ATF officials say they were trying to build cases that would allow them to target senior drug cartel leaders and key weapons traffickers, not low-level gun runners. The report focused on dissent and problems among ATF agents about the operation and guidance on when they should interdict the illegal firearms.
In November 2010, President Obama nominated Andrew Traver, the agent in charge of the ATF's Chicago office, to head the ATF, but the nomination has been held up in the Senate after the National Rifle Association spoke out against him.
The ATF has been without a confirmed director since 2006 due to political opposition and pressure from gun-rights group.
"Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Acting Director Kenneth Melson continues to be focused on leading ATF in its efforts to reduce violent crime and to stem the flow of firearms to criminals and criminal organizations," ATF spokesman Scot Thomasson said in a statement released today. "We are not going to comment on any speculations."