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Tag: ATF

ATF Grenade Case Linked to Cartels Contributed to Ouster of Top Officials


U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke

 By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The case involving an Arizona man who was let go after being accused of supplying grenades to the Mexican drug cartels, appears to have contributed to the ousting of the Arizona U.S. Attorney and the acting head of the ATF, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Reporter Evan Perez reports that U.S. officials are investigating the missteps in the case that was being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona.

Acting ATF head Ken Melson and Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke abruptly resigned last month in wake of the controversy surrounding Operation Fast and Furious, which encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers or middlemen, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels.

At the time of their resignations, the controversy surrounding Fast and Furious was  mentioned in the media as a key factor to their abrupt departures. The grenade case was not mentioned.

To read full story click here.

 

Scott Sweetow Named Head of ATF’s Atlanta Division

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Scott Sweetow, who began his career with ATF in 1990 in Los Angeles, has been named special agent in charge of the agency’s Atlanta division.

Sweetow spent several years assigned in the Arson and Explosives group, and served as a Certified Explosives Specialist. His duties included being part of ATF’s elite National Response Team, which investigated such high-profile crimes as the Oklahoma City bombing and the Centennial Olympic Park bombings.

He also spent several years working criminal intelligence matters, including a weapons case targeting the “The Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel-Rahman’s one time driver and bodyguard, Hikmat Alharahshah.

Specifically, in 1999, Sweetow became a supervisory special agent in the Phoenix Field Division, serving in operations and as violent crime enforcement group supervisor.

In 2003, he went to ATF headquarters where he served in the Policy Development and Evaluation branch, eventually becoming its chief. In July of that year, he became the first ATF agent to “deploy operationally to Iraq”, assisting the Defense Intelligence Agency as part of the Iraq Survey Group.

In 2004, Sweetow was promoted to a deputy division chief and later chief in the Arson, Explosives and International Training Division in ATF’s Training and Professional Development directorate. He remained there until  December 2006.

While division chief, Sweetow was instrumental in establishing ATF’s $50 million National Center for Explosives Training and Research at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.

In January 2007, Sweetow became an Assistant Special Agent in Charge in the Atlanta Field Division. This month, he was named the SAC in Atlanta.

He has a bachelor’s degree in Russian and Soviet Area Studies and a masters in Strategic Intelligence. He is a graduate of Harvard University’s Senior Executives in National and International Security program.

In 2009, Scott he  published an article in “Homeland Security Today” entitled “After Mumbai: Facing the Flames” which dealt with the use of fire as an asymmetric warfare tool by terrorists.

Emails Suggest White House Knew More About “Fast and Furious” Than Originally Thought

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

And now for more controversy about the failed ATF operation “Fast and Furious.”

The LA Times reports today that the White House knew more than previously thought about the program.

A Phoenix ATF supervisor specifically mentions the operation in at least one email to a White House national security officer, the Times reports, while two other colleagues at the White House were briefed on the Phoenix supervisor’s report. Senior administration officials deny the emails prove that anybody in the White House knew of the covert “investigative tactics.”

The three White House colleagues were identified as Kevin M. O’Reilly, director of North American Affairs for the White House national security staff; Dan Restrepo, the president’s senior Latin American advisor; and Greg Gatjanis, a White House national security official.

To read more click here.

Az. U.S. Attorney’s Office Tried to Cover Up Murder Link in “Fast and Furious”, Congressional Members Say

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The controversial ATF program “Operation Fast and Furious” continues to generate plenty controversy.

The latest: CBS News reports that Congressional investigators say the U.S. Attorney’s office in Arizona tried covering up a link between Fast and Furious and the murder in Arizona of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry last December.

Two assault rifles from the operation were found at the scene of Terry’s murder. The FBI was unable to make a determination whether the weapons were used in the murder.

The operation encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of the tracing the assault weapons to the Mexican cartels. The problems was that ATF lost track of many of the weapons, some which ended up at crime scenes on both sides of the border.

CBS reports that a letter by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif) to Arizona’s Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel said Assistant U.S Attorney Emory Hurley, learned almost immediately that guns allowed onto the street in his case, had been recovered at Terry’s murder.

“(I)n the hours after Agent Terry’s death,” says the letter from Grassley and Issa, Hurley apparently “contemplated the connection between the two cases and sought to prevent the connection from being disclosed.” The Justice Department recently transferred Hurley out of the criminal division into the civil division, CBS reported.

