One of the 23 gun-control executive orders issued by President Barack Obama last week Wednesday calls for nominating a permanent director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a move Second Amendment advocates and gun owners have been lobbying for since 2006, the last time the embattled agency had a fully vested, fulltime leader.
Obama’s nominee: B. Todd Jones, the ATF’s acting interim director, who has also been serving as U.S. attorney for the District of Minnesota since he was appointed to lead the agency in September 2011, essentially commuting between Minneapolis and Washington, D.C.
Jones, 55, a former Marine infantry officer and Gulf War combat veteran, is the fifth interim director to lead the ATF since Carl Joseph Truscott served as the last “permanent” bureau chief between 2004-06.
Jones was appointed by the Obama administration to take over the ATF in the aftermath of the scandal surrounding the gun-trafficking investigation known as Operation Fast and Furious, in which agents lost track of firearms allowed to pass into Mexico.
According to J.K. Trotter of Atlantic Wire, the biggest obstacle in confirming Jones as permanent chief is not his background, performance or political views, but the 2006 law approved by Congress that now requires the Senate to confirm a nominated ATF director. Previously, the director was appointed by the president.
Because of the “perpetual political strife inherent to ATF’s domain — gun violence in particular — not a single nominee has been confirmed in almost seven years,” Trotter writes.
That may not be the case with Jones, he suggests.
The Newtown school shootings “might make certain legislative battles more important to Congressional Republicans than yet another confirmation hearing.” Trotter writes.
Despite this, Jones’ confirmation may not be a slam-dunk.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said Wednesday that he agreed with Obama that it was time for the Senate to confirm a permanent ATF director, but raised questions about Jones’ involvement with the bungled Fast and Furious investigation.
“The new nominee, B. Todd Jones, is a familiar face to the committee, but his ties to the Fast and Furious scandal raise serious questions,” he said.
Grassley is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which issued a report in October 2012 that noted Jones was “personally a part of the high-ranking Department of Justice unit” that first met in October 2009 to create the policy that justified “gun-walking” roughly 2,000 firearms into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels in Operation Fast and Furious. One of the weapons traced to the gun-walking operation was used to murder Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Matthew Boyle writes in Breitbart.com on Jan. 19 that Jones was among the DOJ and ATF officials who resisted cooperating with congressional investigators looking into the scandal by withholding documents, details and requested information about these seminal 2009 meetings.
According to Townhall’s Katie Pavlich, Jones also has a penchant for threatening and retaliating against ATF whistleblowers Jay Dobyns and Vince Cefalu, threatening them in a July 9, 2012 memo: “If you make poor choices, that if you don’t abide by the rules, that if you don’t respect the chain of command, if you don’t find the appropriate way to raise your concerns to your leadership, there will be consequences …”
Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said in a Jan. 18 statement that Obama’s decision to nominate Jones is a “slap in the face” to the Terry family.
“Acting Director Jones was at the helm of ATF as many troubling problems from the fallout of Operation Fast and Furious festered,” Issa said. “His specific decisions on a number of Fast and Furious related issues raise concerns about his judgment and ability to lead the agency. While I continue to believe that ATF needs to have a Senate-confirmed director, President Obama has a responsibility to find a nominee who can win confirmation and is not saddled by a string of bad decisions related to the agency’s greatest recent failure.”
For more, go to:
— Obama’s Nominee for ATF Director Helped Design ‘Fast & Furious’