Veteran ATF Whistleblower Rips Acting Director’s Testimony to House Oversight

By David Codrea

Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz reacts to “no show” ATF agents by issuing on-the-spot subpoenas demanding thier appearance. [Screenshot: House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing “Reviewing ATF’s Failures in the Death of ICE Agent Jaime Zapata.”]
USA – -( “Today’s testimony … should be embarrassing to everybody who does or did carry an ATF badge,” retired Special Agent Vince Cefalu asserted to members of the CleanUpATF forum. “Clearly the Dem side of the committee had NO interest in providing oversight…”

He was referring to Thursday’s appearance (video below) before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Activities by Thomas E. Brandon, Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The hearing was held to further explore the ambush murder of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata by cartel operatives in Mexico, where “straw-purchased” guns allowed by ATF to “walk” across the border were recovered from the scene.

Brandon’s testimony produced a scathing response from a veteran whistleblower.

Two of Brandon’s agents, Associate Deputy Director Ronald Turk and Dallas Field Division Special Agent in Charge William Temple, were no-shows to the hearing. They decided on their own not to come testify, and Brandon informed Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz that he agreed with their decision.

Recognizing a continuation of the stonewalling that was dragged on for years by ATF and the Department of Justice under the Obama administration, Chaffetz was having none of it. He immediately issued subpoenas for Turk and Temple to appear on March 21 and 22 respectively.

Brandon has been a familiar figure to longtime readers. I last discussed the “acting” replacement for former Director B. Todd Jones when his agency was trying to avoid responding to a Freedom of Information Act request by denying it was an agency.

Veteran whistleblower Cefaulu has also long been a key figure in exposing bureau corruption. Awarded a settlement after being wrongfully terminated, and subjected to years of “withering personal attacks,” Cefalu had openly declared “The only way to [track ‘walked] guns would be with crime scenes and dead bodies.” That corroborated an earlier whistleblower allegation that the purpose behind the practice was to “pad statistics.”

Cefalu has been speaking truth to power — and paying the price for it — for years.

Cefalu had previously attempted to alert powerful government officials to the extent of the top-down rot, but was ignored.  Senator Dianne Feinstein, for one, was informed of management corruption and abuse issues at ATF before allegations of “gunwalking” surfaced, but opted to do nothing about it. That makes it fair to speculate what practices would have been allowed had the bureau been under the scrutiny its criminal management warranted.

Likewise, the forum where Cefalu is now tearing Brandon’s latest performance apart, CleanUpATF, was a place where disaffected insiders had been trying to call attention to agency waste, abuse, corruption and fraud for years before the “gunwalking” operation came to light following the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. The late Mike Vanderboegh and I tried unsuccessfully to get the then-Democrat controlled House Oversight Committee to investigate CUATF allegations back in 2009. We noted with irony years later how Elijah Cummings, ATF’s interference runner on Oversight, shared culpability for the results of that inaction, leading to our assigning him a well-earned nickname.

“Mr Brandon has been the DD AND Acting Director of ATF for over 4 years, and he didn’t understand what being invited to testify before a Congressional oversight committee entailed?” Cefaulu asked incredulously. “I call outright b*******.

“You KNOW personally of the lies, the evidence manipulations, the frame job, the perjury that occurred in the trial of Jay Dobyns,” Cefalu charged, responding to Brandon’s testimony that “we run toward the truth.”

“You hid from and IGNORED the truth to this day,” Cefalu continued, citing the abuses in that case that were so twisted, the judge said the government’s attorneys had committed “fraud on the court.”

I apologize for the slow-loading links to many of those pieces. They no longer appear on their original website, and can only be accessed through the Internet Archive “Wayback Machine.” Still, if you are interested in the history behind this not reported by the “mainstream media,” I encourage you to take the time to read these, as well as the rest of Cefalu’s scathing indictment.

