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Tag: ATF

Feinstein, Breuer: ATF Needs Improved Gun Laws

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) defended the ATF at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, reports the website Main Justice, saying the real problem is lax gun laws.

“The number of deaths caused by American guns are up in the tens of thousands,” she said, claiming that 70 percent of guns seized in Mexico were traced to the US.

Later on, reports Main Justice, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) had entered into the record a report refuting Feinstein’s numbers.

Agreeing with Feinstein, Asst. Attorney General Lanny Breuer said that if the ATF had more information on gun sales and enhanced its regulatory function, the agency would be better positioned to stem the violence.

To read more click here.

Tenn. ATF Agent Fights Firing; Denies Allegations by Snitch

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Nine months from retirement, a Tennessee ATF agent was notified in August that the agency intended to fire him.

But the ATF agent Steve Parris, an African American,  says the recommendation to fire him is rooted in nothing more than an informant’s racism, backed by the informant’s law enforcement buddy, Vonore, Tenn. Police Department officer Mathew Watson and disgraced former Vonore Police Chief Mike Myers,  according to a report on the website of the Knoxville News Sentinel.

At issue: the informant and the police officers claim that Pariss gave the informant Andy Maltby–a convicted felon–his gun at a barbecue in March of 2008 for some target shooting, the paper reported.  ATF sided with in a follow-up probe in which Parris was accused of lying about the incident.

“By hook and by crook, they’re trying to terminate him for some unknown reason,” Parris’ attorney Hugh Ward, a former federal prosecutor, told the paper. Ward is representing Parris in his appeal of the matter.

Ward got affidavits from law enforcement offices at the picnic who said Parris wasn’t even armed, according to the paper.  The paper reported  that Ward claims in an affidavit that the informant made the allegations because he was angry at Parris for only paying him $50 for some snitch work.

“As a prosecutor, if someone had given me that case for us to prosecute, I’d say, ‘You’re kidding me,'” Ward said of ATF’s probe into Maltby.

ATF declined comment, according to the paper.

To read more click here.

Retired ATF Executive Comments on Occupy Wall Street and the Police

James Cavanaugh was an ATF agent and supervisor for 33 years before retiring in 2010.
 

James Cavanaugh/atf photo

 
By James Cavanaugh
For ticklethewire.com

America is now witnessing a democratic movement that is taking to the streets the likes of which we have not seen since 1968. As this phenomenon develops we should all realize how overwhelmingly peaceful these gatherings have been.

Think about spontaneous gatherings across the nation where citizens choose to gather based on their constitutional rights to peacefully assemble and to air their grievances. We talk much in America about constitutional rights. We wave pocket constitutions and we all profess to revere the Constitution.

Nevertheless, that requires that we recognize the Constitution when it is in action. It is not always pretty and it is not always totally organized, it does not always speak with one voice, it is not always the model of organization or civility, but therein lies the essence of its absolute brilliance. So thousands gather across many cities forming ad hoc mini democratic societies in which they try to clean up the area, cook food, provide places for soapbox speeches, carry signs and verbalize their frustrations.

Naturally this is a disruption to the status quo of the area. Most of these venues are public gathering places or public parks. Places that should be the most natural gathering places for citizens to air their grievances.

So the gathering is logical, and it’s constitutionally protected. In America we can have these gatherings without tanks or troops, and we should have them without fear of death or injury. No one who is criticized by the protesters will be sacrosanct: Not bankers nor politicians, not the media nor the mayors, not corporations nor fat cat hedge fund leaders, and certainly not the police.

Read more »

Column: Ex-ATF Official Questions Sincerity of White House Concerns About Layoffs in Law Enforcement

Bernard La Forest retired from ATF after heading up its offices in Kansas City, Detroit, Phoenix and Los Angeles. His column is in response to a story that appeared in ticklethewire.com on Monday about a speech Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. gave in Chicago. Holder said there will be 13,000 cops laid off by year’s end, but that $240 million in grants will help in the hiring and retention of more than 1,000 cops nationwide.

Bernie La Forest/facebook

By Bernard La Forest
for ticklethewire.com

I read the piece on DOJ using “laid off cops” as a political spear thrown at Republicans in Congress. I find this a weak attack and subject to rebuttal.

