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Was the new acting director of ATF involved at the inception of the criminal gunwalking scandal known as Operation Fast & Furious?
The appointment of B. Todd Jones as acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, hasn’t caused much of a ripple – in the media or in the ATF. By most accounts Jones is a stand-up guy, ex-Marine, and in a refreshing change of pace, apparently not known for ignominious bouts of bad judgment. But who your friends are generally says a lot about you, and Todd Jones is a longtime friend and confidant of his boss, Eric Holder. That’s got some gun owners uneasy and asking for more information about the new chief gun control enforcer.
While Jones hasn’t publicly demonstrated the anti-gun bias of Holder or Obama’s pick for a permanent ATF director, Andrew Traver, there are legitimate reasons for concern. Along with Jones’ close associations with Holder – going all the way back to the Reno Justice Department, when Holder was in charge of the official DOJ whitewash of the Waco fiasco – there is also strong evidence that Jones was actually involved in Operation Fast & Furious from the very beginning.
Researchers at The Firearms Coalition, the grass roots rights organization my father founded in 1984, have uncovered what appears to be a redacted reference to B. Todd Jones in attendance at the first meeting of Eric Holder’s “Southwest Border Strategy Group.” This group included people at the highest level of ATF, DOJ, FBI and other agencies, including virtually all the people implicated in Fast & Furious to date. This organizational meeting is likely where Operation Fast and Furious was conceived.
For months the Justice Department has stonewalled and withheld information from congressional investigators regarding this group’s genesis, its members and any strategies it generated, including requests for minutes or details of this specific meeting. Among the thousands of useless and heavily redacted documents that were turned over several months ago to Rep. Darrell Issa’s Government Oversight and Reform Committee were emails about this meeting. Our researchers noticed that the “Chair, Attorney General’s Advisory Committee – (AGAC)” was listed among the member attendees. The name was redacted, but that position was held by B. Todd Jones at that time. It is also interesting to note that Jones, who will continue as U.S. attorney for Minnesota, quietly resigned from the AGAC chairmanship position when Holder appointed him to take the helm at ATF – so quietly that there were no reports of it.
So not only has Holder appointed a trusted friend and confidant to head the agency at the center of an international scandal, that same friend and confidant appears to have been directly involved in the inception of the scandal itself. If this is indeed the case, then B. Todd Jones has a serious conflict of interest and, either way, Eric Holder has some explaining to do.
Since his appointment as part-time, interim, acting director of ATF, Jones and his chief deputy have made some disturbing comments about the Fast and Furious debacle, which indicate complete ignorance of, disregard for, or intentional obfuscation of the known facts.
“There were mistakes made, but it doesn’t justify the ATF being kicked while they are down,” said Jones, “They have a tough mission, but the politics of guns won’t let it succeed.”
Shortly after Jones’ appointment, his chief deputy made a trip to the Phoenix ATF office, where he declared that the congressional inquiries into the matter were simply politically motivated smear campaigns. He was speaking to agents – some of whom are the very whistleblowers who raised initial questions about the operation, which led to its exposure and condemnation.
Agents posting at CleanUpATF.org complain that there have been no changes in agency operation since Jones was appointed on Aug. 30 – no dismissals, reassignments or shakeups at ATF headquarters or in the leadership of field agencies – and Jones has not taken the trouble to reach out to field agents at all.
His initial “Glad to be here – new day at ATF” announcement video that was streamed to field offices via the Internet went out with no audio, so agents only received reports about the comments, but could not hear what he actually said.
Jones is scheduled to hold a “town hall” meeting with agents in the Phoenix area, but pessimism among agents at the CleanUpATF website runs high. They say that nothing short of a dramatic revamping of the agency’s power structure at headquarters can produce serious improvements. They complain that lawyers in the powerful Chief Counsel’s Office at ATF Headquarters run the show and are at the heart of the agency’s problems. They don’t buy the idea that another outside attorney, like Jones – especially one working on a part-time, interim basis – is likely to institute any meaningful changes in the organization and its cronyistic hierarchy.
Meanwhile the evidence mounts that the ATF, FBI and DOJ intentionally violated numerous federal laws and engaged in an active cover-up of some aspects of Fast and Furious from the day Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was gunned down by Mexican Bandits using guns from the F&F operation.
Evidence was recently uncovered indicating that there was a third Fast and Furious gun recovered from the Terry murder scene and that this gun’s connection to the operation was intentionally deleted from official reports to protect an FBI operation or informant. There has also been growing evidence that at least one prime target of Fast and Furious was actually a paid FBI informant who used FBI funds – that is, taxpayers’ money – to finance his gunrunning for a drug cartel. This news raises questions of an even broader conspiracy with possible implications to the White House and the State Department. While full details have not been disclosed, a mention of $70,000 from a cartel member to purchase guns was included in ATF Chief Bill Newell’s testimony.
Since early June, I have been calling for a special prosecutor to investigate this scandal. That call has been echoed by every major firearms rights organization, most conservative political organizations and some in Congress, but the call needs to be much, much louder. A special prosecutor was assigned to investigate what happened under Bill Clinton’s desk. A special prosecutor was assigned to determine who told reporters that Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the CIA. Why hasn’t a special prosecutor been assigned to investigate criminal operations of the ATF and DOJ, which led directly to the death of BPA Brian Terry and scores of Mexican nationals?
I encourage readers to contact their elected servants in Washington and demand that an independent, special prosecutor be empowered to get to the bottom of this mess.