sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

BATFE - Deeply Flawed

I've worked with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. I ran a Joint Task Force that included five ATF special agents (among others including FBI, Secret Service, etc.) about a decade ago. I'm familiar with the people who work there and I don't have an axe to grind with the agents. They were out there to try and do a good job. However the agency as a whole has gone rogue under the Obama Administration to a point where one can only opine that the solution would seem to be to force a roll-in to DEA and FBI where management would bring them under some sort of control and circumspection.

This is the oath of office that special agents of the US Department of Justice take: "I (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God." 

You'll note that their duty is to the law and the welfare of the people (as set forth in the Constitution). Some sort of bad wiring in a lot of places has caused a disconnect between their duty and the zeal to sell firearms to people who really want to buy them (entrapment) so that they can make an arrest.

You should read the entire article referenced below.
(Fox News) ...The operation in Milwaukee apparently was not a one-off, as officials claimed.  
Instead, it was part of a pattern of questionable decisions that were employed by six ATF operations, including Milwaukee, nationwide, according to the Journal Sentinel.  
The newspaper reviewed thousands of pages of court records, police reports and other documents, which led them to their findings that the tactics used in the Milwaukee stings were used in operations from Portland, Ore., to Pensacola, Fla.  
Similar to the Milwaukee operation, agents in other cities set up a gun buyback program that turned into a cash cow for sellers. The ATF offered sky-high prices, so people would just buy guns at other shops and turn them over to undercover agents for a quick profit, according to the report.  
ATF agents also befriended mentally disabled people to spread the word about the gun buyback programs and manipulate them to help during stings.  
"In Wichita, Kan., ATF agents referred to a man with a low IQ as 'slow-headed' before deciding to secretly use him as a key cog in their sting," the paper reported. "Agents in Albuquerque, N.M., gave a brain-damaged drug addict with little knowledge of weapons a 'tutorial' on machine guns, hoping he could find them one." Other questionable activity was reported in Atlanta, Ga.  
Like in Milwaukee, agents set up several undercover gun- and drug-buying operations near churches and schools. They let minors to come in, play video games, smoke marijuana and drink alcohol.  
In Portland, ATF agents allegedly used a scantily clad officer to lure in teenage boys and encouraged them to bring weapons and drugs to the store to sell.
Operation Fast and Furious - remember that one? The Obama administration used BATFE as its cat's paw to sell guns to Mexican drug cartels so that those firearms would be shown to have been smuggled and they could use those manufactured "facts" to impose more gun control in the United States. 

Operation Fast and Furious was the result of a deliberate plan hatched by Attorney General Eric Holder, taking marching orders from President Obama. Remember Holder? He's the one that was and still is in CONTEMPT OF CONGRESS for failing to produce records and lying to Congress in regard the ATF and Operation Fast and Furious.

Fast and Furious: Barack Obama's Bloodiest Scandal and the Shameless Cover-Up (amazon.com)
"Testimony and emails from the Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix office, as well as a United States Attorney, make it abundantly clear that they not only allowed but encouraged exactly that. Fast and Furious reviews the communications with Attorney General Eric Holder and his top advisors that clearly establish the operation was conducted with his approval."
Is BATFE an agency that is out of balance - and out of control? There is a lot of information out there indicating that under the Obama Administration, it has become such. No, I don't see the Obama Administration doing anything about it. But in a future administration, the role of BATFE (ATF) and the future of its employees need to be re-examined. 



16 comments:

  1. LL - From what I hear from other feds, they don't want them either.

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    1. No they don't. That's a fact. The problem is that these people are part of the civil service and I are mostly good people who are very poorly managed. Perhaps they could be brought to an understanding of the law and their place in it under different management.

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    2. 10-4! Like you said, there are good guys, but they would have to go through EXTENSIVE re-training. You would not believe (well, maybe you would) the stuff they get away with - it seems like oversite and supervision is at the discretion of the supervisor? They have no system. Thousands of pages of rules, and layers of redundant paperwork doesn't seem so bad after all...

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  2. Aside from my gut reaction above, the US Attorney's Office had to be involved in this also to review the warrants. Didn't anyone in this interstate mishmash have a clue?

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    1. They lie in affidavits. I've seen it way too often to be comfortable with it. And I have CLASHED with people because of that. The USATTY's office is hard pressed to tell truth from lies because they are removed. Part of the problem could be addressed by putting a US ATTY as a component, embedded in every Group 1. ATF (and the rest of DOJ agents) don't want that. When I ran my large task force, I DEMANDED it. It keeps things cleaner.

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    2. You're right on. We usually had the USAO involved from the get go, but that may be unusual as we have a good relationship with them. As you know, we don't always play well with each other, eh?

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    3. Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General SAID that (in effect) his signature was a rubber stamp, that at his level they could not read all the affidavits from around the country. That is dereliction of duty - everybody under him thinks they are doing okay when his level signs off on it.

      To have an AUSA as part of the task force is PRICELESS. I guess it depends on the AUSA. But when an AUSA has to do a complex bank fraud, at the same time they do a street gang investigation, right after a murder for hire...they are experts at nothing.

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    4. The AUSA must be cherry picked for their ability to function within a team environment, and they need to be dedicated to the task force - not carry a chair within the principal office as well.

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  3. It sounds like, rather than going after bad guys, they are trying to dupe people into falling into a trap, almost like filling a quota of bodies to arrest.

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    1. LA - that's what it turns out to be. When you sucker in desperate people to buy guns at very low prices, all they want to do is buy them to ATF so they can sell them to a gun shop and make money -- you're going to essentially bait in the vulnerable rather than the criminals.

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  4. Agreed, trapping the honest citizen seems to be the mantra now, especially if John Q Honest is a gun owner...

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  5. I've worked, from time to time, with some splendid ATF folks.

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    1. We both have. But that was pre-Obama. I worry that the field leadership is being pushed to do things that they may not otherwise have done.

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  6. The ATF folks may be "SPLENDID", but it is the agents who are "just following orders" that are actually, you know, doing the poorly thought out and managed ops that we are reading about now.

    So if these people are so wonderful, how do we keep finding these poorly mannaged and run operations? Are these agents not willing to say "no" to unconstitutional and possibly illegal orders? Or is their oath subservient to them keeping their jobs and pensions?

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  7. Much has gone awry under the Obamaphate.

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