No Retaliation Against Whistleblowers? Sure There Wasn’t

William LaJeunesse of FoxNews reports today on the lives of those brave ATF agents who stood up and told the truth. He compares it with what happened to managers like Newell, Voth, McMahon, and Melson. It isn’t pretty.

The managers either got promotions or supposedly lateral transfers with paid moving expenses plus the cost of living bonus that comes with being assigned to Washington, DC and headquarters. The agents?

  • Agent Larry Alt took a transfer to Florida and has unresolved retaliation claims against the ATF.
  • Agent Pete Forcelli was demoted to a desk job. Forcelli is a respected investigator, with years as a detective with the New York City Police Department. He has requested an internal investigation to address the retaliation against him.
  • Agent James Casa also took a transfer to Florida.
  • Agent Carlos Canino, once the deputy attache in Mexico City, was moved to Tucson.
  • Agent Jose Wall, formerly assigned to Tijuana, was moved to Phoenix.
  • Agent Darren Gil, formerly the attache to Mexico, retired.

Perhaps the most courageous of all the whistleblowers is Senior Agent John Dodson. He was the first to come out publicly, the first to agree to have his name mentioned, and the first to go on-air with Sharyl Attkisson of CBS without a hidden identity. As might be expected given the management culture of ATF, Dodson’s life since then has been hell.

Dodson was told he was toxic and could no longer work in Phoenix. With sole custody of two teenagers and under water on his house mortgage, Dodson found himself with no place to be and nowhere to go.

A supervisor suggested he’d be treated fairly at an office in South Carolina. Wanting to keep his job, protect his pension and pay the mortgage, Dodson had no other choice. He and his family now live in a small apartment, facing financial troubles, still labeled persona non grata by the very agency he carries a badge for, and regularly assaulted by leaks from “ATF sources at headquarters.”

This was after he moved his family from Virginia to take the Phoenix position. Before his transfer to South Carolina, managers openly retaliated against Dodson by giving him the worst duty and even going so far as to turn off his building badge.

If there was a fund to help Agent Dodson get through this period, I’d donate in a heartbeat. If there isn’t a fund, there should be one. Moreover, in an entirely just world, Bill Newell and David Voth would be Federal inmates and their assets sold so as to compensate the victims of Project Gunwalker.

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These Students Understand

The Complementary Spouse’s nephew, Aaron Elam, is a freshman at the University of Kentucky. As part of a team project for an English class, he and his team submitted the video below arguing for concealed carry on campus. I think they not only did a good job but they understand just how defenseless they really are in so-called gun-free zones.

Congratulations to Aaron and the rest of his team for a job well done. Feel free to pass this video on as part of their assignment is to distribute it. Let’s see if it can go viral.

Operation Fast And Furious Has Kept The Numbers Game Alive

Ginny Simone of NRA News interviewed Ed Head yesterday about the varying estimates of firearms that have been traced from the United States to Mexico. Head, who is currently the rangemaster and an instructor at Gunsite Academy, was a Field Operations Supervisor with the Border Patrol prior to his retirement in 2001.

Head made the point that just because a firearm is “sourced” to the United States does not mean it entered Mexico illegally. He pointed out that the United States sells weapons to the Mexican Army along with those of a number of other Central American nations. Head pointed out that many American-made weapons in the hands of the cartels are being stolen or diverted from the Mexican Army. Moreover, other weapons in the cartel’s hands were legally sent to the militaries of such Central American countries as Guatemala. To blame border state gun dealers for this is wrong, Head said.

“You Guys Are Behind It” – Attorney General Eric Holder

In a scene reminiscent of the Nixon Administration during the Watergate Scandal, Attorney General Eric Holder lashed out at a reporter for The Daily Caller. The reporter asked Holder for his response to the growing calls in Congress for his resignation over his role in Operation Fast and Furious. Holder’s response?

Holder was at the White House to help launch the Intellectual Property Theft Campaign when he made his demand that The Daily Caller stop running articles about members of Congress asking for Holder’s resignation.

Methinks the pressure is starting to get to the “cool guys” in the Obama Administration.

UPDATE: The Joyce Foundation funded hacks at Media Matters are applauding Holder’s response to the reporter from The Daily Caller.

Either way, Holder is right: This isn’t a grassroots movement of conservatives calling for Holder to step down, it’s a concerted effort by a supposed media organization to push him out.

This reminds me of Baghdad Bob – Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf – who would insist that Saddam’s army was winning as American tanks were rolling into the city. There are plenty of us in the grassroots who would like to see Holder gone. The reason the hacks at Media Matters don’t recognize it is they don’t know what real grass looks like. All they know is Astro-Turf.

Sen. Chuck Grassley: Facts Are Stubborn Things

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is taking exception to statements made by Attorney General Eric Holder and his apologists who are saying mistakes made during Operation Fast and Furious did not directly lead to the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. In a release sent out today by his office, he says:

Setting the Record Straight on the Department of Justice Oversight Hearing

“Facts are STUBBORN Things”
“…and whatever our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” – John Adams, December 1770

Senate Judiciary Committee Oversight Hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder, Nov. 8, 2011

Connection Between Fast and Furious and Agent Terry’s Death

Attorney General Holder to Senator Cornyn: “It is not fair, however, to assume that the mistakes that happened in Fast and Furious led directly to the death of Agent Terry.”

