Recently in ATF Hall of Shame Category

Business As Usual

Last week, ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson published an agency-wide article entitled, “Speak Up”, in which he idealistically called upon employees to openly bring any issues to the attention of the agency’s management.  He promised that we could (all of a sudden) do so “without fear of retribution” and that “our voices would be heard”.  Not surprisingly, that piece prompted a storm of skepticism and outright ridicule from experienced field personnel who viewed it as just another puffpiece. None the less, the emails began to flow and the hopeful phone calls from coast to coast began. "Do you think he was serious", was the glaring question. Today, that cynicism was resoundingly confirmed by the predictable actions of ATF HQ officials.


In direct response to Mr. Melson’s ATF-wide call for upward communications, a 20+ year veteran SpecialAgent forwarded a posting he had seen on CUATF to the ATF Ombudsman containingsome of the responses to Director Melson’s “Speak Up” piece (that have been received by ; The Agent politelyand respectfully asked that his message be forwarded to the Director, which the Ombudsman Office has done in the past.  The Ombudsman’s Office responded that the information had been forwarded to the “appropriate individual” (see the emails at the end of this post).


However, shortly thereafter, the Agent received an email forwarded to him from ATF attorneyRachelBouman of the Chief Counsel’s Office, claiming that the Ombudsman is “not appropriate for such messages to the Director” (see the emails at the end of this post).  The information was clearly never passed on to the Director.  Such a “response” is disturbing and inappropriate for several reasons:


1.      The agent that contacted the Ombudsman Office clearly did not in any way authorize them to forward his email to anyone other than the Director.  However, despite the fact that the Ombudsman process is, by its own rules, intended to be confidential, they forwarded the information not to the Director, but to the ATF Chief Counsel’s Office!  In doing so, they not only flagrantly violated their own confidentiality protocol, but sent the information directly to the counsels office who is adversarial not only with this agent but scores of agents across the country. What was counsels office scared of? Did the Director sanction such an action or were they interpreting his speak up message for him?  ATF’s culture of fear and keeping this kind of relevant information from the Director’s is inconsistent with the Director message to 5000 employees less than one week ago. This situation makes it abundantly clear that the Ombudsman Office has also been subverted and is no longer a trustworthy avenue for addressing employee issues (if indeed it ever was).


2.      Rachel Bouman, the person who ultimately “responded” to the Agent’s email, is a lawyer in ATF’s Office of Chief Counsel, Administration and “Ethics” Division (no less).  Why is an attorney from the Chief Counsel’s Office acting as the Director’s “gatekeeper” for filtering information that was forwarded through the Ombudsman’s Office, which by their own charter, reports “to the Director”?  If all such employee communications are to be vetted through the Bureau’s top lawyers, what does that say about how our management views such communications?  Why does it require a team of attorneys to either a) accurately brief the Director (which is what should have occurred), or b) withhold the information because it supposedly wasn’t provided according to the “proper” protocol or “wasn’t specific enough”?  In fact, this is just another instance of ATF’s “legal” attack dogs doing anything within their power (ethical or otherwise) to prevent unfavorable information from ever reaching the Director’s ears, and to dissuade or crush dissent (no matter how constructive or how respectful) wherever possible.  These are the very same people who have engaged in a ongoing pattern of unethical, abusive, dishonest and unlawful conduct for the sole purpose of covering upper management at all costs, even if that means fabricating, withholding or destroying evidence, lying under oath, and viciously destroying the reputations and careers of good employees who have dared to step “out of line”.  The massive conflict of interest in this situation could hardly be more obvious.  Yeah, Rachel…we’ll send all of our issues through you thugs so that you can continue to do just what you’ve always done.  Is that what the Director had in mind when he implored us to “speak up”?  We think not.

3.      According the Ombudsman’s own official website:

“… every employee has a right to contact the Ombudsman at any time and without anyone's permission.  The Ombudsman operates independent of other ATF offices and reports to the Director. It is the duty of the Ombudsman to make the Director aware of any systemic problems that may adversely affect the mission of the Bureau.”


It seems to us that the existence of a highly-publicized website upon which an ever-increasing number of badge-carrying ATF agents are repeatedly airing credible allegations involving abuse, retaliation, fraud, dishonest, unethical behavior and even criminal conduct on the part of ATF management, legal counsel, Internal Affairs, etc., could be reasonably considered a “systemic problem” that might “adversely affect the mission of the Bureau”.  The fact that numerous experienced agents have, via this website, recently lambasted the Director’s “Speak Up” letter as completely naive and unrealistic, is likewise something that could be viewed as “adverse to the Bureau’s mission”.


The agent who forwarded the information to the Ombudsman sincerely thought the Director might like to know what his own troops are saying about his “guidance” on a widely-viewed public website.  However, ATF’s ever-vigilant lawyers swooped in as usual to prevent that kind of unflattering information from ever reaching the Director.  


So, despite Acting Director Melson’s pleas for open communication from his employees, it’s clearly “business as usual” at ATF’s puzzle palace.


Sent: Monday, November 30, 2009 12:51 PM
To: Ketels, Marianne C.

Ms Ketels,

I was provided a copy of the following text. I ask that you forward it directly to Acting Director Melson for his review. Hopefully these matters will be contained before they continue to escalate to a level where the Bureaus reputation is further damaged. Please confirm that you in fact forwarded it to the Director as I believe he would want to see this.  As always, thanks for your efforts.  Vince


Sent: Monday, November 30, 2009 1:02 PM
To: Cunningham, Marceita
Subject: FW:

Ms. Cunningham,

Perhaps you could facilitate this request since Ms. Ketels is out of the office. Based on the Directors comments in this months Inside ATF, I believe he would like to be apprised ASAP. If you prefer I forward it directly, please advise. Thank you,  Vince


From: Cunningham, Marceita
Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 4:00 AM
To: Cefalu, Vincent A.
Cc: Loos, Eleaner R.; Ketels, Marianne C.
Subject: RE:

Mr. Cefalu,
Ms. Ketels is aware of your email.

From: Ketels, Marianne C.
Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 7:22 AM
To: Cefalu, Vincent A.


I have forwarded your request to the appropriate individual.


Rachel Bowman, ATF Office of Chief Counsel, Administration and Ethics Division


Our Ombudsman’s office forwarded the below email to us to address as their office is not the proper avenue for relaying such messages between employees and the Director’s office.  If Mr. Cefalu has a specific issue he would like the Director’s office to address, please forward it to me.  The email below is too general at this point.


Rachel A. Bouman
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives
Office of Chief Counsel, Administration and Ethics Division
99 New York Avenue, NE, Room 4E341, Washington, DC 20226
Tel: 202.648.7004 / Fax: 202.648.9610


From: Ketels, Marianne C.
Sent: Monday, November 30, 2009 1:27 PM
To: Bouman, Rachel A.; Loos,
Eleaner R.
Subject: Fw:


NOTICE: This electronic transmission is confidential and intended only for the
person(s) to whom it is addressed. If you have received this transmission in
error, please notify the sender by return e-mail and destroy this message in its
entirety (including all attachments).

