He didn’t want to work with you, you know. He didn’t want to give you a fair shake. He wanted to put you in prison — and that was whether you were an industry executive, a firearms end user, or one of his own agents. Whoever you were, if you came under the scrutiny of the “in crowd” in his agency, Byron T. Jones hated you and wanted to destroy you, quite impersonally. Fortunately, he was as incompetent at that as he was at running the agency.
The outgoing ATF director, who so fancied himself a Second Coming of J. Edgar Hoover that he styled his name B. Todd Jones, slipped a brief notice of his resignation into Friday night’s press releases, after deadline for the nightly news.
He had been on the skids since he overreached with his attempt to ban 5.56mm M855 and SS109 ammunition. Pro-gun legislators wanted his scalp for trying, and anti-gun ones wanted his scalp for failing. After a quick canvass of the Dreaded Private Sector to figure out who-needs-a-favor-or-three-at-DOJ, frightened managers at the NFL bought immunity from Federal investigation on several grounds — by offering him a bolt-hole. He leaped.
Jones’s Legacy: Broad-Based Failure.
On Jones’s watch the ATF failed to investigate systemic gunwalking by Bureau employees to violent Drug Trafficking Organizations, failed to punish the malefactors inside the agency who did this (instead, most were promoted or got other sweet deals), and failed to protect whistleblowers. Indeed, Jones redoubled agency retaliation. Jones turned the organization into partisan political police; everyone knows now that your voter registration is a factor in every ATF investigative and prosecution decision. Every ATF agent and operations inspector reports today to two masters, his supervisors and The Party; and if he will not report to The Party his supervisors cheerfully do it for him, while steering promotions and advancements to those who hold the right Party card.
Attorneys from the Chief Counsel’s Office and DOJ attorneys fed false information by ATF have produced a serious of decisions calling the credibility of the individual attorneys and their investigations into question. But even if these investigations produce indictments — something that the outgoing Attorney General has said will not happen on his watch — the real malefactors, the senior managers, are as immune as the heads of the Sinaloa Cartel are in their lair in Sinaloa.
Old ATF Hands Saw it Coming
Two of the most-retaliated-against agents in Bureau history called Jones’s departure mere days or weeks in advance.
Jay Dobyns, on 6 March, at Clean Up ATF:
Way to go Jones and Company. You’re legacy will be that instead of saving and rehabilitating a troubled agency you ended up tanking it. Taking bets that Jones leaves ATF in the next couple months and leaves everyone else holding the bag.
And Vince Cefalu, on 13 March.
Words starting to swirl that the B Todd is haulin ass soon. We told you his lack of investment in ATF would be apparent. Came in to tank the agency and leaves when Holder can’t protect him anymore. Can anyone name ONE significant policy with long term goals that this regime has contributed? He came in, threatened the agents and padded his resumé.
Jones’s exit announcement hit on the evening of 19 March. Jay and Vince called it, eh?
Whether the exit was driven by the abortive bullet ban, or by several cases in which judges have complained about dishonesty by ATF witnesses and attorneys, or simply, as Vince suggested, because Jones lost the “top cover” of his friend Eric Holder, he’s gone in a few days.
We’d like to say ATF would be in better hands, but Brandon isn’t “better hands.”