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Posted at 9:37 PM ET, 05/ 7/2010

ATF needs a little love in Times Square

By Jeff Stein

Poor ATF: It don’t get no respect.

NYPD's Ray Kelly, Attorney General Holder and DHS honcho Janet Napolitano all heaped praise on themselves and each other for their fabulous work in the Times Square bomb case.

But the ATF? Nada. Out of sight, out of mind, evidently, overlooked like the acned geek at the high school prom.

This, even though ATF agents contributed some very nice work in helping to apprehend the accused would-be truck-bomber, Faisal Shahzad, particularly with their quick trace of a gun found in the suspect’s car. The ATF also had agents working with the NYPD’s bomb unit and the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

“We didn’t want to push the issue,” Joseph Green, New York spokesman for the ATF, told SpyTalk Friday night.

Okay, I will.

To be sure, James Cavanaugh, who recently retired after 33 years with the ATF, was all over quotedom yakking about the bomb. But that’s all the reflected glory the bureau got.

Kelly got the logs rolling by thanking “the NYPD and the FBI as well as the fire department and the Office of Emergency Management for their work tonight. But most of all the alert vendor and Officer Ratigin of the Mounted Unit.”

Eric Holder praised “the Department of Justice and our partners in the national security community.”

Napolitano singled out the “men and women from the FBI, the Department of National Security division and U.S. attorneys offices [that] worked with NYPD, DHS, and state and local partners.” Customs and Border Patrol eventually got a shout-out from their boss as well.

DoJ, in turn, in a joint statement with the FBI and NYPD, praised “the collective work of the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force and the prosecutors and investigators in the Southern District of New York … the Customs and Border Protection agents and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut.”

Of course, President Obama had some praising to do, too.

“I want to commend the work of the NYPD, the New York Fire Department and the FBI which responded swiftly and aggressively to a dangerous situation," he said from Louisiana, where he was commanding the oil-slicked tide go out.

Not forgetting the little people, the president added, "And I also want to commend the vigilant citizens who noticed the suspicious activity and reported it to the authorities."

Did they get everybody? Nope, not ATF.

The ugly stepchild of U.S. law enforcement seems destined to get only bad notices, such as in the 1993 Branch Dividian inferno.

It ain’t fair. Then again, of course, neither is life.

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By Jeff Stein  | May 7, 2010; 9:37 PM ET
Categories:  Intelligence, Justice/FBI  
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Next: Holder & Company jump the gun on Shahzad

Comments

ATF agents traced a gun and want headlines? First off, no ATF supervisor, ASAC or SAC was on the scene. They are not first responders and have no render safe capabilities for explosive devices in nyc. They do not investigate terorist cases which leaves them with the m-80 in a sewer by a teenager investigations - if they even have the personnel for that. The ATF "spokeperson" is an over compensated $150K/yr agent who hasn't conducted an investigation in over 20 yrs. Why does ATF even need a local nyc press officer? "Tracing a gun" is handled by ATF contracted support personnel anyway. And more - that information shouldn't be the exclusive domain of one law enforcement agency. It should be accessible by all LE via NCIC like motor vehicle registration. ATF is a dinosaur.

Posted by: hectorz1 | May 10, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Dear Hectorz1,
You obviously are not fully informed or educated (putting it nicely)regarding the responsibilities and legal authority of ATF or the capabilities of ATF agents and explosive personnel including render safe. You certainly have your acronyms correct so I assume you are another current or former law enforcement officer. It is very unfortunate that you would make such remarks about this agency or it's personnel. I did not see any indication in the article that ATF was asking for any recognition.

Posted by: msbjallen | May 10, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Dear ms Allen,

You can't argue with the message so you attack the messenger. A 150G ATFE spokesman in NYC ? Are you serious ?

Don't be so condescending. We all know ATF's "legal authority". The facts are that this authority is rarely exercised lest it be when local authorities allow an ATF SA to ride in the backseat for a go-along.

By chance are you a desk jockey or street agent ?

Posted by: cv60pao | May 11, 2010 5:09 AM | Report abuse

I will never forgive the jackbooted thugs of the BATFE for murdering the Branch Davidians in a botched publicity stunt. As for their agents who were given medals and promotions, I can only hope a very hot, very fiery Eternity awaits them.

Were seventy lives worth a few hundred crappy tax dollars? That's the question even today, isn't it?

Posted by: joeofthemountain | May 11, 2010 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Life is fair if you enjoy the pursuit. Life, liberty and happiness. It can happen fast.

Posted by: tossnokia | May 12, 2010 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Remember folks, 9 11 would not have taken place if the fbi was doing their job. These guys could not even connect the dots. You see the results of this inability to put critical facts together. Their own agents, including a female supervisor, who were in the public news years ago have said it and admitted this. If you live in a glass house, you should not be throwing stones. What about all that wasted taxpayers money for a botched computer system. The list of royal screw-ups goes on and on and on.

Posted by: MrAgent007 | May 12, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

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