From: Cefalu, Vincent A.
To: Ketels, Marianne C.
Sent: Mon Nov 30 12:51:18 2009

Ms Ketels,

I was provided a copy of the
following text. I ask that you forward it
directly to Acting Director
Melson for his review. Hopefully these matters will
be contained before they continue to escalate to a level where the Bureaus
reputation is further damaged. Please confirm that you in fact forwarded it to
the Director as I believe he would want to see this.  As always, thanks for your
efforts.  Vince

Talk is Cheap

Mr. Melson,

Your comments in the November issue of “Inside ATF” must be addressed because the ideal does not match the real.  We expected more of you than this type of demeaning “instruction” to us.

ATF Agents have repeatedly sought constructive methods of direct and indirect communications with you and your staff, only to be ignored nationwide. is a direct result of ongoing dismissive and retaliatory conduct by your managers. We have asked...formally, informally and ultimately, forcefully.


We have made every attempt to be heard and avert confrontation. However, you, Ronnie, Billy and a vast majority of the GS-15s under your watch have shown nothing but arrogance and disregard. Nationwide, respect for ATF leadership is at an all-time low. It must be earned back. Actions speak louder than words and the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Your instruction to "keep the lines of communication open" requires you and Headquarters to act decisively in good faith, because it is you that have betrayed our trust and confidence, not the other way around. Lines of communication can’t be kept open until and unless they are open in the first place.

You "don’t know what’s on our minds unless we tell you"?  Seriously Mr. Melson, did you write this?  Please read the documents posted on this website and review those you have received during your tenure. You have refused or ignored our requests (individually and collectively) without bothering to respond in any way.  Now, many of the involved agents are joining a class action lawsuit that your attorneys and managers necessitated by giving you filtered and inaccurate accounts of what is going on.

Please don’t tell us you didn’t know about this.  Let the buck of 1,000 excuses stop at Ronnie and Billy. You have been provided ample and significant information to support the field's positions, including:

  • Taking over 300 days to investigate EEOC complaints;
  • An explosion of OIG and OSC complaints;
  • Record settlements to cover the Bureau conduct that was endorsed and encouraged by your Counsel’s Office;
  • Whistle blower complaints aired month after month in the media;

This is not "our" ATF.  Our ATF conducts business behind closed doors, presents a unified public front, and does not eat its own.  If you have learned anything during as Acting Director, you now know that ATF Agents are not easily intimidated. To better understand the consequences of blindly trusting managers who have elevated the concealment of incompetence and unethical conduct to a high art form, talk to Director Higgins. He also took his managers' words at face value and ass-umed that he was being provided with the true picture.

To categorize attempts by the field to communicate with management as “elusive” is a pure insult.  It is your executives and managers that meet attempts to discuss problems with reprimands, reprisals, hostile work environments, threats, transfers and terminations.  Do you really think that all these grievances, EEO complaints and lawsuits occur in a vacuum, without repeated attempts by the aggrieved employees to first communicate and resolve the problems informally?  On the contrary, rather than being honestly and fairly addressed at the lowest possible level, even totally legitimate complaints usually morph into costly litigation because you and your staff refuse to hear anything that doesn't fit into your tidy little "template".

The reports that you receive regarding these field situations are filtered and sugar-coated through so many layers of self-protecting censors (management, counsel, ELRB, etc.) that by the time it hits your radar, is so distorted that it bears little or no resemblance to the truth.  How many of the pending disputes against ATF have you personally looked into, beyond your "These people are just a bunch of non-team player malcontents" briefings from Ronnie, Billy or Chief Counsel?

The burden of establishing effective communications lies with and you and your executives.  You have thrown down the challenge but offered no method or means of accomplishment. Accountability cannot be a one-way street.  We have made suggestions, asked for direct meetings, suggested a working group comprised of field personnel chosen by their peers, rather than HQ.  You have no doubt been counseled against meeting with “a bunch of misfits and whiners”, but if you take a closer look, most of the people demanding change and a voice are some of the most decorated, productive and loyal Agents this great agency has ever produced.

You said that “all voices need to be heard”, but now what?   Talk is cheap, so why don’t you get effectively engaged and make a concerted effort to evaluate the real reasons that all these disputes have risen to such acrimonious and costly and levels?

Some great ways to demonstrate genuine good-faith would include:

  • Respond to with an open letter addressing our skepticism openly and without the distorting input of Counsel or your Executive staff.
  • Enact a working group (as a collateral duty) of field Agents, Investigators and clerical staff to provide current operational input regarding the Bureau’s strategic plans.
  • For a separate working group comprised of field personnel selected by their peers to review pending employee disputes and recommended appropriate courses of action consistent with the Bureau’s policies and the principles of fair, good faith problem resolution.
  • Aggressively seek effective methods for instilling a new corporate and management culture under which intimidation, harassment, retaliation, scorn for established complaint resolution procedures, false testimony, concealment or destruction of evidence, and a climate of fear are not acceptable methods of “leadership”.
  • Discipline or remove executives or managers who engage in unethical or incompetent conduct, rather than promoting, transferring or retiring them with “honors”.  Fire and prosecute those that knowingly break the law by lying under oath or otherwise hurting their subordinates to protect or further their own selfish interests.
  • Order and fully support a thorough investigation of allegations regarding widespread and ongoing unethical and potentially unlawful conduct on the part of key officials within your Chief Counsel’s Office. This investigation should be conducted by an impartial third-party, to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, and the findings, no matter how unpleasant, should be accepted by top management and proactively addressed.  This would almost certainly result in the removal of certain officials that have repeatedly engaged in a pattern of unethical and abusive conduct.

Much damage has been done, but this is a resilient Agency.  Step up to the plate, Mr. Melson and take a committed swing.

Deja Vu

In 1995, arguably the darkest days in ATF history, the Bureau’s Assistant Director (AD) of Field Operations solicited all field supervisors for assistance in restoring faith in ATF management from within, and restoration of public trust. AD Vita asked for specific input to quell the demands for abolishment of the Bureau, post-Waco. The following is one such memo, drafted by a 25-year veteran agent and supervisor. The author is one of ATF’s most respected and experienced Special Agents, and a leading authority on arson for profit crimes.  He was instrumental in forging the strong partnerships that ATF maintains with the insurance industry to this day. This battle-tested hero made simple and honest suggestions based on a quarter of a century of street experience, which, if implemented, would have ensured a much stronger and more effective Bureau. Now, almost 15 years later, it is once again time to ask ATF’s current leadership and executive staff, "How are we doing so far"?


November 3rd, 1995

MEMORANDUM TO: All Enforcement Directorate Personnel
FROM: Associate Director (Enforcement)
SUBJECT: Management Philosophy

Prior to the recent management conference in Miami, I distributed a memorandum to all Enforcement Directorate managers laying out the management philosophy we must employ as we work for a sound and safer America. A philosophy which is anchored in honesty, trust and mutual respect.

In that memo, I established standards of accountability for Enforcement managers. I reaffirmed those expectations in Miami. I expect our managers to lead by example. You, the industries we regulate, the law enforcement community, and the public we serve are constantly monitoring and interpreting our words and deeds. Nothing is noticed more quickly, nor deemed more significant than discrepancies between what we do and what we say. Our managers have a responsibility to earn and maintain the trust of their fellow employees and the public. Trust is achieved when people believe we mean what we say. Our actions, along with our professed beliefs and values, must be consistent. We must demonstrate a personal integrity which is beyond reproach.

