On Tuesday, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to ATF Director B. Todd Jones asking for “details of disciplinary actions taken against Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) employees who were involved in Operation Fast and Furious.”
Grassley is especially interested in why certain agents involved in Fast and Furious were still employed by the ATF as recently as 2014.
Fast and Furious was an DOJ/ATF action wherein approximately 2,500 guns were purposely sold to straw buyers so those buyers could carry them across the US/Mexican border and distribute them to cartel members. DOJ/ATF planned to trace the dispersion of the guns so the cartel members could be captured.
In reality, the guns were not traced and multiple numbers of arrests were not made. However, U.S. Border Agent Brian Terry was shot and killed with Fast and Furious weapons on December 14, 2010, and at least one Mexican police chief was killed with a Fast and Furious weapon.
Fast and Furious straw purchases were also used to try to justify more gun control on multiple gun purchases.
In the letter addressed to Director Jones, Grassley pointed out:
While some personnel have been disciplined for misconduct, some agents have not faced consequences recommended by the agency’s Professional Review Board (PRB). In at least two instances dating back to 2012, the PRB called for the removal of agents who displayed “poor judgement” in their involvement with an investigation of a Fast and Furious whistleblower, yet those agents remained employed by ATF in 2014. Other agents were reassigned but remained in positions of authority. The Acting Director of ATF during Operation Fast and Furious was removed from his position, however, began the following day as a Senior Advisor in the Department of Justice.
Grassley’s letter is a follow to a March 26 letter requesting Jones provide the Committees with information including:
(1) a description of any disciplinary action, including any proposed or executed settlement agreements;
(2) the effective date of any disciplinary action, resignation, termination, or retirement;
(3) whether the individual is still employed by ATF, and if so, his current title and duty station; and
(4) a detailed explanation of why ATF failed to implement each of the recommendations of the PRB, including the recommendations that Gillette and Newell be terminated.
The March 26 letter also indicated that the Committee was specifically seeking such information on the following individuals, identified by title at the time Operation Fast and Furious was an active operation:
1. Acting Director Kenneth Melson;
2. Acting Deputy Director William Hoover;
3. Assistant Director for Field Operations Mark Chait;
4. Deputy Assistant Director for Field Operations William McMahon;
5. Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Division William Newell;
6. Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Division George Gillett;
7. Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Division James Needles;
8. Phoenix Group VII Supervisor David Voth; and,
9. Special Agent Hope MacAllister
With the follow-up letter dated April 7, Chairman Grassley is making the not-so-subtle point that he is serious about getting this information and discovering whether any real disciplinary action has been taken.
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