The ATF keep reinforcing their image of complete fools with guns and a budget, from Waco to fast and furious to employing mentally ill individuals. I guess they feel right at home with the mentally ill. ..................................................................... Calling the ATF's tactics appalling, alarming, disturbing and "almost unimaginable," congressional members on Thursday slammed the agency for how it conducted storefront stings across the nation and renewed their demand for answers. The sharply worded letter is the latest salvo from members of Congress to U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Director B. Todd Jones regarding the undercover operations. "Much as in operation Fast and Furious and Operation Fearless, it appears that poor management was the norm in these other storefront operations," the letter said. The letter was signed by U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee; U.S. Rep. Darrell E. Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the chamber's head investigative panel; and U.S. Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The Journal Sentinel found that the ATF used mentally disabled individuals to promote their operations in at least five cities — including paying one to get a tattoo on his neck advertising their storefront — and later had them charged them with gun and drug crimes. The tattoo was of a giant squid smoking a joint. In Milwaukee, three guns belonging to the case's lead undercover agent, including a machine gun, were stolen. The machine gun remains missing. Across the country, agents put stings near schools and churches, increasing arrest numbers and penalties — and attracting juveniles with free video games and alcohol. They paid so much for guns and other goods that in some cities it encouraged burglaries. In some cases, defendants bought guns at stores such as Gander Mountain and sold them to undercover agents hours later for more than double what they paid. "In all of these cases, ATF apparently wasted taxpayer dollars on purchases," the lawmakers wrote, citing two examples detailed in the Journal Sentinel's reporting, including one where a defendant bought a gun at the store for $700 and sold it to undercover agents hours later for $2,000. "Operations like this raise questions as to whether ATF was manufacturing crime that would not have otherwise occurred, effectively increasing the overall crime rates in the neighborhoods where the storefronts were located," the letter said. The lawmakers said they were particularly disturbed by the agency's placement of stings near schools. "It is almost unimaginable that any law enforcement agency would recklessly endanger children in this way — particularly an agency that is tasked with responding to school shootings," the letter said. The congressional members noted the Journal Sentinel investigation showed the ATF failed to follow its own policy on storefronts. That policy states the agency should only participate in such operations if the potential defendants "are active criminals worthy of federal interest." "We are appalled by ATF agents' lack of judgment in recruiting juveniles and developmentally disabled individuals," the lawmakers wrote. Also receiving copies of Thursday's letter were U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and other members of Congress. U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis), who signed previous letters to ATF on the stings, did not sign this one. No explanation was provided by his office. ATF spokeswoman Ginger Colbrun did not respond for comment on the letter Thursday. Earlier, she said the agency enacted reforms after the failures of the Milwaukee sting and the national problems identified by the Journal Sentinel happened before those changes were made. She also said the ATF created a best practices manual on storefronts in response to the Milwaukee operation, telling agents not to pay inflated prices for guns and to come up with plans in case armed felons try to leave the stings — as happened several times, according to the Journal Sentinel investigation. Congressional Letter to ATF -- Jan. 9, 2014 Backfire | Watchdog Update - Letter from Congress calls ATF sting tactics 'almost unimaginable'