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ATF supervisors from controversial border gun operation get D.C. posts

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
  • 1 of the 3 is getting a promotion as well
  • Sen. Cornyn says he is outraged by decision
  • He is on committee probing Operation Fast and Furious
  • Justice Department Inspector General is also investigating the program

Washington (CNN) -- Three ATF supervisors who played roles in the controversial gun sales sting known as Operation Fast and Furious have been given jobs at ATF headquarters in Washington even as the Justice Department's Inspector General is probing the matter, a senior federal law enforcement source has confirmed.

The transfers to Washington include one promotion and two lateral moves, according to the official who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to comment on the matter.

The move to positions at ATF headquarters, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, were given to William McMahon, ATF deputy director of operations for the West; and William Newell and David Voth, both field supervisors in the Phoenix office who oversaw the program.

Voth received a promotion to branch chief in the ATF's tobacco division, according to the senior federal law enforcement source. McMahon and Newell were provided posts at headquarters that were lateral moves, a spokesperson in the ATF press office confirmed to CNN en Espanol. There has been no increase in money or more responsibilities for McMahon and Newell, the spokesperson said.

The report of the appointments to jobs at ATF headquarters prompted a statement of outrage from Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who is on a committee investigating the operation.

"Until Attorney General Holder and Justice Department officials come clean on all alleged gun-walking operations, including a detailed response to allegations of a Texas-based scheme, it is inconceivable to reward those who spearheaded this disastrous operation with cushy desks in Washington," Cornyn said.

The controversy centered on ATF decisions to allow illegal sales of firearms with the goal of monitoring the trafficking of the weapons after they left the gunshops, hoping they would lead to Mexican drug cartels.

However, officials acknowledge hundreds of guns were lost and ended up at crime scenes in Mexico, and two guns were discovered at the site of the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona.

The Justice Department Inspector General is investigating the operation, and expects to have a detailed report later this year.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, is leading the ongoing congressional investigation into the case. A spokesperson for Issa's Oversight and Government Reform Committee says the panel expects additional hearings on the subject this fall after Congress returns from summer recess.