Gottlieb calls for full investigation of ATF

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the last week or so hasn’t exactly been a banner period in the history of federal law enforcement. The Durham report showed all kinds of problems within the FBI that has a lot of people basically thinking the whole thing needs to be burned to the ground.


Metaphorically, at least.

If anyone was glad for the Durham report, it might be the ATF. After all, for their many sins, they weren’t the ones in the spotlight this time.

Yet there are issues with the ATF. Major issues. We’ve outlined many of them in the past, but Alan Gottlieb says there’s another problem that demands a full investigation.

The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms today asked Congress to fully investigate allegations of “substantial waste, mismanagement and unlawful employment practices at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)” before approving the agency’s FY 2024 budget request of $1.9 billion.

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has alerted Congress and President Joe Biden about allegations from two whistleblowers in the ATF human resources office that the agency “unlawfully provided law enforcement pay and benefits to agents and investigators who filled non-law-enforcement positions, such as in human resources.”  According to the OSC letter, sent by Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner, “These positions had been intentionally misclassified to be within the law enforcement job series.”

“ATF has been a troubled agency for decades,” noted CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb, “and its recent flip flop on arm braces is just the tip of the iceberg. Has anyone been held accountable for this apparent mismanagement? Was anyone ever fired or otherwise penalized for the deadly Fast and Furious scandal? How about Operation Wide Receiver?

“We’re not confident the ATF can fix its problems internally,” he continued,” so that job must be up to Congress, specifically the House Oversight Committee. And while Congress is handling this, there should be no budget approval for the agency, especially one providing a 7.4 percent increase over the ATF budget during Fiscal Year 2023.”

Kerner’s letter to the president noted that the Office of Personnel Management had identified 91 misclassified positions, and ATF had found 17 more for a total of 108 positions. Gottlieb called that an alarming error. He was not impressed with reports the agency had reassigned 36 people involved in the problem, and 14 more had retired, or even that ATF’s authority to classify federal law enforcement positions had been suspended.

“This is a poor example of our tax dollars at work,” Gottlieb said. “It reinforces the perception of an agency out of control. Is it any wonder that America’s gun owners have mistrust for the agency? The only way to get ATF’s attention is to deny its funding while a thorough investigation is conducted.”


Now, this might look like nothing, but it’s not.

See, among other things–and I won’t pretend to know everything about federal employment practices here–I can’t help but picture an effort to make the ATF more efficient by streamlining the support system of the bureau, only to see someone scream about how whoever is pushing this is trying to fire ATF agents.

It would be technically true, too, because the ATF has classified people in HR of all places as federal law enforcement officers.

It’s insane.

Then there’s the fact that federal law enforcement officers tend to get paid more than those filling support roles and we can see that the ATF, among their other sins, isn’t exactly a good steward of the taxpayers’ money.

Please, handle your shock appropriately.

I’ll grant you that in light of all the other federal law enforcement issues we’ve seen recently, this isn’t a big one all things considered. I’m much more alarmed by ATF inspectors photographing purchase records or showing up at people’s homes wanting to see if they still had guns they purchased. That said, this is still one of those issues that’s indicative of an agency that doesn’t care about the rules as applied to them.

If they’ll make the HR person an agent when they aren’t supposed to, it makes you wonder what else they’re up to.

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