Let's be real...there is zero
question that there's an enormous double-standard between mere employees and the managerial "elite" when it comes to disciplinary action within ATF. Even the most cursory OIG or OSC audit would immediately confirm this fact, and that, no matter how you slice it, is a violation of OPM regulations which mandate that all discipline must be meted out in a fair, consistent and equitable manner. This is not all that uncommon in federal agencies in general, but ATF has taken it to a level that can only be described as breathtakingly blatant. They don't even bother to try and justify or disguise it, because they believe themselves to be far above such bourgeois considerations.
The main question I have about all this is, how in the bloody Hell can this guy (RV) show his face anywhere
? I mean, in the hyper-masculine world of federal law enforcement, could any of you
walk around as if nothing happened, knowing that everyone is secretly laughing their asses off behind your back, picturing you....well, you know. The sheer volume of subtle puns and jokes that I would want to work into any conversation or meeting involving this man are basically limitless. Personally? I would resign and flee to some glorious (couldn't resist) South American country out of sheer personal embarrassment and shame. Then again, we are
talking about ATF management here, and HQ, no less, where shame and embarrassment seem to have been eradicated from the daily psyche.
Again, personally? I really feel for the guy (in a completely asexual, hetero, human-empathy sort of way, damn you), but I'm just sayin'...business should be business. So, if he did
receive a paid PCS move, I would think the average taxpayer, upon learning the sordid background details, would be justifiably outraged. Is there any question that a mere agent or employee caught in the same situation would have been saying, "Would you like fries with that?" within a New Orleans minute? Is it not embarrassingly apparent that the concept of "Innocent until proven guilty" only applies to those above a certain pay grade? It's really disgusting, even if it were not patently unlawful.
It is not exaggeration in the slightest to say that ATF's senior, middle and in some cases, lower management "team" has devolved over many years into a genuine "culture of corruption". It was probably inevitable, really. A small agency with a critical and publicly important mission, a huge budget, very little effective external oversight, and almost no effective managerial controls. It is most likely axiomatic that such an agency would eventually be stacked from top to almost bottom with ruthlessly ambitious, self-aggrandizing "yes"-men who, while they might once have been good, brave LE Officers and public servants, inexorably succumbed to the pressure of fitting in, becoming members of the Platinum and Gold Card Clubs, and who necessarily will do just about whatever it takes, legal, honest or otherwise, to protect their prerogatives and that of The Club.
However, just because it may have been bound to happen, doesn't make it right or acceptable to those on the pointy end of ATF's spear, or the taxpayers that fund the entire enterprise. Can this rat's nest of glad-handing, back-slapping, self-serving, mission-degrading bullshit be repaired to any appreciable degree? I don't know. It's a very complex problem because, among other things:
- It would take a truly unconventional, hard-charging, uncompromising, supremely skeptical, innovative, highly perceptive and relentless crusader of a big-time hardass Director to overcome and overwhelm the elaborate network of truth-filtering, self-protecting distortion-mongers that now populate much of the management chain from AD to SAC level, certainly.
- Those Card Members will fight like cornered possums to resist, deflect, forestall, prevent and otherwise frustrate any genuine efforts to bring them back into realm of lawful governance, with all the restrictions, limitations, pain-in-the-ass procedures and "niceties" that entails. Doing things by the book and treating employees like valued assets is a lot of "extra" work, and most of them don't feel as if they should have to stoop to such nonsense.
It seems obvious that there would have to be an initial "wave of terror" (sort of like Stalin's purges, but without the actual offings), in which certain well-deserving heads would have to roll. Nothing else would be even marginally effective at convincing the good ol' boys that there's a new Sheriff in town. There would have to be a credible, aggressive, prompt and reasonably transparent process for examining and justly resolving the many pending employee complaints and lawsuits, probably with the assistance of an outside, neutral third party. Any presumption of guilt should be, at least initially, biased in favor of the employee(s) in question, at least until drastic measures can be emplaced to reverse the present atmosphere of draconian retaliation and unfair action. And finally, there would have to be continuous, skeptical, "in-your-face" oversight, proactive intervention, and an ironclad policy that is truly enforced, as opposed to just meaningless words blathered about in some bloviating webcast:
"We will hold our managers at all levels to a higher standard than that of our line employees, and will not under any circumstances tolerate unethical, unfair, retaliatory or unlawful conduct of any kind. If you intentionally or repeatedly screw the pooch, whether operationally or administratively, you are gone. You are replaceable and as expendable as anyone else, so do your job, follow the rules, and be a leader, not just a manager. If you don't have what it takes to motivate your troops, make them want to be a part of your team, and to be stern but fair as appropriate, there are 25 other talented people ready to step up and sit in your chair."
That's pretty much the opposite of the present paradigm which essentially holds that:
- Thou shalt never admit a mistake of any kind for this can lead to accountability, an abomination to the faithful;
- Rule thy domain by fear and intimidation, for verily, these are the keys to career advancement;
- Brook no question nor dissension, lest thy fiefdom be imperiled. Cruelly and completely crush those have the temerity to imagine that not all wisdom is handed down from on high;
- If thou shall stray from the path of the appearance of righteousness, fear not, for the wagons shall be circled and thy loins girded;
- Thou shalt not bear false witness is more a of a guideline than a "Commandment". The foremost Commandment is to protect the integrity of the Club and thou shall surely be rewarded. Hallelujah, Amen.
This mythical Director I envision most definitely could not
be the typical career attorney or bureaucrat, as this would only guarantee the same "CYA at all costs" corporate culture that facilitates, for example, a Chief Counsel's Office that routinely lies under oath and uses the full weight of the agency's resources to smear and destroy the careers of good people so that the machine will never be effectively challenged or threatened.
Does such a person exist? Probably, but would he ever be tapped by the ultimate powers-that-be for the Directorship (and
be vain or stupid enough to actually accept the nomination)? Hmmm...probably not likely. But one can always dream, right?
Promotion or not. Position of leadership? Seriously? Martin fired or attempted to fire multiple agents in San Francisco for no other reason than the wouldn't kiss his ring and he kept looking like a fool for supporting the cases and policies he did. But a senior manager can .......well we know what he did. Two sets of rules.