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One Year Later...

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 03:59 PM

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.”

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