When not pushing people into fake robberies, the ATF regulates alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. (Also explosives, but it makes the well-known acronym more than a bit clumsy.) To facilitate maximum price gouging by state governments, the ATF tries to break up untaxed cigarette sales.
It's this simple work that has propelled an accountability-free explosion in the ATF, most of it traced back to a single office in Bristol, Virginia, fronted by a quasi-legitimate tobacco distributor. From there, an appalling amount of illegal activity was participated in by ATF agents and officials.
Matt Apuzzo has put together an amazing story for the New York Times, sourced from interviews and public records requests -- one that will cause your jaw to drop lower the further you scroll down the page. As Apuzzo puts it, the operation began as a way to bust black-market cigarette sales. It ended up as something much more sinister: an ATF slush fund that mixed public and private money with zero oversight or statutory authority. If any agent needed anything -- from vending machines with cameras in them to credit cards for unquestioned expenses -- they went to Bristol. It was done in the government's name, but plenty of agents personally profited from the operation.
The ATF needs to be abolished. It is corrupt, unaccountable, and tyrannical to the people caught up in its path. There is not a single ATF agent you can trust, because even if that single agent is a good guy, he works for a bureaucracy that is corrupt, unaccountable and tyrannical.
Add the ATF to the list of departments that are helping to destroy America and need to be wiped away.