Why Is ATF Involved And Not DEA?

I’ve subscribed to the press releases from BATFE headquarters and certain of their field divisions. I think it is smart to keep tabs on what they are doing. I got the following press release sent out by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois.

McHenry County Man Charged with Federal Drug Trafficking Charges

ROCKFORD — PATRICK J. FITZGERALD, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, together with ANDREW L. TRAVER, Special Agent-In-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and KEITH NYGREN, McHenry County Sheriff, today announced:

A federal grand jury in Rockford yesterday returned an indictment charging BRIAN M. BLUM, 31, of McHenry, with two counts of distributing cocaine. If convicted of the offenses charged, Blum may be sentenced up to 30 years of imprisonment, as well as a fine of up to $2,000,000, for each count. Blum will be arraigned on January 19, 2011, at 10:30 a.m. before Magistrate Judge P. Michael Mahoney in the federal courthouse in Rockford.

The case was investigated by Special Agents of the Rockford Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department with the assistance of the United States Marshals Service. The case will be prosecuted in federal court by Assistant United States Attorney Joseph C. Pedersen.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving that defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Beyond the self-serving nature of this press release, why is ATF involved in a drug case and not the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration)? It would seem outside of their assigned mission of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives. Am I missing something here?

Another By-Product Of The Tucson Shootings

Beyond the call for more gun control, another by-product of the shootings by the madman in Tucson is an upsurge in the media calling for the confirmation of Andrew Traver.

Helping to push this is Mayor Bloomberg and his Mayors Against Illegal Guns. They are calling for “common sense” measures. Number three on their list released on January 11th is this:

Fill the Leadership Gap and Appoint an ATF Director – The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, the federal law enforcement agency responsible for fighting gun crime, has operated without a Director for four and a half years. President Obama has nominated Andrew Traver, a career law enforcement officer, to fill the position. The nomination has the strong support of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and the Senate should give Mr. Traver a careful and prompt review to help ATF spearhead the fight against gun crime.

From Jonathan Alter in Newsweek comes this from a piece entitled Can Obama Turn Tragedy Into Triumph? Saturday’s shooting spree could prove a turning point in the Obama presidency. How the White House should talk about the tragedy:

Finally, the president should speak out forthrightly for better enforcement of existing gun control laws, which the gun lobby is always fighting to undermine. He should re-state his support of Andrew Traver to be head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive (ATF). The NRA is currently blocking the nomination because Traver once had the temerity to serve as an adviser to a police association on its gun violence reduction program. Obama can reiterate his (and Giffords’) support for the 2nd Amendment while using this chance to make a case for common sense gun control.

Alter is hoping that Obama could turn the shootings in Tucson into an Oklahoma City bombing sort of event and use Jared Loughner just like Bill Clinton used Timothy McVeigh.

The New York Daily News devoted an entire editorial to the Traver nomination accusing “NRA toadies in the Senate” of keeping the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives without a permanent Director. In typical, over-the-top, Daily News fashion they said:

The truth is, the National Rifle Association and its puppets in Congress push just as hard to hogtie enforcement as they do to gut the nation’s all-too-feeble statutes.

And the prime example is their blockade against confirming a permanent chief for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – the federal front-line force against gun trafficking.

In the editorial they also try to link the shootings at Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, and Tucson to the lack of an ATF Director. They conclude by urging Senators to confirm Traver saying “As bodies pile up, it’s the least they can do.” Obviously, they haven’t heard Obama’s call for civility in political discourse.

In California, the Sacramento Bee has picked up the call for Traver saying that we shouldn’t let the NRA dictate who should be “the top gun cop.” After dismissing Traver’s cozy relations with the gun ban lobby, they say:

The bureau responsible for enforcing the nation’s gun laws has not had a permanent director since 2006. Senate Republicans even held up the Bush administration’s appointee to the post at the behest of gun-rights groups. The bureau is under siege by the powerful gun lobby as illegal gun trafficking within the United States and abroad is rife. Our neighbor, Mexico, is being held hostage by vicious and well-armed drug cartels that buy their weapons in the United States.

The NRA is pushing so-called reform legislation that would make it even harder for law enforcement agencies to prosecute illegal gun dealers. In the face of relentless pressure from the gun lobby, Congress and even the president have shown themselves unwilling and unable to support even the most common-sense gun-safety laws.

Traver’s nomination is a test for the nation and its lawmakers. If a cop with an exemplary record of going after illegal gun sales can’t win confirmation as ATF director following last Saturday’s rampage, we are likely to see more Tucsons, more Columbines and more Virginia Techs.

These incendiary editorials have just begun as well as the push for more gun control – ineffective though it would have been in preventing Jared Loughner from doing this deranged act. We can expect more calls and more pressure on Senators to approve Andrew Traver.

If you haven’t called, written, emailed, or faxed your two Senators, what the hell are your waiting for? Do it and do it now.

