Josh Gerstein, writing at Polico asks: "Could controversy kill the ATF?"
The unfolding scandal over a gunrunning investigation allegedly botched by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives could do what years of criticism of the long-beleaguered agency never quite accomplished — result in its demise.
That, at least, is the view of some former ATF employees and advocates on both sides of the gun control debate who have watched the agency struggle to contain the damage from an operation intended to trace the traffic of illegal guns to Mexico that has reignited the harsh criticism often directed at the ATF in the past.
The agency, which moved from the Treasury Department to the Justice Department in 2003, has been without a permanent director for nearly five years. Nominees offered by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have languished without approval from the Senate after drawing strong opposition from the National Rifle Association, which for years has been the agency’s loudest critic.
Now, with ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson hobbled by the scandal over Operation Fast and Furious and by indications he’s at odds with senior Justice Department officials, many are saying a breakup of the storied agency could just be a matter of time.
“I think something like that is likely to happen,” said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “Unless they take some action to give it a director, it’s inevitable it’s going to have to get to that stage. It cannot continue the way it’s going now. … Right now, ATF is so weak it’s amazing.” . . .
“I point the finger at Congress. You made it confirmable, so confirm somebody. If not, restructure it. … If this structure doesn’t work, let’s get a structure that does,” Helmke said.
Now folks, when rabid anti-gunners like Helmke get around to accepting the ATF's demise, you've got to ask yourself why. The answer? They are protecting the larger mission -- both the Obama administration and the gun control mission. This scandal is so bad, they know they'll have to give up something. But they also know that the firearm laws of the United States are NOT going to be repealed anytime soon.
As a matter of fact, these schmucks -- both the gun confiscationists and the guilty Gunwalker conspirators -- NEED you to think that this is about the ATF. The more folks focus on the tree of the ATF, the less they're worried about the larger forest of their naked attempt to subvert the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
And it is not just Helmke:
Some experts said the ATF, a successor to Treasury’s Prohibition Unit that once counted crimefighter Eliot Ness among its ranks, has outlived its usefulness.
“Even the name of the organization, it’s from the black-and-white movie era,” said Jim Kessler of Third Way, a centrist Democratic group. “I don’t think it should exist. The investigations should be subsumed within the FBI, and the licensing could be done by Treasury, which is a tax-collecting agency.”
Oh, right. Let's give it to the FBI, the same agency that we now know did its best to cover-up the circumstances of Brian Terry's murder by letting go three men apprehended at the murder scene and the same agency who had a cartel gunrunner as a paid informant WITHOUT telling the ATF. The same agency that has always been a lot more competent at avoiding punishment for their own fatal misdeeds, including the killing of Vicki Weaver and the immolation of 80 Davidian men, women and children. Yeah, THAT FBI.
Worse, the secret political policemen of DHS are waiting in the wings for the gun control mission.
But right now, it is to the advantage of the guilty parties at the top echelon of the Gunwalker conspirators at FBI, DEA. State, the NSC and White House for everybody to believe that this is strictly an ATF scandal.
By focusing on the tool, they hope you'll miss the fingerprints of the hand that wielded it.