ATF Whistleblower: Gunwalker Officials Being Shielded
Former Agent Vince Cefalu tells PJM: Those men weren't being promoted this week, they were being protected via transfers to other positions within the department.
August 19, 2011 - 12:00 am
This week, the Bereau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms promoted three of the officials responsible for Operation Fast and Furious:
All three have been heavily criticized for pushing the program forward even as it became apparent that it was out of control. At least 2,000 guns were lost and many turned up at crime scenes in Mexico and two at the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona.
The three supervisors have been given new management positions at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. They are William G. McMahon, who was the ATF’s deputy director of operations in the West, where the illegal trafficking program was focused, and William D. Newell and David Voth, both field supervisors who oversaw the program out of the agency’s Phoenix office.
I asked ATF whistleblower Vince Cefalu what he thought of the promotions, and whether or not it was standard practice to promote ATF officials after a catastrophic operational failure. I even asked if he had heard of another instance where a federal law enforcement officer or manager was promoted after leading an operation that lost firearms which were subsequently used in the shootings of multiple federal agents.
His responses (via email) were as cutting as you might expect from a loyal agent recently fired by the Obama administration for attempting to clean up entrenched corruption:
First: why did they leave out FF ASAC George Gillette? He is one of the most corrupt and culpable guys in that operation. He was transferred to HQ as the liaison to the U.S. Marshals, which is normally a GS (General Schedule) 13 or 14 job. He is filling it as a GS 15?
None of the other three were actually promoted.
They were all placed in protected positions which shields them from public view. The assistant to the assistant director position was created under former Acting Director Mike Sullivan to shield corrupt and exposed managers so as to keep their grade and benefits.
No other law enforcement organization would make any of these moves while a congressional and OIG investigation was still ongoing. They should be in admin positions or on the beach [suspended], since potential criminal charges loom until they are cleared.
McMahon in charge of IA [Internal Affairs, a more common functional name for Office of Professional Responsibility and Security Operations]. S***, that’s like putting [Charles] Manson in charge of sharp objects.
IA has long been the Gestapo arm of our corrupt leadership, and now the very man who allowed Fast and Furious to continue is in charge?
This is appalling.
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) was infuriated when he heard that the Gunwalker conspirators were being protectively cloaked for their apparent crimes on behalf of the administration. Is the Department of Justice attempting to impose omertà so that these key figures don’t testify about what they know of those who authorized Operation Fast and Furious?
Speaking of those responsible for the initial authorization, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review asked:
Who thought allowing illegal gun sales was a good idea in the first place?
Framed by the newspaper as “the question” that matters, it should be asked as a series of more pointed questions:
Who authorized Operation Fast and Furious (and any similar gunwalking operations) in the Department of Justice? Who in the Department of Homeland Security? Who in the Treasury Department (the IRS was involved)? Who in the State Department?
If State was not notified of Operation Fast and Furious (and any similar gunwalking operations), who had the authority to run this campaign without State’s knowledge?
If Operation Fast and Furious (and any similar gunwalking operations) did not originate within these departments with the authorization of their department heads, where did it originate?
Elsewhere, it was another brutal week for the Obama administration regarding the Gunwalker scandal. Weapons from the plot were identified in eleven more violent crimes in Arizona and Texas. Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich took aim at Acting ATF Director Ken Melson, stating that Melson knew of Operation Fast and Furious almost from the beginning. Melson previously claimed he only found out about the walking of guns after the program was shut down.
And Cornyn also demanded that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder immediately brief his office regarding allegations that gunwalking operations similar to Operation Fast and Furious may have been run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in his state:
I write to express my deep concerns regarding press reports of an ATF “gun-walking” program that allegedly operated in the state of Texas. I request that the Department of Justice immediately brief my office regarding the scope and details of any past or present ATF “gun-walking” programs operated in the state of Texas.
PJMedia discussed the evidence pointing to the possibility of a gunwalking operation in both the Dallas Field Operations area and the Houston Field Operations area more than a month ago. To date, neither the DOJ nor the ATF has been willing to confirm or deny the existence of the alleged programs in Texas, even though guns from an alleged Texas gunwalking operation were used in a cartel ambush that murdered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent Jaime Zapata and severely wounded ICE Agent Victor Avila.
Senator Cornyn’s request puts the attorney general, the ATF, the DOJ, and the White House in an unsettling position. If Operation Fast and Furious in Arizona is not an isolated incident, as evidence suggests, then the probability that this plot was orchestrated from the highest levels of the Obama administration increases dramatically.