Is the Justice Department Retaliating Against Fast and Furious Whistleblowers?


I know we’re not supposed to discuss Operation Fast and Furious, or the career deathwatch for embattled Attorney General Eric Holder, any more – according to Holder’s recent revisions to the First Amendment – but William Lajeunesse of Fox News has a big report today that suggests Holder’s Justice Department might not have taken congressional injunctions against Fast and Furious whistleblower retaliation to heart.

In fairness to Holder, it’s been a contention of his for the past several weeks that he doesn’t really pay much attention to internal memos, intelligence briefings, and stern warnings from angry members of Congress, so he might have missed it when Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) said “any attempt to retaliate against [whistleblowers] for their testimony today would be unfair, unwise, and unlawful.”

Six months later, Lajeunesse took stock of the situation, and found “those in charge of the botched operation have been reassigned or promoted, their pensions intact.  But many of those who blew the whistle face isolation, retaliation and transfer.”  Here’s the scorecard for the Fast and Furious management team:

Acting ATF Chief Ken Melson, who oversaw the operation, is now an adviser in the Office of Legal Affairs. He remains in ATF’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.

Acting Deputy Director Billy Hoover, who knew his agency was walking guns and demanded an “exit strategy” just five months into the program, is now the special agent in charge of the D.C. office. He, too, did not have to relocate.

Deputy Director for Field Operations William McMahon received detailed briefings about the illegal operation and later admitted he shares “responsibility for mistakes that were made.” Yet, he also stays in D.C., ironically as the No. 2 man at the ATF’s Office of Internal Affairs.

Special Agent in Charge of Phoenix Bill Newell, the man most responsible for directly overseeing Fast and Furious, was promoted to the Office of Management in Washington.

Phoenix Deputy Chief George Gillette was also promoted to Washington as ATF’s liaison to the U.S. Marshal’s Service.

Group Supervisor David Voth managed Fast and Furious on a day-to-day basis and repeatedly stopped field agents from interdicting weapons headed to the border, according to congressional testimony. ATF boosted Voth to chief of the ATF Tobacco Division, where he now supervises more employees in Washington than he ever did in Phoenix.

Not exactly a bowling alley full of rolling heads, is it?  Meanwhile, key whistleblower ATF agent John Dodson was shuffled off to an FBI task force, and can’t even get into the ATF building with his access pass anymore.  The brass said that contact with him “was detrimental to any ATF career.”  U.S. attorney Dennis Burke admitted leaking documents to discredit Dodson. 

Other agents found themselves demoted, reassigned, and generally floating in career dead zones.  The pattern is consistent enough to be disturbing, and several of the agents involved have been disturbed enough to call for investigations.  They’ll probably get about as far as the family of murdered U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, which spent Thanksgiving digesting the knowledge that the Obama Administration had sealed the court records in his case.  Even the judge’s reason for sealing the case was sealed.  Some very provocative details leaked out before all the envelopes were glued shut, but we should probably say no more about it, because the Attorney General told us not to.