New acting head of ATFE
Kenneth Melson, who has been head of the Exec Office of US Attorneys, has been named acting director of BATFE. He comes from outside the agency, having been a Justice Dept attorney since 1983. On the side, he taught forensic science at George Washington U law school.
UPDATE: Yep, he sounds like a good guy. Problem with any bureaucracy, tho ... top guy is surrounded by people with years or decades invested in the status quo (which may include corruption, and always includes inefficiency). They control what reports he hears, what recommendations he gets, what options he hears about. At Interior, the Secretary gets nothing direct. In fact we once received written instructions not to talk to him if he called! All info must go thru the chain of command, being edited and manipulated at each stage. Even the Solicitor (head of about 400-500 people, out of the 70,000 in the department) was heard to complain that he was surprised at how powerless he was. If the bureaucracy dug in its heels, whatever reforms he wanted were undermined at many levels, people would just make sure he heard only certain info and knew only of certain options (info and options chosen so that only one option would be sane).
Any idea what we can expect from him?
Posted by: David McCleary at April 9, 2009 01:07 PM
I reckon I'll expect from him what we've gotten from everybody that preceded him.
Ignoring the rule of law and even common sense.
"Creative" interpretations of how firearms are tested as to function and type (see Len Savage and "shoe string / machine gun manufacturers" about that...).
A deep seated fear that they might lose their livelihood to the FBI or, now, perhaps Homeland Security.
Meet the new boss, Same as the old.
Posted by: Thomas at April 9, 2009 02:12 PM
Yeah, no knowledge about guns and none about the Second Amendment. Probably thinks there is a machine gun exemption somewhere in the penumbras of the Second Amendment. Won't support an amnesty either.
All those years of Republicans in Congress and 8 of Jorge Bush and still no advancement on protecting our rights.
Posted by: Federale at April 9, 2009 02:55 PM
Juris honors from Geo Washington university, AND has knowledge of forensic science, which, if I understand correctly, is the methods used in those crime shows where whole teams of actors determine who doneit. Going from the law desk to work with cadavers....that type of daily schedule would wipe me out.
IWLTK how many lawyers graduate with honors from big universities, 10 percent?
Posted by: Firekite at April 9, 2009 03:30 PM
As of two years ago, he didn't think observer effects are an issue in forensic science. He was saying: trust them, they are scientists.
Posted by: Jeff at April 9, 2009 03:48 PM
"trust them, they are scientists."
Actually they are NOT scientists. They are technicians/labrats. Labrats can run tests accordings to SOPs but they are not sufficiently educated to really interpret the results. Most of these forensics folks have a BS at best. That in no way makes them a fully educated scientist.
A fool and his rights are soon parted. Stop thinking ANYONE elected to or hired by the government is going to watch out for your rights. It ain't gonna happen!
Tiochfaidh ar la!
Posted by: fwb at April 9, 2009 05:33 PM
FWB your statement is very elitist. While I generally agree that the term "scientist" is used in-industry to describe positions reserved for those holding doctorates, I think the premise that someone cannot be a "fully educated scientist" with a BS is fallacious at best. Science is a critical thinking and experimental design method, not a specialty or knowledge set; anyone who competently practices this method is a scientist by definition.
I would tend to agree, however, that those types of (somewhat mindless and repetative) jobs tend to attract the more dimwitted among those holding BS degrees in the natural sciences.
Oh, and on-topic I expect that ATF's behavior will stay exactly the same.
Posted by: Mike Gallo at April 10, 2009 09:00 AM
"I think the premise that someone cannot be a "fully educated scientist" with a BS is fallacious at best. "
A degree is a piece of paper that simply indicates a person was able to stick it out long enough to pass a bunch of classes. It says nothing about their critical thinking abilities, common sense, or technical expertise.
Posted by: Deavis at April 10, 2009 10:12 AM
I usually just lurk here rather than comment, but I need to make an observation because of the level of mindless snark in this thread:
Ken Melson is a very smart, experienced, and totally non-partisan guy. While not often viewed as high praise nowadays, keep in mind he was appointed to head EOUSA by Alberto Gonzalez, who wasn't generally known to enhance the career prospects of known leftists within DOJ. Ken was appointed the Interim U.S. Attorney for E.D.Va. three times, two times by Republican administrations.
Ken supervised the firearms cases in the Eastern District of Virginia for several years, and has been on anti-terrorism and violent crime working groups in DOJ. He helped write DOJ's homicide manual. In the last year of the Bush administration, he was directly involved in Mexican border initiatives. And as noted, Ken understands criminal forensics (including firearms forensics; trust me on this).
Ken has never had any creds as a gun-banner. Frankly, this appointment is about as far from being ideology-driven as you can get. However, keep in mind he's only "Acting" head of BATFE. Not clear when, or if, there might be a permanent nominee, or who that could be.
Posted by: zippypinhead at April 10, 2009 10:30 AM
TWO WORDS FOR YOU AS NO OTHERS ARE NEEDED TO PREDICT COMING BEHAVIOR:
Posted by: Thomas at April 10, 2009 11:24 AM