The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives just can’t seem to get a break.
No sooner had the dust begun to settle a bit in the controversy over last weekend’s raid at Ares Armor in California than did BATF find itself hit with a high-profile subpoena from Congressman Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. This subpoena was for documents requested a year ago that related to a “storefront sting” scandal involving operations in six cities, including Milwaukee, Wis., Portland, Ore., Wichita, Kan., Albuquerque, N.M., Pensacola, Fla., and Atlanta, Ga.
These questionable operations were exposed by stories in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel early last year regarding “Operation Fearless.” This was the sting operation in that city that, according to an Issa press release, “was fundamentally mismanaged.” Further media reports revealed that the agency allegedly “exploited a mentally disabled man” and then subsequently charged him with a crime.
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On top of this, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is at it again with another gun control scheme into which she is dragging the BATF, insisting that it “fully enforces the ban on the importation of these military-style firearms.”
The BATF has had a bad reputation among gun owners long before the eruption of the scandal over Operation Fast and Furious more than three years ago in Arizona. When the term “rogue” comes up more than once in an agency’s methods of operation, it creates the impression that perhaps serious reforms, if not outright abolishment, are necessary.
The Oversight Committee report on Fast and Furious was damning, and Issa’s contention that the BATF has been stonewalling must be taken seriously. In his letter to BATF Director B. Todd Jones that accompanied the subpoena, Issa detailed the dates in 2013 when documents were sought about the storefront sting. He complained that none of those requests had gotten a response, so perhaps a demand is now in order.
The Obama administration came to power insisting that it would be transparent. But like so much else under this administration – including the Libya fiasco, Benghazi cover-up, Fast and Furious, Obamacare, the Middle East and now the Crimea takeover by Russia – the only thing that the public can see clearly appears to be a pattern of secrecy, perhaps to mask embarrassment and incompetence.