UPDATE: In what should be no surprise, NPR is the latest media outlet reporting that ATF has been without a permanent Director and asking why Traver hasn’t been approved.

The Senate has yet to hold a hearing on Traver. A Judiciary Committee aide says the panel is waiting for the administration to submit the necessary paperwork.

Cavanaugh says the lack of a Senate-confirmed director with the backing of the president is disconcerting.

“The agency goes on because law enforcement people are ‘can do’ people and they’re mission people, but nevertheless there’s not an agency in government that has to face that kind of problem,” he says. “Can you imagine a big city police force not having a chief for 4 1/2 years?”

And while that might suit the gun lobby, gun control advocates hope the shootings in Tucson will spur the administration to push for Traver’s confirmation.

For some reason, James “Waco Jim” Cavanaugh must be the only former ATF person in the mainstream media’s Rolodex. Rachel Maddow had him on within the last week and now NPR uses him to push their story. Heck, even the SPLC has used Waco Jim.

NRA Opposes Traver Re-nomination

From the NRA-ILA:

NRA Strongly Opposes Obama’s Re-nomination Of Anti-Gun-Leaning Andrew Traver To Head BATFE

Friday, January 07, 2011

This week, President Obama re-nominated Andrew Traver to be director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Obama first nominated Traver on November 17, 2010, but the Senate Judiciary Committee failed to act on his nomination.

Last November, NRA strongly opposed Obama’s nomination of Traver. Our strong opposition has not changed.

Traver has been deeply aligned with gun control advocates and anti-gun activities. This makes him the wrong choice to lead an enforcement agency that has almost exclusive oversight and control over the firearms industry, its retailers and consumers.

Please contact your U.S. Senators and urge them to oppose Andrew Traver’s ill-advised nomination to head BATFE. You can call your U.S. Senators at (202) 224-3121.

He’s Baaaaack!

Among a whole list of re-nominations sent by the White House to the Senate is that of Andrew Traver to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. I guess Obama really does think he can poke us in the eye again with this anti-gun nominee.

The website Main Justice notes that Traver’s nomination is opposed by the NRA and other gun rights groups as well as that the agency has not had a permanent director since 2006.

No word yet from the Brady Campaign on this nomination. However, Dennis Hennigan praised it last December as the beginning of the end of Obama’s “appeasement” of gun rights forces.

While I really don’t think Traver can get approved by the Senate given his record of anti-gun activism, I think his renomination actually can serve a useful purpose for gun rights. The confirmation hearings will be an opportunity to air much of ATF’s dirty laundry which has been ignored by the mainstream media. These range from gross mismanagement in the upper levels of the bureau to allegations of looking the other way to AR’s being smuggled into Mexico so that they could be traced back to the U.S.

David Codrea’s Gun Rights Examiner has a number of columns dealing with these issues as does Mike Vanderboegh’s Sipsey Street Irregulars blog. Sources within ATF are now sending substantive leaks to both of these sites because they are so disgusted with what is going on.

The dissident ATF agent website, CleanUpATF.org, is also full of details about how the bureau is being mismanaged. If one wants to get a feel for how the rank and file in the ATF are suffering under the mismanagement, this is the place to go.

Given all the dirt that can and will come out at Traver’s confirmation hearings, one must wonder if this is some sort of end game to abolish ATF which has served as lightning rod for the gun rights movement and then reconstitute its gun control functions in a less public part of the Federal bureaucracy. That would be truly Machiavellian if true!

H/T Sebastian

112th Congress Convenes And No More Recess Appointments

Andrew Traver is out of luck in terms of getting a recess appointment. The 112th Congress, 1st Session convened at 12 noon today.

Checking the White House website regarding any more recess appointments, the last – and only ones – were made on December 29th.

Now it remains to be seen whether Obama will renominate Traver to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. If he does, the chances of being confirmed by the Senate are even less today than they were in November. When the Senate went into sine die adjournment on December 22nd, they returned Traver’s name to the President.

ATF, Chuck Schumer, and Andrew Traver

Mike Vanderboegh at Sipsey Street Irregulars has a very interesting post on the Traver nomination being sent back to the White House. Rumor has it that the Traver nomination was sent back with the full approval of notorious anti-gunner Senator Chuck Schumer.

The Chief Counsel’s Office at ATF has a reputation for being a nest of vipers. That comes from both ATF agents in the field and pro-gun advocates. They also have good relations with Schumer and have been at his beck and call for years.

The rumor is that Andrew Traver wanted the Chief Counsel’s Office cleaned out before he arrived so he wouldn’t have to do it. Because of that the CCO worked with Schumer to have the nomination killed or at least stalled.

Remember this is all rumor and conjecture on Mike’s part but he was the first one to call the Traver nomination. It was Mike’s first post on Traver that got me to doing Google searches on the guy. Read his whole post linked above in the first paragraph.

