Some Rank and File in DEA Hail Nomination of Acting Chief Leonhart for Permanent Post

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — Some of the rank and file in the Drug Enforcement Administration on Tuesday  hailed the long awaited decision by President Obama on Monday to nominate acting DEA chief Michele Leonhart for the permanent post. She must now get confirmed by the Senate.

“She’s good for the agency,” said one DEA agent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because agents aren’t authorized to speak to the press without permission. “She’s one of us. She came up through the ranks. You get the impression she understands what the working agents go through.”

The agent said she got added kudos among the ranks when she took time to meet with the families of three DEA agents who were killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in October.

Another DEA agent added: “She knows our faults and she knows our strengths. She’ll enhance our strengths and close the gaps on our flaws. She’s very nice, she’s smart, she’s a hard worker.”

The agent acknowledged she may have made a few enemies along the way working for the Office of Professional Responsibility, which investigates wrongdoing within the agency.

Also on the downside, agents acknowledged that Leonhart, who has been acting administrator since 2007, has gotten a rap  for being too indecisive at times.

But they said the indecisiveness comes, at least in good part, as a result of being an acting chief who has limited power. They said that should change if she’s confirmed for the top spot.

William Coonce, a retired DEA special agent in charge of the Detroit office, said :”She’s  outstanding. I’m glad for her and I’m glad for the agency.”


Leave a Reply