Imagine my surprise when I logged onto the ATF’s website last night and saw that their banner had changed. Something had been added, specifically the text “The Violent Crime Bureau” now appears below their official title. Which was slightly confusing since I’m pretty sure that’s why we have the FBI. The Wall Street Journal picks up the trail…
The new name doesn’t have any legal status yet. Asked about changing names Wednesday, ATF acting director B. Todd Jones said, “That’s a concept that we batted around.” He added that the agency was focused on returning to its fundamental mission and said, “How it’s labeled is less important than what it does.”
The Violent Crime Bureau moniker reflects the agency’s ambition to take the lead in tackling violent-crime outbreaks in big cities such as Philadelphia that have seen an increase in murders and drug-related shootings. The agency’s current name is something of an anachronism because it brings fewer than a hundred alcohol and tobacco cases a year. And its reputation as a firearms regulator took a hit because of the Fast and Furious scandal, the subject of a new report from the Justice Department’s inspector general.
Yeah, but the FBI already does that.
From the FBI’s FAQ:
The FBI focuses on threats that challenge the foundations of American society or involve dangers too large or complex for any local or state authority to handle alone. In executing the following priorities, we will produce and use intelligence to protect the nation from threats and to bring to justice those who violate the law.
1. Protect the United States from terrorist attack
2. Protect the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage
3. Protect the United States against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes
4. Combat public corruption at all levels
5. Protect civil rights
6. Combat transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises
7. Combat major white-collar crime
8. Combat significant violent crime
9. Support federal, state, local and international partners
10. Upgrade technology to successfully perform the FBI’s mission
My last position before moving down to Texas was as a contractor for a certain government agency that also had issues with wanting to over-reach its boundaries. In an age where budgets are under threat and politicians are running the three letter agencies, mission creep is the one tried and true way to keep your budget from being slashed. Claim you’re doing more, and the government gives you more money to do it whether you’re doing it or not. Money that then goes to your extravagant meeting budget.
I’m not opposed to putting more (WELL TRAINED AND PROFESSIONAL) police officers on our streets to combat violent crime. But when you have multiple agencies with almost the exact same scope and massive budgets, you get something… well… kinda like this.
Personally, I think the ATF should focus on its core competencies. No, not giving guns to criminals, I meant trying to protect the United States from illegal guns, booze and smokes. Specialization is what breeds competence, and the mission creep of trying to make the ATF into yet another crime fighting branch of the government seems like a sure way to encourage even more SNAFUs.
Hmm. If the ATF fancies itself as a super duper crime fighting organization, I wonder if that will have any negative impacts on law abiding citizens….