Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Flash Message to "Little Jimmy" Vann: CPT R.A. Bear spotted at gun show! Post on discusses importance of his case (& others)

James P. "Little Jimmy" Vann stars in a remake of the Deputy Dawg Show, "The Chase of R.A. Bear, Episode No. 231."

Many thanks for CPT Jonathan Tuttle for forwarding this exchange of comments from

ATF Chief Counsel's Office Deputy Dawg James P. "Little Jimmy" Vann will be interested to note that CPT R.A. Bear has been sighted at a recent gun show. Better go and demand the security tapes if you want to see what he looks like, Little Jimmy.

In fact, if Irregulars watch this video of "The Nation's Gun Show" all the way to the end, the hands of the guy behind the table are said to be those of CPT R.A.Bear, S-2 of the Dogtown Rangers, wanted for questioning by the Chief Counsel's Office of the ATF.

More interesting in the long run than the extended ATF chase after R.A. Bear is Avatar's discussion of what the Obama administration really has in mind for the ATF and how Chief Counsel's Office screw-ups may play a role in that.



PS: For the record, I am not a member of CUATF and do not participate in their discussions.

Implications of "Acting" Director and others for ATF Prelude to housecleaning or retrenchment?

Avatar posts:

Posted Yesterday, 06:56 PM

Many of the postings on CleanUpATF identify individual people, usually in the context of their alleged defectivenesses, and sometimes delve into discussions of institutional positions, but I've never seen an extended discussion of the implications of ATF having an "Acting" Director (Read: Deputy Director Melson), and various other "Acting" positions that have apparently not been filled for a long time. To have an "Acting" Director for any length of time --- at ATF, it is going on, what, 4 years now? --- is very bad for ANY FEDERAL AGENCY, not just ATF, for several excellent reasons:

1. It has long been understood that an "Acting" Director for any federal agency is not supposed to make waves, make any major changes, or do anything else other than keep the agency from running its ship into a lighthouse. By unspoken tradition, an "Acting" Director's responsibility is to be a good "steward" of the interests of the agency, nothing more.

2. Also by definition, an "Acting" Director lacks the suasion, image and power of a confirmed Director, so managers under him or her act accordingly, usually by behaving in narrow, conservative ways to avoid getting tossed under the bus if something truly monumental hits the fan.

3. If the "Acting" Director lacks credibility --- which is apparently the case with Deputy Director Melson --- ATF managers get antsy, and there's nobody to rein in ATF Counsel. It is my understanding that ATF Special Agents generally believe that Mr. Melson isn't streetwise, and lacks understanding of their job duties. It is also my understanding that the techies at ATF also dislike Mr. Melson, who is a qualified forensic scientist and no doubt understands that the Firearms Technology Branch (FTB), which makes judgments on classifying items as NFA firearms or not, is not an accredited laboratory and lacks scientific testing procedures. This is not a good combination.

Apart from "Acting" Director (Deputy Director) Melson's situation, it is also my understanding that there are currently two Deputy Director positions, and three Assistant Director positions, that are VACANT and that nobody has acted to fill them. If true, this is NOT a good institutional sign, for many of the same reasons it is bad to have a lengthy period of an "Acting" Director.

ANALYSIS: It is preposterous to think that Attorney General Holder is unaware that "Acting" Director Melson hasn't been nominated for Director. It is even more preposterous to think that EVEN IF nobody at ATF peached out a bunch of stuff to Attorney General Holder, that nobody at Main Justice wouldn't --- I am talking about things with the potential to "embarrass ATF politically" or "embarrass the Attorney General." Worrying that there WON'T be folks at ATF and/or Main Justice to try and curry favor (in fairness, to an extent, as part of their job responsibilities) would be like worrying that the Milky Way is going to go out.

