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Video: ATF chief reassigned after botched sting

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    >>> well, there's major fallout from the widely criticized u.s. operation aimed at tracing the flow of illegal weapons into mexico . pete williams joins me now with the details. i believe a big resignation. what can you tell me?

    >> two big changes. this is involving something called fast and furious , an effort by atf to try to trace the flow of illegal guns from the u.s. into mexico . they would watch illegal buyers purchase guns in the u.s. and then take the guns into mexico . but agents were instructed not to try to stop the guns because the theory was that you'd see how the system worked. well it went awry, thousands of guns nearly 2 hao weapons ended up in mexico . and two of them were found at the scene in december of last year where a u.s. border patrol agent was killed in a shootout. it was widely criticized. there have been a number of hearings on this in congress. today the acting director kenneth nelson was re-assigned to a policy job at the justice department . and out in arizona the u.s. attorney , the top federal prosecutor there dennis burk has resigned. senior justice department official says in essence that the attorney general eric holder had lost confidence in the two of them and he thought a fresh start was what atf needed here. that was the latest fallout of this operation that everybody in the justice department now concedes was a mistake.

    >> and very quickly we do know that atf is supposed to be a confirmed senate position. everybody though that runs atf is always acting because it's something that can't get confirmed in the modern day united states senate , correct?

    >> that's right because of the politics for the national rifle association which doesn't want a muscular atf , if you ask nra they say no, it's been policy differences over the nominee. there is a nominee now pending to take the change. it was changed when atf used to be part of the treasury department . when it was moved into justice the decision was made to make the director of atf senate confirmed. there's been no director confirmed.

    >> that was a poison pill that was enacted during the reorganization of homeland security .

    >> exactly right.

    >> pete williams our justice correspondent. thank you, sir.

    >> you bet.

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