By Former Rep. Jim Ross Lightfoot
For The Hill
The idea of merging the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) into the FBI has reared its ugly head once again. This idea is wrong in so many ways. As a former chairman of the old Treasury, Postal Service and General Government Subcommittee in the Appropriations Committee, which had jurisdiction over the ATF, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Customs Service, and other federal law enforcement, and as a former police officer, I am speaking from experience.
My father used to tell me, “Son, you can’t fix anything until you figure out why it broke.” If Congress had been doing its job, the situation within ATF and other federal agencies would not be a problem today.
It’s all about accountability. Or, I should say, lack of accountability.
For example, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) held extensive hearings into the so-called Fast and Furious fiasco. The people responsible for the operation were identified.
And then the deafening sound of silence. Nothing happened. No one got fired. No one indicted for what was identified as criminal action. No oversight hearings into the operation of the ATF. No questioning of ATF management. No one held accountable for anything.
The only result of these hearings was retribution by ATF management against the agents that came forward and identified the people within ATF behind Fast and Furious.
Ladies and gentlemen of the U.S. Congress, one of your sworn, top duties is accountability from all federal agencies to the American people. You have failed us miserably! The ATF is not the only agency with huge internal problems. You would do the country a huge favor if you would put away the entire headline, photo-op grabbing issues for one whole two-year session of Congress and spend your time doing extensive oversight into all agencies and then taking the appropriate actions to correct the issues you uncover. You all would get reelected.