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Tag: ATF

Agencies Jumping on the High Tech Wagon; ATF Using iPads and iPhones


By Michael S. Rosenwald
Washington Post Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Somewhere in America, perhaps at this very moment, a bad guy is under video surveillance. He is being watched, every movement, every step – but not on a little TV. That’s so 2009. Instead, a special agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is keeping tabs on an iPad.

This is not a movie. This is not a Steve Jobs dream. This is the federal government 2.0, where technology upgrades no longer come at a “Little House on the Prairie” pace. Even President Obama, a BlackBerry devotee, has upgraded. He now owns an iPad, and it has been seen on his desk and under his arm.

The flashy consumer products that have been adopted in the corporate workforce – upending BlackBerrys for iPhones, Microsoft Outlook for Gmail and, lately, laptops for iPads – are now invading the federal government. The State Department. The Army. The Department of Veterans Affairs. NASA. The General Services Administration is in the process of moving 17,000 employees onto Gmail.

To read full story click here.

Texas County Threatens to Charge ATF After Detonating Explosives that Triggered Mass Fire

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

ATF has rubbed the Motley County, Tex., government the wrong way.

The city attorney Tom Edwards says ATF could face Class C misdemeanor charges for violating the county’s burn ban after the agency detonated unwanted explosives, which triggered a fire that scorched 150 acres of land, according to the Plainview Daily Herald.

“We have the federal government that has just refused aid to the state of Texas for all our fire damage throughout the state, and then here comes federal agents who start another fire,” Edwards told KCBD-TV.

The Plainview paper reported that Jim Luera, resident agent in charge for the ATF in Lubbock, took full responsibility for the fire. It took close to six hours to extinguish the blaze.

Luera said ATF detonated the explosives because it had a mounting stockpile, the paper reported. He said the detonations were used as a training exercise for bomb squads from several area cities.

He said landowners would be reimbursed for the damage, the paper reported.

ATF Agent Jay Dobyns Rips ATF About “Fast and Furious” and His Problems With the Agency

Nearly Six Months After Nomination, No Confirmation Hearing Set for ATF’s Andrew Traver

Andrew Traver/zerocancer.org photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON —  Nearly six months after the White House nominated Andrew Traver to head ATF, there’s no sign of a confirmation hearing.

The Senate Judiciary Committee said there’s nothing scheduled for Traver, who heads  the ATF Chicago Office, and explained that the committee has so many confirmation hearings to deal with.

But some observers think there’s more to it.  They think ATF is a low priority, plus they think there’s no hurry to rush the confirmation process in the midst of the bubbling controversy over an ATF program known as Operation Fast and Furious, in which gun dealers in Arizona were encouraged to sell to straw purchasers — all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. Some of the guns ended up being used in crimes.

James Cavanaugh, a former ATF official, said Friday that he suspects that the controversy over Operation Fast and Furious will probably delay the confirmation.

“I think it will have an impact, I think it will delay the director,” he said. ” Its such a big dust up on the Hill.”

He said the gun lobbying groups, which oppose Traver’s nomination, may also use the controversy over Fast and Furious to delay the confirmation.

“The gun lobbying groups don’t want Traver,” he said. “If they can use the controversy to stall the confirmation and block it and drag it out, they will.”

Traver was nominated last November.

Column: Atty. Gen. Holder’s Disappointing Appearance Before the House Judiciary Committee on ATF Controversy

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Whether you agree with Atty. General Eric Holder Jr. or not, most reasonable people would conclude that he’s a pretty decent guy and a straight shooter.

That being said, it makes his appearance before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday all the more disappointing.

I’m referring to his exchange with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif), who started grilling Holder about the controversial and embarrassing ATF program known as Operation Fast and Furious, which encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers — all with the hopes of tracing the guns to the upper ranks of the Mexican cartels. Problem is, ATF lost track of some guns, which may have been used to kill Americans including a border patrol agent.

Issa questioned Holder and tried to figure out who in the Justice Department gave the green light for the program. Holder responded rather tentatively.

Was it deputy Attorney Gen. James Cole, Issa asked. Not likely, Holder said, because “I think” he wasn’t in the department at the time it started. Was it Lanny Breuer, chief of the Justice Department criminal division?

“I’m not sure whether Mr. Breuer authorized it,” Holder responded.

REALLY.

