Darrell Issa: Obama’s Fast And Furious ATF Director Choice Is A “Slap In The Face”

On Wednesday, Obama said, “Congress needs to help, rather than hinder, law enforcement as it does its job. We should get tougher on people who buy guns with the express purpose of turning around and selling them to criminals. And we should severely punish anybody who helps them do this. Since Congress hasn’t confirmed a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in six years, they should confirm Todd Jones.” On Friday, Chairman of the House oversight and Government Reform Committee Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) took issue with Obama’s nomination of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Acting Director Todd B. Jones to be seated in a permanent position as ATF Director. Issa made his concerns about one of the top men involved in the Fast and Furious scandal in a statement.

“Acting Director Jones was at the helm of ATF as many troubling problems from the fallout of Operation Fast and Furious festered,” Issa said. “His specific decisions on a number of Fast and Furious related issues raise concerns about his judgment and ability to lead the agency. While I continue to believe that ATF needs to have a Senate-confirmed director, President Obama has a responsibility to find a nominee who can win confirmation and is not saddled by a string of bad decisions related to the agency’s greatest recent failure.”

Issa went on to declare,

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“Jones was first brought into the job of ATF Acting Director in the middle of the Fast and Furious scandal after Justice Department officials had falsely denied reckless conduct and allegations by his predecessor that there was an effort underway to shield the Department’s senior political appointees from the scandal. Because of the numerous ATF mistakes during his tenure as Acting Director pertaining to Fast and Furious, his nomination is a slap in the face to the family of fallen Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, Mexican citizens whose murder has been linked to Fast and Furious weapons, and ATF whistleblowers whom he failed to support.

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The California congressman laid out six very specific objections to Jones’ nomination:

  • a failure to fire “several key individuals identified by both Congress and the inspector general as having played prominent roles in using reckless tactics;
  • a failure to commend or publicly defend whistleblowers who exposed Fast and Furious
  • expressing “hostility” toward whistleblowers by instructing AFT employees “not to complain about problems outside their chain of command.”
  • affording a special waiver to an ATF employee involved with Fast and Furious to accept a “lucrative job at J.P. Morgan;”
  • an “unwillingness to engage Congress,” by discussing the gun-tracking operation with congressional investigators, in contrast to his predecessor Ken Melson; and
  • a failure to apply lessons and offer reform plans in the aftermath of exposure of the controversial operation.

Jones came under attack for a video released in which he threatened ATF whistleblowers in relation to Fast and Furious.

Jones threatened ATF agents who would go “outside the chain of command to leak information on Fast and Furious by saying, “Choices and consequences means simply that if you make poor choices, that if you don’t abide by the rules, that if you don’t respect the chain of command, if you don’t find the appropriate way to raise your concerns to your leadership, there will be consequences because we cannot tolerate, we cannot tolerate an undisciplined organization.”

Rep. Issa and Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) both blasted Jones over his comments. Grassley said, ““a leader of a major organization of any department, particularly law enforcement, would have the temerity to make those sort of comments…You can’t put up with agency heads like this having this attitude,” while Issa chimed in, “This is a thinly veiled threat, telling people: ‘Don’t go to the press, don’t go to Congress, even if the chain of command isn’t working,’ which is really what happened in Fast and Furious. It wasn’t that ATF people weren’t screaming bloody murder. It’s they weren’t being listened to by Justice or by some of their leaders.”

In the meantime, Attorney General Eric Holder is asking a U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. “to indefinitely delay consideration of Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking access to Operation Fast and Furious records withheld from Congress by President Obama under executive privilege on June 20, 2012.”

At least Issa and Grassley haven’t given up the fight. I hope they will continue on and the truth will come to light and there will be some accountability regarding Fast and Furious.

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