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Here’s something interesting from the ATF’s press release announcing the post-Gunwalker scandal employee shakeup: “ATF’s primary mandates are to protect the American people from firearms–related violent crime, criminal organizations, and the illegal use of explosives and arson; and to regulate the firearms and explosives industries.” That’s pretty funny. We now know that the Bureau enabled gun smugglers who transported over 2000 weapons to criminal organizations, who then committed firearms-related violence. We also know that the ATF let a grenade maker walk from U.S. custody into Mexico, where he resumed building explosives for the Sinaloa drug cartel. Hey, what happened to regulating alcohol and tobacco . . .

Given Operation Fast and Furious, given the ATF’s willingness to break the law to make the law (while providing Mexican narco-terrorists with firearms), one wonders, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid-style, who are these guys? Here’s a clue from the longer form version of the Bureau’s mission statement (a.k.a., “disclaimer”), scraped from the ATF’s website:

A unique law enforcement agency in the United States Department of Justice that protects our communities from violent criminals, criminal organizations, the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, the illegal use and storage of explosives, acts of arson and bombings, acts of terrorism, and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products. We partner with communities, industries, law enforcement, and public safety agencies to safeguard the public we serve through information sharing, training, research, and use of technology.

All of which begs the question: who are these guys?  The key to understanding the ATF is the word “unique.” Clearly, the Bureau believes they’re special. Well they are and they aren’t . . .

The ATF’s law enforcement goal is hardly unique: arrest criminals. Nor is their remit. Truth be told, other than checking industry paperwork and collecting taxes (their original raison d’etre), there’s nothing that the ATF does on the crime fighting front that some other [thank God] bigger federal agency can’t handle. Already handles.

For example, the ATF and FBI have been fighting over who investigates explosions for more than a decade. Agents from both orgs have been seen literally screaming at each other at crime scenes, threatening each other with arrest. The ATF mission statement references their “partnerships” because everything they do steps on someone’s toes.

Even when they’re not supposed to be doing it. Operation Fast and Furious was [supposedly] aimed at international gun trafficking. How about we let Immigration and Customs Enforcement deal with that? Or U.S. Customs and Border Protection?

While we’re at it, since when did terrorism become part of the ATF’s agenda? Unless you think that providing Mexican narco-terrorists with illegally purchased firearms is a suitable way to fight terrorism on behalf of “our communities” (how Maoist is that?), the ATF seems to be failing on that part of the program.

Still, you gotta hand it to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (and Really Big Fires): that is a truly “unique” way of combatting terrorism. As ATF Agent Dodson pointed out at as he watched a straw purchaser transfer illegally purchased arms to a Mexico-bound middleman—just before an ATF jefe told Dodson to let the guns go.

It’s natural to try to hold someone accountable for the F&F et al. stupidity by going after Dodson’s boss, and Dodson’s boss’ boss, and so on, right up to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and maybe even President Obama. But let’s face it: the ATF bureaucrats were just doing their job. They were helping arm the blood-thirsty Sinaloas against the viciously violent Los Zetas.

Wait. What? That’s not in the ATF’s remit either! That’s the CIA’s job! Who are these guys?

The ATF is a world unto themselves. An insular group of jack-booted thugs who have no more respect for the Second Amendment than Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Bureau’s “we’re cleaning our own house” press release is a classic example of wagon circling, or, if you prefer, rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. ALL of the new personnel changes move ATF Agents from one job at the ATF to another job at the ATF.

Vivian Michalic will become the Deputy Assistant Director of the Office of Management and will remain the Chief Financial Officer for ATF. She was the Assistant Director of the Office of Management from September 2010 to September 2011, and had served previously as the Chief of Staff for a prior ATF director.

The former Chief of Staff of an Agency in crisis, is disrepute, gets a new job assisting the Director of the Officer of Management? How great is that? So great that the ATF won’t even name the prior director, ’cause, you know, they’ve had a few, uh, issues in the past. But now, we’re the new ATF!

