(GunReports.com) — The federal prosecutor brought in to reform the embattled Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the aftermath of the Fast and Furious gun scandal distributed a videotaped message to employees this month warning there would be “consequences” for reporting wrongdoing outside their chain of command.
The video, obtained by the Washington Guardian, immediately raised alarm among agents in the field, members of Congress and whistleblower advocates.
“Choices and consequences means simply that if you make poor choices, that if you don’t abide by the rules, that if you don’t respect the chain of command, if you don’t find the appropriate way to raise your concerns to your leadership, there will be consequences,” Acting Director B. Todd Jones told the employees in a video distributed July 9 by email and closed-circuit TV and obtained by the Washington Guardian.
ATF officials in Washington and rank-and-file agents told the Washington Guardian that the 3-minute 22-second videotape was interpreted by many as a warning not to pursue the path of the Arizona agents who went outside the agency in 2011 and reported concerns to Congress about the bungled Fast and Furious gun probe that let semiautomatic weapons flow to Mexican drug gangs.
Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa today urged the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to clarify his remarks to employees about reporting concerns within the agency. Grassley and Issa expressed concern that the remarks are likely to chill whistleblowers from reporting legitimate problems and undermine a necessary function for making improvements.
The concern is significant because whistleblowers recently put their careers on the line to expose the operational tactics in Operation Fast and Furious that might have led to the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.