David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh put up posts last night indicating that three ATF managers implicated in Project Gunwalker have been relieved of their duties in advance of the Office of Inspector General report. It is also in advance of Eric Holder’s appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on February 2nd.
According to reports they received, William Hoover, Mark Chait, and William McMahon have been sidelined pending the outcome of the OIG report. From the Gun Rights Examiner:
William Hoover, ATF’s Deputy Director during Fast and Furious, who was recently reassigned as Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office, Assistant Director in Charge of Field Operations Mark Chait, likewise reassigned as head of the Baltimore Field Office, and Deputy Assistant Director of Field Operations William McMahon have reportedly been sidelined pending the outcome of the anticipated report from the Office of Inspector General. Debbie Bullock a mid-level manager has reportedly been advised that she is now the acting SAC for Baltimore, and will assume Chait’s functions.
As they note, this would indicate that they are implicated in the OIG report – which is supposed to be confidential – and that Eric Holder wants to appear before Darrell Issa on February 2nd saying we’ve cleaned things up. Again, from David:
Disciplinary actions could take momentum away from that (a Special Prosecutor). Sources tell Gun Rights Examiner and Sipsey Street Irregulars that “ATF is going to follow the long-awaited OIG report to a ‘t’: If OIG says XX gets terminated, they are going to terminate.” That this would be treated as a personnel matter, subject to disciplinary procedures, as opposed to a criminal matter, subject to prosecution was the topic of a recent post in this column.
Left unsaid is why these three have been singled out prior to the OIG report being submitted, particularly since their sharing findings with the Department of Justice and ATF subjects of their investigation would violate all principles of independence from influence. If that did not happen, a fair conclusion to assume would be that the process of the investigation itself led those answering questions and providing documentation to an inevitable conclusion. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa wrote a December 7 column claiming Attorney General Eric Holder, scheduled to testify again on February 2, was “protecting staff over ‘Fast and Furious’.”
This latest reported development lends itself to the observation that Holder is protecting something else, and that this is a tactical move in anticipation of the report’s release and his next trip to the Hill.
Do these mid-level managers need to go? Sure but they were not the ones who dreamed this whole debacle up in the first place. It was way above their pay grade and level of Machiavellian intrigue.
Conspiculously missing from this list are Ken Melson, George Gillett, David Voth, and Bill Newell. You have to wonder why?
UPDATE: Jeremy Pelofsky of Reuters reports on the changes in the Chicago Tribune here. No mention of either David or Mike.
However, the Federal law enforcement webpage, ticklethewire.com, covers it and gives credit for breaking the story to Sipsey Street. They also have the statement given by Scot Thomasson of ATF concerning the changes:
“Taking into consideration the depth and breadth of the Fast and Furious investigation a decision to detail ATF Deputy Assistant Director William McMahon, Special Agents in Charge William Hoover and Mark Chait from operational positions with oversight responsibilities to non-operational positions was made by the Deputy Director Thomas Brandon. These new assignments will remain in effect pending the outcome of the OIG investigation.”
They also notice that all three had been moved once before as a result of Project Gunwalker.