Alarmed about the “apparent lack of disciplinary actions taken against key players in the Operation Fast and Furious scandal” including a former deputy assistant director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Capitol Hill’s top two critics of that operation want answers from ATF Director B. Todd Jones, and they have given him until 5 p.m. today to deliver.
In a Friday letter to Jones, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) made it clear they want to know why top ATF players in the Fast and Furious debacle are still on the payroll, and their deadline is no April Fool’s Day joke.
Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Grassley, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, not only want to know about former Deputy Assistant Director for Field Operations (West) William McMahon, who took a job with JP Morgan while on sick leave from his government post, they also have questions about three other agents directly involved in the operation.
The Office of the Inspector General issued a report in September 2012 that, Issa and Grassley noted in their letter, “scrutinized the roles” played by the three ATF agents in the operation, and criticized them individually by name.
“It is inexcusable,” Issa and Grassley wrote, “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 the trio) 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.”
Terry was the Border Patrol agent who was murdered in December 2010, possibly with a gun recovered at the crime scene that was quickly traced back to a Fast and Furious purchase months before from an Arizona gun shop. It was that slaying that launched the Fast and Furious investigation by National Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea and independent blogger Mike Vanderboegh at Sipsey Street Irregulars, and subsequently headlined by former CBS investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson in an interview with ATF whistleblower John Dodson. Fox News’ William La Jeunesse also covered the scandal extensively, as did this column.
Issa and Grassley want to know about any disciplinary measures taken against the three ATF agents, if they filed grievances and the results of those appeals, and where they are serving today.
The website “CleanUpATF.org” devotes a full section to the Fast and Furious controversy.
In the past, the letter alleges, Jones has “repeatedly claimed that the Privacy Act does not allow you to answer questions of this nature.” However, Issa and Grassley remind Jones that such disclosures are permitted to Congress and “any committee or subcommittee thereof…”
“You have not let the Privacy Act get in the way of sharing personnel information with Congress,” they assert, “so long as the information portrays ATF in a positive light.”
In closing, Issa and Grassley reminded Jones, “When you became Acting Director of ATF, you promised to bring a culture of change to the agency. Your reliance on a clearly inapplicable statute to withhold information from Congress does not reflect that change.”
It is, however, reflective of a pattern in the Obama administration to dodge and withhold information about various embarrassments, ranging from the Benghazi attack, in the news again today, to IRS targeting of conservative groups.
In a Fast and Furious-related development, Codrea weighs in on a new controversy over former U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke, who abruptly resigned early in the investigation, and has now been reprimanded by the Arizona Bar. His critics suggest he got a pass. Issa has raised questions about that also.