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More ATF trouble

Challenge The Mantm and get demoted:

Two senior officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who opposed many questionable management and spending decisions by the agency’s former director are being moved to lower-ranking positions effective Thursday, officials said.

Deputy Director Edgar A. Domenech, who also served as acting director last year, is being moved out of ATF headquarters to lead the agency’s Washington field office. The assistant director for field operations, Michael Bouchard, will become an assistant to Michael J. Sullivan, a U.S. attorney who is temporarily running ATF.

The transfers are widely seen within ATF as demotions. They come seven months after the sudden departure of Carl J. Truscott, the former director, who clashed with Domenech and other senior executives over spending and management practices.

It’s been a rough couple of years for ATF. Here’s some past coverage of some of the agency’s problems:

Insiders criticizing the agency.

A circuit court smacks them down for their ruling on model rockets;

An agent testified under oath that the NFRTR (the NFA weapons database) was corrupt

Having budget issues due to mismanagement;

Being investigated for breaking he law at Virginia gun shows.

And they’ve had funds cut for some of their rather, err, dubious programs.

The ATF Director has resigned over excessive and lavish spending.

The now former head of the ATF ordered staff to do his nephew’s homework.

And there may be somewhat of an internal revolt at the agency. David Hardy posts an email from a group called ATFers United against Mismanagement and Misconduct. I received the same email. I hoped it was true but had my doubts. The group has no webpage, their email address was from Yahoo or something, and the letter was in all caps. But, if true, some guys inside the ATF are unhappy with management.

Someone really needs to clean this agency up. My preference, of course, would be to shut it down but that’s not going to happen. It seems lately, though, that the rot is coming from the inside.

4 Responses to “More ATF trouble”

  1. countertop Says:

    Move along, nothing to see here.

    The post says – these are widely seen as demotions, but then doesn’t indicate who sees them as demotions.

    In the wake of Truscott’s departure, Domenech was never given the top job – only an acting position. In my limited years of experience here in DC its the rare exception when a career official is promoted to an “acting” position and then subsequently moves on to the “official” position (its a different case when someone is placed in an “acting capacity” like John Bolton at the UN or Bill Wehrum at EPA because they can’t get Senate approval as a result of a political dispute). If that was the case, I would have expected the post to mention it (and it would significantly strengthen their case) but they don’t. Nor do they indicate what his last position was. What we do know is that he was placed in charge of a State office. Maybe its a demotion (does ATF have regional offices filled by career staff) but maybe not. Lots of easy answers the Post fails to provide – which makes me question the piece. Heck, they even indicate the new director is coming from a field office. Sounds like the right path to me.

    As to Michael Bouchard – its tough to say. They don’t actually say what his position is (nor do they indicate if any of these guys are being downgraded on the government pay scale – my guess is cause they aren’t) and while it might sound like he is getting a demotion (if he is going from Assistant Director of Field Operations to simply an assistant to the Director of the ATF (actually, it sounds like they are making him an intern) – it could also be that they gave him a promotion (or moved him laterally) and he simply wasn’t happy.

    And thats whats most important. For people outside Washington have to realize news like this only comes out when someone has an axe to grind ie: someone applied for a post and didn’t get it. So they create all sorts of reasons, and leak their reasons to the Post.

    Seems to me that if there was really something here the post would have had a whole lot more info.

    As an aside, I’m wondering if Domenech is related to Ben Domenech – the child prodigy writer and (perhaps) disgraced former Washington Post blogger and his father Doug Domenech, a senior Bush Administration Official at the Department of Interior (White House Liason)? Not that it would have any bearing on the matter, but it would be interesting to find out.

  2. SayUncle Says:

    The WaPo makes it sound like they were given crappy jobs due to challenging the former head.

  3. countertop Says:

    I know thats what it says, but I don’t know if thats the case (either that they were crappy jobs or they were really in retaliation). Seems to me that anything short of Director of ATF would be considered a demotion – and thats just not realistic.

  4. straightarrow Says:

    I sincerely hope they all screw each other. The rot has always been on the inside. Nobody went to the ATF to do good. It is the only federal agency I know of, whose charter is to regularly violate the Constitution.

    The don’t hire middle schoolers, so they all knew what they were signing up to do. They just didn’t expect to get screwed too. Boo Hoo

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