Ah Spring. That time of year when a senior ATF agent’s thoughts turn to CYA. And so it is with little surprise that we report to you, gentle reader, that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (and sometimes Really Big Fires) summoned all the head cheeses to D.C. for a circle-the-wagons confab earlier this week. We can now report that what spooked the ATF spooks was a report that the Phoenix office Special Assistant Agent in Charge, George Gillett, is cooperating with Senator Charles Grassley’s investigation into Operation Fast and Furious. Or the Gunwalker Project. Or whatever they’re calling it this week inside the Beltway. (My guess would be “Operation Step in a Steaming Pile,” but that’s only a guess.)
Well, Land O’ Goshen, said meeting was suddenly – and inexplicably – canceled. But wait (as they say on infomercials), there’s more!
Special Assistant Agent Gillett has been placed on 30-day leave and they are shuffling the deck (chairs) in middle management. Thomas Brandon has been named the temporary head of the Phoenix office. William Newell (former head of the Phoenix location) has been summoned to the woodshed (D.C.) to prep for his anticipated pantsing and turn as a lord high privy toast rack, courtesy of Sen. Grassley. Special Agent Jim Needles has also been summoned to Washington, possibly as a tag-team partner to Newell.
But the real puzzler: the word on the street has it that after Newell gets called in on the carpet, the ATF bigwigs plan to send him back to Phoenix to oversee the anticipated prosecution of those involved in the gun smuggling debacle.
It is to laugh. The guy’s a material witness, and may well be implicated in the scandal as one of the people that ordered/facilitated/looked the other way regarding the entire mess. And THIS is the guy you want to put in charge of the prosecution? That makes no sense at all.
Unless, that is, that you figure the higher-ups want someone who’s nuts are in their wringer – someone who will be willing to firewall them off from trouble, and find a few peons to pee on so the media can get their pound o’ flesh. Add to this the stonewalling that Grassley’s office is getting from AG Holder and ATF’s Acting Nero-in-Charge, Kenneth Melson, and you’ve got all the cast assembled for one fine bit o’ mendacity.
Pass the popcorn. This is getting good.