Friday, February 12, 2010

ATF's Acting Director Melson as Yosemite Sam: Dobyns' case burns agency's biscuits, stench starting to waft through the halls of Congress.

Acting ATF Director Ken Melson. His biscuits are burning.


Remember the bit part they gave Yosemite Sam in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (Go here, start at 9:22.) You know, where the cops take Eddie Valiant to the scene of Marvin Acme's murder, and Yosemite Sam comes flying over the wall of Toontown with his pants on fire, yelling "Mah biscuits are burning! Fire in the hatch!" Well, that's where the ATF is right now in relation to one of their street agents Jay Dobyns and Operation Black Biscuit. We've covered this before here.

Read this story below and I'll have some more comments afterward.

Hells Angels infiltrator, ATF in legal battle

by Dennis Wagner - Feb. 11, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

One of the most decorated undercover agents in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has won a key ruling in a civil complaint against his own agency, only to be hit with a government countersuit claiming his autobiography and a planned movie have harmed the United States.

Jay Dobyns, an ATF agent in Arizona for 22 years, contends in U.S. Court of Claims papers that his bosses failed to uphold an agreement to protect him after he received death threats from the Hells Angels.

Last month, Judge Francis Allegra ruled that Dobyns' complaint must proceed, and he rebuked government lawyers for their dismissal arguments.

The agent's victory was short-lived, however. Days after Allegra's Jan. 15 decision, federal lawyers filed a counterclaim accusing Dobyns of harming his country by publishing an autobiography, "No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels," and entering a deal to sell the book's movie rights.

The counterclaim argues that Dobyns violated federal rules by failing to get a supervisor's approval before publishing a book based on information he gathered while working as an ATF agent.

Dobyns, who still works at ATF as a coordinator for computerized ballistics data, said the countersuit was a "completely retaliatory move."

"It definitely supports my allegation that ATF is going to do everything it can to break me," he said.

ATF and Justice Department officials did not respond to interview requests.

Dobyns' troubles with the bureau began in 2003 after he completed 21 months as the lead undercover agent in Operation Black Biscuit, one of the deepest law-enforcement probes into the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.

Working with informants and other agents who posed as bikers, Dobyns infiltrated the Hells Angels so thoroughly that he was invited to become a member before the probe ended. The case resulted in charges of murder, conspiracy, weapons violations and narcotics offenses against 16 bikers in Arizona.

Dobyns, already a decorated agent, received several other national awards.

The Hells Angels case later fell apart, largely because of problems with undercover informants as well as disputes between federal prosecutors and ATF agents.

In the aftermath, Dobyns says that he and his family were targeted by a series of death threats issued by the Hells Angels and other groups. Jail informants described plans to murder Dobyns.

Dobyns eventually went public with complaints that the ATF failed to adequately investigate the threats or provide security for his family. ATF administrators rebuffed all formal grievances, Dobyns said, then launched a retaliatory campaign of harassment and slander against him. An internal inquiry dismissed Dobyns' allegations, but an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General validated his claims. In 2007, ATF managers agreed to settle the matter with a payment of $373,000, a guarantee that Dobyns' family would be protected and assurances that the agent would no longer be subjected to abuse.

Seven months later, according to Dobyns' lawsuit, the ATF stopped providing protection. Then, in August 2008, Dobyns' home in Tucson was destroyed by an arson-caused fire.

Dobyns' Court of Claims lawsuit lists 147 instances in which he says the ATF violated the settlement agreement.

Department of Justice attorney Kent Kiffner asked for a dismissal based on technical arguments.

Federal employees are normally limited in their ability to seek tort damages from their agencies. However, because Dobyns won a settlement in his previous claim, the judge said, the agent is entitled to sue the government for breaching that 2007 agreement.

Days after the ruling, the federal government filed its counterclaim.

Government lawyers argue that Dobyns had previously breached the agreement by not seeking a supervisor's approval before publishing his book. Federal rules also prohibit ATF agents from using their official position to further a private business interest.

