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Cool Reception on Hill for ATF Nominee Accused of Imposing ‘Climate of Fear’

B. Todd Jones says he was "agent of change" after Fast and Furious; Grassley says "serious charges" require more scrutiny.

by
Bill Straub

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June 11, 2013 - 3:59 pm
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WASHINGTON – Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee gave President Obama’s choice to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives a cool reception on Tuesday, grilling B. Todd Jones on issues ranging from claims of office mismanagement and vindictiveness to the administration’s views on gun prosecutions.

Led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the panel’s ranking member, GOP lawmakers complained that Jones’ confirmation hearing should have been postponed until an Office of Special Counsel probe into his tenure as the U.S. attorney for Minnesota is completed.

Instead, Grassley said, “the majority is intent on jamming this nomination through the committee no matter what,” and Republicans exhibited no indication that they are willing to go along.

“It’s no secret that there have been several controversial events that Mr. Jones has been involved in to one degree or the other,” Grassley said.

Jones is the second candidate nominated by the White House to head the ATF, one of the federal government’s leading law enforcement agencies. The first, Andrew Traver, head of the Denver division, was withdrawn in the face of opposition from Republicans who threatened to filibuster the move.

Obama and his predecessor, former President George W. Bush, have experienced problems filling the position since the Senate was given the authority to confirm the president’s nominee in 2006. Since then no one has gained approval and the bureau has been led by four people – including Jones – on an interim basis.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who chaired the hearing in the absence of Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), asserted that the Senate’s inability to confirm a permanent director is hindering the agency.

“It seems that some members of the Senate don’t want the ATF to have the benefit of a confirmed director,” Klobuchar said. “So for all the concerns raised about the ATF – some of them very legitimate – confirming a full-time permanent director should be a firm step in making sure the ATF is doing its job and doing it well.”

Jones, Klobuchar said, is “well-qualified and has a range of experiences and accomplishments that leave him more than ready to lead the ATF on a full-time basis — not on a temporary basis, not on an interim basis. He is a talented, dedicated and hard-working public servant who has served his country in both the military and in civilian agencies.”

On April 12 the Senate Judiciary Committee was informed that the Office of Special Counsel had launched an investigation into claims that Jones had retaliated against one of his assistants during his tenure as U.S. attorney in Minnesota, suspending the subordinate for five days and transferring him to other duties after concerns were voiced about gross mismanagement.

That claim remains open, although both sides have agreed to mediation over the issue.

Another complaint forwarded to the Office of Special Counsel — this one from an anonymous source claiming to be “Employees of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota” – asserted that Jones imposed a “climate of fear” and practiced “an Orwellian style of management that continues to polarize the office.” OSC did not institute a substantive probe into the letter since insufficient information was made available.

Grassley insisted there are “serious charges” and “numerous unresolved issues regarding Mr. Jones” that warrant the committee’s attention.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
"“It seems that some members of the Senate don’t want the ATF to have the benefit of a confirmed director,” "

Sounds good to me. Until a director is confirmed who will oversee the criminal prosecution of many (most?) of its members. The abuses of ATF are legion, and far pre-date Obama. Reagan corrected SOME of them, but since then, they have run amok.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
How about just abolishing the ATF then confirming him as director af an agency that doesn't exist anymore. Give him an office (in a bathroom) and NO PAY, NO PENSION AND NO BENEFITS!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (7)
All Comments   (7)
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Until 'Fast and Furious', the Benghazi debacle, the illegal wiretaps of reporters by the DOJ, the totally illegal harassment by the IRS of conservative groups are ALL resolved, and any other scandals by this administration I forgot to mention, no confirmations of any appointments by this administration. I do not trust them.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I see the operations under the Bush administration are still being conflated with the Fast & Furious operation under Obama.

Two entirely different operations with very different results.

Under Bush:

- Radio trackers were secretly installed on the guns in order to keep track of them.

- No guns were ever allowed to go into Mexico.

- The Mexican government was a fully informed partner in the operation.

- When the tracking devices were discovered and were being removed, the operation was cut short and then canceled.

- The guns were never outside of government surveillance.

- Guns were not allowed to go into Mexico.

- No one died as a result of that operation.

Under Obama:

- No tracking devices were used.

- Guns were allowed to be transferred into Mexico.

- The Mexican government was kept in the dark about the entire operation.

- Even when no positive results were occurring, the operation continued.

- The guns were not kept under surveillance, even being beyond ANY kind of surveillance from the moment they left the gun store.

- The guns were deliberately allowed to enter Mexico.

- Hundreds of people, the vast majority Mexican but at least two US law enforcement personnel, have been killed with these weapons.

Hard to see how the two operations continue to be confused with each other....

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"- The guns were never outside of government surveillance."

Well, not quite. They were never INTENDED to be outside of government surveillance, but some did get away, and when they did, the operation was canceled to make sure that no more got away.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"“It seems that some members of the Senate don’t want the ATF to have the benefit of a confirmed director,” "

Sounds good to me. Until a director is confirmed who will oversee the criminal prosecution of many (most?) of its members. The abuses of ATF are legion, and far pre-date Obama. Reagan corrected SOME of them, but since then, they have run amok.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Fast and Furious was a widely criticized sting operation implemented by ATF from 2006 to 2011,...". Weren't there two or three separate operations: linebacker, and wide-receiver under GWB and fast and furious under BHO. I also recall something about attempting to track guns with radio beacons in the first two operations. I do not recall any mention of tracking guns in the third. I think "widely criticized" may be overstating things a bit. I think they should have been widely criticized.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
>Jones, Klobuchar said, is “well-qualified and has a range of experiences and accomplishments that leave him more than ready to lead the ATF on a full-time basis — not on a temporary basis, not on an interim basis. He is a talented, dedicated and hard-working public servant who has served his country in both the military and in civilian agencies.”<

Yeah, what difference does it make that he's under investigation by a Special Counsel? Promote him anyway. Then, he can use the ATF to instill a climate of fear in the entire nation.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
How about just abolishing the ATF then confirming him as director af an agency that doesn't exist anymore. Give him an office (in a bathroom) and NO PAY, NO PENSION AND NO BENEFITS!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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