ATF promotes 3 ‘fast and furious’ leaders just another ‘screw-up and move-up’

Instead of firing ATF supervisors for an ill-fated gun program, ATF brass promotes three key players in the “fast and furious” debacle. The “screw-up, move-up” position is nothing new for the federal government.

The controversial Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearm and Explosives’ (ATF) “gun walking” program set out to nab cartel gun buyers (straw purchasers), gain media notoriety and add a notch to the agent’s belt. However, the failed “fast and furious” program allowed known-criminals to purchase firearms without any beacon-type device to follow the weapons as they made their way to cartel henchmen.

According to ATF agents, there are more than 4,000 open investigations operating under “project gunrunner.”

While Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) focus on Arizona’s “fast and furious,” the country should be demanding all “project gunrunner” investigations be scrutinized. ATF sources contend a number of these investigations continue to operate under questionable rules and will allow “walked guns” to show up at crime scenes for years to come.

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As Congressional investigators collect data and build a case, ATF decided to insulate key “fast and furious” players in their Washington DC headquarters.

It’s especially ironic that William McMahon, who testified at a recent hearing that plenty of mistakes were made, failed to report those mistakes to his supervisors, will now be in charge of ATF’s ethics department. His official title, Deputy Assistant Director of ATF’s Office of Professional Responsibility and Security Operations will solidify his unaccountability.

The Special Agent in Charge of Arizona and directly involved with “fast and furious,” William Newell will also make the trip to DC for his promotion to Special Assistant to the Assistant Director for ATF’s Office of Management.

And finally, Arizona’s “fast and furious” ground supervisor, David Voth heads to Washington DC and will oversee ATF’s Tobacco Division as Branch Chief.

The ill-fated “fast and furious” program resulted in dozens of Mexican federal officer deaths as well as ATF firearms being recovered at the crime scene where Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry lost his life last December. (Only one man remains in custody. Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, a Mexican national, is charged with second-degree murder).

Of course, the quandary left for the fallen officers’ family is responsibility. ATF Agent Newell displayed arrogance for his role in the gun-walking program when he testified at the Congressional hearings. He could have shut down the investigation at any time. Instead, Newell knew the agency would hand-out promotions in order to cover-up mismanagement.

The following are two stories that highlight the federal government’s practice of rewarding failure.

Screw up; move up in play again in Customs and Border Protection

In another clear screw up move up policy set to purge the Legacy Customs representatives from the agency in order to foster a new ‘Global Patrol’ –CBP moves to appoint a well known insider with liberal leanings regarding amnesty to the top post of Acting Deputy Commissioner of CBP.

David V. Aguilar hails from U.S. Border Patrol where he served under Congressmen Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) and has followed the coattails of ‘friends in high places’ all the way to the CBP Acting Deputy Commissioner slot.

“As Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, David has successfully provided leadership and guidance through a period of unprecedented growth and tremendous change while at the same time strengthened control of our nation’s borders,” says Jayson Ahern outgoing CBP Commissioner. “As Acting Deputy Commissioner, he will bring to the position more than 30 years of border security experience, management, and leadership. He is a tested and proven leader and I have the utmost confidence in his abilities to take on this new role.”

No Confidence

In a memo from Ahern, Aguilar receives high praises for his career in law enforcement. However, Aguilar’s record is rife with controversy, power consolidation, and failures.

First, in February 2007, delegates to the National Border Patrol Council’s biennial convention unanimously endorsed a vote of “No Confidence” in Chief Aguilar.

“The vote was the result of increasing frustration by front line Border Patrol Agents in the decisions of their senior leadership,” T.J. Bonner, NBPC National President, said in a statement. “This lack of leadership has caused morale to plummet, which in turn has accelerated the attrition rate among experienced agents. Unless drastic changes are made soon, the goal of securing our borders will remain as elusive as ever.”

Aguilar again received a “No Confidence” vote from his rank and file agents on February 25, 2009.

According to the representatives of the National Border Patrol Council they unanimously supported a vote of “No Confidence” for Chief Aguilar due to his lack of leadership abilities. Hardly the glowing recommendation Ahern described and another example of the ‘screw up and move up’ policies plaguing the CBP and Department of Homeland Security; Keep reading.

San Diego the latest destination for a screw-up move-up border tour

Chris Maston began his colorful career more than twenty years ago in El Paso, Texas as a Border Patrol agent. In true ‘good ole boy’ fashion Maston moved up the ranks and with each questionable indiscretion, his infamous Customs and Border Protection’s career followed the tried and true rule of “screw up and move up.” This dark path to the top has led to Maston’s new post as Port Director of the Customs and Border Patrol’s busiest port of entry in the country, San Ysidro, located in San Diego.

A press release from CBP stated, “Maston brings to the key San Diego position in-depth experience in overseeing large scale passenger and cargo processing programs. He most recently served more than two years as port director at the Miami International Airport, managing more than 1,300 employees at the largest international operation in the U.S. for air cargo and the second largest for international traveler processing.”

“Maston’s recent responsibilities overseeing international traveler inspections, trade enforcement and tactical enforcement operations will provide the tools he needs to manage the busy 24-lane port of San Ysidro and nearby 13-lane Otay Mesa border station where, on average, 63,000 vehicles and 134,000 travelers enter the U.S. each day, CBP DFO Morris said. Maston served from 2004 to 2006 as the assistant director of border security at CBP’s Miami Field Office. In this position, he oversaw border security operations for the Miami, Port Everglades, Key West and West Palm Beach ports of entry.”

Repeated attempts (phone, email and finally showing up at CBP port offices) to interview Maston about his new post in San Diego were all declined. Even when presented with questions regarding new port duties, what challenges he could face and the implementing of his cargo inspection program Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), the new director chose to hide in his office. This begs the question what is he trying to hide?

While mindful of the agency’s important border security mission, Maston said in a press release he will continue to support operations that have proved successful for the field office while striking a working balance between facilitation of legitimate travelers and the need for strong enforcement.

Does this mean Maston will continue his behavior that landed him on the “dontdatehimgirl.com” tell-all web site? The website geared to serial cheaters depicts Maston as a player with multiple work-related affairs. The posting (click here http://www.friendsoftheborderpatrol.com/thereport/CMaston-DontDateHimGirl-Post.pdf) contains a number of postings regarding his time as a top official in Miami.

Can Maston maintain a San Diego CBP Field Office that manages more than 1,800 front-line federal officers at border stations in San Ysidro, Otay Mesa, Tecate, Calexico, and Andrade as well as the San Diego seaport and international airports? These ports completed approximately 66 million inspections of people, seized more than 145 tons of illegal narcotics and apprehended more than 42,000 immigration violators during the last fiscal year. One assumes this is a fulltime job requiring an enormous amount of time and concentration.

President Ronald Reagan summed it up as, “Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession, I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.” Keep reading here.

About thekdreport

Investigative journalist

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