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Thursday, April 14, 2011

ATF Shaking up Offices to Prepare for Project Gunrunner Scandal?

It looks like one of the top ATF officials in Phoenix who had a significant level of involvement with Operation Fast & Furious is being replaced - at least temporarily - by a Detroit office counterpart. William D. Newell, Phoenix's special agent in charge (SAC) is on his way to Washington, D.C. ostensibly to help the Feds explain what went on with the program that allowed guns to 'walk' into Mexico. It doesn't appear that Newell is the only one to be summoned.

From Tickle the Wire via Sipsey Street Irregulars:
WASHINGTON – There’s been a shakeup at the Phoenix office of ATF, which has come under heat for the controversial gun walking program dubbed Operation Fast and Furious, has learned.

Thomas E. Brandon, special agent in charge of the Detroit office, has been temporarily assigned to head up the Phoenix office, according to knowledgeable sources.

Brandon will fill in for the Phoenix special agent in charge, William D. Newell, who has been sent to Washington to help prepare and answer questions about Operation Fast and Furious for Congress and the Office of Inspector General, the sources said.

Newell joins Jim Needles, an assistant special agent in charge of the Phoenix Division, who has been temporarily assigned to Washington to also help prepare answers for the various inquiries, sources said. Another assistant special agent in charge of the Phoenix office has taken a sick leave. It is unclear where all the agents involved in the moves will wind up, and whether they’ll return to their old posts.
This is an interesting development in light of Phoenix Assistant special agent in charge, George Gillett Jr. coming forward recently. More on that story HERE.

Sipsey Street has some very intriguing posts in response to the Tickle the Wire report. They appear to be from anonymous ATF agents and give some good behind-the-scenes information on what could be going on. Gillett is apparently on 30-day administrative leave. The notion that Newell is being flown into DC to help with the investigation - if true - is curious at best. Operation Fast and Furious was run out of Phoenix and Newell clearly has a conflict of interest. There also seems to be serious chatter about a lot of Feds flying into Phoenix. It's likely too early to say the dam is breaking but there's definitely a run on sandbags.

Check out the comments at Sipsey Street.

h/t to GOA

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