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Tag: James Cavanaugh

Retired ATF Executive Comments on Occupy Wall Street and the Police

James Cavanaugh was an ATF agent and supervisor for 33 years before retiring in 2010.
 

James Cavanaugh/atf photo

 
By James Cavanaugh
For ticklethewire.com

America is now witnessing a democratic movement that is taking to the streets the likes of which we have not seen since 1968. As this phenomenon develops we should all realize how overwhelmingly peaceful these gatherings have been.

Think about spontaneous gatherings across the nation where citizens choose to gather based on their constitutional rights to peacefully assemble and to air their grievances. We talk much in America about constitutional rights. We wave pocket constitutions and we all profess to revere the Constitution.

Nevertheless, that requires that we recognize the Constitution when it is in action. It is not always pretty and it is not always totally organized, it does not always speak with one voice, it is not always the model of organization or civility, but therein lies the essence of its absolute brilliance. So thousands gather across many cities forming ad hoc mini democratic societies in which they try to clean up the area, cook food, provide places for soapbox speeches, carry signs and verbalize their frustrations.

Naturally this is a disruption to the status quo of the area. Most of these venues are public gathering places or public parks. Places that should be the most natural gathering places for citizens to air their grievances.

So the gathering is logical, and it’s constitutionally protected. In America we can have these gatherings without tanks or troops, and we should have them without fear of death or injury. No one who is criticized by the protesters will be sacrosanct: Not bankers nor politicians, not the media nor the mayors, not corporations nor fat cat hedge fund leaders, and certainly not the police.

Read more »

Column: ATF Agent Says Agency Can Get an Agent Confirmed as Director if They’re Top Notch

Vincent Cefalu is a special agent with ATF. His column is in response to a column authored by ex-ATF official James Cavanaugh, who said appointing an ATF director by presidential appointment isn’t working. Cavanaugh said the appointment should be made by the umbrella agency — the Justice Department.

Vincent Cefalu

By Vincent A. Cefalu
For ticklethewire.com

I too I have worked for many Directors for 25 years and am STILL on the job. Therefore I would like to respond to the ATF unofficial mouth piece, Jim Cavanaugh.

First of all please stop speaking for ATF management, they are big boys. They have chosen to speak through DOJ attorney’s instead and that is quite troubling.

Your comments early in this debacle suggested you were trying to mitigate and minimize HQs accountability for being so out of control. You were making excuses for how hard catching gunrunners is. Let me break it down for you; you develop evidence and probable cause you seize their guns and arrest them or not. No Guns hit the street.

They LET 2000 guns go to criminals because no one in the loop had the courage or integrity to stop it. Sound familiar Jim? You are obviously doing a Great bit of promoting. And I am intimately aware of the gunshots you heard in anger, and the circumstances of why you heard those shots. That’s not a GOOD thing Jim. Why exactly did you hear gunshots at all?

Have you lost your mind? Keep the appointment in Justice? Yeah that’s who I want overseeing and making sure ATF is accountable.

We have the opportunity to stand with the big boys and because of a totally ineffective and abusive Executive staff, you assert that we can’t get a Director confirmed.

Enter Clarance Thomas, he got confirmed, enter an EXTRA 2 years for the Honorable Mr. Mueller. Stop telling the American people St. John cant get confirmed. How would you know that. All three of our last attempts failed. Stop selecting poor candidates and we will have a Director. Just because he has an ATF badge, doesn’t make him competent

I think what you fail to acknowledge is that Mr. Magaw saved and rebuilt this agency, love him or hate him. He definitely would have been confirmed. Then Mr. Truscott began the process of bosses being bigger than the mission.

Then Mr. Sullivan, who paid about as much attention to our agency as you do to facts. Half United States Attorney and half ATF Director. I think I may have figured out why we have lost our explosives jurisdiction for all practical purposes.

Our ESF 13 function was openly criticized by the GAO. Our NRT program is in the tank and we have more employee disputes than either the FBI or DEA. The industry that we have all worked so hard to become partners with over the last 30 years hate us and don’t trust us.

A Director from inside would be preferred by ALL. The notion the NRA will tank anybody for no reason is insane.

The abuses brought down on the industry by bad policies, the legislating from inside a Bureau has to stop. The total adversarial demeanor has to change, between the field and HQ. Most have lost faith.

That’s not going to happen, dipping a little deeper into the same poison well. They are all either promoted by or have promoted each other.

We need clean crisp leadership to groom a future Agent as our Director. A General Stanley McChrystal of sorts, that realizes HQ is here to support the field, not the other way around. Put a strong “A” political Cop Boss in their and he will get confirmed as a Director.

The exact reason the current and your generation of bosses got away with so much is because the layers of accountability were so thick, and there was no transparency.

No one much had accountability that he/she couldn’t hand off to somebody else. Lets be accountable. We are ATF. We don’t redact 95% of a document to a Congressional Chairman. We hand all of our stuff over. We are ATF and we have nothing to hide.

So Jim, if we let the Justice Department pick our Director, is it your assertion that they would hold likes of Mclemore, Crenshaw, Ford, Hoover at bay?