I’ve been told that ATF has recently upped their “buy-out offers” from $20,000 to $25,000. These buyouts are tempting special agents to pull the plug early . . . after the “G” has spent so much money training and bringing them along to a point where each possesses a great deal of expertise.

For those special agents who have made good use of available opportunities throughout their careers, I’m fairly certain they will continue to be successful in the private sector once they cash out.

However, all of their accumulated know-how and capability will be lost. After all the negative focus caused by a few people in just one small ATF squad, and then exacerbated by incompetent managers in Washington . . . I certainly can’t fault those men and women who take the money.

Nonetheless, I do remain suspicious of the real reasons behind DOJ’s decision to “ease out” the government crime fighters, especially since I see no plan in the offing that even hints they will be replaced anytime soon.

It’s a typical example of fear-mongering by the AG. He is being assisted in this political charade by the President and the VP. Joe Biden scowls for the media cameras, tries to act tough, and then stretches the truth which bordered on a very large and ugly white lie.

Why, just to gain a few points?

President Clinton pulled the same trick through his bait and switch “cops on the beat” program. There was only enough money for the first year or two.

When that ran out, I’m pretty sure many of the officers lost their jobs, leaving hiring, training and related costs flushed down the drain.

Don’t you wish it was November 7, 2012?

ATF Arrests 2 Colo. National Guardsmen on Gun Charges

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Details are sketchy, but the Denver Post reports that ATF on Tuesday arrested two Colorado Army National Guard members from Fort Lupton, Colo. on gun charges.

The paper reported that the neither the Guard nor ATF would elaborate on the circumstances surrounding the arrests of Staff Sgt. Eric Lee and Spc. Matthew Laflin.

ATF spokesman Bradley Beyersdorf said it was an ongoing investigation and did not anticipate other arrests, the Denver Post reported.

Lee and Laflin are part-time guardsmen with B Company, 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, based in Fort Lupton, the Post reported. Lee was active duty in the Army from May 2004 to August 2009 and joined the National Guard in August 2009.

 

For 2nd Time in Less than a Week, Rep. Cummings Blasts Rep. Issa Over Fast and Furious

Rep. Elijah Cummings/govt. photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

For the second time in less than  a week, Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings has publicly blasted  Republican Rep. Darrell Issa over ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious, which encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to middlemen, all with the hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of many of the weapons.

The latest round started Thursday when Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley fired off a letter to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III inquiring whether a third weapon from Operation Fast and Furious was recovered at the scene in Arizona where Border Agent Brian Terry was killed last December. The FBI has been investigating the case and had stated that only two guns were recovered and that ballistic tests were inconclusive as to whether they were used in the murder.

Thursday’s letter from Issa and Grassley to the FBI director, which was posted on ABC News’ website,  stated: “Several internal emails between ATF personnel initially indicated confusion over whether there were two or three weapons being traced. Given all these circumstances, it is reasonable to ask the FBI to clarify what it has learned about how many guns were possessed by the illegal aliens shooting at our Border Patrol agents and the current location of each of those firearms.”

Rep. Issa/gov photo

The letter asked:  “Does the FBI believe that a third weapon killed Agent Terry? If so, what steps has the FBI taken to locate the weapon and what is the status of the FBI’s search?”

In a press release issued Thursday, Rep. Cummings, who sits with Issa on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, blasted Issa, saying the FBI had already said there was no third weapon. Cummings earlier in the week had chastised Issa for making the same allegations about a third weapon  on Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation.

“Frankly, I am shocked that Chairman Issa would continue to spin this conspiracy theory—that the FBI is hiding a third weapon—even after his recent allegations proved false,” Cumming said on Thursday. ” Rather than acknowledging this embarrassing mistake and apologizing for making false accusations about the FBI, Chairman Issa’s letter is an unprecedented attack on the integrity and credibility of law enforcement that could seriously jeopardize the ongoing prosecution.”

Cummings’ press release Thursday continued: “On Sunday, Issa told Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer that he suspected the FBI had recovered a third gun at the scene of the murder, but was hiding that evidence to protect a confidential informant.”

“Issa based his erroneous claim on supposed flaws in the FBI’s evidence-marking procedure. Two firearms recovered at the scene were marked ‘K2’ and ‘K3.’ Issa suggested on Sunday that a firearm labeled ‘K1’ must be missing: ‘when you have tickets that are numbered two and three and there’s no ticket one, in other words, the weapon – one weapon has a two, one has a three on it, there’s no one.’ He claimed that it is ‘weapon number one that appears to be missing.’”