As ATF managers, we are ultimately responsible for what our agency does and how we do it. Therefore, we have a responsibility to establish goals; determine the priorities; and clearly define and articulate the role and responsibility of everyone in our agency. To that end, we have established directorate goals. We all must do everything possible to ensure that these goals are achieved:

  • Restore the public trust in ATF,
  • Restore employee confidence in management.

Although simply stated, I think Lou speaks volumes for the way each of us should conduct our daily business. To foster better communication throughout the Enforcement Directorate, I expect each special agent in charge and district director to visit their subordinate offices at least twice a year; I expect each deputy associate director to visit subordinate division or district offices at least once a year; and, I expect to visit as many offices as practicably possible during 1996.

I expect each Enforcement manager and supervisor to:

  1. Spread the word about the good things we do,
  2. Provide their employees with opportunities for individual growth, personal and professional development and a sense of accomplishment,
  3. Encourage decisions to be made at the lowest possible level,
  4. Demonstrate a strong commitment to Equal Opportunity policies and cultural and diversity sensitivity,
  5. Involve employees in identifying and helping solve problems,
  6. Instill in employees the pride in knowing they are providing a quality service for the citizens of America,
  7. Involve employees in decisions that affect them,
  8. Strive to motivate subordinates and supervisors alike,
  9. And, most importantly, hold everyone in their organization accountable for doing the same.

I encourage all of you to continue to work to make ATF the best it can be. Your efforts are the backbone and the future of ATF.

Original signed by:  Andrew L. Vita


November 15, 1995

To: Special Agent in Charge
San Francisco Field Division
From: Bakersfield Field Office
Subject: ATF Management Confidence

In response to your request of 11/7/95 the following is Being submitted with reluctance and some regret.

Reluctance because these concerns affect and reflect on me as a part of this agency, and regret because in many ways the problems to be addressed have been caused by, in the most part, by acts of omission by me and others like me, who have failed to act and allowed these problems to start and grow without complaint.

The basic question, "how can confidence in ATF Management be restored?", is not a simple question. To do justice and properly answer with honest, heartfelt thoughts would take more time than is available, but I was going to do my best to keep it short, sweet and to the point. Though, thinking about this angered and inspired me to write more than I originally anticipated and it has taken me longer to submit this, for which I apologize.  I began to seriously put together my thoughts and beliefs on this matter. I had prepared over 10 pages addressing why agents confidence in the ability of management to perform its proper and needed duty to oversee and command is eroding; examples of the problems; and last, what could be done to correct the problem. Then I received the management philosophy memo. To me it was a rehash of a combination of nearly every public administration theory ever developed along With the whole kitchen sink of buzzwords that sounded eerily like a plagiarism of the treatise, the "MBA Syndrome". Sadly, the memo never once mentioned our mission; the production of professional, quality criminal investigations.

To me, if we do our jobs with honesty, integrity and honor, the problem of perception and image will be made mute. The facts and reality of the situation will prove that our conduct is beyond reproach. We must remember that actions speak louder than words. If that is remembered, it will not be necessary to become immersed in the phony game of cosmetic illusion/perception being more important than reality. Even more disturbing was the absence of any statement of what exactly is our management philosophy. What was produced was a collection of politically correct, sensitivity laden, feel good, EST-isms that to me, do not confront the real issues.

That memo embodied almost every concept that I had previously described in my earlier ten plus pages as the source, symptoms and proof of our problems.  I realized that the war has been lost.  To engage in further battles would be futile and personally counterproductive.  I threw away my previous ten pages.

If management really wants to change and achieve its goals, it simply can follow these basic but not all-inclusive rules:

  1. Remember that actions speak louder than words.
  2. Follow the law, the regulations, the ATF orders.
  3. Be honest -- repeat Rule Number 1.
  4. Be managers, not leaders. Managers command, supervisors lead. Managers command the big picture; supervisors lead the troops from the front. Don't confuse the responsibilities and duties of two. Managers develop the system for supervisors to lead the operational troops in the most effective, efficient and professional manner.  Develop proper, sound and functional systems.
  5. Listen to and heed your agents and supervisors. Don't create cosmetic attempts to placate and make us feel that our input is important when actions prove it is not.
  6. Hold all accountable to the same standards. We have field agents who are serving life sentences under the Henthorn law. We have had managers who committed offenses regarding honesty and integrity on television, in front of millions of viewers, and are later promoted to high bureau positions. Remember Rule Number 1.

In summation, just the idea that our senior executives have to ask why and how, is an indicator that they do not understand the problem. To be able to solve a problem it first must be understood. I guess that it all boils down to the old adage, "If you have to ask the price, ... ".

I honestly look forward to be able to discuss these issues, concerns and beliefs with you. I fully understand that you are also caught in the cross fire of our current morass. You and all the field division managers are trapped, limited and frustrated by the failures of the headquarters management to establish a system that functions to the highest degree possible of human efficiency.

I could probably continue on, but I do not want to bore you at this time with lengthy, windy arguments that might make me look like a disgruntled agent. I am not a malcontent. I am proud to have worked for this Bureau for over 25 years. I am proud of the fine work of the agents I know and have worked with. I am saddened by what appears to be a lack of performance from the Headquarters management to develop and implement the programs and systems necessary to operate as a modern, 21st century criminal investigative organization. I am saddened that their efforts do not come close to matching the effort that is put forth daily by every field division agent, supervisor, and manager.

I again apologize for the tardiness of this response.  At first, on the 13th, I decided to not respond. I subsequently realized that would have been selfish and bordering on personal apathy and laziness. I feel there is no longer any room for those undesirable traits during such times of crisis and have belatedly attempted to correct my failure to provide input.

Original signed by Larry B. Williams


Announcing the ATF Toilet Task Force

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ATF is being criticized for weapons flowing over the border faster than the Rio Grande, our Agents are “unprofessional (according to Director Mueller) and don’t “play nice” with our brothers at the FBI.  Our management is unable to keep track of our own guns or computers, and a significant percentage of them in recent times have been forceably retired or reassigned  to avoid termination, arrest or prosecution.  Yet, we are devoting precious ATF airtime and manpower resources to…toilet vandalism!

Although defacing of the beautiful HQ digs by juvenile individuals is certainly inappropriate and should be addressed, we have to ask, "Are you kidding?" 

When ATF Special Agent Dobyns' house was torched by bad guys, did ATF form a task force or even respond in anything resembling a timely or competent manner?  Hell no.  Our lofty management is unwilling to devote a few minutes to post an appropriately decent sendoff for the late SA Russell, but is all about forming a special “task force” to patrol the HQ crappers?  Our hapless leadership is utterly unable to competently navigate though the smallest of the agency’s REAL problems, but when someone vandalizes an HQ ladies’ room, and they are “hair-on-fire”, guns-a-blazin’, and partnering with all sorts of other agencies to nail these violent predators (otherwise known as “toilet taggers”).

In any event, why we must we post such petty and distasteful information via a national broadcast? Doesn’t our executive staff ever tire of being laughed at and derided by FBI and others? The embarassment never ends.


Restroom Vandalism at ATF Headquarters
October 13, 2009

Numerous incidents of restroom vandalism are occurring throughout the ATF Headquarters building and are being reported to the ATF Physical Security. ATF is now partnering with the General Services Administration and Federal Protective Service to increase surveillance and reporting of suspicious behavior and damage in an effort to stop this activity. Employees are encouraged to immediately report vandalism or suspicious activity to the ATF Physical Security office at 202-648-7540 or the ATF Building Manager, Ray Spicer at (202) 306-9617 or All information will remain confidential. Theft, defacement, damage or littering of federal property is considered vandalism and is grounds for disciplinary action. Please help us protect our building and everyone’s health by being aware of activities in your immediate area.

