WASHINGTON - The Justice Department's internal watchdog says the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives mounted dozens of undercover investigations into illicit cigarette sales without proper approval. It says the agency misused some of $162 million in profits from the stings -- including overpaying an informant by millions of dollars -- and lost track of at least 420 million cigarettes.420 million cigarettes lost. That's 2.1 million cartons of smokes the ATF has "lost" - between you and me, I'd look for whichever ATF agent or agents in charge of setting up these stings has recently bought a new boat. Or Caribbean island. I love how they brush it off with "Oh, yeah, we may have lost millions of cigarettes and millions of dollars, but that's better now." That's a great snapshot of the government mindset right there: "Yeah, we screwed up for five years running, but we made some token improvements since getting caught. More funding please."
The ATF's new director, B. Todd Jones, said the audit covered only selected ATF investigations between 2006 and 2011, and that the agency had tightened its internal guidelines since then.
Now, as I see it, there's one of two possible reasons that this could have happened, and neither of them are any good. The first reason is that someone or someones in the ATF are siphoning off millions of tax dollars and either lining their own pockets or funding under-the-radar projects. The second is that they're just so horribly inept and incompetent that they can't properly track stings and pay informants, something that even small town police forces manage to get right without a massive bureaucracy behind them.
Massive fraud or gross negligence and incompetence, talk about being between Scylla and Charybdis...
That is all.
Another dispatch from...
(image courtesy of Robb Allen)