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November 12, 2002

THE F.B.I. IS ATTACKING THE B.A.T.F. in a scathing report, according to The New York Times:

The unsigned report accuses counterparts at the firearms agency of poor training for agents, dangerous handling of explosives at crime scenes and efforts to control cases outside its jurisdiction. The report cites examples from the recent sniper investigation, terrorism inquiries, the Salt Lake City Olympics and other prominent cases pursued by both agencies.

"Due to the A.T.F.'s lack of strategic vision and sole jurisdiction mission," the report says, "they have `crept' into areas beyond their mandate."

Agents from the firearms agency who have seen the document said that they were outraged and that the accusations were unfounded.

"I'm appalled at the shots the F.B.I. is taking at us," said Art Gordon, a 27-year veteran at the agency and its representative to the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

The suggestion is that this is an effort to preempt a law-enforcement reorganization that might combine the two agencies. This kind of turf-protection, of course, serves to strengthen the case for a reorganization: one in which a lot of turf-conscious managers lose their jobs.

And while the ATF has serious problems, certainly the FBI is in no position to throw stones.