Grassley Questions Deputy Attorney General About Reno ATF/US Attorney Rift PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 01 October 2012 07:46

Friday, September 28, 2012

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley is asking Deputy Attorney General James Cole about his office’s knowledge about the falling-out between the Reno, NV offices for the U.S. Attorney and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

In a letter sent late last night, Grassley wrote, and provided documents, that ATF agents in Reno notified the Office of Professional Responsibility nearly one year ago, yet the breakdown between the two offices continued.

“It appears the ATF and the US Attorney’s Office may finally be stepping up to resolve the problem in Reno, but we need to learn how it got to this point.  It’s inexcusable that it festered for more than a year,” Grassley said.

Here’s a copy of the text of Grassley’s letter.  A signed copy can be found here.

 

September 27, 2012

Via Electronic Transmission

The Honorable James M. Cole

Deputy Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530

 

Dear Deputy Attorney General Cole:

As you may be aware, I recently contacted both Nevada U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Acting Director B. Todd Jones about allegations from whistleblowers that a breakdown in relations had occurred between ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) in Reno, Nevada.[1] I have not yet received a briefing from either of their offices.

The alleged breakdown is illustrated in a declination memorandum from the Reno USAO, which indicates that as of September 29, 2011, the Reno USAO categorically refused to accept any cases submitted by Reno ATF.  The declination memo states, “We are willing to consider your cases again when your management addresses and resolves the issues at hand.”[2] Apparently as a consequence, ATF’s Reno Field Office has only opened one case in 2012, as the attached chart indicates.[3]

I have since obtained documents from whistleblowers which indicate that these issues were raised with ATF headquarters and the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) almost a year ago.  According to one document, ATF agents in Reno notified ATF’s Internal Affairs Division of the issue on October 13, 2011.[4] According to a second document, an ATF agent in Reno notified OPR on October 25, 2011.[5] As you may know, because of ATF and the Reno USAO’s inability to resolve these issues, three ATF line agents and a supervisor were transferred out of Reno in April 2012.

In light of these facts, I am seeking to understand whether Justice Department management was also notified of the problems between ATF and the USAO in Reno, and if so, what actions were taken to rectify these issues.  Your office, the Office of the Deputy Attorney General (ODAG), is responsible for overseeing both ATF and U.S. Attorneys.  Therefore, please answer the following questions:

 

1)      Was anyone in ODAG notified in any way of these problems prior to my letters to ATF and U.S. Attorney Bogden on September 17, 2012?

a.      If so, when were individuals in ODAG first notified?

b.      What actions did they take to inquire into the situation?

c.       What actions did they take to address the situation?

2)     Were you aware of these problems prior to my letters to ATF and U.S. Attorney Bogden on September 17, 2012?

a.      If so, when were you first notified?

b.      What actions did you take to inquire into the situation?

c.       What actions did you take to address the situation?

3)     Was anyone in the Office of the Attorney General notified in any way of these problems prior to my letters to ATF and U.S. Attorney Bogden on September 17, 2012?

a.      If so, when were they first notified?

b.      What actions did they take to inquire into the situation?

c.       What actions did they take to address the situation?

Please also provide the following documents:

4)     All emails pertaining to anyone at Justice Department headquarters becoming aware of these issues prior to my letters to ATF and U.S. Attorney Bogden on September 17, 2012.

5)     All emails pertaining to anyone at Justice Department headquarters responding to these issues prior to my letters to ATF and U.S. Attorney Bogden on September 17, 2012.

Please provide a response and produce these documents by Thursday, October 11, 2012.  If you have any questions concerning this matter, please contact Brian Downey or Tristan Leavitt of my staff at (202) 224-5225.

 

Sincerely,

Charles E. Grassley
Ranking Member

 

Attachments

cc:       The Honorable Michael E. Horowitz, Inspector General

U.S. Department of Justice

B. Todd Jones, Acting Director

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives

[1] Letter from Senator Grassley to U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada Daniel G. Bogden (Sep. 17, 2012) (Attachment 1); Letter from Senator Grassley to ATF Acting Director B. Todd Jones (Sep. 17, 2012) (Attachment 2).

2 Letter from Assistant U.S. Attorney Sue Fahami to ATF Special Agent (Sep. 29, 2011) (Attachment 3).

3 “Cases Initiated by Program Area,” ATF Reno Field Office (Attachment 4).

4 Memorandum from ATF Internal Affairs Division to ATF Assistant Director for the Office of Professional Responsibility and Security Operations, “Request to Close Investigation” (Feb. 10, 2012) (Attachment 5).

5 Letter from Justice Department Office of Professional Responsibility to ATF Special Agent (Dec. 12, 2011) (Attachment 6).




[1] Letter from Senator Grassley to U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada Daniel G. Bogden (Sep. 17, 2012) (Attachment 1); Letter from Senator Grassley to ATF Acting Director B. Todd Jones (Sep. 17, 2012) (Attachment 2).

[2] Letter from Assistant U.S. Attorney Sue Fahami to ATF Special Agent (Sep. 29, 2011) (Attachment 3).

[3] “Cases Initiated by Program Area,” ATF Reno Field Office (Attachment 4).

[4] Memorandum from ATF Internal Affairs Division to ATF Assistant Director for the Office of Professional Responsibility and Security Operations, “Request to Close Investigation” (Feb. 10, 2012) (Attachment 5).

[5] Letter from Justice Department Office of Professional Responsibility to ATF Special Agent (Dec. 12, 2011) (Attachment 6).
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