Ex-ATF Official La Forest Responds to Reader’s Criticism in ATF Controversy

Bernie La Forest/facebook

Editors Note: In a story ticklethewire.com published on March 31, ex-ATF official Bernie La Forest said it was a mistake for the head of ATF, Ken Melson, to remain silent and not cooperate with Congressional inquiries into gun walking programs that encouraged straw purchasers to buy guns — all with the hopes of ATF tracing those weapons to the Mexican cartels.

La Forest noted: “We saw it happen after Waco . . . our Man said nothing at the Congressional hearings—and an almost apocalyptic period of recrimination and payback took place within ATF.

“The FBI Man could not keep his mouth shut! His BS babbling resulted in more FBI agents, two or three more HRT squads, and more money than could be possibly spent.”

The story prompted a response from a ticklethewire.com reader, who was identified only as x1811. The following is x1811’s response and La Forest’s response to the 1811’s remarks.

From x1811:

Bernie states about ATF, FBI, and Waco…“The FBI Man could not keep his mouth shut! His BS babbling resulted in more FBI agents, two or three more HRT squads, and more money than could be possibly spent . . . well, in a perfect world at most law enforcement agencies.”

What “BS” this statement is. Hey Bernie…If it wasn’t for another ATF clusterf*ck Waco would never have happened. How many of your agents got killed or wounded because of ATF errors? ATF kills its own in order to maintain the credibility of an undercover case that Koresh new about. Also the ATF managers needed to have the cameras rolling. Lets see…ATF tried to entrap Randy Weaver to become a snitch, attacked Ruby Ridge, a Marshal gets killed, and the FBI has to respond. This resulted in the tragic death of Randy’s wife and kid. Now ATF creates Project Gun Walker. A Border Patrol gets killed with one of the guns ATF lets walk. How many more f ups can this country endure from a rogue agency? ATF is nothing more than a redundancy. Other federal, state, and local agencies can do anything ATF does, and better. Oh, and about losing jurisdiction; ATF claims original and exclusive explosives jurisdiction. Not so. Who do you think investigated explosive cases before the ATF was created? It was the FBI. No one stole it from ATF, it was not exclusively ATF’s in the first place. In this age of budget cuts, the best thing to do is eliminate the ATF. No one would miss them.

La Forest’s Response:

X1811, my old friend,

The observation about the “babbling FBI man” was a friendly swipe at the man himself . . . a good friend, Floyd Clarke, who went on to be the Deputy Director. I congratulated him on his tactics at the hearing when we ran into each other at an IACP conference. He was a good guy, someone who would warn fellow SACs in KC when he had to tell you a fib. That was refreshing. He and I attended a service in Phoenix a few years ago, and the guy still has his “Hollywood Hair!”

As for your comment about Waco, I agree that it was not worth the loss of our agents. I always wondered what would have happened if two agents in business suits had simply knocked on the door. Maybe it would have worked, maybe not. I do recall that after they removed an ATF agent from his comfortable role in talking to Koresh . . . not another child ever left that compound.

Looking at Ruby Ridge, ATF did indeed work the crooks . . . but it did not execute the arrest warrant that the Marshals finally moved on. It was a tragic loss for the U.S. Marshall Service. Almost as intense, was the witch-hunt directed at the FBI HRT sniper and his partners, following the final shootout at the cabin. My old friend, (X1811), let me point out again that ATF was not there on that final day, just like it wasn’t a participant when Koresh set fire to his compound.

As for redundancy at the federal level and the FBI working bombings in the “old days . . . I think not. The FBI may have occasionally worked a high-profile explosives case before . . . probably using State laws, transportation violations, espionage statutes, or others that they manipulated to make the case. For the most part it was not a priority . . . unless something about the incident piqued the Bureau’s interest. In 1970, the Organized Crime Control Act was passed. It contained the Explosives Control Act.

With the additional responsibility of enforcing these new laws, ATF redefined its mission as it has done ever since, e.g., the Anti- Arson Act in 1982. Excepting the latter law, ATF did not ask for additional jurisdiction. ATF has graciously accepted every tool that could arm its agents with effective tools that have helped “all” law enforcement agencies—at every level. On the phrase “of others doing what ATF can do.” That is a ridiculous pronouncement, sounding more like a malcontent’s whining.

As I recall, X1811, you never were one of the effective investigators. However, you did serve as a role model . . . for how NOT to act as a criminal investigator. Still bitter I see . . . your spiral seems to continue, old friend.

Bernard La Forest

PS: No codes here, I like to sign my stuff

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