There’s been a shakeup at the Phoenix office of ATF, which has come under heat for the controversial gun walking program dubbed Operation Fast and Furious, ticklethewire.com has learned.
Thomas E. Brandon, special agent in charge of the Detroit office, has been temporarily assigned to head up the Phoenix office, according to knowledgeable sources.
Brandon will fill in for the Phoenix special agent in charge, William D. Newell, who has been sent to Washington to help prepare and answer questions about Operation Fast and Furious for Congress and the Office of Inspector General, the sources said.
Newell joins Jim Needles, an assistant special agent in charge of the Phoenix Division, who has been temporarily assigned to Washington to also help prepare answers for the various inquiries, sources said. Another assistant special agent in charge of the Phoenix office has taken a sick leave. It is unclear where all the agents involved in the moves will wind up, and whether they’ll return to their old posts.
Scot L. Thomasson, chief spokesman for ATF, did not immediately respond to a call from ticklethewire.com for comment.
Some key members of Congress have been highly critical of the Fast and Furious program and have been pressing for answers. The program encouraged straw purchasers to buy guns, all the with hopes of tracing them to the Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of some of the guns which ended up being used in crimes. That triggered a public outcry from Congress and the Mexican government.
At first glance it appeared to me that ATF agent Jumper's "official" message regarding Gillett yesterday at CleanUpATF.org was contradicted by this report. Until, that is, my attention was brought to the dates. He has already been acting SAC and is now on some kind of leave, although whether sick leave, annual leave, or administrative leave is a little unclear. It is said that Newell is in HQ but the agency can't afford to keep paying him per diem so they are sending him back to Phoenix.
Agent 1DesertRat writing last night advised:
There may be some updates on this. The Phoenix guys say that Newell is now on a detail to HQ but plan is to return to run prosecution and provide oversight to Fast and Furious. Gillett is on 30 days leave. The Phoenix RAIC who was responsible for Fast and Furious will join Newell at the Phoenix AUSA Office to work the Fast and Furious case. Detail RAIC from FL inbound and Acting SAC Tom Brandon inbound from Detroit. There was also another inbound ASAC. Cant keep track of all the players coming to Phoenix but appears pretty obvious that there is an impression that all in Phoenix are tainted. Hopefully the Phoenix guys can fill in some of the gaps on this.
Agent Doc Holiday reacts:
What does Newell know about running a prosecution #1? Number 2, Can you say Brady, Jenks, Giglio and Henthorn? #3 SES Agent overseeing a prosecution the size of any GS 13's major case? And Finally, hasn't Newell provided enough oversight of Fast and Furious? Another ridiculous knee jerk by Billy and crew. Is Gillette on 30 days leave or Admin leave? He is apparently telling all that will listen that he is only cooperating with Senator Grassleys Office because he is standing up for the hard working Agents. George, NOBODY is buying it. Translated, hes gonna try to enlist group 7 in trying to justify his failures. Same arguments for Voth as Newell. We didnt even detail an ASAC to oversee the Waco prosecutions. The cases have been indicted, case reports written. A new hire could see a bunch of lying and buying cases through the prosecution phase. Perdiem for Brandon, the inbound RAC, The inbound ASAC? AND Newell gets per diem because he's technically assigned to Mexico? Is anybody going to be demoted or go to jail for this? Stop the shell games Mr. Melson, Hoover and Chait. You cant protect your friends and shouldnt even try. You are sacrificing our Agenys integrity to cover your own asses.
Agent Epic Failure posts this afternoon:
So Newell has been chosen to oversee the Fast and Furious prosecutions? Bad move. He is a material witness. He is also the ringleader this catastrophic international incident. And, he was never a good agent or first line supervisor, ever. Kevin O'Keefe ran his Miami group for him when Kevin was a GS-13 street agent and Newell was the GS. Sound familiar? That is no secret. Newell has been over his skis in every postion he has had a ATF. What does Newell know about seeing a case through trial? Just because he is a SAC and SES doesn't count for anything in trial world. Let agents do the real work and keep the executives behind thier desks. ATF has this jacked up enough without inserting Newell back in to the mix to further taint an already tainted investigation.
Gillett on leave? George who? Who cares?
Voth? Maybe he ought to start thinking about serving sandwichs to the inmates at the Maricopa County Jail for $30K a year. Right? That was his idea, not mine.
Tom Brandon coming to Phoenix? Its about time! Tom Brandon should be the damn Director, not a fix-it man. He'd get this place fixed and fast. Hmmm. Traver or Brandon? How about a guy who knows how to lead people (Brandon) instead of a guy who is sucking his thumb waiting for the White House to sneak him in under the darkness of a Congressional break (Traver).
Steve Barborini to run the Phoenix gun trafficking group? Guaranteed it will be run right, the right way and to maximum efficiency. He is the best of the best. It won't take the investigative genius of Barborini to figure out that WE DO NOT WALK GUNS TO CRIMINALS!
All I know is that the old Phoenix Field Divison management staff is, for the most part, out of play. That is a short term improvement for some long term problems.