Um, do you watch the news? The agency lacks character and accountability at the highest levels. An outsider has to clean house, and then provide a short list of qualified managers for consideration as our Director. And no Jim, that is not going to be you. If it makes you feel better, I don’t want the job either.

Ex-ATF Official Weighs in on NY Car Bomb: “It Was a Grandiose Plot But Sort of a Ridiculous Device”

James Cavanaugh/atf photo

James Cavanaugh/atf photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — James Cavanaugh, who recently retired as a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives official after 33 years, Monday shared his insights into the Times Square car bomb with AOL News.

Cavanaugh said he thought the culprit or culprits likely had international ties. He also said he wouldn’t rule out the theory that the bomb was in retaliation for an episode of the Comedy Central cartoon “South Park” that mocked the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

But, he said, the device was poorly built and appeared destined to fail. “It was just too complicated,” he said. “It was a grandiose plot, but sort of a ridiculous device.”

AOL News: How much planning went into this?

Cavanaugh: It’s not one day of planning and it’s not one year’s worth of planning. It looks like two or three weeks. This device was thrown together slapdash. It’s clear they never tested it or had any technical skills to build it. It’s almost as if they read about it on the Web and tried to build it. It came out flawed, and it malfunctioned. You can tell it’s quite a complicated contraption.

To read the rest of interview click here.

OTHER RELATED STORIES

Fear of Pro-Gun Lobby Groups in Election Year Leaves ATF Without Senate-Confirmed Leader

Kenneth Melson/fbi photo

Kenneth Melson

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — There have been times when ATF has felt like the stepchild in the world of law enforcement — particularly when compared to the FBI.

This may be one of those times.

Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff reports that 15 months after President Obama has taken office, the White House has yet to appoint someone to head ATF.

ATF agents have been saying all along that the White House doesn’t want to deal with appointment before the upcoming elections, fearing it would dredge up some hot button issues like gun control and rally the powerful pro-gun lobby against anti-gun candidates.

James Cavanaugh/ticklethewire.com photo

James Cavanaugh

Consequently, the acting director, Kenneth Melson, was recently demoted to deputy director. A law limits how long acting chiefs can head up federal agencies, Newsweek reports.

“It’s shocking and indefensible,” says Kristen Rand of the Violence Policy Center, a gun-control group, “that when you have a huge problem from gun trafficking and gun violence, they have left this agency leaderless.”

“The message that’s sent to the employees is, ‘You don’t matter,'” Jim Cavanaugh, a 33-year bureau veteran who retired this month as the agent in charge of the Nashville office told Newsweek.

To read more of Newsweek report click here.

“One of a Kind” James Cavanaugh –Head of ATF’s Nashville Office — Retires

James Cavanaugh/photo by atf's carolyn wallace

James Cavanaugh/photo by atf's carolyn wallace

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

During his colorful career with ATF, which spanned more than three decades, James Cavanaugh found himself in the thick of some of nation’s biggest cases: The D.C. sniper murders, the Unabomber, white supremacist Eric Rudolph, church burnings and the deadly shootout at the Branch Davidian in Waco, Tex. involving leader David Koresh.

“Ninety-nine percent of him thought he was David Koresh, but the 1 percent of him really knew he was Vernon Wayne Howell, just a two-bit thug from the country in Texas,” said Cavanaugh, special agent in charge of the ATF Nashville office, commenting on Koresh during a lengthy interview in October 2009 with ticklethewire.com. He was one of the negotiators during the standoff.

On Wednesday, Cavanaugh, a New Jersey native who kept his Jersey street sense about him while acquiring a Southern charm during his many years working in the south, retired from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after 33 1/2 years. He’s reached the mandatory retirement age of 57.

His retirement party is Thursday night in Nashville where he headed the ATF office for 12 years.

“Jim is one of a kind, all the way from this ability to do the job, to his passion for the mission and his professionalism,” said Mark Potter, special agent in charge of the ATF Philadelphia office. “He’ll create a huge void in the organization.”

Read more »

Your Facebook Friend Could Be an Undercover Fed

facebook-logoBy Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — A Justice Department document asks the simple question: Why Go Undercover on Facebook, MySpace, etc.?

Then it goes on to explain: “Communicate with suspects/targets” … “gain access to non-public info” … “map social relationships/networks.”

The document, part of a Justice Department PowerPoint presentation, demonstrates how some federal and local law enforcement agents are quietly creating fictitious accounts on social networks like Facebook and MySpace to get dirt on suspected criminals. The presentation recently surfaced in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in a San Francisco federal court.

Some federal and local law enforcement agents are quietly creating fictitious accounts on social networks like Facebook and MySpace to get dirt on suspected criminals

“This is just the way people meet these days — electronically,” James Cavanaugh, special agent in charge of the Nashville office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told AOL News. “It wouldn’t be any different than calling someone on the phone, say, in an undercover capacity. If we can meet them on Facebook by creating a fictitious account, that’s great. ”

Even so, the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco filed the lawsuit in December against about a half a dozen federal agencies to create a public dialogue on the matter and make sure agencies have guidelines for agents, according to Marcia Hofmann, a senior staff attorney for the foundation. The Justice Department, Homeland Security, Treasury, the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence are included in the suit.

For Full Story