sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Overhaul the Justice Dept - Eliminate BATFE

The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is the stepchild that the Department of Justice didn't really want. But when the US Department of Homeland Security scooped agencies from the Department of the Treasury, ATF went to Justice. It may sound like arranging dominoes and power plays -- which is what it was/is, but the larger question is whether or not ATF deserves to exist at all.

The ATF hasn't had a permanent director since 2006, and has no hope of getting one anytime soon. President Obama nominated anti-gun activist Andrew Traver for the post and he was immediately blocked by Republicans because of his anti-gun views and association with the Joyce Foundation. So it's a ship without sail or rudder and it shows in its ill conceived OPERATION FAST AND FURIOUS/OPERATION GUNRUNNER wherein it allowed thousands of firearms to pass to the hands of drug cartels in Mexico who used some of those firearms to murder a US Border Patrol Agent and shoot down a Mexican Army helicopter.

ATF has been so embarrassing to the Obama Administration that they've been fighting subpoenas issued by Congress because the answers -- beat the credibility of the US Justice Department like an unwanted stepchild (which ATF happens to be). 
(Fox News) A hearing in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is laying the groundwork to compel U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to turn over documents related to "Operation Fast and Furious," a secret Obama administration program that put thousands of guns into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
Fast and Furious aimed to track gun sales to Mexico, allegedly, say critics of the program, to build up evidence to publicly blame cartel violence on U.S. gun store owners and lax American gun laws.
In the past two months, the Department of Justice, on behalf of ATF, has ignored subpoenas and seven letters demanding details of the program. It has refused to provide a single document to the oversight committee, according to chairman Darrell Issa.
I don't hate ATF and don't have an axe to grind with the special agents who work there. I simply believe that the American people would be better served if ATF was rolled into the Federal Bureau of Investigation or Drug Enforcement Administration where they would be better led and more appropriately assigned to meaningful cases. If FBI and DEA don't want them, I'm sure that they could be transferred to the Customs, Immigration and Enforcement Agency in the Department of Homeland Security.