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Help Wanted: ATF Chief
Posted By Ryan J. Reilly On April 18, 2010 @ 10:38 pm In News | Comments Disabled
During a time of increased gun-related violence on the Mexican border, the White House cannot find anyone to fill the position of director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
White House officials say they are having a tough time filling the role because a nominee would likely face opposition from the gun lobby, including the National Rifle Association, reported  Newsweek .
In fact, Kenneth Melson, the acting director of ATF, was recently demoted to deputy director because the law limits how long acting chiefs can run federal agencies. Critics say the lack of a permanent director has made the ATF more cautious in its investigations of gun-trafficking rings and firearms dealers, according to Newsweek.
“The message that’s sent to the employees is, ‘You don’t matter,’” said Jim Cavanaugh, who recently retired as the agent in charge of the Nashville office.
But Melson disputed the notion that ATF has backed off big cases. He said the lack of a permanent head hasn’t had “any impact” on the agency’s operations. “I emphatically deny that the agency has stood still,” said Melson.
Main Justice reported  last month that an unpublished strategic plan for the agency for the next seven years gives the agency a less prominent role in investigating terrorism – leaving the issue primarily to the FBI. Instead the agency intends to focus on combating violent crime.
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