WASHINGTON -- B. Todd Jones, the man President Barack Obama wants to be the first permanent director the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has had since 2006, is the same man the administration trusted to clean up the beleaguered agency after the "Fast and Furious" scandal.
Jones has served as acting ATF director August 2011, but only focused on ATF on a part-time basis while still maintaining his position as U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota. The Senate hasn't confirmed an ATF director since 2006, when the law first began requiring the Senate to sign off on the president's pick. Even President George W. Bush couldn't get a Republican U.S. attorney through the process.
The Senate Judiciary Committee never even bothered to have a hearing for ATF veteran Andrew Traver, Obama's first ATF nominee. The National Rifle Association almost instantly opposed Traver's nomination after the NRA's top lobbyist "Googled him."
Jones, however, has gotten through the Senate confirmation twice before. He first served as a U.S. attorney under President Bill Clinton and returned to the position as soon as Obama took office. Eric Holder tapped him to head his Attorney General Advisory Committee until he was asked to take over ATF in the midst of a scandal in which agents allowed guns that were supposed to be under their supervision get out into the public. Several weapons turned up at crime scenes in Mexico.
Jones tossed six of the top eight assistant directors at ATF's fortress-esque headquarters in the northeastern part of Washington, D.C. He placed restrictions on undercover ATF operations and instituted monthly oversight on larger investigations. He has called his ATF gig the hardest jobs he's ever had.
ATF's public affairs officials summoned reporters to their headquarters the same day the Inspector General's report on Fast and Furious came out in September. Asked whether agents would shy away from bigger gun trafficking cases because of worries such difficult cases could bring them under congressional scrutiny, Jones said the agency wouldn't back down from tough investigations.
"All we can do is get off the mat again and keep swinging," he said.