Late yesterday afternoon, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley sent a letter to ATF Chief B. Todd Jones asking why major players in Operation Fast and Furious are still working at the agency, especially considering Jones said they were no longer employed. Although many agents and supervisors involved in the deadly operation have retired or resigned since 2010 when Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed with a gun trafficked to Mexican cartels during the program, not a single person has been fired.
"The family of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who lost his life in the line of duty on December 15, 2010, recently contacted our staffs. The Terry family wanted to know why, more than three years after Agent Terry's murder, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has not fired anyone because of Agent Terry's death. As yo you are no doubt aware, weapons from the reckless Operation Fast and Furious were found at the scene of his murder," the lawmakers wrote. "Although Operation Fast and Furious took place before you became Director of ATF, the disciplinary actions against the ATF agents who designed, conducted, and managed the reckless operation has fallen squarely within your tenure at the head of the agency."
According to the letter, ATF continues to employ Case Agent Hope MacAllister, Group Supervisor David Voth, and Special Agent in Charge William Newell. All three were major players during Fast and Furious in the Phoenix Field Division. Not only were they involved in the operation, but also retaliated against whistleblowers like John Dodson for speaking out against their tactics. Newell's corrupt and reckless history in particular goes far beyond Operation Fast and Furious and into cases like Dobyns v. USA.
“It is inexcusable that, 19 months after these findings became public, ATF has provided Congress with no information about whether, or to what extent, these employees have been held accountable. The repeated faulty judgment of MacAllister, Voth, and Newell severely jeopardized public safety during Fast and Furious, and ATF’s failure to account for what disciplinary action, if any, has been taken is an affront to the family of Brian Terry," the letter continues.
Issa and Grassley also pressed Jones about a recent Inspector General report showing that approval was given to former ATF Agenet Bill McMahon to take a $200,000 per year salary with JPMorgan, the bank that holds ATF credit cards, while at the same time taking paid ATF leave in order to secure his retirement benefits after Fast and Furious fallout. The OIG report described this action as "being fraud" had it not been approved by government supervisors.
Before he was confirmed as permanent director of ATF, Jones promised to clean up the agency. Jones will be testifying tomorrow, Wednesday on Capitol Hill in front of the House Oversight Committee at 9:30 am et. The focus of the hearing will be ATF's reckless storefront tactics, tactics that include using mentally disabled teens for sting operations, but the questions outlined in this letter are also sure to come up.