The counterclaim asks that Dobyns pay the government for all funds he has or will receive related to the book and possible movie.

Dobyns' actions, the counterclaim says, have "injured" and "damaged" the United States, but the filing does not explain how.

Kiffner referred inquiries to a Justice Department spokesman, who could not be reached.

Dobyns said his autobiography, co-written by Nils Johnson-Shelton, has been on sale for a year and only contains information about the ATF that had previously been public.

"How did this damage them?" he asked. "I'm just waiting for an answer to that one."

OK, this is what I know: both the Dobyns' case and the Cefalu/Road Dog case (and all the other ATF supervisory misadventures detailed at have come to the attention of senior staff members of offices in both houses of Congress. So, too, has the scandal over the National Firearms Registry. (And please, feel free to draw your own congresscritter's attention to these scandals.)

All that is required is a little national press attention (hopefully coming soon to a cable outlet near you) and Acting Director Melson will be able to say, "Look at me! I'm on TV!" Throw in the outcome of a certain Federal civil forfeiture case in the Northern District of Georgia known in some circles as "the case of the arrested gun," (and believe me, even if the agency wins that one, they lose) and you have what is shaping up into a real pluperfect storm for the agency. Mostly, it must be said, thanks to the constitutional criminals in the Chief Counsel's Office.

(There is a delicious irony here in the Georgia case. Melson's claim to fame is forensics and the law, specifically he is on the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board. The ATF forensics laboratory in California is accredited by ASCLD/LAB. The Firearms Technology Branch, however, is not. This no doubt meets with the enthusiastic approval of the Chief Counsel's Office, for if FTB actually had written standards and transparent rules, they couldn't have it both ways in court cases.)

Melson will wish he had something as simple as burning britches before this is over. It is odd in the extreme that Melson's name has not yet been submitted by Eric Holder to the Senate for confirmation. One wonders how long a mere placeholder will put up with the damage that this accumulated excrement will do to his reputation and his blood pressure.

One wonders, too, what Holder, Obama and gang have in mind with this agency. Are they going to just let the scandals fester until they can, at a time of their choosing and to greatest political effect, cover their right flank by declaring the ATF dissolved and folding it, finally, into the FBI thus fulfilling the life-long desire of that agency to kill the ATF? (The FBI would not take everybody. The real sub-par neanderthals would be dispatched to the TSA in one big batch instead of the driblets we see now -- my apologies to all honest neanderthals.)

It WOULD fit their meme of all sins being the fault of the Bushies, with themselves highlighted as the heroic reformers. But it IS a puzzle. I think I'll write Eric Holder another letter and ask him what he has in mind.

Yeah, that's the ticket. I'll write my old buddy Eric.


ATF Chief Counsel's Office Merit Badge.


jon said...

little known youtube trick: take the URL and add #t=1m23s to the end of it to start the video at 1:23.

yosemite sam at 9:22.

Anonymous said...

As the press lifts Congresses eyelids open to what really is taking place behind the scenes at ATF it is going to be the Nightmare On New York Avenue. The Dems starting with Obama and Holder and making their way through Pelosi and Feinstein know whats up over there and the Republicans are going to lay them out for allowing such ineptitude to exist on their watch.

wry762 said...

Mike - maybe a little more detail on the Federal civil forfeiture case? My Google-fu seems to be weak...

Thanks -

Happy D said...

When You write to Eric say hi from all his admirers here at Sipsey Street.

Wayne From At The Water Cooler said...

I've linked to your post from Presidents Day – State Sovereignty

It is mainly about the battle to restore State rights. Many States of course have open carry laws. And the violation by the Federal Government in parks also violates the rights of the States.

The battle for liberty is on many fronts. And the ideas against liberty need to be sent back to were they came. We need to expose evil for what it is.

This verse is not talking about the gates of the Church ... Matthew 16:18 And I say also to you, That you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

We are Americans and we need to work together for the common good.