ATF Dishonors its Real Heroes Even in Death has become aware of an outrageous and senseless decision by ATF Assistant Director Larry Ford and the Public and Governmental Affairs (PGA) Office, regarding the recent, sudden death of retired Special Agent Michael Russell. Russell served ATF and our nation with courage, honor and integrity for over a quarter of a century.

However, in response to numerous requests for a Bureau-wide announcement regarding Michael’s tragic and untimely passing, A.D. Ford has decreed that "ATF policy does not permit the posting of such notices regarding former employees". This is a rather inexplicable position in light of the glowing ATF-wide remembrances of people such as former Director Rex Davis and many others that Ford has deemed “significant” enough to recognize.

We in the field recognize and appreciate Special Agent Russell’s contributions, including decades of harrowing undercover investigations, and Mr. Ford’s position regarding this matter is embarrassing and offensive. As a matter of common decency, Ford and Director Melson should immediately apologize to the Russell family and all agents in the field for this unconscionable insult and rescind this absurd, nonsensical "policy".

 Mike Russell, like so many others, was a hero and will be acknowledged as such, irrespective of this latest example of ATF’s same old “management first” double standard.

Scapegoating, ATF and FBI style

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It seems that the FBI is following ATF’s “lead” by suggesting that its Headquarters and management cannot possibly be responsible for the extraordinary absence of competent leadership and accountability now plaguing the Department of Justice.  Right out of the ATF management playbook, it has been suggested that “the problem (if there ever was actually a problem) must be the field agents”.


Repeated claims made to Congress and watchdog organizations to the effect that the wasteful and at times, vicious and juvenile jurisdictional disputes that routinely occur between ATF and FBI have been adequately resolved, were utterly false.  The Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) in effect between ATF, FBI and others, while perhaps “impressive sounding” to outsiders, have proven to be meaningless blather in operational practice.  Such “agreements” can never serve as a substitute for competent, principled management in combination with sound policy, which are the only truly effective vehicles for ensuring meaningful cooperation between federal law enforcement agencies.


Moreover, there has been no consistent or definitive guidance passed down to the field since these issues arose in the media and Congress.  ATF agents are highly trained professionals.  However, when an agent responds to an explosives incident for example, without a clear mandate, he can be easily pressured into relinquishing on-scene jurisdiction to the FBI, merely because someone utters the “T” word.  Worse yet, the agent who does so in good faith will almost certainly be severely disciplined or even fired by the very management that failed to provide him with clear policy to follow in the first place.  An FBI agent that failed to protect the Bureau’s rightful jurisdiction over a bank robbery scene just because there was a gun involved (for example), would probably suffer the same fate.


ATF and FBI executives usually justify this squabbling, “us vs. them” mentality on the basis of funding.  “If we let them get away with doing (x, y or x), they’ll get a bigger budget next time around.”  At ATF, we have largely lost the ability to maximize our precious resources or apply basic common sense when it comes to protecting the public and our legitimate jurisdiction.  This is just a symptom of a larger problem that revolves around a profound lack of leadership, direction and consistency.


ATF is very good at what it rightfully does, and the same applies to the FBI.  A simplified set of guidelines as to when the "T" word can be legitimately invoked at an explosives-related scene would go a long way towards resolving the basic problem.  A DOJ designee with the authority to review each situation by telephone and render an immediate initial determination based on the circumstances would be another effective resource.  Focus group and steering committees clearly aren’t working.


Yet again, every agent and field operator has been unfairly smeared by our own senior management’s cowardly deflection of accountability.  The notion that we agents are somehow responsible for the sloppy mess that invariably results from the inability of our leaders to set sound and coherent policy, is outrageous and offensive.  Leadership starts at the top (or at least, is supposed to).

Mr. Melson it’s time to lead from the top. In the August issue of “Inside ATF” you state “Hold yourselves accountable” and “Your conduct will be scrutinized” and “Always do what is right”. Mr. Melson, you must first model this conduct and then others will follow.


 Mr. Hoover you can no longer be trusted to make the hard decisions. You have failed miserably in the accountability department. You have protected your unethical and corrupt peers while standing strong against your subordinates. You personally travelled to Atlanta to remove SAC McLemore for cause and then ignored your obligation to mandate accountability. You have now seen fit to allow 5 PCS moves to be exhausted in furtherance of a SES boondoggle that cannot under any of the Bureaus policies or justify a profound benefit to the Bureau other than to quiet or appease Former AD Crenshaw. Of course the PCS move money already attributed to the debacle has reached an allotted expense of 1 Million dollars, but remember, that does not include the transfer of Mr. Crenshaw’s replacement or the replacement of Mr. Crenshaw’s replacement.  Mr. Hoover, it is your signature attached and your approval that is so disturbing to the Agents, RACs, ASACs and SACs under your command. Many of your SACs and ASACs the others who have served honorably are just shaking their head.


Assistant Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility/IA Kelvin Crenshaw is transferred from Seattle, Washington to Washington D.C. just over 12 months ago. He was promoted from Special Agent in Charge to Assistant Director, a 2 level promotion bypassing even a short stay at a Deputy Assistant Director position. This occurred even as he was plagued by and implicated in a series of employee disputes and complaints within his own field division, to include reprisals and violation of no fear act regulations. He was placed in the highest position of integrity in the Bureau, although his own integrity had been questioned on numerous occasions.


Crenshaw was Permanently  replaced by Robert Champion as the SAC of the Seattle field division. Three Permanent Change of Station transfers were exhausted in this process (As ASAC Champion had to be replaced in Houston). This occurred at an average approx. $180,000 per move in allocations.


After approx. one year and the decision that Mr. Crenshaw is clearly not the choice to establish integrity in this corrupted Bureau and after facilitating to whitewashing and cover-up (if only by omission and apathy) of the Vanessa McLemore criminal matter, ALL of this is reversed with yet TWO more PCS Moves. The agency is so short of PCS move money that many critical positions are being filled by acting appointments and Agents are being asked to pay their own moves to staff the Bureaus needs.


This is the definition of WASTE FRAUD and ABUSE. Not only did ASAC Champion have to be uprooted to get a SAC Job he had earned, but now he is being FORCED to vacate a SAC job he has barely even moved in to to make room for Crenshaw who CHOSE to leave his family and keep his house in Seattle. The true innocent casualty of having to undo Ronnie Carters buddy promotion program is ASAC Mike Golson. ASAC Golson Acted for 2 years while Ronnie Carter went to HQ to play Deputy Director and loyaly stepped aside when Mr. Carter was exposed for his unethical and abusive practices.