Acting Director B. Todd Jones, who replaced Acting Director Kenneth “I saw the straw purchases live via webcam and did sweet FA” Melson, is about as much of a new broom as anything you’d find in a 12th century archeological dig. If the ATF was set on reform, there’d be an outsider at the helm firing Agents so fast their pensions would spin. The new guy would probably want some accounting for the Bureau’s past. Nope forget it. Nothing to see here folks.

Yet. The Gunwalker Scandal is no longer simmering. It’s on the boil. When the DOJ starts yelling at CBS—yelling I tell you!—there is doom and gloom and things will go boom in Obama’s social engineering lab. Holder will be called back in front of Congress. If the U.S. Attorney’s perjury charge is used against him, he might even flip. End of game for Obama? Stories about arming Sinaloas and letting them fly cargo planes of coke and truckloads of meths into the heartland certainly won’t help his reelection chances.

My fondest hope is not that those responsible for—and participants in—the various Gunwalker schemes face criminal charges for criminal acts. Although that would be nice in a justice is served kinda way, I’d prefer that the ATF earned a “unique” place in American history as the first federal law enforcement agency to disappear. You know, if that’s the deal on the table.

If the ATF is allowed to continue existence it’s only a matter of time before they get behind another semi- or extra-legal law enforcement operation that will trigger the law of unintended consequences.

If fact, in light of the death of Agent Terry at the hands of drug thugs wielding weapons enabled by the ATF, you could say that the Bureau is a poster child for the law of unintended consequences. The ATF is the logical result of federal duplication, waste, inefficiency, arrogance, patronage and unaccountability. In case you’re wondering, that’s who they are.

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  1. Just imagine what would happen to private citizens that were found to be doing this. That’s really all that needs to be looked at.

  2. I don’t know of another federal agency that seeks to defeat crime by arming criminals. I call that pretty damn unique.

  3. At this point, giving the length of this operation, the number of stores/states/people involved, etc, I’m thinking there may be a whole lot more guns-a-walkin’ than the oft-quoted 2,000 or so… How to prove this, I dunno… but it seems more than feasible…

    • Most of the reporting I’ve read says that Fast and Furious allowed at least 2,000, and maybe as many as 2,500, guns to walk into Mexico. Does anyone know how many guns walked during the Gunwalker operation? And what was the name (and weapons count) of the ‘similar’ operation during 2006?

      Fortunately (FINALLY), the Lame-Stream-Media is starting to report on all of this, although their reports have been very soft spoken so far. As more and more Americans start hearing about this, the Media will be forced to start asking the tough questions, and hopefully several “heads will roll” in the BATFE and DOJ.

  4. how much $ could we put back into they system by getting rid of the BATFE i wonder? if these guys are going after terrorists what is the function of the FBI, or DHS? there is so much overlap between these organizations who is doing whose job exactly?

  5. Good article and I agree that ATF shouldn`t be disbanded since as you say most of what they do is already done by others. Tobacco hardly needs an agency and alcohol, since the abondment of prohibition, is hardly worthy either.

    My only gripe – why did you need to say “Obama’s social engineering lab.” – just cut out gratuitous political stuff or your readership will be demographically unbalanced and from one segment of society. Not the way to grow sustainably.

    • I’m not so sure of that Mike. I think your opinion is self-serving and not intended for the enlightenment of the masses. The reason I think that is TTAG is growing sustainably and your complaints in multiple posts are not indicative of the majority of people posting.

      But, maybe I’m wrong and you can explain why I’m so wrong.

  6. I have to look at the large number of this article series and sigh. At one time I wanted to be a member of the ATF as I could not imagine a better suited role for this gun nut than gun justice but that’s changed now.

    I know a little more about the alphabet soup agencies and it is more the Federal Marshals or CIA that seems to have the idea of justice I want to try and uphold. Considering how much red tape that all of the agencies go through and the obscene amount of making things up that seems to go on I wonder more if redesigning the ATF with a new acronym, mission statement and management would be a better idea. As it stands now it looks more liable for oversights than anything else.


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