Shake Up at the Phoenix ATF Division Related to Operation Fast and Furious
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, ticklethewire.com 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.
Scot L. Thomasson, chief spokesman for ATF, did not immediately respond to a call from ticklethewire.com for comment.
Some key members of Congress have been highly critical of the Fast and Furious program and have been pressing for answers. The program encouraged straw purchasers to buy guns, all the with hopes of tracing them to the Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of some of the guns which ended up being used in crimes. That triggered a public outcry from Congress and the Mexican government.