This piece by William Lajeunesse that I linked to in the last Gunwalker Update deserves its own piece, to put faces to names.
while President Obama has said the operation was a mistake and that “people who screwed up will be held accountable,” the record so far does not bear that out. Those in charge of the botched operation have been reassigned or promoted, their pensions intact. But many of those who blew the whistle face isolation, retaliation and transfer.
Here’s what has happened to the managers of the operation:
– Acting ATF Chief Ken Melson, who oversaw the operation, is now an adviser in the Office of Legal Affairs. He remains in ATF’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.
– Acting Deputy Director Billy Hoover, who knew his agency was walking guns and demanded an “exit strategy” just five months into the program, is now the special agent in charge of the D.C. office. He, too, did not have to relocate.
– Deputy Director for Field Operations William McMahon received detailed briefings about the illegal operation and later admitted he shares “responsibility for mistakes that were made.” Yet, he also stays in D.C., ironically as the No. 2 man at the ATF’s Office of Internal Affairs.
– Special Agent in Charge of Phoenix Bill Newell, the man most responsible for directly overseeing Fast and Furious, was promoted to the Office of Management in Washington.
– Phoenix Deputy Chief George Gillette was also promoted to Washington as ATF’s liaison to the U.S. Marshal’s Service.
Also a quote:
– Group Supervisor David Voth managed Fast and Furious on a day-to-day basis and repeatedly stopped field agents from interdicting weapons headed to the border, according to congressional testimony. ATF boosted Voth to chief of the ATF Tobacco Division, where he now supervises more employees in Washington than he ever did in Phoenix.
An ATF spokesman in Washington says the key players did not receive promotions, but transfers.
Meanwhile, ATF whistleblowers were retaliated against:
Case in point, he said, is field agent John Dodson. Dodson uprooted his family from Virginia in 2010 to join a new elite anti-gun trafficking group in Phoenix, known as Group 7. Dodson quickly witnessed what was wrong and loudly voiced his objections to Voth and Newell.
Management reassigned Dodson to weekend duty and the wire room, a relatively boring job monitoring telephone traffic and subordinate to junior agents. Soon thereafter, Dodson was temporarily assigned to another group for an additional menial assignment, until ultimately sent to an FBI Task Force, completely away from the ATF, even turning off his ATF building access pass.
Dodson continued to challenge Voth, saying the operation was killing people in Mexico and suggested it was only a matter of time before a “border agent or sheriff’s deputy” would be killed by one of the guns they let go.
“If you’re going to make an omelet, you’ve got to scramble some eggs,” Voth replied, according to a congressional report. …
And what did Dodson get for telling the truth? In Phoenix he was isolated, marginalized and referred to as a “nut job,” “wing-nut” and “disgruntled,” according to sources. …
Dennis Burke, the Arizona U.S. attorney who resigned in the wake of the investigation, admitted he leaked privacy-protected documents that discredited Dodson. The head of legislative affairs for the Department of Justice, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich, indirectly called Dodson a liar, telling senators the ATF “never intentionally allowed guns” to walk, or to lose sight or control of the weapons.
– Agent Larry Alt took a transfer to Florida and has unresolved retaliation claims against the ATF.
– Agent Pete Forcelli was demoted to a desk job. Forcelli is a respected investigator, with years as a detective with the New York City Police Department. He has requested an internal investigation to address the retaliation against him.
– Agent James Casa also took a transfer to Florida.
– Agent Carlos Canino, once the deputy attache in Mexico City, was moved to Tucson.
– Agent Jose Wall, formerly assigned to Tijuana, was moved to Phoenix.
– Agent Darren Gil, formerly the attache to Mexico, retired.
Note that there was quite a bit of speculation that Darren Gil was forced into retirement. He heard about Fast and Furious through backdoor channels and flew to DC to put the brakes on it and demand to know why he and the Mexican govt he was liasing with weren’t told. Instead, he ended up retired.
Note also that moves within federal law enforcement jobs can make a big difference on someone’s career. Mark W. Felt famously noted that the Kansas City FBI office was like being sent to Siberia.
For those whose careers depend on making cases, being sent to certain locations, or subject to certain managers’ whims, or being put into certain jobs suddenly limits career options. Transfers and assignments “for the good of the service” can be used as unofficial punishment, especially for those with families. While doing nothing illegal, an agency can intentionally assign duties that reduce an agent’s quality of life substantially. Requiring overtime, splitting days off, and giving busy work assignments can all be used as retaliation, in addition to blackballing an agent from promotions or preferred details, keeping them out of the loop on preferred assignments to keep the targeted agent from getting the chance to submit for them, etc.