The former Deputy Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives no longer works for the federal agency, according to an ATF spokesperson. His last day was Tuesday, July 31, 2012.
The ATF would not confirm under what circumstances William Hoover left the agency, but in a Congressional investigative report released July 31, Republicans placed some of the blame for the failed Fast and Furious gunwalking case on Hoover.
“Though he ordered the Fast and Furious exit strategy,” the report indicated, “William Hoover failed to make certain the strategy was executed…Hoover was derelict in his duty to ensure that public safety was not jeopardized during Operation Fast and Furious.”
A spokesperson for ATF confirms Hoover most recently served as the Special Assistant to the Office of the Director and was reassigned to that position last year.
HOOVER’S HISTORY WITH ATF
Hoover joined the ATF in the Washington Field Division in 1987, where he worked as a special agent for six years.
He was assigned to work special ops at ATF headquarters in 1993. He also served as a program manager the ATF firearms training program, a Resident Agent in Charge in Portland, OR, and the Assistant to the Special Agent in Charge of the Louisville Field Division.
In 2003, Hoover became the Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Division and in 2006, the Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Division.
Hoover took the Assistant Director for Field Operations position in 2007, and eventually became the Deputy Director for the ATF.
Although the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Justice has yet to release its findings in the Fast and Furious investigation, the Republican Congressional report blamed Hoover for failing to properly supervise ATF leaders in Phoenix, including the former ATF Special Agent in Charge for Phoenix, Bill Newell.
“Hoover had a responsibility to ensure that the largest gun trafficking case in ATF at the time was operating according to ATF and Justice Department guidelines,” the report said.
“As Deputy Director, Hoover was ATF’s chief operating officer. He came up through the ranks as a field agent and was well respected throughout ATF. He understood the ATF, having spent the bulk of his professional career there, but fell short in his duty to protect public safety during Fast and Furious,” Republican leaders reported.
FAST AND FURIOUS HISTORY
Phoenix ATF agents testified they knowingly allowed weapons to slip into the hands of straw buyers who would then distribute the weapons to known criminals.
The strategy was designed to lead ATF officials to key drug players in Mexico, but some agents admitted they never fully tracked the weapons after suspicious buyers purchased them.
“It made no sense to us either, it was just what we were ordered to do, and every time we questioned that order there was punitive action,” Phoenix Special Agent John Dodson testified.
According to the testimony of three Phoenix ATF agents, including Dodson, hundreds of weapons are now on the streets in the United States and Mexico, possibly in the hands of criminals.
“…Fast and Furious was one case from one group in one field division,” he testified. He estimated agents in the Phoenix field division “facilitated the sale of” approximately 2,500 weapons to straw purchasers. A few hundred have been recovered.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE RESPONSE TO REPUBLICAN REPORT
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice responded to the Republican report released this week by defending the Attorney General and his role in the case.
“The report…does signal a notable shift in that the Committee finally acknowledges what the Attorney General and other Department officials have been saying from the beginning – that the flaws in this operation, and in previous ones, had their origins in the field in Arizona and occurred, in part, due to weak oversight by ATF leadership,” Tracy Schmaler, a DOJ spokesperson, said.
“That is why --last year -- the Attorney General removed and reassigned the head of ATF and ensured that other officials who supervised and had responsibility for this operation were also reassigned. The Attorney General also ensured that reforms were instituted at ATF to provide stronger oversight of significant investigations to prevent such tactics from being used again,” she wrote.
Schmaler also criticized Rep. Darrell Issa, the Chairman of the House Committee that prepared this report.
“Predictably, this Republican report reiterates many of the distortions and now-debunked conspiracy theories that Rep. Issa has been advancing for a year and a half, including the fiction that the flawed tactics used in Fast and Furious were somehow the brainchild of the current Administration as opposed to the reality that the pattern of flawed tactics dates back to 2006 and the prior Administration.
“If Rep. Issa wants to continue to spend precious resources recycling old conspiracy theories for stale reports that do nothing