At this stage it’s hard to believe Holder doesn’t know — at least whether the chief of his criminal division authorized it. And perhaps it’s just as bad if he never wandered down the hall to ask.

It’s not too hard to find out.

It was not a pretty performance on Tuesday, not a very credible one.

Holder is better than that.

ATF Agents Shoot Suspect in Suburban D.C.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — ATF agents shot and wounded a suspect in suburban Washington in Prince William County Monday night, WUSA reported.

The TV station reported that agents were wrapping up an investigation and moved in to make an arrest. However, the suspect tried fleeing in a car and attempted to hit the agents with the car, the station reported.

Agents opened fire on Dumfries Road near I-95 in Dumfries, Va.

Limited details were available late Monday night.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Gun Dealer Was Concerned About ATF’s Gun-Walking Program


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A controversial ATF gun-walking program apparently concerned an Arizona gun dealer, who like many others, had been encouraged by ATF to keep selling weapons to straw purchasers, all with the hopes agents would trace them to the higher levels of the Mexican drug cartels.

Problem was some of those guns sold by gun dealers got into the hands of criminals and may have been used in the fatal shooting of at least one federal agent.

Sen. Charles Grassley, who has been on the war path, attacking ATF for its programs — Project Gunrunner and its offshoot Operation Fast and Furious — released emails on Thursday from a concerned Arizona gun dealer. The emails were forwarded along with a letter to Atty. Eric Holder Jr. in which Grassley pointedly complained that the Justice Department had not released to him documents on the programs.

In one email, Grassley notes that the gun dealer — whose name was blacked out — raised concerns to ATF supervisor David Voth:

“I shared my concerns with you guys that I wanted to make sure that none of the firearms that were sold per our conversation with you and various ATF agents could or would ever end up south of the border and in the hands of the bad guys…I want to help ATF with its investigation, but not at the risk of agents’ safety because I have some very close friends that are U.S. border patrol agents in southern Arizona.”

Agent Voth replied on April 13, 2010:
“I understand that the frequency with which some individuals under investigation by our office have been purchasing firearms from your business has caused concerns for you. I totally understand and am not in a position to tell you how to run your business.

“However, if it helps put you at ease we (ATF) are continually monitoring these suspects using a variety of investigative techniques which I cannot go into detail. … Just know that we cannot instruct you on how to run your business, but your continued cooperation with our office has greatly aided the investigation thus far.”

Grassley said the gun dealers were put in a bad spot.

“On the one hand, these gun dealers rely upon the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for their license to even be able to be in business,” he said in a statement.

“So, of course, these agents (Federal Firearms Licensees) want to cooperate with the government. When you have got this big club hanging over your head, will you be licensed or not licensed. On the other hand, the government asks these gun dealers to keep selling to the bad guys even after the dealers warned that it might end in tragedy.”

Grassley has indicated that some of the guns sold to straw purchases may have been used in the fatal shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in Arizona last December. He is also trying to determine if any of the guns were used in the February fatal shooting in Mexico of ICE agent Jaime Zapata and the wounding of another agent.

Read Grassley letter and emails

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Shake Up at the Phoenix ATF Division Related to Operation Fast and Furious

William Newell

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — There’s been a shakeup at the Phoenix office of ATF, which has come under heat for the controversial gun walking program dubbed Operation Fast and Furious, ticklethewire.com has learned.

Thomas E. Brandon, special agent in charge of the Detroit office, has been temporarily assigned to head up the Phoenix office, according to knowledgeable sources.

Brandon will fill in for the Phoenix special agent in charge, William D. Newell, who has been sent to Washington to help prepare and answer questions about Operation Fast and Furious for Congress and the Office of Inspector General, the sources said.

Newell joins Jim Needles, an assistant special agent in charge of the Phoenix Division, who has been temporarily assigned to Washington to also help prepare answers for the various inquiries, sources said. Another assistant special agent in charge of the Phoenix office has taken a sick leave. It is unclear where all the agents involved in the moves will wind up, and whether they’ll return to their old posts.

Scot L. Thomasson, chief spokesman for ATF, did not immediately respond to a call from ticklethewire.com for comment.

Some key members of Congress have been highly critical of the Fast and Furious program and have been pressing for answers.  The program encouraged straw purchasers to buy guns, all the with hopes of tracing them to the Mexican cartels.  ATF lost track of some of the guns which ended up being used in crimes.  That triggered a public outcry from Congress and the Mexican government.