And then compare that to idiot New York Democrat Rep. and gun-grab fanatic Carolyn Maloney, evidently the new standard bearer for abetting stonewalling and cover-ups. The point with these people is not to determine the truth; it’s to obscure it by creating a false narrative, to “spread blame,” and ultimately to shift it altogether.

“Democrats argued … that the crux of the tragedy lies with budget cuts and deregulation,” Courthouse News Service reported. In other words, they want more money and more citizen disarmament.

“How many agents have to be killed by illegal guns that are sold to bad people because there’s no enforcement against gun trafficking?” Maloney disrupted and redirected. “It’s a simple thing to do, we could pass it.”

That’s the meme the media will run with and the average American will be exposed to, while what really happened lies buried on niche forums and in archives known only to a few.

Here’s hoping now that Donald Trump is in office, Oversight will get the backing to start putting some teeth in its actions. A good place to start would be for Trump to give the go-ahead to keeping his promise to Kent Terry.

David Codrea in his natural habitat.

About David Codrea:

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.

In addition to being a field editor/columnist at GUNS Magazine and associate editor for Oath Keepers, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

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Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives should be a General Store not a government agency.


At the time, Hillary was just starting out. She started talking about gun dealers “on the border” in an attempt to get a new AWB. When the story broke she went silent. This was all designed to gin up fear of Mexicans with Guns just as Black Panthers with Guns scared white America into seceeding their 2A RIGHTS with the GCA of 1968. That’s right! They use racism to scare to get what they want.

Hoss Green

The corruption is so rampant in this country that they don’t seem to even take pains to hide it any longer. You have spouses of senators that are war profiteers. Elected officials that are in so deep they have no other choice than to continue with the treasonous actions of their partners in crime. A Pelosi, and Cummings that make such stupid idiotic statements , that it makes one wonder how, or why the were ever elected to begin with. I have no first hand knowledge, just observation. One thing I will say is that the BATFE is not the… Read more »

James Bailey

Truly superb article David!

Unfortunately, I still do not hold out much hope: the RINO’S are still in charge!

Douglas Phillips

BATFE is unconstitutional and needs to be disbanded.. They were not designed to compliment the Second Amendment nor the any of the other Amendments, in fact the BATFE has at one point or another, violated most all of the Constitution.


I agree that it is TIME to shut down the BATF (along with Dept of Ed, Dept of energy, the EPA, The BLM and then cut the state dept in HALF.)
They have far overstepped their bounds.


The real goal of all these hearings, etc, should be CONGRESS getting some spine and disbanding BATF. NONE of the three “classes of goods” borne in their name (alcohol, tobacco, firearms) are amongst those few limited and specifically named powers of action designated Federal Government at any level. NONE. Disband that corrupt organisation, put ALL their employees out to pasture. Rehire the decent ones (perhaps up to ten percent of them might qualify) in other agencies where good men would be useful to help further drain the swamp. The rest? Let them find the nearest soupline. I’ve read SO MANY… Read more »


The ATF is an agency whose very roots are that of infringement on the 2nd AD. It is amazing that it has gotten so powerful today. Legal firearms dealers cringe anytime their name is mentioned, and why?? It is because they can turn even the smallest mistake of record keeping, storage, and a myriad of things into a nightmare for them. This is not the America intended by the founding fathers!!

Roy F. Wilt

ATF Should be Dis-Banded NOW! It is the most Anti-American Organization in the Government!


“Senator Dianne Feinstein… was informed of management corruption and abuse issues at ATF… but opted to do nothing about it.”
Would that be the same Diane Feinstein that is now concerned with “the politicization of the Department of Justice” under Attorney General Jeff Sessions?

And like all good Democrats, Carolyn Maloney’s solution to all problems (especially ones that THEY’VE created) is to throw more money at them.

Democrats literally make me sick.


I apologize for the slow-loading links to many of those pieces. They no longer appear on their original website, and can only be accessed through the Internet Archive “Wayback Machine.”

That is indeed true; thank goodness for!