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ATF Delenda Est: Fast and Furious Part II

In March I wrote about Operation Fast and Furious, the latest atrocity by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). It was a plan by the ATF to export firearms to Mexico, in violation of the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and Mexican law. So far, the exported firearms have been used to kill at least one American at the Mexican border and have served to arm the Mexican drug cartels.

Since then, the phrase “fast and furious” seems to describe the reaction better than the operation itself. It seems to be a good description of House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-California, who expects the investigation to reach much higher than acting ATF director Kenneth Melson.

“Furious”, if not “fast”, might also describe Melson himself. Melson is widely expected to
resign
(if he hasn’t already by the time you read this). On the other tentacle, given the culture of the ATF, it would not suprprise me if Melson chose to fight it out rather than jump under the bus to save the Obama administration some well-deserved embarrassment.

“Furious” could even apply to the ATF. The ATF is not known for a kinder, gentler culture, and whistleblowers and other dissidents within the organization say that retaliation is common. Chairman Issa has sent a three page letter to William Hoover, deputy director at ATF, asking for assurance against retaliation. Issa apparently decided to take this precaution in spite of testimony from Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich that “The Department of Justice will not, would never, retaliate against whistleblowers.” President Obama has said that “Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance.”

What Weich forgot (or deliberately ignored) is that ATF is an independent agency. Until 2002 it reported to the Treasury Department, not the Justice Department. It has always had its own less-than-savory culture. This is the culture that brought you the debacle at Waco. This is the culture that murdered Vicki Weaver. This is the culture that abused gun owners, leading to the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986. This is a culture that stomps on kittens for no reason. Justice may keep Weich’s word not to retaliate against whistle blowers. But that doesn’t mean ATF will.

Yes, Melson should fall on his sword. Yes, “I frankly don’t know” Attorney General Eric Holder should draw his sword pending further investigation on Issa’s part.

The only permanent solution to this train wreck record of the ATF is total abolition, to raze the organization and sow salt on its ruins, to empty out its office space and use it for public shooting ranges.

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Thursday, 08 December 2016

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