ATF memo from January 2010 that stated how Burke was "in full agreement with the current investigative strategy."

We know how that strategy worked out: Dead Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

An investigation revealed that Terry had been killed with a gun that had been purchased by a suspected cartel buyer and allowed to "walk" by observing agents.

More than 1,400 guns walked under the program, despite objections by field agents. Some of those guns were later linked to other crimes scenes in the United States, including several in Arizona.

Conservatives, especially, have been in an uproar over the scandal and using it to bludgeon the Democratic Obama Administration. But the scandal has blurred some political values, striking the anti-gun left sort of mute and spurring right-wingers to cry that guns really are killing people.

In a glowing statement by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder just put out by the Justice Department, any mention of the gunwalking controversy is conspiculously absent:



WASHINGTON - Attorney General Eric Holder issued the following statement today on the resignation of U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona Dennis Burke:

"United States Attorney Dennis Burke has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's office, first as a line prosecutor over a decade ago and more recently as United States Attorney.

"Under his leadership, the office has made great progress in its pursuit of justice with the creation of special units focusing on civil rights enforcement and rule of law, as well as more robust outreach to key communities, particularly in Indian Country. The office's quick response to the devastating shootings in January that claimed the lives of several people and critically injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was crucial in arresting and charging the alleged shooter.

"I am grateful to Dennis for his dedication and service to the Department of Justice over these many years and commend his decision to place the interests of the U.S. Attorney's office above all else."

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.