Report Criticizes Ex-ATF Chief
Thursday, October 12, 2006
The former director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives violated ethics rules by requiring 20 employees to help his teenage nephew prepare a high school video project, part of a wide-ranging pattern of questionable expenditures on a new ATF headquarters, personal security and other items, according to a report issued yesterday.
Carl J. Truscott, who previously served as head of President Bush's security detail at the Secret Service, also took several trips with excessive numbers of ATF agents, including a $37,000 journey to London in September 2005 with eight other employees, according to the report.
The report by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine also finds fault with Truscott's treatment of some female employees, saying that he ordered two female administrative staff members to prepare meals for guests on several occasions. One of the employees was allegedly required to announce, "Lunch is served."
These and other findings follow Truscott's abrupt resignation in August amid growing questions about his conduct. The Washington Post reported in February that Truscott had allegedly authorized or proposed hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of unnecessary plan changes and upgrades to ATF's new 438,000-square-foot headquarters, which is behind schedule and millions of dollars over budget.
Fine's 157-page report confirms these allegations and many more, concluding that Truscott frequently broke regulations or exercised poor judgment in making decisions that had a serious impact on the ATF's operational budget when the agency was cutting back on vehicle maintenance, bulletproof vests and other basics.
The report also says that Justice investigators were "troubled by Truscott's lack of acceptance of responsibility" for his actions and their repercussions.
"From relatively minor issues, such as decisions on how to furnish the Director's Suite in the new Headquarters building, to major policy directives, such as how many new employees to hire, Truscott attempted to deflect responsibility to his subordinates, misrepresented the amount of involvement he had in the actions, or otherwise sought to distance himself from his own decisions," the report says. "We found several instances where Truscott's statements to us about his conduct were contradicted by numerous other witnesses, and in some instances, by documents as well."
Truscott said in a Sept. 25 letter in response to the findings that the report "is negative in tone" and "impugns my character and integrity without basis."
"Your Draft Report also fails to put the allegations made into context, to make mention of the significant progress ATF made during my stewardship and under difficult circumstances, or balance the allegations made against my unblemished professional career," Truscott said.
He said it was important to be involved in the details of the new headquarters to ensure that the building was designed and constructed properly. Truscott conceded that he should have limited the assistance given to his nephew.
Truscott's Washington attorney, Sheldon Krantz, was traveling outside the country yesterday and could not be reached to comment.
Truscott was briefly replaced by the ATF's career deputy director, Edgar A. Domenech, who reversed a decision to include a costly engraved quotation from Bush's post-9/11 speech to Congress at the new headquarters entrance. U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan of Boston has since been named acting head of the ATF; no permanent replacement has been nominated.