It is worth noting that an increasing number of Federal District Judges and U.S. Attorney offices are discomfited with the approaches that ATF Counsel has taken in attempting to prosecute various firearm cases. Judge Thomas Zilly handed ATF its hat in the Albert Kwan case, for withholding exculpatory evidence. In the Friesen case, the U.S. Attorney was so reluctant to do a re-trial after a hung jury that James P. Vann himself was sworn in as the prosecutor (having never himself tried a case); after a Motion in Limine and a technical report of examination of 25 firearms (two Forms 2 were involved, for the same firearms) that didn't match NFRTR records wound up unperching the NFRTR, guess what happened? Answer: James P. Vann left town --- left the U.S. Attorney to handle the flawed prosecutorial theory ATF concocted, and the case got plea bargained out, 5 felony charges were dismissed in exchange for a plea to a misdemeanor and $25 fine (the statute of limitations had run out on the misdemeanor, and that had to be legally resurrected). A similar situation prevails in a case in Atlanta --- the U.S. Attorney declined to prosecute, but ATF mammysicked so loudly that, well, once again, an ATF attorney, Harry Foster, is now the prosecutor for the case. It is a case in which ATF took a bunch of plastic ties or chains or something and made an "upper" run full auto, and claimed it is a machine gun; however, ATF also took a bunch of OTHER "uppers" and conceded they would run full auto as well if these conversion devices were applied, BUT took the position that none of those other "uppers" were even firearms! Now, that's a hoot! Both sides turned in all their paperwork, the Judge has had it for more than 11 weeks now, and no decision --- I think if the Judge was going to simply rubber stamp what ATF said, he would have done that by now, but c'mon, what looks like a duck and walks like a duck and shoots full auto like a duck, isn't a duck? Having all this stuff on videotape makes this even more hilarious.

Seriously, these sorts of cases stink to high heaven, and there's no doubt the judges involved don't think much of what's going on. To his credit, in the Friesen case, District Judge Tim Leonard was fair and even-handed, and didn't let ATF get away with dumping 500,000 records on the defense on the Friday before a Monday trial, after ATF had previously said it turned over all the records.

I submit that the sad proceedings I've identified and described above would NOT have occurred if ATF Counsel was appropriately focused, and the ordinary working people at ATF didn't have their necks stood on to be moving cases forward even though the cases had or have no merit.

Finally, I believe ATF is nothing if not diligent, and the day ATF finally catches up with Ramsis A. Bear (ATF looked hard at Knob Creek, and recently in Alaska) will be a red letter day. The reason is that when the final report on Ramsis A. Bear is written, it will stand mutely as a symbol of ATF's implacable diligence, and the results of that diligence. Whether it makes any difference in the case to which ATF is connecting things, remains to be seen.

So what to make of all this? I'm surprised nobody has articulated this before, but it is possible that these vacancies are deliberate and planned, in order to precede some justification for cleaning house at ATF in some major way (imagine Attorney General Holder making news at a press conference: "I didn't know about this until recently, and I and my staff moved quickly to halt any practices that may be inappropriate, and the new team will be diligent in taking any corrective measures that may be necessary."). Nope, he's not gonna be going under any buses. It is also possible that these vacancies symbolize a cutting loose of ATF to viciously find its own internal way, by allowing and encouraging ATF to eat its own. Admittedly, all this is my personal speculation; I've got no "inside" information to make a definitive case for what is going on one way or the other, except that whatever is going on goes way beyond the norm for anything I've seen as a federal employee, but not as an ATF employee.

GunWriter responds:

Posted Yesterday, 10:33 PM

OK, I must live under a rock because I hadn't heard about this at all.

I just saw him at the Dulles Guns Show. He was watching someone's table when I went by and said hello. He said he'd been overseas but acted pretty normal. He didn't seem to be hiding. Does this have something to do with that big arrest at SHOT for inflating prices to pay a bribe?

Anybody know anything about what is going on?

Doc Holliday, a moderator at replies:

Posted Today, 09:56 AM

Gun writer and Avatar. When ATF uses these tactics, they are NOT, I repeat, NOT representing US, the field. We despise and are appaled what the attorneys have done to this agency. This win at all cost even when we are wrong mentality is not what we stand for. When the agencys must rely on tactics like you describe, we are all embarrased. It is also a huge signal when the United States attorneys office declines a case and a hack ATF Attorney pursues it. Not exactly what I think the AG and President Obama meant when they said transparency.

"This is James P. Vann. Why can't you lowly street agents find me this damned R.A. Bear?"


Anonymous said...

Mike, you always talk about this RA Bear guy, but I think that their are a lot of newcomers like me who don't know why he's such a big deal. Could you do a piece about why this guy is such a big deal to the ATF pukes?

Hatfield McCoy said...

I had no idea Bear was back Stateside. Do you know if his mission of diplomacy was successful?

Anonymous said...

And the Keystone Kops chase Kontinues . . . .

B Woodman

Loren said...

I second anon. While I can gather a general idea of what's going on, more details would be nice.

Anonymous said...

Do we need bumper stickers that say

"Who is R.A.Bear?"


Happy D said...

What is the R.A. Bear back story anyway?