ATF Trivializing Fast and Furious with Ziegler Defense

ATF agents

USA –-( “ATF’s #2 Says Agency Mistakenly Used Drug Strategy in Operation Fast and Furious,” Tickle the Wire reported yesterday, citing  Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Deputy Director Thomas E. Brandon’s appearance on the radio program “The Badge.”

“Being totally candid with you and the public, we made mistakes and we’re owning up to them,” Brandon told host Howard Safir, citing good intentions but bad decisions to apply a drug and money-walking strategy to gun investigations.

“You’re on the street and you’re watching dope deals go down, and you’re trying to locate the stash house so you let…you know…you follow it and so forth,” he said.

“Basically that’s what happened,” Brandon claimed, adding “those mistakes won’t happen again—we changed the management team in Phoenix.”

Only that’s not what happened, not at all: a recurring charge by whistleblowers is that the guns were not followed—in many cases under orders from ATF management. Characterizing Fast and Furious as “a mistake” totally dismisses the criminal aspect of allowing guns to walk across an international border to result in untold deaths.  Presuming that ordering management realignments is the same as “owning up” merely advances talking points established by “ATF’s #1,” Acting Director B. Todd Jones, who has publicly identified the operation as a personnel matter. And intentionally confining his remarks to Phoenix ignores that the gun identified in the murder of ICE agent Jaime Zapata was traced to Dallas, the Houston-based case involving Carter’s Country, documented reports of directed straw purchases in Indiana, insider-sourced allegations of similar operations in Tampa

For his part, Safir, who had a long career as a law enforcer with DEA, the U.S. Marshals Service, and NYPD, did not bring up the potential of government criminality, and instead asked about motorcycle gang infiltrations (the conversation somehow missed ATF’s  Jay Dobyns, who recounted his harrowing adventures with Hells Angels and his ultimate betrayal by ATF management in his book “No Angel,” and who is a leader in demanding protection for whistleblowers and justice for slain Border Patrol agent Brian Terry). Instead, he made sure to leave his audience with this assessment:

ATF is one of the most important agencies in the Department of Justice, and keeping those guns under control is something you guys do great.

Really? Does Safir really think the families of those killed with guns ATF had the power to control—but did not—would agree?

So we can all just go on about our business now?  There’s nothing to see here?  No retaliations against whistleblowers? No chronic Justice Department stonewalling? No U.S. Attorney (a Criminal Division chief, no less) taking the Fifth? No other agencies involved, or FBI snitches, or that O’Reilly guy from NSA who held meetings at the White House? No…

“Mistakes were made.”

That sounds familiar.  Oh, yeah, that’s the line  made notorious by Ron Ziegler, the apologist for another administration, the guy who characterized Watergate as “a third-rate burglary.”

But a third-rate burglary that resulted in a cover up that brought down a president and that “resulted in the indictment, trial, conviction and incarceration of 43 people, including dozens of top Nixon administration officials”…

What—they couldn’t just “own up” by shuffling some regional managers over to cushy bureaucratic gigs in other towns?

And, of course, we all know the other major differences between that and Gunwalker: Nobody died in Watergate, and the “Authorized Journalists” had no conflict of interest between aggressively headlining an administration scandal and advancing a shared political agenda.

About David Codrea

David Codrea is a long-time gun rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He is a field editor for GUNS Magazine, and a blogger at The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance. Read more at

David Codrea

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Characterizing "Fast and Furious"as a correctable mistake is sure like trying to put pandora back in the box. But then again what do you expect from an agency that was never held liable nor policed themselves for 80 some murders at Waco and Ruby Ridge? BATFE seems to be following the same old pattern of lie, destroy evidence and protect the guilty….