Waco looks like a runny nose compared to the sickness that now envelopes the higher echelon of the ATF

By —— Bio and Archives--November 27, 2011

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As a brief history, some of you will remember the FBI siege of the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco, Texas, April 19, 1993. After the flames died down, a good and honorable man, Steve Higgins, then Director of ATF, was scapegoated by the press and the Congress. Mr. Higgins stepped down as Director. His staff had lied and misled him regarding the actions on the ground at Waco.

Mr. Higgins took full responsibility for his less-than-honorable commanders. I can attest personally, to Mr. Higgins honor and reputation, as he received a phone call in my presence regarding the situation in Waco prior to the raid that went so wrong. I heard him tell the person on the other end of the phone that the raid was to be cancelled, called off, taken down if there was even the slightest hint that the element of surprise had been lost.

Well, we all now know that his commanders lied to him and went ahead with the raid in defiance to Director Higgins orders.

In the following months John Magaw, Director at the United States Secret Service (USSS) was named as the new Director of ATF. At the time I was Chairman of the Treasury, Postal and General Government Sub-committee on Appropriations (TPS). Senator Dennis DeConcini from Arizona was my counterpart in the U.S. Senate. The three of us rebuilt ATF into a clean, lean and honest law enforcement agency. That tradition was carried forward by Director Buckles upon the retirement of Director Magaw.

However, things have deteriorated to a point where Waco looks like a runny nose compared to the sickness that now envelopes the higher echelon of the agency. ATF has not had a permanent Director for over six years.

Every organization has a few bad apples in the barrel. Without strong, positive, mission oriented leadership the bad apples at ATF have tainted everyone in the organization and are taking it down a path never intended by the Congress or anyone else that has an ounce of “protect and serve” in their veins. 

Good agents are leaving the agency to protect themselves and their families from the harassment of some rouge ATF management people interested only in themselves rather than the ATF mission of taking criminals using guns for unlawful purposes off the streets.

Add to this the growing evidence that the Obama Administration, under the hand of Attorney General Eric Holder, are using ATF to forward their anti-gun ownership agenda. To wit; AG Holder made a rousing speech for the need of more and stronger gun laws, siting a so-called “river of iron” flowing into Mexico.  That “river of iron” did not exist, so under his Department of Justice (DOJ) the river was created through a program known as Fast and Furious. Some 2000-plus weapons were allowed to “walk” across the US border into the hands of Mexican Drug Cartels with no tracing, follow up investigations or any semblance of legitimate law enforcement procedures. 

As a result US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata are dead, murdered by Mexican Cartels using Fast and Furious provided guns. Add to this terrible list, hundreds of innocent Mexican citizens gunned down in the street when caught between warring Cartel factions.

Senator DeConcini, Director Magaw and I did a pretty darn good repair job. Today, however, ATF needs a total rebuild, elimination of the bad apples and full support by the Congress of the good, dedicated law enforcement people in the organization.

You can help make this happen. Congressman Issa and Senator Grassley have been holding a series of hearings regarding Fast and Furious. Please take a moment to email, write or phone your Member of Congress and ask them to be supportive of the Issa/Grassley effort. You can find your Congressman’s contact info here and your Senator’s here.

And now for the reason for the title of this email. Last week I wrote an article entitled “Indict Holder” and circulated it to the press and Congress. Even though it was Thanksgiving, to date I have received responses from over 50 Members of Congress or their staff. Yesterday, I wrote and circulated a follow on piece, “ATF and DOJ Break the Law”.

If you don’t hear from me for awhile, please check the nearest river.


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Jim Ross Lightfoot -- Bio and Archives | Comments

James R. Lightfoot, Lightfoot Strategies served in Congress six terms, starting in 1985 and retiring in 1997. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal and General Government (TPS) of Appropriations, he had jurisdiction over 40% of Federal Law Enforcement (Customs, Secret Service, ATF, FLETC, and IRS enforcement).

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