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Retaliation: ATF Agent Fired for Exposing Corruption

According to Vince Cefalu, now a former ATF agent, he was fired after coming forward with information about the lethal Obama Justice Department Operation Fast and Furious and for cooperating with the House Oversight Committee in Issa's investigation of the operation and DOJ. Cefalu came forward with information about the government allowing high powered weapons flow into the hands of Mexican drug cartels and across the border into Mexico in December before the story about Fast and Furious broke.

“Aside from Jay Dobyns, I don't know of anyone that's been more vocal about ATF mismanagement than me,” said Cefalu, a senior special agent based in Dublin, Calif. “That's why this is happening.” Dobyns, an ATF special agent based in Tucson, has appeared several times on Fox News to discuss the scandal.

Cefalu first told FoxNews.com about the ATF’s embattled anti-gun smuggling operation in December, before the first reports on the story appeared in February. “Simply put, we knowingly let hundreds of guns and dozens of identified bad guys go across the border,” Cefalu said at the time.

Since then, Cefalu’s claims have been vindicated, as a number of agents with first-hand knowledge of the case came forward. The scandal over Project Gunrunner led to congressional hearings, a presidential reprimand – Obama called the operation “a serious mistake” – and speculation that ATF chief Ken Melson will resign.

Yet last week, Cefalu, who has worked for the agency for 24 years, was forced to turn in his gun and badge. He can appeal but will be on “paid administrative leave” during the process.

Cefalu’s dismissal follows a string of allegations that the ATF retaliates against whistleblowers.

ATF has a history of retaliation against agents who don't fall in line with orders, even when those orders break the law or are unethical. Last week, Congressman Darrell Issa warned ATF and Justice Department officials against retaliation toward agents who come forward with valuable information about corruption within the system. Issa sent a letter expressing his concern to ATF Deputy Director William J. Hoover:

I write to request your assurance that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) will not retaliate against witnesses who have provided information to this Committee. I make this request in light of the fact that on June 15, 2011, in a hearing before the Committee entitled "operation Fast and Furious: Reckless Decisions, Tragic Outcomes," three veteran ATF special agents gave testimony highly critical of the ATF. They should not face reprisals of any kind for their testimony. No other ATF employees who cooperate with Congress should face retaliation either.

The Committee relies on whistleblowers to conduct unvarnished and thorough oversight. Witnesses who choose to coorporate with the Committe must be confident that they can provide information without fear of punishment.

Cefalu was dismissed two days after Issa sent the letter to Hoover.

During the second hearing on Capitol Hill about Operation Fast and Furious before the Oversight Committeon June 15, 2011, Assitant Attorney General Ronald Weich testifed under oath there would be no retaliation toward whistleblowers.

"I want to assure the committee -- I think a number of Members raised this -- that the Department of Justice will not, would never, retaliate against whistleblowers."

ATF agents who testified in the same hearing disagreed, saying retaliation against agents runs rampant within the bureau, describing it as "a very retaliatory agency" with a "long and rich history of retaliation." Agents also expressed concern about future retaliation for their cooporation with Issa in the investigation of Operation Fast and Furous and the Obama Justice Department saying retaliation "still might be coming down." 


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