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Tag: ATF

Column: ATF Doesn’t Need to Be Dissolved; It Needs to be Properly Funded, Managed

Dan Thomasson
Las Vegas Sun

Here we go again. Rather than fund the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, let’s tear it up and hand it over to the FBI. The cost of that, of course, would be four to six times what just giving the maligned agency the kind of support it needs to carry out its statutory authority would amount to.

That’s the latest attack on the chief federal bulwark against gun violence. What makes this unusual is that it doesn’t come from conservative sources like the Republican right, but from one on the liberal side normally aligned with the Obama administration. The Fund for American Progress, a think tank, has issued a lengthy report that seems to be based more on interviews with ATF’s regulatory officers than those charged with enforcing the law.

Over the decades, ATF agents have faced increasing difficulties in carrying out their mission because of underfunding, lack of direction at the top, harassment from a Congress that would rather have no interference with Second Amendment rights, a policy that has seen the proliferation of firearms from Saturday night specials to the battlefield variety, and a steady increase in the number of Americans who lose their lives each day to firearms.

Examples of that kind of horrific violence have played out in schools, shopping centers, movie theaters and college campuses and on the nation’s streets. Among supposed civilized nations, America has become the chief model of mindless and deadly social disruption supported by constitutional fiat that has no relevance in today’s world. The latest blood bath recently took place in a Texas restaurant jam-packed with motorcycle thugs who reportedly had gone there for recruiting purposes. Before the Waco police, Texas Rangers and state police could get it settled, nine were dead, a number wounded and 170 or so arrested.

The only visible federal law enforcement presence was represented by those with the big ATF acronym on the backs of their jackets. Only a few days earlier, these men and women had been called to the scene of a mysterious fire in an upscale neighborhood where the bodies of four people were found — three adults and a 10-year-old. It took only a short time for ATF’s arson experts to determine the fire was deliberately set obviously in a botched attempt to hide the slayings. This kind of expertise has been developed over years of dedicated hard work.

To read more click here. 

Other Stories of Interest


 

 

 

 

 

 

Bloomberg: Time to Put ATF Out of Its Misery, Consider Folding into FBI

By Bloomberg 
Editorial Board

Many members of Congress seem to view the U.S.’s most deadly criminals — those who carry guns — as a protected class. For decades, they’ve tried everything imaginable to cripple the agency charged with enforcing federal laws against illegal gun buying, trafficking and possession. Meanwhile, advocates of stricter gun-law enforcement have fought a losing battle to strengthen the agency’s hand. Now, it may be time to admit defeat and change the strategy.

The ATF, as it’s known, is charged with overseeing federally licensed firearms dealers, most of which are responsible and law-abiding — but not all. Criminals know the difference, but even when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has figured it out, it has lacked the resources and leadership to crack down.

A new report by the Center for American Progress recommends that the ATF be merged into the FBI. It’s worth considering. It would be hard to do worse than the status quo.

The ATF has long been a political punching bag, maligned by gun-rights advocates as an unnecessary intrusion on the Second Amendment. Just last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would stop the ATF from requiring licensed gun dealers in four border states – where Mexican gun-running is a problem — to report when someone buys multiple semi-automatic rifles. Merging the ATF into the FBI wouldn’t stop this sort of meddling, but the FBI director would be in a stronger position to rebuff it.

The ATF has been a target for Republicans — and many Democrats, too — ever since 1980, when presidential candidate Ronald Reagan promised to abolish it. They’ve had plenty to shoot at: The agency has a record of poor management, although Congress is partly to blame for making the agency go years without an executive director. During President Barack Obama’s first term, when the ATF badly botched an investigation into gun trafficking across the Mexican border, criticism reached a fever pitch, and has barely abated since.

Merging into the FBI might push the ATF out of the congressional crosshairs. The FBI, for all its troubles, is generally well-regarded by both parties, and its reputation could give the enforcement of gun laws greater credibility.

True, a merger would carry risks. Layering a poorly run organization onto one that works reasonably well could lower morale and harm performance. It could also distract the FBI from its most important work, including counterterrorism. There’s no doubt it would be a mammoth management challenge, but the two agencies have missions that are largely compatible, and a merger would streamline their overlapping responsibilities. The FBI and ATF both target violent street gangs. They both oversee forensic training programs for explosives, and operate forensic labs to process evidence from violent crimes. They both have response teams trained to handle hostage and explosives-related investigations. And while the FBI operates the National Instant Criminal Background Check System used for guns sales by dealers, the ATF licenses the dealers.

Liberal Think Tank: ATF Should Merge with FBI to Reduce Firearms Crime

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The ATF is not equipped to handle gun violence and should be merged with the FBI to reduce firearms crime, according to a liberal think tank with strong ties to President Obama, the Washington Post reports. 

The Center of American Progress provided a 182-page report that argued the ATF is hamstrung by inadequate resources, poor management and burdensome restrictions.

“We do not make the core recommendation of this report lightly and recognize that . . . this type of agency restructuring would be challenging and time-consuming,” said Arkadi Gerney, one of the report’s co-authors. “But the problem of gun violence in the United States warrants this kind of large-scale rethinking. With 33 people murdered with guns in the United States every day, it is time to think big about how best to fulfill the ATF’s mission to enforce gun laws and regulate the gun industry.”

