Multiple sources, including sources from ATF, DOJ and Congressional offices have said there is a white paper circulating within the Department of Justice, outlining the essential elimination of ATF. According to sources, the paper outlines the firing of at least 450 ATF agents in an effort to conduct damage control as Operation Fast and Furious gets uglier and as election day 2012 gets closer. ATF agents wouldn’t be reassigned to other positions, just simply let go. Current duties of ATF, including the enforcement of explosives and gun laws, would be transferred to other agencies, possibly the FBI and the DEA. According to a congressional source, there have been rumblings about the elimination of ATF for quite sometime, but the move would require major political capital to actually happen.
“It’s a serious white paper being circulated, how far they’d get with it I don’t know,” a confidential source said.
After a town hall meeting about Operation Fast and Furious in Tucson, Ariz. on Monday, ATF Whistleblower Vince Cefalu, who has been key in exposing details about Operation Fast and Furious, confirmed the elimination of ATF has been circulating as a serious idea for sometime now.
Sounds great right? Eliminating ATF? But there is more to this story. Remember, low level ATF field agents, like ATF whistleblower John Dodson, were uncomfortable conducting Operation Fast and Furious from the beginning, but were told by high level officials within ATF that if they had a problem with the operation, they could find a job elsewhere.
“Allowing loads of weapons that we knew to be destined for criminals, this was the plan. It was so mandated,” ATF Whistleblower John Dodson said in testimony on Capitol Hill on June 15, 2011.
In fact, not only were the ATF agents forced to carry out the operation, they were told to go against what they had been taught in training.
“This operation, which in my opinion endangered the American public, was orchestrated in conjunction with Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley. [Emory Hurley is the same Assistant U.S. Attorney who previously prevented agents from using some of the common and accepted law enforcement techniques that are employed elsewhere in the United States to investigate and prosecute gun crimes.] I have read documents that indicate that his boss, U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, also agreed with the direction of the case,” Special Agent Peter Forcelli said in testimony on Capitol hill on June 15, 2011.
“I recall my first days at the ATF academy, where it was drilled into us as new agents that under no circumstances would any firearms, in any investigation, leave the control of ATF. Instructors stressed that even if a weapon was lost “by accident,” the agent was still subject to termination,” former ATF Attaché to Mexico Darren D. Gil said in testimony on June 15, 2011.
ATF field agents weren’t the problem with Operation Fast and Furious, high ranking officials within ATF and the Department of Justice were and still are. DOJ would eliminate ATF only to take the heat off of the Obama Administration. By eliminating the bureau, it makes it seem like DOJ is taking Operation Fast and Furious so seriously, they decided to “clear out the corruption, clean house,” however, it would only be a distraction away from the people at the top of the investigation. In fact, evidence shows the DOJ has been stonewalling the Oversight Committee investigation into the operation to protect Obama political appointees.
“It was very frustrating to all of us, and it appears thoroughly to us that the Department is really trying to figure out a way to push the information away from their political appointees at the Department,” former ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson, who has since been moved to a position within DOJ, said of his frustration with the Justice Department’s response to the investigation in transcribed closed door testimony with the Oversight Committee in July 2011.
When I called the Department of Justice last week (five times) to request the white paper and receive a comment surrounding the idea of eliminating ATF, I received the following response: “Everyone is away from their desk right now.”
Up to this point, the Department of Justice has denied all allegations or involvement in Operation Fast and Furious, yet journalists and the House Oversight Committee have proved allegation after allegation to be true. For example, during a Congressional hearing in July, former ATF Special Agent in Charge William Newell, who has since been promoted to a position within the Justice Department, denied that his agency was trafficking guns to Mexico, despite overwhelming evidence and testimony from other ATF agents proving otherwise.
“At no time in our strategy was it to allow guns to be taken to Mexico,” Newell said on July 26, 2011, adding that at no time did his agency allow guns to walk.
We’ve heard this was a low level, “rogue” operation, turns out high level officials in the Justice Department, DEA, FBI, DHS, and even members of the White House national security team knew about Operation Fast and Furious.
Last week, ATF offered 400 agents buy outs to avoid budget cuts and is expecting 250-275 agents to take the offer through Voluntary Early Retirement. These buyouts come at a convenient time for the Justice Department, which can eliminate ATF, then say it’s because of budget cuts, when really, it’s to cover their tracks.
|Katie Pavlich is the News Editor at Townhall.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiepavlich. She is also the author of Fast and Furious: Barack Obama's Bloodiest Scandal and the Shameless Cover-Up.
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Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography