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MJ Lee, Politico: Embattled ATF shakes up staff

Embattled ATF shakes up staff
by MJ Lee, October 6, 2011


this fuss is all about b. todd jones making a splash. this is why he wants to disarm patients: so he can look good?


The head of the ATF announced a major shakeup Wednesday in the wake of the botched Fast and Furious gun program.

“We are going to hit the reset button,” acting Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Director B. Todd Jones, who has been at his new post for a little over a month, said during a press conference, The Associated Press reports.

Jones unveiled 11 new staff assignments at the executive level, including the appointment of a new deputy director and assistant directors for field operations and for public and governmental affairs.

The changes are aimed at giving the ATF a fresh jolt of energy in its mission to fight violent crime, Jones said in a written statement.

The Washington Post reported that Jones “urged Washington insiders to ‘calm down’” about the latest developments in Fast and Furious, but the paper provided no other details about his comments.

Jones replaced former acting director Ken Melson more than a month ago, amid the growing controversy over the gun operation.

“I have great confidence that he will be a strong and steady influence guiding ATF in fulfilling its mission of combating violent crime by enforcing federal criminal laws and regulations in the firearms and explosives industries,” Attorney General Eric Holder had said in announcing Jones’s appointment.

Holder has come under fierce criticism over the Fast and Furious gun sting since documents surfaced suggesting the attorney general may have known about the controversial program earlier than he had told Congress.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has called for a special counsel to investigate whether Holder had misled members of Congress in a recent testimony.

The White House expressed its full support for Holder on Wednesday, saying the attorney general’s testimony to Congress was “consistent and truthful.”

“He said in both March and May of this year that he became aware of the questionable tactics employed in the Fast and Furious operation in early 2011, when ATF agents first raised them publicly. And he then asked the Inspector General’s Office to investigate the matter, demonstrating how seriously he took them,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters in a press briefing.

Carney’s language mirrored, largely verbatim, the statement being circulated by the Justice Department this week: a DoJ official told POLITICO on Wednesday that Holder’s testimony was “consistent and truthful.”

“He said in both March and May of this year that he became aware of the questionable tactics employed in the Fast and Furious Operation in early 2011 when ATF agents first raised them publicly, and at the time, he asked the Inspector General’s office to investigate the matter,” the official said in an email.

Fast and Furious allowed ATF to purchase illegal firearms in Phoenix with the intention of tracking the weapons to gun traffickers. But the agency lost track of more than 2,000 firearms, and many were later discovered in crime scenes in Mexico.

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