Thursday, January 6, 2011
Is a Federal law enforcement agency out of control?
I've been growing more and more disturbed by reports suggesting that officials of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) are responsible for deliberate violations of the law, which may have contributed to the death of a Border Patrol agent last month.
These reports have come from three sources. The first is a forum called CleanupATF.org, which claims to have been set up by employees and officials of the BATFE who are disgusted at the corruption and mismanagement that they claim is endemic there. You can read their allegations in this explosive post on their forum. If they are who they say they are, and if their allegations are true, one has to accept that the BATFE is so far out of control as to be a rogue agency, desperately in need of Congressional oversight, and possibly so far gone as to require termination as the only way to remedy the situation. Unfortunately, we have no way of independently confirming their allegations . . . yet.
The other sources are a blog, Sipsey Street Irregulars, and the newspaper columns of David Codrea. A search on both sources will reveal many relevant entries, two of which are linked in the first paragraph above. Both sources have drawn on CleanupATF.org for much of their material.
I've mentioned several times that I'm a retired prison chaplain. This included service with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a law enforcement agency of the US Department of Justice. While serving with that bureau, I had contact with agents of the FBI, the US Marshals Service, and other Federal law enforcement agencies. As an enthusiastic shooter and supporter of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, I took the opportunity to shoot with them from time to time, and to discuss the gun laws of this country. Literally every single agent from those agencies, without exception, spoke with disdain, even disgust, about the BATFE and its personnel. They described the latter to me as 'cowboys', 'amateurs' and even 'idiots'. The BATFE's role in the Waco siege came in for particular criticism. All concerned (including some who'd been there during the crisis) maintained that if its agents hadn't tried to stage a public relations coup with their armed assault on the compound, the situation could have been handled much more easily, and the eventual tragic loss of life could have been avoided.
That background gives me no reason to trust the BATFE, particularly since so many agents from so many other Federal law enforcement agencies seemed to distrust the agency as well. If the allegations made on CleanupATF.org and elsewhere can be substantiated, it'll a scandal of mind-boggling proportions. If it can be proved that a BATFE supervisor encouraged the smuggling of the weapon that killed an agent of another Federal law enforcement agency . . . let's just say that'll be the equivalent of a thermonuclear bomb exploding in the halls of power! The fallout will be catastrophic, not only for the BATFE, but for all those responsible for overseeing, directing and controlling Federal law enforcement overall.
The problem is that such allegations are going to be difficult, if not impossible, to substantiate if the BATFE is left to investigate itself, or if the investigation is handled by another Federal agency that might be subject to pressure to 'back off', or 'whitewash' the agency. I believe the situation has evolved to the point that only a formal Congressional inquiry can establish the facts of the matter.
I'd therefore like to ask you, dear readers, to please read the sources I've linked above for yourselves. If you agree with me that there's sufficient smoke to suspect that there's a fire beneath it, will you please write to your Congressional representatives, asking for such an inquiry?
Thank you very much, not just for myself, but in memory of Border Patrol Officer Brian A. Terry. May his soul rest in peace; may his family receive what comfort they may; and may the truth about the circumstances surrounding his death come to light, so that this tragedy may be ended, one way or another, and his family may be at peace instead of being tormented by doubts.