When Mr. Carter decided he’d better retire quickly, Mr. Golson would be the odds on favorite to finally get his SAC position since he had been doing the job for 2 years, but he cant because the Agency in accommodating Mr. Crenshaw on his 2 level demotion, forced the Agency to give Champion a bone to go back to Texas. ASAC Robert Livingston openly attempted to suggest or infer in a Seattle meeting that there was a compassionate component to this transfer related to a family member of Crenshaw’s health. When pressed on this issue, Mr. Livingston made clear that was ONLY his impression. Is there a serious health issue driving this? If so, Mr. Crenshaw was permanently transferred to Washington and the agency was obliged to pay his family member way to join Mr. Crenshaw and pursue medical treatment in D.C. Did Mr. Crenshaw submit the required paperwork and was he subjected to the SAME hardship board scrutiny as EVERY other agent in ATF?


Why is his ALLEGED hardship being paid for by a Bureau who not only refuses to pay for other Agents hardships, but an agency who is asking Agents, RACs and field employees to pay their own way for the Bureaus staffing need due to lack of funding for PCS moves. Could Mr. Crenshaw not use his accrued sick leave, annual leave and invoke the FMLA at NO expense to the Agency. That is what field employees are required to do before even being considered for compassionate remedies.


One Year Later...

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Submitted by the Webmaster:

One year later…


August 10, 2008: The home of ATF Special Agent Jay Dobyns was burned to the ground by arson. His family was inside the home at the time and narrowly escaped injury or death.

The ineffective investigative management skills of the ATF Phoenix Field Division management team and ATF’s executive leadership in Washington, D.C. were again clearly demonstrated by their inability to comprehend the significance of that event.

After failing to investigate beyond concluding the fire was arson and when challenged about “dropping the ball”, ATF panicked and punted the investigation to the FBI.Not surprisingly, the FBI apparently shuffled some papers and called it a day without much effort.

The almost surreal reprisals that ATF perpetrated on Dobyns before the arson have been conclusively and publicly validated in reports to the President by the Office of the Inspector General and Office of the Special Counsel. Those oversight agencies documented for Obama and Congress just how reprehensively ATF performed in their abject failure to address credible threats of death and violence against Dobyns. Dobyns reportedly reached a settlement with ATF over those initial failures, however, the terms of the agreement are sealed so I cannot comment on the particulars.

Eleven months after the settlement was signed, Dobyns home was destroyed. That unfortunate event gave ATF an opportunity to prove that they did, in fact, have their collective "eyes on the ball". However, like a terrified Little Leaguer in his first at-bat, ATF watched the third strike blow by and were literally and figuratively called “Out!”

Predictably, rather than attempting to remedy past malfeasance and incompetence, ATF’s reaction has been to lash out with new and even more outlandish and vicious acts of reprisal. To wit, the following are but a few of the actions that ATF management has taken against one of its own highly-decorated veteran Special Agents:

  • Spread rumors that Dobyns was a “suspect” in the arson (and was thus willing to murder his own wife and children);
  • Suddenly revoked the undercover documents and anonymous “backstop” identities that Dobyns needed to conceal his residence location and vehicle identification, and thereby protect himself and his family from deadly serious threats of violence by some of the most brutal criminals gangs and sociopaths on the planet;
  • Threatened to terminate Dobyns if he did not resign. However, months later, long after Dobyns called their bluff, looked across the table and told them to, "Take your best shot.", ATF has attempted not the slightest disciplinary action of any kind against him.  To call ATF's shot callers "paper tigers" would be unfair to the rest of the neutered cats of the world.

Again, just to be perfectly clear, ATF undercover Special Agent Dobyns’ home was destroyed with his family inside, and ATF's primary reaction was to threaten to terminate Dobyns! Forget about the “screwing your own employees” aspects…if you believe that law enforcement exists to protect citizens against violent crime and apprehend the criminal thugs that commit such crimes, a hard look at ATF’s management will quickly make you reconsider.

The latest reprisals against Dobyns are well easily proven by ATF’s own documents and chronicled in two pending federal lawsuits. Still, ATF steadfastly refuses to accept the slightest responsibility for its almost unbelievable misconduct, and is instead contesting the lawsuits based solely on jurisdiction and venue, while addressing none of the substantive allegations.

The OIG and the OSC have reportedly given ATF’s Internal Affairs branch another chance to come clean by asking ATF to conduct an internal investigation regarding Dobyns’ allegations. Anyone care to place a wager on how that will pan out?

So now, a year later, ATF remains frozen in its tracks, unable to get out of its own way. We have credible information that Dobyns recently asked Director Melson for a one-year status report regarding the investigation of the crimes committed against him. However, to date, there is apparently nothing to report, ostensibly because nothing was ever done from an investigative standpoint in the first place. ATF clearly believes that if they just ignore the problem for long enough, it will go away. This time, however, that calculated strategy isn’t going to work for them.

We have also learned that the collective attitude of ATF management is basically that, “Dobyns has already been provided a settlement and will not get another one no matter what we did or didn’t do.” ATF clearly interpreted their pre-arson settlement with Dobyns as a free pass that allowed them to commit any future abuses and unlawful acts that their managers saw fit to dispense. We are confident that they will live to see the errors of that position.

As a former top-level labor representative with over 20 years of experience in a federal law enforcement/investigative agency, I think it accurate to say that ATF has essentially written the definitive book entitled, “How Not To Handle a Whistleblower.”

The Dobyns case has become the “poster child” for federal agency malfeasance, corruption, fraud, waste, abuse, criminal misconduct, ethics violations, employee intimidation, endangerment, harassment, retaliation, whistleblower reprisal and creating/encouraging a hostile work environment.

As the saying goes, “ATF can’t even do the wrong thing right.”

ATF Official Demonstrates Staggering Incompetence and/or Dishonesty

ATF Resident Agents-in-Charge (RAC's), Assistant Special Agents-in-Charge (ASAC's) and Program Managers were all once Special Agents. As managers, they have an even higher obligation to promote and uphold the integrity and credibility of the Bureau. One of the most significant duties of a Special Agent or Manager is to truthfully testify in criminal, civil and administrative matters in a credible and professional manner. Inability or failure to do so should at a minimum (according to the ATF/DOJ mandatory policies), result in demotion or other severe disciplinary action, or more appropriately, permanent removal from government service.

However, in practice and as a matter of unofficial ATF policy, a vastly lower standard of performance and ethical accountability applies to ATF management officials at all levels. The following excerpts from sworn deposition testimony given by an active ATF Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge and Senior Executive Service candidate, glaringly illustrate an extraordinary absence of basic competence and/or honesty. Nevertheless, this individual is reportedly being seriously considered for even higher management posts within ATF. In such a position, this person would be called upon to make critical policy decisions affecting public and agent safety, to testify under oath before congressional or other bodies, and to effectively represent the Bureau and Department of Justice in a wide range of serious matters.

As will be immediately apparent, this ATF manager's testimony can only be described as pathetically embarrassing, unprofessional, incompetent and devoid of credibility. The sheer number of "I don't know" or "I don't recall" answers involving matters that were under this manager's direct and recent control is not only bizarre but deeply disturbing. Any ATF field Agent who demonstrated such a profound ignorance of ATF policy and crucial matters that fell within his direct professional responsibility, would no longer be carrying a gun or badge, and most likely be flipping burgers for a living.

When reading this deposition transcript, it is important to keep in mind that all of the questions asked and answered related to:

  • Actions, events and policy decisions that directly involved the manager giving the sworn testimony;
  • Actions, events and policy decisions involving a veteran Special Agent who was under the testifying manager's direct and immediate supervision.  While under the manager's supervision, that agent led a major federal felony criminal investigation involving multiple federal and local law enforcement agencies with which the manager had numerous contacts;
  • Recent and substantial violations of a wide range of mandatory Bureau policies and procedures that the manager was personally responsible for knowing about and enforcing.


