B. Todd Jones, ATF acting director, criticized by retired FBI agentby Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A retired FBI agent is questioning whether B. Todd Jones should be permanent director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Jones is U.S. attorney for Minnesota and is currently under consideration by Congress for the top ATF job.
Former FBI special agent Don Oswald sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee describing his concerns with Jones. Oswald says Jones has a reputation for being uncooperative, not a team player and too political.
"It was necessary for me to bring to light the atrocious reputation that Mr. Jones has among federal law enforcement in the district in which he serves as United States attorney," Oswald said.
Oswald cited several cases where he says Jones was an obstacle to investigations.
"I just needed to make a point that Mr. Jones was an impediment to federal law enforcement in the arenas of violent crime, drugs and guns, still is, has a very poor reputation among law enforcement in Minnesota."
Oswald said he hopes Jones gets a fair hearing but felt compelled to make his concerns public.
Jones could not be immediately reached for comment.
Oswald's characterization of Jones is disputed by Ralph Boelter, the former special agent in charge who preceded Oswald. Boelter headed the Minneapolis division of the FBI and was the bureau's assistant director over counterterrorism in Minneapolis from 2007 to 2011.
"I've never seen him act in the way that Don characterized him, never," Boelter said. He recalls working closely with Jones in a partnership between the U.S. Attorney's office and the FBI, including on a number of high profile cases.
The two collaborated on the Tom Petters case, the Somali youth disappearance cases and Indian Country crime in northern Minnesota, among others.
"I am surprised at that characterization because that is not the opinion or the view that any of my colleagues held or partners in other law enforcement agencies or other government agencies held about Todd. Actually, it was quite the contrary Boelter said. "In my experience, Todd was always available, certainly always sensitive to issues or concerns that were raised to my level and I raised with him. He was responsive. I cannot think of any particular issue where he took an opposite view at the end of the day or failed to act in a way that was appropriate on a case."
Jones' nomination continues to work its way through Senate confirmation process.
Jones is the fifth acting-director of ATF since 2006.
An emailed response from Jeanne F. Cooney, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office read, "It would not be appropriate for us to comment on a letter directed to the Senate Judiciary Committee, particularly before it even holds a confirmation hearing. We can only say what we have said in the past, which is, "If Todd Jones is confirmed as Director of the ATF, those of us in the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District of Minnesota will miss his leadership and dedication. At the same time, the ATF will be getting a director who is thoughtful, hardworking, and committed to justice."