After Issa’s remarks on Sunday, the Justice Department issued a statement saying:  “Unfortunately, this most recent false accusation not only maligns the dedicated agents investigating the murder of Agent Terry, it mischaracterizes evidence in an ongoing case.” The Justice Department added: “According to the FBI, the item that Chairman Issa refers to as ‘K1’ is a blood sample from Agent Terry, not a firearm.”

Dem Sharply Criticizes Rep. Issa for Attacks on Atty.Gen. Holder Concerning Fast and Furious

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Criticism about ATF’s controversial Operation Fast and Furious have overwhelming come from Republicans like Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley.  But not everyone agrees with the intensity of the criticism.

On Sunday, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the Oversight & Government Reform Committee, told CBS’ Face the Nation that he thinks committee Chair Darrell Issa is conducting a witch hunt.

Issa has been aggressively investigating the failing of the operation and has repeatedly accused Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. of knowing more about the operation when it was going on then he has admitted to.

Holder claimed earlier this year that he only heard of the operation after it surfaced as a controversy. Issa has claimed he knew about it much earlier.

Cummings said on “Face the Nation” Sunday that Holder absolutely “didn’t know” what was going on.

“The man in charge of the ATF has told us, has told Mr. Issa, that he never communicated the controversial tactics with regard to ‘Fast & Furious’ to Attorney General Holder,” Cummings told CBS’ Bob Schieffer.

Cummings said the head of the ATF at the time, Ken Melson, wasn’t even aware of the tactics being used that encouraged firearms stores to sell to middlemen, all with the hopes that the ATF could trace the guns to the Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of hte many of the guns, two of which surfaced at the scene in Arizona last year where Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was gunned down.

“And still, Chairman Issa goes out there – and Republicans – accusing the highest law enforcement officer in the land of being an accessory to murder and things of that nature, and calling for his resignation,” he said on the show.  “Just because … you don’t like some facts, you don’t throw them out the door and say, ‘I’m not going to look at those.’ You look at the entire picture.

“That simply has not happened here,” he said.

When asked if he agreed with the notion that “the chairman is on a witch hunt here,” Cummings said, “I do.”

“He’s come up with these statements and then he goes in search of the facts,” he added.

UPDATED: Oct. 17: 2:05 p.m.

Becca Glover Watkins, press secretary for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, of which Issa chairs, responded to questions from ticklethewire.com by issuing a statement that said:

“Despite his commitment to the Terry family, Ranking Member Cummings and the Oversight Committee minority has been conspicuously absent from efforts to uncover new evidence or press the Justice Department to fully answer questions. Their own rhetoric and actions reveal them as apologists for the Justice Department and not as investigators seeking answers.”

 

Column: Atty. Gen. Holder Need to Step and Take Responsibility for ATF’s Fast and Furious

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. is an honorable man.

So I believe him when he tells Congress he didn’t know about ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious until the controversy exploded in 2011.

The problem is that he needs to take responsibility for it. Period. He’s the top dog. People in his organization had some inkling last year that they might be sitting on a political stink bomb. They should have given him a heads up. They need to take responsibility as well.

It’s like the household where the kids hide matches in the house and play with them all the time, and one day burn down their neighbor’s garage. Yes, the parents can tell the neighbor “sorry”, but they also have to take some responsibility even if they had no clue the kids were always playing with matches.

CBS News recently reported that “two Justice Department officials mulled it over in an email exchange Oct. 18, 2010.”

“It’s a tricky case given the number of guns that have walked but is a significant set of prosecutions,” said Jason Weinstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division. Deputy Chief of the National Gang Unit James Trusty replied “I’m not sure how much grief we get for ‘guns walking.’ It may be more like, ‘Finally they’re going after people who sent guns down there.'”

That sounds to me like someone in the Justice Department figured out the department was playing with matches by carrying out a program that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to middlemen, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. Yes, they contemplated that someone could get burned.

We need to clean up this mess sooner than later. One helpful step along the way would be for Holder to say something to the effect: “Sure I didn’t know about Fast and Furious until the controversy erupted, but I take full responsibility and I want to find out why I wasn’t apprised of something so significant that endangered lives and had international implications.”

p.s. Atty. Gen. Holder, feel free to use that quote.