Q. Do you recall at any time [Special Agent XXX] coming to you, personally talking to you about his concern that he was being treated differently because of his age?

A. I had no recollection of any such act, and if he had, that's the type of thing that I would remember. I would have also done something about it, too. People trying to tug the investigation in one direction or another. And it concerned me.

Q. Did he talk to you at that time about the police department trying to get a state wiretap?

A. I do not recall, but I do know that that was discussed during the course of investigation. I don't know if we discussed that during that particular conversation.

Q. Did [Special Agent XXX] tell you that he had - he opposed the task force trying to get a state wiretap?

A. I don't specifically remember.

Q. Did [Special Agent XXX] tell you that most of the arguments were, or discussions for which he might have used profanity or been aggressive about had to do with his opposition to the task force using state wiretaps in the PD's office?

A. I don't have -- as I commented before, I don't have a specific recollection of the issue.

Q. Did you consider the possibility that the Police Department and/or the XXXXX County District Attorney's office was complaining about [Special Agent XXX] behavior because of his opposition to their attempting to get a state wire tap, or his opposition or complaint that they contacted an ATF informant behind his back?

A. I can't answer that with a simple yes or no.

Q. So did you consider that possibility that the police department and the DA's office was complaining about him more to get him off or out of his case manager or case agent position in that task force?

A. I don't know.

Q. So after -- was there anything else that [Special Agent XXX] told you about this conversation with the Chief of Police?

A. I think that -- I don't specifically recall.

Q. Did [Special Agent XXX] tell you that [Mr. XXX] had told [Special Agent XXX] that he didn't realize that that e-mail was going to management, he thought it was only going to so-called the street agents?

A. He may have. He may have.

Q. Did [Special Agent XXX] tell you that [Mr. XXX] X told [Special Agent XXX]that it was to bust their chops or to make fun of them for not showing up?

A. I don't remember that specifically.

Q. The question was whether you were ever told by [Special Agent XXX] that [Mr. XXX] said that in joke to basically bust their chops for not showing up at a convention?

A. I don't recall ever being told that this was a joke, and nobody in LA division perceived it as a joke, and anybody in management that read it didn't perceive it as a joke.

Q. Who did you talk to in the LA division other than XXXX about their perception of what that
A. My recollection is one of them during the casual -- at least one of them was, I think, XXX...

Q. The other person you said you talked to was not a supervisor?

A. I think I talked to one or two other people who were not supervisors.

Q. But you don't recall their names at this time?

A. No.

Q. To your knowledge, did the agency lose money or waste money because someone didn't show up at that convention?

A. I don't know.

Q. Is it true that the content of [Special Agent XXX] e-mail -- was it true that someone failed to show up when they should have?

A. I don't know if that is the case.

Q. Could you estimate for me how many special agents and supervisors are in the LA field division?

A. I don't know the answer to that.

Q. Was it clearly in excess of XXX?

A. It could be.

Q. Did you ever tell [Special Agent XXX] that [Special Agent XXX] had not intended to send it to the entire division but only to a few agents?

A. I don't recall. I mean, I guess I could have during some period of time, but I don't specifically.

Q. Do you have a recollection today that you discussed that issue?

A. I don't. It could have come up during the conversation.

Q. Do you recall any other specific complaints about [Special Agent XXX] conduct, things that he had done? I know you talked about hostility and vulgarity and abrasive thing, but I'm asking if there's any specific things that he hit anybody, anything like that?

A. During that meeting?

Q. At that meeting, the November XX meeting.

A. At that meeting, I don't remember any other specifics that could have been discussed.

Q. This incident about not smoking or [Special Agent XXX] smoking was told to you by XXX?

A. I think so.

Q. Do you know whether [Special Agent XXX] asked [Special Agent XXX] about that smoking incident?

A. I don't know if I did. I would assume that he could have.

Q. Did [Special Agent XXX] report back to you that he had, in fact, talked to [Special Agent XXX] about that smoking altercation?

A. If he did, I don't recall it, but it's possible. It was -- it's possible he did.

Q. Regarding that smoking altercation, do you recall that [Special Agent XXX] was alleged to have grabbed his crotch and said, "smoke this"?

A. I don't recall anything like that.

Q. Do you recall --

A. I don't recall [Special Agent XXX] being like that.

Q. But you don't recall telling the SAC that Mr. XXX had grabbed his crotch and said, "smoke this," to somebody from the XXXXX police department?

A. I don't recall that, no, I'm sorry.

Back on the record. Mr. XXX, you're still under oath.

A. Okay, I would like to --

Go ahead.

A. I'd like to clarify the last answer I gave. Regarding the smoking comment. I'm not...

Q. Did you hear it from [Special Agent XXX]?

A. I don't recall where I heard the comment from.

Q. Do you recall who made the allegation that [Special Agent XXX] made those comments?

A. I don't recall.

Q. Did he talk to you during that briefing that he had opposed the police department's attempt to get a state wiretap?

A. I don't know. I don't believe so.

Q. Do you recall [Special Agent XXX] ever telling you that the police department and DA's office were going to blame him for things because of his complaints about their conduct of that investigation?

A. No.

Q. Do you know whether Officer XXX was ever reinstated to that task force?

A. I don't know.

Q. Do you know whether a state wiretap was actually achieved in that XXXXXX investigation?

A. I don't know. Eventually we did part ways.

Q. When did you part ways with the task force?

A. I don't know.

Q. Was it sometime in early XXXX?

A. It could have been.

Q. Was it a few weeks after or a few months after?

A. I don't recall.

Q. Who was it that told the task force that ATF was pulling out?

A. Who told the task force?

Q. Yes.

A. I don't know.

Q. So what was it specifically that you were not seeing eye to eye on?

A. I don't recall there being one specific issue.

Q. After you parted ways, isn't it true that ATF undercover agents continued to be involved in undercover activities with the target of the XXXXX investigation?

A. That may be correct. The American Graffiti case occurred under my watch and that was with XXXXX as the supervisor.

Q. Did XXXXXXX talk to you about taking Mr. XXXXX off the Graffiti operation?

A. I don't have a recollection of that.

Q. During the time of the Graffiti investigation, [Special Agent XXX] was an and then it was -- what was his grade when he started out in the Graffiti investigation; do you know?

A. I do not know.

Q. Do you know whether he got a promotion during that time?

A. I don't know.

Q. Did you talk to [Special Agent XXX] about that same evaluation?

A. I don't recall.

Q. Do you recall whether [Special Agent XXX] changed the language of that evaluation?

A. I don't recall.

Q. The question is, do you recall that transfer taking place?

A. I do recall the transfer. I don't believe so. I don't recall him being -- I don't recall that.

Q. When you talked with [Special Agent XXX] on the telephone did you always use your work cell phone?

A. I don't know.

Q. Was [Special Agent XXX] going to be assigned to that initiative with the Sacramento police department?

A. I don't know what XXXXXX envisioned.
Q. Was there any specific investigation that that person would be assigned to? I mean, [Special Agent XXX] would be assigned to when he was transferred?