According to the FBI, two weapons were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. The bullet removed from Agent Terry matched the caliber of those two weapons, not the caliber of the weapons in possession of the Border Patrol agents, so it appears he did not die from friendly fire. Congressional investigators have asked the FBI to explain its theory of the case, since if there was no third gun at the scene and the bullet didn’t come from the Border Patrol, there must still be an unknown third gun which law enforcement has not yet recovered. It is possible that that third gun is not related to Fast and Furious. However, since two guns walked in Fast and Furious were present, it is possible that a third may have been as well. The two found at the scene were both part of a lot of three weapons purchased by known straw buyer Jaime Avila on the same day in January 2010.

Prior to the purchase of the weapons found at the Terry murder scene, Avila had already been identified by the ATF as a likely straw purchaser at least two-and-a-half months earlier. In November 2009 Uriel Patino, the largest purchasing target in Operation Fast and Furious, brought Avila into a cooperating gun dealer to buy five weapons. ATF received real-time notice from the gun dealer and knew the purchases were significant enough that agents rushed to the store to follow them. However, they arrived too late. Yet rather than going to Avila’s address to question him, ATF opted to sit back. Avila continued to purchase through December 2009 and into January 2010.

When the weapons found at the Terry murder scene were bought by Avila on January 16, 2010, the cooperating gun dealer gave the ATF same-day notice via fax. One business day later, the ATF entered the purchases in their Suspect Gun Database. Nevertheless, the ATF still failed to question Avila the day of the purchase, the day the purchase was entered into the Suspect Gun Database—or at all, until Avila was arrested 11 months later in direct response to Agent Terry’s death. The falsification of forms charge for which Avila was arrested on December 15 could have been made months earlier.

Regardless, by using the word ‘directly,’ Holder seems to be echoing the statement of Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer: “The tragic truth is that if those criminals who killed Agent Terry had not gotten the guns from this one source, they would have gotten the gun from another source.” That is hardly an excuse for federal law enforcement to watch criminals collect more than a thousand firearms without acting to stop them.

 The link to all the supporting documents can be found here.

Supreme Court Says No To Sean Masciandaro’s Appeal

In their orders released today, the Supreme Court denied Sean Masciandaro’s writ of certiorari without any comment. He had appealed to the Supreme Court from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals which had punted the case.

Mr. Masciandaro was originally convicted of possessing a firearm on National Park Service property when he had stopped to take a nap before continuing his drive home. At the time of his arrest this was illegal but the law changed before he went to trial. Nonetheless, under existing precedent, this was valid even though it was no longer illegal.

As the Christian Science Monitor noted about this denial of certiorari:

Lawyers for a Virginia man had asked the justices to examine a question left largely unresolved in the high court’s two prior landmark rulings identifying the scope and substance of Second Amendment protections. The question is: Does the Second Amendment guarantee a right to bear arms in public for personal protection?

The court dismissed the case in a one-line order without comment. The action leaves lower court rulings intact and postpones the prospect of high court clarification on a key gun rights issue.

On one hand, I am sorry that the Supreme Court did not take this opportunity to clarify their rulings in Heller and McDonald. On the other hand, this opens the door for the Supreme Court to consider some of the cleaner cases working their way through the lowers courts.

By cleaner I mean ones that do not involve a criminal conviction but rather deal with the denial of permits or state laws that deal with carry. Some of these better cases include Woollard v. Sheridan in Maryland, Bateman v. Perdue in North Carolina, and  Kachalsky v. Cacace in New York. These three, I should note, are all Second Amendment Foundation cases with Alan Gura as the lead attorney.

NRA’s Illinois Rep On “Snuffy” Pfleger

Todd Vandermyde, the NRA-ILA representative for the state of Illinois, was interviewed by Cam Edwards of NRA News on Fr. Michael “Snuffy” Pfleger’s recent press conference objecting to concealed carry in Illinois. As Vandermyde said, things are getting tough even in Illinois for the gun prohibitionists if they have to trot out Fr. Pfleger for a press conference during Thanksgiving Week.

As to the why he is called Snuffy, Fr. Pfleger called for snuffing out gun dealers in the Chicago area a few years ago. He, of course, denies he meant for any harm to come to them.

Pfleger’s sacramental faculties – the right to celebrate Mass, consecrate the Eucharist, etc. – were suspended earlier this year by Francis Cardinal George of the Chicago Archdiocese. It is my understanding that Pfleger is now back in the good graces of the Church after making his amends with Cardinal George.

Both Good And Bad Advice

According to this story on WHNT, Huntsville, Alabama is seeing a great increase in burglaries. Because of this many people are arming themselves against burglars as well they might. According to the story, Huntsville Police said there were 241 burglaries of homes and businesses during the month of October.

