The ATF, has, now remember what I'm saying here, the officers are not to blame themselves. They're doiing a job they are assigned to do.
Having said that, the ATF has anything but an illustrious history. I don't know what went wrong or when but for serveral decades leading all the way back to the Clinton Administration, they were consisdered by most law enforcement agencies as, for lack of a better term, inept.
They on more than one occasion in this country would lead raids on the wrong addresses, leaving homeowners absolutely terrified. Agents died, innocents died, etc. They were considered, as federal employees, to be indemnified when they made mistakes, which originally, were legion. Truth be told, most law enforcement agencies back in the nineties considered the ATF a joke. This wan't aimed at the officers but how the agency was run.
Keep in mind, it wasn't the individual teams. They were built up to be the best in the business and the last defence (for lack of a better term). that, they have now become. The problem is, their information was often faulty beyond belief.
Originally the "sales to cartels to track the sales of heavy weapons" was started by the Bush Administration BUT, each weapon contained a chip that could track where that weapon went and the entire operation was integrated with the Mexican Government. The current program didn't do that.
In short, the ATF had no idea that the weapons they were told to allow to be sold had no way of being tracked....until they were used and most importantly, recovered. We all know what happened.
The result is not to be blamed upon either the ATF or the Border Patrol but rather the idiots that approved the current program.
What this involved is people who had no experience whatsoever in the semantics and the intricacies of what they were doing. That is what happens when politicians get involved in something fo which they have neither knowledge nor training.
In short, leave such programs to the pros.