Fast and Furious: The whistleblower gets canned

Fox News reports that “Fast and Furious” whistleblower Vince Cefalu has been fired from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms after 25 years of service.  He said he was “served his termination papers Tuesday in a Denny’s parking lot in South Lake Tahoe, California.”

This development doesn’t really come as a surprise to Cefalu, although it probably raised eyebrows among the staff at Denny’s:

Cefalu, who’s served as an ATF special agent for 25 years, was first notified of the plan to fire him more than a year ago but had been on administrative leave until now. He said officials told him he was being canned for “lack of candor,” in reference to a handful of statements he made in testimony in a separate court case.

However, Cefalu has been outspoken against ATF practices for years and told that his whistle-blowing on Fast and Furious “was the final straw.”

Cefalu was one of the founders of the website CleanUpATF, a virtual platform for complaints about the agency. He was among the first to speak up about Fast and Furious, the failed anti-gunrunning operation that let thousands of guns slip across the U.S.-Mexico border. Weapons from the program were founded at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Naturally, the ATF denies that Cefalu has suffered any sort of “retaliation.”  I recall Congress sternly warning against whistleblower retaliation long ago, but Congress no longer seems to have much control over what happens in much of the U.S. government, particularly the Justice Department.  It’s too bad Cefalu didn’t get in hot water with his superiors four years ago, in an era when the media adored whistleblowers and routinely portrayed them as epic heroes.

The CleanUpATF web site was, unsurprisingly, displeased with Cefalu’s sacking:

Well, they’ve finally gone ahead and done it. ATF’s San Francisco hatchet men just served Special Agent Vince Cefalu with termination papers in the parking lot of a Dennys.  They did this over a year and half after proposing the termination.  Notwithstanding the transparently trumped-up nature of the so-called “charges” in question, proposing a termination and then excuting it over a year and a half later is prima facie evidence that the action is unsustainable and is virtually certain to be reversed on appeal.

Moreover, the allegations used as a basis for the adverse action are laughably unfounded, deliberately fabricated, and relied largely on the testimony of ATF officials who committed easily-provable felony perjury in open court and later in sworn depositions. I herein predict that a number of the people involved in this grotesque act of bald-faced unlawful retaliation and obstruction of justice will do significant jail time before this is all over.

I will also say with confidence that this was by far the stupidest, most ill-advised course of action that they (ATF management) could possibly have taken in this case.  Rather than quietly settling what a mediocre first-year law student would recognize to be a Hindenburg of a losing case (for them), ATF just substantially amplified the damages award that Cefalu will, in my opinion, recover at trial.  Talk about stepping in it.

It’s well-known that ATF management and their viciously corrupt counsel are, for the most part, brutally self-serving and mean-spirited.  But this Cefalu termination is nevertheless surprising in its utter incomprehensibility under the circumstances, from purely legal and elemental federal labor law standpoints.  If they had any prayer of making the action stick, theyhad to do it more than a year ago, before so many additional events have transpired that will render the termination plainly unlawful and inescapably untenable.  It’s just plain moronic no matter how you slice it.

It seems apparent that ATF’s leadership at all levels has degenerated to a pathetic state of paroxysmal, shoot-from-the-hip incompetence. They can’t even do the wrong thing right.

Cefalu himself added a post addressing his termination:

I am constrained by certain procedural and legal orders demanded by the U S Attorney in San Francisco who has chosen to protect criminal and integrity violations by YOUR leadership rather than represent “their client” the United States Government and the tax payers. They have unlimited resources and do NOT care how they win or how much taxpayer funds they waste in the process.. All I can say is #1 Trust the system you have sworn to serve, it’s not perfect but justice generally prevails. #2, I NEVER lied, lacked candor or even stretched the truth in performance of my duties. THAT’S the FACT. The ONLY lying or lack of Candor that has occurred has been consistently at the hands of YOUR leadership, Current and Past and WILL be released to the public at trial or as soon as it is LEGAL to do so. They are TRYING to chill ALL of YOU. Don’t let it happen. Be strong and HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE. Vincent A. Cefalu Special Agent Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Apparently no one actually responsible for the Fast and Furious outrage needs to worry about losing their jobs.