WHNT interviewed the head of the Alabama State Rifle and Pistol Association, James Moses of Huntsville, who generally gave some good advice. For example, he emphasized training and safety saying “both long-time and new gun owners (are urged) to brush up on basic firearm safety skills, and take instruction classes if needed.” He also emphasized that people need to be able to identify their target and make sure it is an intruder – and not a family member – they are preparing to shoot at.

Where I consider his advice a bit suspect is when he said:

If he (a burglar) is in my house and I can get to my gun and get it loaded, I’m not going to give him a chance to hurt me or hurt my wife.

The question I would ask is why his gun is unloaded. Armed burglars and home invaders are not going to give you the time to open up the gun safe, pull out your shotgun, rummage around for a box of shells, and then load it. If you are worried about small children, then take the advice of Kathy Jackson of Cornered Cat fame and keep your pistol on your body. With the rash of home invasions occuring nationwide, that isn’t bad advice for everyone.

The Mainstream Media Notices Gun Bloggers

This weekend, the New York Times and the Arizona Republic, two papers on opposite ends of the country, featured stories in which gun bloggers played a role. To see this much recognition paid to gun bloggers by major newspapers is frankly amazing. I don’t think I’d be overstating things if I said that most in the media consider us gun bloggers as crazy fringe types ranting about gun rights, the Constitution, and the Second Amendment or posting about arcane topics such as the difference between .308 Winchester and 7.62 NATO.

The New York Times’s lead story in their Sunday Business section was about Cerberus and the Freedom Group. In a rather straightforward story, Times reporter Natasha Singer described how financier Stephen Feinberg, CEO of Cerberus, created what has become the Freedom Group of companies starting with Bushmaster and then adding icons such as Remington, Marlin, and Harrington and Richardson to the mix. The story details their place in the market, the relative lack of handguns in their product mix, and how this last factor could impact Freedom Group’s growth as concealed carry expands.

It is in the discussion of the growth of Freedom Group that gun bloggers are mentioned.

Still, the Freedom Group has ingested so many well-known brands so quickly that some gun owners are uneasy about what it might do next. Two years ago, a Cerberus managing director, George Kollitides, ran for the board of the N.R.A. Despite an endorsement from Remington, and the fact that he was a director of the Freedom Group and Remington, he lost. His campaign didn’t sit well with some gun bloggers, who viewed him as an industry interloper.

Andrew Arulanandam, the N.R.A.’s director for public affairs, declined to speculate about why Mr. Kollitides lost. “It’s a great question to ask our four million members,” he said.

The gun bloggers mentioned in the story are Sebastian and Bitter of Shall Not Be Questioned. It links to their 2009 endorsements for the NRA Board of Directors where they discussed why they were not endorsing George Kollitides.

The Arizona Republic featured a front page story today entitled “ATF gun probe: Behind the fall of Operation Fast and Furious.” The story by Dennis Wagner is one of the better overviews of Operation Fast and Furious and does a good job at outlining the scandal. It is even better at bringing to light the behind-the scenes moves that brought this scandal to public consciousness. As Wagner notes,

The initial story line of Fast and Furious was about outrage — anger that guns, let out of sight, had been used in crimes. But the backstory of the investigation is one of hidden motives, curious contradictions and strange allegiances, both among those who organized the effort and those who exposed it.

It goes into detail on how Senior Agent John Dodson sought out the advice of ATF veterans Jay Dobyns and Vincent Cefalu who eventually began to network with bloggers David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh.

Dobyns and Cefalu began networking with two of the most prominent and prolific Second Amendment bloggers in America.

David Codrea, an Ohio-based writer, is field editor for GUNS Magazine and an author on a website known as “The War on Guns: Notes From the Resistance.”

Mike Vanderboegh runs a website, Sipsey Street Irregulars, which he identifies as a gathering place for the 3 percent of Americans willing to fight for the right to bear arms.

Vanderboegh and Codrea, longtime friends, this year received Soldier of Fortune Magazine’s Second Amendment Freedom Award and the David and Goliath Award from Jews for Preservation of Firearms Ownership.

Dobyns says he turned to the bloggers because of a shared animus toward ATF administrators. “Do they have an agenda? Of course they do,” he said. “But it’s my experience that they’re not anti-ATF; they’re anti-bad ATF.”

Codrea and Vanderboegh began churning out essays on Fast and Furious, even giving the operation its sardonic nickname, “Project Gunwalker.” They joined forces with other bloggers, government employees and gun dealers in what Vanderboegh calls “a coalition of willing Lilliputians.”

The story recognizes the role that Codrea and Vanderboegh played as intermediaries between the whistleblowers and Congressional staffers. Indeed, it was their pressure that got people like Sen. Chuck Grassley to pay attention to the whistleblowers and give them protection. It also makes note of how improbable it was that a pair of Threepers got together with the ATF whistleblowers.

In interviews, Vanderbeogh and Codrea chuckle at the irony of government agents relying on their critics to find a congressional audience.

“It’s so improbable that ATF guys would come to us, the Second Amendment advocates,” Vanderbeogh says. “But we realized we did have common enemies in the ATF hierarchy.”

I am glad to see gun bloggers get their due in both stories. It is about time.