Obama Makes Six Recess Appointments But Not Traver

Yesterday, the White House announced six recess appointments. Four were ambassadors, one was to the position of Public Printer (head of the Government Printing Office), and one as Deputy Attorney General.

From my perspective this is important not for who was appointed but who wasn’t – Andrew Traver to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Of course, Obama still could make Traver a recess appointment as the new Congress doesn’t begin until January 5th. My guess is that if no more appointments are made by Friday, then these six are it.

John Elwood at the Volokh Conspiracy goes into detail on the mechanics of these appointments and recess appointments in general.

Will Obama Poke Gun Owners In The Eye Again?

The Senate adjourned on December 22nd. With that adjournment, the nomination of Andrew Traver to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives fell by the wayside. The Senate neither voted to confirm nor deny his appointment so if Obama still wants Traver as Director of ATF he will need to resubmit his name to the Senate.

According to the Congressional Research Service:

Nominations Returned to the President

Nominations that are not confirmed or rejected are returned to the President at the end of a session or when the Senate adjourns or recesses for more than 30 days (Senate Rule XXXI, paragraph 6). If the President still wants a nominee considered, he must submit a new nomination to the Senate. The Senate can, however, waive this rule by unanimous consent, and it often does to allow nominations to remain “in status quo” between the first and second sessions of a Congress. The majority leader or his designee also may exempt specific nominees by name from the unanimous consent agreement, allowing them to be returned during the recess or adjournment.

Checking the Congressional Record (page S11071) for December 22nd, Andrew Traver’s nomination was specifically mentioned as being returned to the President. Along with him were a number of other nominations including many judicial nominations.

The website, Main Justice, first reported on this yesterday, noting that Traver had faced “strong opposition from the National Rifle Association.” David Codrea notes that we are not out of the woods yet in his Gun Rights Examiner column.

Gun owners dodged a bullet—but only one. Without individual senators, including nominally “pro-gun” Democrats, taking a stand and publicly opposing Traver, and without them pledging further opposition and consequences if Obama attempts a recess appointment end run, we’re not out of the woods yet.

Joe Huffman at the View from North Central Idaho offered this wry assessment of the situation.

I think this means we will have a more gun friendly Senate to review Traver’s background with the Klan Joyce Foundation.

Two questions remain regarding Andrew Traver. First, will Obama renominate him now that Rahm Emanuel is no longer Chief of Staff? As reported earlier, Emanuel was the person in the Obama White House who was pushing Traver. Without Rahm as his champion, is the controversy over Traver worth it to Obama?

The second question is whether Obama is so committed to sticking it to us “bitter clingers” that he will make Traver a recess appointment. He has until 11:59am on January 5, 2011 to make that decision. My gut reaction is that he punts and there won’t be a recess appointment. The Brady Bunch and their ilk are just not worth the bad will that would ensue.

MAIG And CredoAction Push Traver In Joint Website

Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns and CredoAction have formed a joint website to push the nomination of Andrew Traver to head ATF. The website is called TopCopNow.org. They say that Traver:

Special Agent Andrew Traver has dedicated his career to keeping our families and communities safe from gun violence. He understands firsthand the challenges that the ATF faces and knows what our agents need to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

CredoAction is a one of the parts of the liberal funding group Working Assets. The group promotes their credit card, cellular service, and long-distance telephone service as a way to support “progressive causes”. With regard to CredoAction, they say, “Our CREDO Action Web site plugs you into a network of like-minded citizen activists and provides easy and effective ways to take action on the issues you care about..” Among the other causes they are promoting currently is the START Treaty and opposition to the crackdown on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

Bloomberg’s Mayors Endorse Andrew Traver

Somehow along the way I missed this press release from MAIG. They released it in November with their endorsement of Andrew Traver.

November 16, 2010
No. 9


Joint Statement of Coalition Co-chairs Michael R. Bloomberg and Thomas M. Menino:

“On behalf of the more than 500 mayors who have been petitioning for tougher
enforcement of our nation’s gun laws, we commend the President on his nomination of Andrew Traver to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Mr. Traver has dedicated his career to keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, and his nomination to this post as America’s top cop on illegal guns deserves careful and swift review by the U.S. Senate.”

About Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Since its inception in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from 15
mayors to over 500. Mayors Against Illegal Guns has united the nation’s mayors around these common goals: protecting their communities by holding gun offenders and irresponsible gun dealers accountable, demanding access to trace data that is critical to law enforcement efforts to combat illegal gun trafficking, and working with legislators to fix gaps, weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it far too easy for criminals and other prohibited purchasers to get

Contact: Mayor Bloomberg’s Press Office (212) 788-2958
Mayor Menino’s Press Office (617) 635-4461

UPDATE: David Codrea at the National Gun Rights Examiner received a very interesting email from a confidential source regarding the Traver nomination. The bottom line is that this nomination is not good for ATF. As the source put it, “Appointing Traver has f***ed ATF royally.”