Read Congressional Letter to Acting U.S. Atty. in Az. 

 

Arizona U.S. Atty.’s Abrupt Resignation Raises Doubts About Political Future

U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke

By JOSH GERSTEIN
Politico

WASHINGTON — Dennis Burke, one of Arizona’s most prominent and well-connected Democratic political figures, abruptly resigned as the state’s top federal prosecutor Tuesday, stirring doubts about earlier expectations that he might mount a bid for governor, attorney general or U.S. senator.

Burke served in Washington as a senior adviser to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and in Arizona as her chief of staff when she was governor. His departure as U.S. Attorney comes as congressional investigators and an internal Justice Department inquiry are examining how an Arizona-based federal gun-trafficking investigation may have allowed as many as 2,000 guns to flow to criminals.

Many Arizona politicos assumed that Burke was trying to walk in Napolitano’s footsteps by seeking a federal prosecutor’s job, then perhaps the Arizona attorney general’s post and the governor’s office. However, Arizona analysts said those possibilities now seem more remote in the wake of Burke’s sudden resignation and as questions swirl about his office’s handling of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives probe known as “Operation Fast and Furious.”

To read full story click here.

New Acting ATF Director Todd Jones No Stranger to Fed Law Enforcement; Considered Pro ATF

U.S. Atty. Jones, new acting ATF Dir.

 By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The new acting director of ATF, B. Todd Jones, is no stranger to federal law enforcement.

In fact Jones is on his second go around as U.S. Attorney in Minnesota.

Jones, who will remain the U.S. Attorney in Minnesota while serving as acting head of ATF, was first appointed to the U.S. Attorney job by President Clinton in 1998. He remained on the job until January 2001.  He was again nominated in 2009, this time by President Obama, and was confirmed in August of that year.

One ATF agent on Tuesday told ticklethewire.com that Jones has a reputation as being pro-ATF, an issue that’s of obvious concern to agents.

After leaving the U.S. Attorney post in 2001, Jones went on to work as a partner with a major national law firm in Minneapolis, Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi,, where he focused on complex business litigation. He represented a number of organizations and individuals in both criminal and civil regulatory matters.

President Obama nominated him in 2009 as the U.S. Attorney and he was confirmed by the Senate in August of that year.

After taking office, Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr. appointed Jones to serve as Chair of the Attorney General Advisory Committee (AGAC), a body that consists of 18 U. S. Attorneys. The committee is responsible for advising the Attorney General on a broad array of Department of Justice policy issues.

Jones earned his law degree from  the University of Minnesota Law School in 1983.  After being accepted by the Minnesota bar, he went on active duty in the United States Marine Corps, where he served as both a trial defense counsel and prosecutor in a number of courts martial proceedings.

In 1989, he and his family returned to Minnesota, where he developed a civil litigation practice encompassing a wide variety of legal matters, ranging from products liability defense and insurance coverage disputes to environmental and labor and employment controversies in both a private and public sector setting.

A  Sept. 19, 2009 story in the Minneapolis Tribune, reported that Jones, as a Marines Corps office, was recalled to active duty in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War, where he learned lesson on juggling multiple responsibilities of national security, law enforcement and justice.

“I learned the importance of focus, of working as a team,” he told the paper.

“Everything cannot be a priority,” he was quoted as saying. “Or nothing is a priority.”

 

Guns from ATF Sting Linked to 11 More Violent Crime Scenes, La Times Reports

atf file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

More damaging news about ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious.

The Los Angeles Times reports that weapons from the troubled operation have surfaced at at least 11 violent crime scenes, and the one in which Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed last year.

The Times reported that the Justice Department made the acknowledgement in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which includes Sen. Chuck Grassley, a major critic of the program.  The Times reported that the guns surfaced in several Arizona cities including Phoenix and in El Paso, where 42 weapons were seized at two crime scenes.

Operation Fast and Furious has stirred a big controversy. Congressional investigators and the Inspector General’s Office have been looking into the program that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell weapons to middlemen or straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing them to the Mexican cartels.

ATF lost track of many of the guns.

The letter, signed by Assistant Atty. Gen. Ronald Weich, and obtained by the LA Times also suggested that ATF Director Ken Melson “likely became aware” of the operation as early as December 2009, a month after it began.” Melson has said he did not learn about details of the pperation was run until January of this year, when it was canceled, the Times wrote.

ATF Agents in Mi. Give Media Inside Look at Some of Their Training