A. I don't know.

Q. Did [Special Agent XXX] identify a specific work that he needed Mr. XXXXX to do?

A. I believe so.

Q. What was that?

A. I don't know. I don't recall what it was.

Q. Do you recall whether that work was going to be done in the Sacramento field office?

A. No, I don't know what that assignment was.

Q. Did [Special Agent XXX] tell you that whatever assignments [Special Agent XXX] may have in the Sacramento field office, would be office work only, that is, he wouldn't be outside the office?

A. I don't remember what the assignment was, so the answer is no, I don't recall.

Q. Did you have any concern about his time and attendance, actually putting in work hours?

A. I don't recall that, but it could have been an issue for XXXXXX. It may have been one of his

Q. Let's stick to the transfer for now. Who specifically at the ELRB did you talk to about the transfer?

A. I don't specifically recall because there were a number of people coming and going, so I'm not sure.

Q. What were you checking with the ELRB about regarding the transfer?

A. I don't know if I checked with them as much as let them know what the field division was doing.

Q. When was [Special Agent XXX] placed back in Stockton?

A. I don't know.

Q. So [Special Agent XXX] XXXX was responding to your suggestion that [Special Agent XXX] XXX be transferred to Sacramento?

A. I think that's probably accurate.

Q. Did you then decide how [Special Agent XXX] would be closely supervised by someone in Houston?

A. I don't recall that, having that specific conversation

Q. Are you aware as to whether [Special Agent XXX] had any discussion with people in Houston about detailing Mr. XXXX to Houston?

A. I don't know.

Q. Who at ATF headquarters made that decision?

A. I don't know.

Q. Among the people at ATF headquarters who would have the authority to do that?

A. I don't know.

Q. Was [Special Agent XXX] name provided as a person who would go to Houston detail from his field division?

A. I don't know, I would assume so.

Q. Was someone else from this field division sent on that Houston detail?

A. Not that I'm aware of.

Q. Headquarters required us to submit a name.

A. Who at headquarters required that? I'm not sure.I think the request came originally from field management staff.

Q. Who is your contact in the field management staff?

A. I don't know who it was at the time.

Q. Did you have a conversation with XXXXXX regarding Mr. XXXXX detail to Houston?

A. I don't specifically recall. I think I would have to answer, no.

Q. Did it ask for just one recommendation or any number of recommendations?

A. I don't recall.

Q. Did it ask for a specific number of volunteers?

A. I don't recall.

Q. Did it tell you how many people would be detailed under this message to Houston?

A. I don't recall.

Q. What was your understanding? Were there people to be assigned to Houston detail first to come from volunteers or from the recommended names?

A. I don't know.

Q. So when you say that he is threatening to other people, you're not saying that in a safety sense; is that true?

A. I can't answer that with a yes or no. Threatening can come in different shapes and forms. You can intimidate somebody and scare the bejesus out of them.

Q. Tell me specifically what people who have told you that [Special Agent XXX] intimidated them or threatened them in some way. What it is that [Special Agent XXX] did to cause that intimidation or threat?

A. I believe it was the general way he carried himself in regards to his interpersonal relationships with them.

Q. What do you mean by that? Specifically, what did they tell you that he did or related to that relationship or how he conducted himself?

A. That I heard things such as he's kooky

Q. Did you investigate further or interview anyone who called him kooky?

A. I did not conduct an investigation.

Q. Is it true that the XXXX Police Department and the XXXXX County DA was upset because you arrested one of the targets they intended to do a wire tap on?

A. I don't know if this is true or not.

Q. Do you know that the police department or DA's office was upset because you had arrested someone that they had wanted to collect evidence from?

A. I don't know that's the case.

Q. Did the police department or DA's office have any problems with the arrest that ATF made in that investigation?

A. I don't know.

Q. What is the criteria to receive a medical exception?

A. I do not know the exact criteria.

Q. Are you aware that [Special Agent XXX] had actually qualified for his weapon using the FAT system?

A. That he had?  Yes. No, I was not aware of that.

Q. What does FAT stand for anyway, F-A-T?

A. I don't know.

Q. Did you consider [Special Agent XXX] request to use the FAT system to qualify for his weapon a request for reasonable accommodation for his medical condition?

A. I don't know how to answer that.

Q. In your view, what connection is there between workers' comp and providing reasonable accommodation?

A. I can't answer that question.

Q. Did you contact legal counsel about [Special Agent XXX] XX using the FAT system to qualify for his weapon?

A. Can you repeat the question again, please?

Q. Did you contact legal counsel about [Special Agent XXX] XX request to use the FAT system to qualify for his weapon?

A. I don't recall if it was myself or somebody else.

Q. Did he report to you about any contact he had with legal counsel about [Special Agent XXX] XXX request to use the FAT system to qualify?

A. I don't recall.

Q. Did you contact and talk to the Employee Labor Relations Branch about [Special Agent XXX] request to use FAT to qualify?

A. I don't recall.

Q. Why did you not get that information?

A. I don't know.

Q. Did [Special Agent XXX] XXX ever tell you whether or not he received that information or not?

A. I don't have any recollection whether he did one way or another.

Q. Did [Special Agent XXX] tell you that he had requested the information but [Special Agent XXX] XXX doctor never provided it?

A. I don't recall. I don't recall anything of that nature.

Q. Did [Special Agent XXX] XXX tell you that he had contacted Mr. XXXXX doctor on this matter?

A. I don't recall.

Q. Did [Special Agent XXX] tell you that he instructed Mr. XXXXX to contact [Special Agent XXX] XXX doctor?

A. I don't recall him saying anything like that to me.

Q. Was [Special Agent XXX] XXX given [Special Agent XXX] doctor's information about his condition and request for FATS?

A. I don't know.

Q. Did anyone at ATF headquarters tell you that they had asked [Special Agent XXX] XXX doctor for more medical information to see if he should qualify to use the FAT system?

A. I've already answered this question a number of times, and the answer is, I don't know.

Q. Are there a number of laws that require reasonable accommodation to be given to disabled employees?

A. I don't know if it's one law or multiple laws, I'm not in an area of expertise for me.

Q. Do you recall what that law is?

A. Not offhand, no.

Q. To your knowledge did ELRB ever contact Mr. XXXXX about using FAT to qualify?

A. I do not know.

Q. To your knowledge did ATF legal counsel ever contact [Special Agent XXX] to discuss using FAT to qualify?

A. I do not know.

Q. To your knowledge did OWCP ever contact Mr. XXXXXX to determine if he should use FAT to qualify?

A. I do not know.

Q. Finally, do you know whether [Special Agent XXX] XXX ever talked with [Special Agent XXX] about using FAT to qualify?

A. I don't know -- I don't know.

Q. One of the issues is that in around October th, , [Special Agent XXX] was terminated. Do you recall that event?

A. I do.

Q. Were you involved in the decision to terminate [Special Agent XXX] X?

A. No, I was not.

Q. Do you know who made that decision?

A. I don't know the specific person who made that decision, no, I don't.

Q. Whether medical documents or e-mail, just information or notice to you that [Special Agent XXX] is clear to return to work but he could not do -- he has some physical limitation so could not do all of his special agent duties?

A. I don't have any recollection of that.

Q. To your understanding are you prohibited from modifying the range of full special agent duties to accommodate a special agent with disabilities?

A. I'm not aware of ATF or government policy in that regard about modifying a special agent's duties.

Q. Has anyone from headquarters asked you to consider modifying [Special Agent XXX] special agent duties to accommodate his physical disabilities?

