by Frank Miniter
Monday, April 17, 2017
The New York Times—which couldn’t be bothered to look into “Operation Fast and Furious,” in which the Obama-era ATF told gun store owners to let bad guys fronting for Mexican drug cartels buy all the guns they wanted—just led an investigative article this way: “Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives used a secret, off-the-books bank account to rent a $21,000 suite at a NASCAR race, take a trip to Las Vegas and donate money to the school of one of the agent’s children, according to records and interviews.”
The Justice Department’s inspector general has opened an investigation into the ATF’s use of the secret bank account. The House Oversight and Government Reform committee is also looking into the matter.
According to the Times, “Agents also used the account to finance undercover operations around the country, despite laws prohibiting government officials from using private money to supplement their budgets.”
The Times even says the “revelations highlight the lax oversight at the ATF that allowed agents and informants to spend millions while avoiding the normal accounting process.” Of course, the Times wasn’t talking about lax oversight after Operation Fast and Furious broke, a U.S. Border Patrol agent was shot and killed, and the Obama administration orchestrated a massive, if obvious, cover-up.
The Department of Justice—the ATF is under its control—has so far denied any wrongdoing and has yet to say whether the ATF is still operating this secret bank account. The DOJ has referred to these as “management accounts.”
Undercover law enforcement is a complicated matter—sometimes undercover agents need to purchase things, and doing this with a government credit card would, uh, sort of blow their cover. But oversight is needed to prevent or approve expenditures like renting a suite at a NASCAR race or giving “thousands of dollars to the high school and volleyball team of the daughter of an ATF agent in Bristol.”
If the tone of this article sounds cynical, it is because the ATF has a history that should make the most reasonable journalist or politician look at them with suspicion.
Right now Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, are still waiting for answers after sending a letter to the Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz asking why the IG’s office took nearly five years to complete an investigation into a shooting on Feb. 15, 2011, in Mexico in which Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata was murdered by members of the Zetas drug trafficking organization.