Monday, February 05, 2007

Another Ugly Betrayal of American Heroes

It seems that every day brings another example of the Bush Administration's betrayal of those who place their lives at risk in the service of the nation. They betray out men and women in uniform. They betray our undercover CIA agents for political reasons.

Now, it appears, they are betraying the safety of our undercover ATF agents in order to pinch pennies.

Many of you may remember the famous case of the ATF agent who infiltrated the criminal Hells Angels gang, leading to the conviction of 16 high-level members of the gang. Incredibly, that agent, Jay Dobyns, has been left to fend for himself by the ATF, which has refused to grant him special protection.

And why? To save the ATF a few dollars, all while Bush submits budgets demanding $8 billion every goddamn month for Iraq. I know it sounds preposterous--but then, nothing is beyond this government when it comes to betraying those who work hardest and matter most.

From the article (whose full text I highly encourage you all to read):

With his undercover work done and his real identity as a law enforcement agent exposed, Dobyns says the Hells Angels and other gangs enlisted by it came after him, issuing death threats. Dobyns claims that the ATF -- rather than protecting him -- abandoned him.

"There was a murder contract on me and there was what was called a green light list, which was circulating in the prison, which was a list of people that various gangs wanted killed," Dobyns told CNN.

In response, Dobyns says, the ATF gave him a routine transfer with no special protection, despite his repeated protests. The ATF could have moved Dobyns and his family under what is known as a "threat policy" -- similar to the kind of protection the government routinely gives witnesses in organized crime cases.

And why not place this American hero into special protection?

But federal agents who go undercover don't automatically get a high level of protection, according to Dobyns and other ATF agents CNN interviewed.

"In order to save money, I was told it wasn't cost effective," Dobyns says.

Dobyns says he has moved himself and his family several times to elude those who've threatened to kill him. He has filed a claim with the ATF for the emotional stress and financial burden he says he's had to bear as a result.

So this man, who put his life on the line in more ways than one for his country, has found it necessary to move his family multiple times on his own dime because the ATF refuses to honor his service by helping keep him alive. But then, this is the same administration that puts soldiers into the line of fire without adequate body armor, vehicle armor or sandbags. Most galling, however, is that we could fully protect this man with the amount of money it takes to fund just one minute of the Occupation of Iraq.

And it's not just him, either. Multiple agents say that the ATF's penny-pinching has put their lives at risk:

But more than a dozen former and current ATF agents interviewed by CNN, many of whom have their own lawsuits, claims and serious concerns, said the ATF is failing to protect its agents.

Charlie Fuller is a 23-year retired veteran ATF special agent and a former top trainer of undercover agents, who wrote a manual on undercover work, "The Art of Undercover." He trained Dobyns and many other top ATF undercover agents.

"What happened to Dobyns is not an isolated incident," said Fuller. In many cases, he said, managers don't thoroughly understand the complexity of the undercover work or how to best work with and manage the agents once they're back in the real world.

He said agents are seen as troublemakers or retaliated against if they raise complaints or report problems.

It's Bunnatine Greenhouse and Valerie Plame all over again. Bust your butt and risk your life for America; get betrayed by the Bush Administration; get punished for blowing the whistle. Meanwhile, the oil companies rake in profits like never before, and the cost of Bush's war of choice escalates out of control.

I wish I had a pithy comment or insightful observation to make from here; I don't. All I have is anger against those who betray our nation's heores; passion to remove them from office as quickly and efficiently as possible; and the resolve to try to pick up the pieces of broken trust with which they have littered the landscape of American consciousness.

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