An audit of explosives investigations from the Justice Department’s inspector general’s office details conflcits between the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the FBI, Time magazine reports. The audit found that the disputes have led to confusion at crime sites, arguments in front of state and local investigators, tit-for-tat recrimination, and even a threat from the FBI to arrest an ATF agent. Each agency trains separately, each has its own explosives database, each has its own lab.
Agents race to explosions to claim the lead in investigations, and some managers are unclear about jurisdiction. Two ambiguous memos in 2004 and 2008 have failed to clarify the relationship. “These disputes can delay investigations, undermine federal and local relationships, and may project to local agency responders a disjointed federal response to explosives incidents,” the report said. It added: “We found explosives incident disputes between the FBI and ATF that were recent, significant, and attributable to more than personality conflicts.” Last December, the agencies feuded over a Woodburn, Or.,bombing where a device outside a bank killed a local bomb technician and police chief.