The group argues the ATF should be folded into the FBI, an idea promoted by Republicans in years past.

A Justice Department spokesman’s said the agency  “supports ATF in its current form and believes Congress should fully fund the president’s budget request that will enhance ATF’s ability to carry out their important mission.”

The NRA blamed the Obama administration on problems in the ATF.

“The Obama administration has only contributed to ATF’s dysfunction by politicizing the agency to implement its gun-control agenda,” said NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker. “Regardless of where ATF is located, the reality is that nothing will change until we have a president who respects the Second Amendment.”

 

ATF Finds Crude Explosives in Aftermath of Riots, Arsons, Looting

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The ATF found at least two crude explosive devises in Baltimore while investigating the destructive fires during Monday’s rioting, ABC reports. 

The devices were assembled with a small propane tank and charcoal in a bottle, material that was looted Monday, ATF said.

The devices were made to explode after being lit .

Authorities are reviewing countless hours of footage that was taken during the riots in hopes of catching the suspects.

There were seven fires during the riot.

Other Stories of Interest

ATF Director B. Todd Jones Calling it Quits; Tom Brandon Will Step Up

US Attorney B. Todd Jones

Todd Jones

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

B. Todd Jones, the head of ATF, who first stepped in as acting director in 2011, and later became the first ATF directory in history to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, is stepping down, effective March 31.

The announcement from ATF came in a press release, which said he’s departing to pursue opportunities in the private sector. Jone’s number two person, Thomas Brandon, will step in as acting director.

“ATF employees are hard-working, dedicated individuals who serve the public to make our nation safer every day,” said Jones in a statement. “I have seen firsthand their extraordinary commitment to combatting violent crime, ridding the streets of criminals, and leveraging all available resources to keep our communities safe.”

“I will truly miss leading and working side-by-side with these men and women in their pursuit of ATF’s unique law enforcement and regulatory mission,” Jones added.

Jones initially held two jobs in 2011: He was named acting director of ATF while still serving as U.S. Attorney in Minnesota. President Obama nominated him for the permanent post on Jan. 24, 2013, and he ended his job as U.S. Attorney after being confirmed as ATF director.

Tom Brandon/atf photo

ATF Deputy Director Thomas E. Brandon will serve as Acting Director. Brandon was appointed Deputy Director of ATF in October 2011.

 

 

ATF Investigates Alleged Affair Between Agent, Prosecutor During Storefront Investigations

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An ATF agent and a prosecutor had a secret affair while working together on controversial storefront operations in Georgia and are under investigation following allegations they illegally helped in informant, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. 

The storefront investigations were the subject of intense scrutiny following alarming reports by the Journal Sentinel that showed numerous problems.

ATF said it is investigating the relationship between Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Ippolito and ATF Special Agent Lou Valoze.

“The department takes these allegations seriously and is taking active and appropriate steps with regard to the employees involved,” said ATF spokesman Patrick Rodenbush, who declined to elaborate further because it is a personnel matter.

According to the Journal Sentinel, the ATF is investigating whether Valoze and Ippolito presented false information to Homeland Security for a visa for an informant.

Other Stories of Interest

Federal Judge Suspects ATF Attorneys of Fraud in Lawsuit Involving Ex-Agent Jay Dobyns

Jay Dobyns/his website

By Paul Giblin
The Republic

A federal judge suspects that seven attorneys representing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives committed fraud in the case of a retired federal agent who infiltrated the Hells Angels motorcycle gang in Arizona.

Court of Federal Claims Judge Francis Allegra banned the attorneys from filing documents in his court, and he ordered additional hearings to investigate the attorneys’ actions, essentially creating a trial within a trial.

The accusations are spelled out in newly unsealed court documents in the case involving former federal agent Jay Dobyns, a onetime University of Arizona football star who sued the ATF for improperly handling threats against him following his undercover stint with the Hells Angels.

The judge previously ruled in Dobyns’ favor, but withdrew his own decision after learning about the ATF attorneys’ conduct.

To read more click here. 

Tim Steller: Unsealed Jay Dobyns Files Look Bad for DOJ

Jay Dobyns

By Tim Steller
Arizona Daily Star

Retired ATF agent Jay Dobyns’ lawsuit against the federal government alleged they broke a settlement deal with him and mistreated him, in part by calling him a suspect in the 2008 arson of his own Tucson home.

Newly unsealed documents in his case suggest that the government misbehaved during the trial in 2013, leading to DOJ attorneys being barred from filing further documents in the case. More eerily, the misbehavior may have extended to surveillance of Dobyns’ Phoenix attorney even up into this month.

For people like me, who have sympathized with Dobyns but tried to reserve judgment about his case, the documents push us further into the retired agent’s camp. You can’t read the few filings that have been unsealed in the case without wondering why the Justice Department is going to such extremes and spending so much on what is, at base, a relatively minor contractual dispute that could have ended years ago.

To read more click here.