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ATF developments mask chronic leadership ineptitude, clinging to old ways

B. Todd Jones and Eric Holder know perfectly well this latest posturing will not ensure the safety of Chicago streets. But no one calls them on it.
B. Todd Jones and Eric Holder know perfectly well this latest posturing will not ensure the safety of Chicago streets. But no one calls them on it.
Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Attorney General Eric Holder plans to send seven additional Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents to Chicago, a DOJ press release announced Thursday.

"The Department of Justice will continue to do everything in its power to help the city of Chicago combat gun violence,” Holder disingenuously pledged. "These new agents are a sign of the federal government's ongoing commitment to helping local leaders ensure Chicago's streets are safe.”

ATF intends to deliver on that promise, the release states, by “concentrat[ing] its criminal enforcement on firearms trafficking throughout the region while curbing the supply of illegal guns that end up in the hands of gang members and other violent criminals.”

Holder’s plan received fawning backing from ATF Director B. Todd Jones, who reports to him, and Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy, whose department receives substantial grant money from DOJ. They both know they were merely mouthing expected words demanded for the performance.

This is a typical career bureaucrat cold-end “solution” that only succeeds in spending money while posturing over effects, but does nothing to address the root causes of why certain people engage in evil behavior. As such, the safety of Chicago streets will not be ensured, as neither the number of violent criminals will be significantly impacted, nor will their ability to arm themselves.

For his part, McCarthy, who never saw a citizen disarmament edict he didn’t salivate over, needs all the press he can get to divert blame for the violence onto lawful gun owners and make it look like he’s doing something, anything to stop it. A reality never mentioned in supportive "real reporter" circles is that he has been absolutely ineffectual at even marginally retarding savagery, as on this month's Independence Day weekend, when 82 were shot, 16 fatally, in the Windy City. And Jones has problems of his own, necessitating his ingratiating himself with the brass, particularly after a recent move in Congress to dissolve the bureau and assign its functions to other agencies followed seemingly non-stop failures and scandals under his command (albeit some presumably in the know are suggesting his willing role since Day One has been to close up shop and move on).

Compounding ATF woes is a report by the Las Vegas Review Journal that a federal judge has “recommended dismissal of felony drug trafficking charges against a former officer of the Vagos motorcycle gang because of outrageous government conduct by the lead undercover agent in the case.

“In a rare decision late Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach criticized Agostino Brancato, a deputized agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, for manufacturing the cocaine case against Jeremy Halgat, though Halgat had no criminal record and repeatedly told the agent in secretly recorded conversations that he did not want to traffic in drugs,” the report explains.

Of note is the magistrate’s conclusion that Brancato’s supervisor’s “did not dissuade him,” which leads to natural questions about their orders, their activities, and how far up the management chain knowledge of improper enforcement activities, and potential direction for them, went.

Gun Rights Examiner approached a knowledgeable insider, one who has provided accurate information to this column in the past, for comment. Admitting he had no knowledge of the facts or a full disclosure of what was or was not done, he declined to offer an opinion on the allegations themselves, but did give a character reference about the agent at the center of the controversy that, frankly, was surprising in light of the magistrate’s negative remarks.

“I worked with Tino on many occasions and always had supreme confidence in his skills and courage as an undercover agent," the source asserted.

That approving personal testament, along with the magistrate’s observation about ATF management cognizance, suggest circumstances yet to be revealed. That in turn warrants a closer look at the organizational expectations and pressures that may have had bearing on Brancato’s actions.


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Sure we won Heller and McDonald, but what have the black robes done for us lately? My latest GUNS Magazine "Rights Watch" column is online, and you can read it well before the issue hits the stands. Click here to read "Full Court Press.”


My latest JPFO Alert notes a cheap trick monopoly of violence con artists pull to delude marks into believing that more tyranny makes things safer for us all. See “'Gun Death' Rate Scams Designed to Defraud Public Out of Rights.”


Don’t like the latest Supreme Court ruling? My newest entry in The Shooter’s Log recommends “To Prevent Another ‘Abramski,’ Get in the Fight.”

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