I’m seeing a lot of direct connections being made between the termination of ATF Agent Vince Cefalu and the Fast & Furious gunwalker program. Cefalu was not directly involved with Fast & Furious, and he did not testify at the hearings last week.
It’s an important distinction to make. Special Agents John Dodson and Olindo “Lee” Casa, and Group Supervisor Peter Forcelli did testify, and if Cefalu was associated with the operation and had pertinent first-hand details about the program you would think he would have been there.
I want to make myself clear this is not a post in blind support of the ATF, or an attack on Cefalu. I just think it’s appropriate to clarify the news reporting out there.
Some in ATF consider Cefalu a long-time “whistleblower” going back to 2005. A letter he showed to Fox News noted…
… Cefalu should be fired because he leaked documents on a website he helped create, CleanupATF.org, and showed a “lack of candor” on past projects, in particular a 2005 operation that Cefalu led. Cefalu admits he made information about the case public but says he did so only after redacting sensitive parts and exhausting internal channels.
In the 2005 case, local police wanted to wiretap a suspect to gather evidence, but Cefalu objected, saying it would be illegal to use wiretaps until all other options for gathering evidence had been tried.
Cefalu was then removed from the case. But he continued to speak out and file internal complaints about what he viewed as illegal ATF wiretapping. And that’s when his life became difficult.
“That was the beginning of the end,” Cefalu told FoxNews.com.
As far as Cefalu saying it would be illegal to use wiretaps until all other options for gathering evidence had been exhausted, I don’t understand that since you can get a wiretap if you have probable cause. That said, I have not done much research into the incident that started Cefalu’s downfall – deserved or not – in 2005.
In short, just because Cefalu was working at the ATF and aware enough to provide some hearsay evidence and or documents to the media concerning the Fast & Furious program, does not make him an official whistleblower concerning this program.
ATF spokesman Drew Wade denied in a statement to FoxNews.com that the bureau is retaliating, but he declined to comment about Cefalu’s case. “ATF will not comment on specific, ongoing personnel matters. It is illegal to use disciplinary actions to retaliate against employees, and ATF does not engage in such improper reprisals.”
There is something else going on concerning Cefalu’s background at ATF. I don’t think the leadership at ATF would “retaliate” against a Fast & Furious whistleblower who has first-hand knowledge about the program. Cefalu may well be getting screwed, and if he is I hope he is vindicated. But it’s also possible his dismissal has been a long time coming and he’s using his purported “knowledge” of the Fast & Furious program as cover.
The media – specifically Fox News in this case – should separate Fast & Furious reporting from the termination notice Cefalu received. I think referring to Cefalu as a “Fast & Furious whistleblower” is a bit of a stretch and implies he testified in front of Congress last week when he did not do so.