A. Not that I recall.

Q. Did anyone in the San Francisco division discuss with you whether [Special Agent XXX] XXX special agent duties could be modified to accommodate his physical disabilities?

A. Not that I recall.

Q. Do you recall receiving a copy of that policy from [Special Agent XXX] last year?

A. No.

Q. Did you discuss with [Special Agent XXX] providing reasonable accommodation in the form of limited duty positions for [Special Agent XXX] X?

A. Not that I can recall.

Q. Do you recall talking with [Special Agent XXX] regarding providing limited duty positions -- a limited duty position to [Special Agent XXX] as an accommodation?

A. I don't.

Q. Were you asked as to what other duties Mr. XXXXX could perform while in the San Francisco division?

A. Was I asked by who?

Q. Anyone.

A. I don't recall having any conversation in that regards with anybody.

Q. Who was the first person who suggested that Mr. XXXXX should be answering phones?

A. I don't know.

Q. Did anybody during the discussion with Miss XXXXXX and Miss XXXXX or [Special Agent XXX] talk about the potential for [Special Agent XXX] humiliation of being assigned that job? Did they talk about that at all?

A. Not that I recall.

Q. Did they talk about any impact tha


ATF has two distinct sets of rules when it comes to handling employee matters. On one hand, managers at all levels are ruthlessly shielded from scrutiny and rightful accountability, even when their conduct is flagrantly and deliberately unlawful. On the other hand, agents and employees that speak out in any way against management abuse or misconduct are often threatened or disciplined for the most minor infractions.  And if there are no minor infractions to be found, they will be fabricated. The following are two cases in point:

Standard A: Management:

  • It is a little publicized fact that an ATF Special-Agent-in-Charge (SAC), a high-ranking management official, was the subject of a lengthy investigation conducted by the Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General (OIG).  The investigation concluded that this ATF manager had repeatedly engaged in substantial acts of criminal and ethical misconduct, including abuses of authority, discrimination, retaliation, misuse of government funds, resources and personnel, and other flagrantly unlawful behavior.
  • The OIG investigation also formally determined that the subject, a senior federal law enforcement management official, misused her position and ATF resources for personal gain. Specifically, the SAC allegedly directed ATF agents to provide security for a personal friend who was signing books at a local bookstore, and that the SAC knowingly made numerous false statements to federal investigators.
  • The accusations first surfaced while the individual was an Assistant SAC (ASAC) in the Atlanta Field Division.  Nevertheless, ATF Headquarters promoted her to be SAC of the Houston Division, but continuing complaints and allegations eventually prompted her removal and transfer to HQ.  However, once again, rather than demoting or firing this disgraceful individual as they would have done with any normal agent or employee, ATF's leadership simply moved her into the SAC position in Atlanta, where the misconduct had been first reported!
  • Eventually, this person's misconduct became so embarrassing to ATF that top management officials, including ADFO Hoover and DAD Mark Chait, personally travelled to Atlanta to remove her from her SAC position.  But once again, rather than immediately terminating her from government service, they simply created a new position so that she could keep a low profile until the extremely damaging OIG report blew over. When Atlanta Journal reporter Robin Cook questioned ATF about the SAC's sudden departure, the Bureau responded that it was just a "normal reassignment to HQ".
  • This incredibly corrupt law enforcement official was not only allowed to retain her Senior Executive Service (SES) status, but reportedly to receive per diem (travel payments).  She remained "on the job" until the very last minute before the OIG report was published.
  • During a meeting with an unrelated complainant, ATF Deputy Director Carter flatly denied that there had been a formal finding of discrimination against the subject SAC.  He was either unaware or more likely, deliberately covering up the unpleasant facts.  Both are unacceptable on the part of such a high public law enforcement official.
  • Most of these facts had been repeatedly reported to senior ATF managers Hoover and Carter. It is apparent that they were entirely misled either by their own Counsel's Office as to the severity of the misconduct, or were fully aware and opted to sweep the entire matter under the rug.  The fact that the SAC in question was so unceremoniously removed from a senior divisional management position suggests that they knew precisely what was going on.
  • Despite unmistakable evidence of substantial criminal misconduct, the U.S. Attorney's Office eventually declined to prosecute the corrupt SAC and allowed ATF to send her quietly into retirement.  Such "passes" are almost never given without direct input from the involved agency (in this case, ATF).  Who from ATF was aware that one of the leading managers was under a deserved threat of criminal prosecution, and what was their response?
  • During this reporting period, the OIG received over 200 complaints involving ATF. The most common allegations made by ATF employees involved waste, misuse of government property and theft. The OIG opened three cases and referred others to ATF's OPR for internal "review". At the close of the reporting period, the OIG had six open criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct related to ATF employees. The criminal investigations included release of information, denial of rights or due process, drug trafficking, and fraud. The administrative investigations involved serious allegations of misconduct, such as the aforementioned Atlanta SAC, however, as usual, ATF looks the other way whenever a management official is involved.
Standard B: Special Agent:

An ATF Special Agent survives 20 years of outstanding service as an undercover operative and is the recipient of numerous commendations and awards for investigative excellence and bravery. He was the subject of many ATF national headlines showcasing him as the epitome of how ATF contributes to public safety. He has repeatedly taught and presented in support of ATF's mission. He spent a large portion of his life away from his wife and children to serve his oath and the greater good of his country. He has never been found lacking in terms of ethics, competence or commitment, and has always accepted responsibility for any mistakes.  However, this agent had the audacity to speak out against horrendous abuses on the part of ATF management.  For his vast contributions in comparison to the SAC (manager) described above, he has received the following considerations:

  • Although still employed by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in an office job, he's been forced to file two lawsuits against ATF as a result of the Bureau's abject failure to protect him from years of death threats made by vicious outlaw bikers and other criminals. A landmark 2008 U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General report concluded that the agent's claims were accurate. OIG found that ATF had failed to move the agent and his family, failed to protect their identities, and that ATF's response to certain death threats was "inadequate, incomplete and needlessly delayed, and that ATF reached "dismissive conclusions about the threats without adequate investigation."
  • The agent has been forced to move his family more than 10 times in 4 years.
  • A Hells Angel in prison was caught writing a letter to another gang member, saying they should arrange for the gang rape of the agent's wife and torture of his teenage daughter.
  • By filing suits and alerting members of Congress about the insane abuses he has suffered at the hands of his own managers, the agent is committing career suicide, but does so with the knowledge that there is a greater good involved at that, "Nobody has ever stood up to these guys before."
  • When unknown criminals burned the agent's house down with his family sleeping inside, ATF not only failed to promptly or adequately investigate, but actually accused the agent, who was 100 miles away at the time, of setting the fire!  They also claimed without any evidence that he was "mentally unfit".
  • The criminals themselves have claimed that a major undercover investigation conducted by this agent went "bad" due to misconduct on the part of that agent.  However, the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case, Tim Duax, says that's "nonsense...(the agent's) undercover work was solid." The reason the case disintegrated, "...had nothing to do with the Agent."
  • The agent's superiors told him that by filing his complaints, he'd be ending his career in "a postage stamp in the middle of nowhere,"
  • During a recent mediation hearing related to his lawsuit, ATF's mediation offer was, "Quit or be fired."