Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) on Monday said he was not happy with the Justice Department’s response to his queries about a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives policy that allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
In a letter to acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson, Grassley wrote that a letter he received from Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich of the DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs “was not an adequate response” to his questions about gun smuggling. Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he wants Melson to respond to questions he asked the Director on March 4 about whether ATF operations contributed to the shooting of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed in Mexico in February.
Weich wrote in his March 8 letter to Grassley that he directed the senator’s letter to DOJ acting Inspector General Cynthia Schnedar, who is investigating the ATF policy. In a letter to Kevin Perkins, the head of the Integrity Committee of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, Grassley wrote that Schnedar shouldn’t conduct the probe because acting inspectors general are caretakers and may not have the tools to conduct thorough investigations.
The Justice Department is under pressure to provide all information about its gun smuggling investigations. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has started his own probe. And Mexican officials have opened their own criminal investigation into the same subject.