Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Will Obama and Holder Throw the ATF Under The Bus?

In just two days, Eric Holder is scheduled to testify before Congress in the Fast and Furious scandal. What will be his plan?

I believe that it is possible that Holder and the administration will try to blame the ATF for the entire scandal - and that having done so they will join Republican Rep. Issa in calling for the agency to be abolished. Of course, all the gun laws would stay on the books, and likely be enforced by the FBI.

Here are some of the reasons why I think this move is possible:

1) The BATFE - more commonly called the ATF - has a long and troubled history going all the way back to it's beginning as the agency the enforced Prohibition. At that time the vast majority of agents were believed to be corrupt. After prohibition ended - in the depths of the Depression - it became an agency with little to do. In order to keep the agents employed, they were given additional responsibilities - including enforcement of the few Federal gun laws on the books (and a few new ones). After the passage of the Gun Control act of 1968, firearms became ATF's main job. Agency abuses began almost immediately. In the early 1980's this lead to Democratic Representative John Dingell of Michigan calling ATF agents "jackbooted government thugs". In addition to hundreds of lessor known incidents, ATF was responsible for both the Waco and Ruby Ridge debacles. Now there is Fast and Furious. Ample cause exists to conclude that ATF has major problems as agency - although many, many fine agents work for it.

2) Earlier this year, it was revealed that a "whitepaper" calling for the elimination of the ATF was being circulated within the administration.

3) The gun rights movement has been calling for this step for years. By calling for the elimination of the ATF, Obama and Holder could turn the tables on Republican critics who accuse them of being "anti-gun rights". This could make the difference in several "swing states" in the upcoming election.

4) Finally, by eliminating the BATFE the administration could prove that they are doing something to prevent something like "Fast and Furious" from ever happening again.

Will this be the administration's plan? An article in a Bloomberg publication strongly suggests that Holder will try to push responsibility back down the chain of command - and that is precisely where the ATF is.

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