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Navy chief picks former ATF nominee to head NCIS

Aug. 30, 2013 - 03:51PM   |  
By Sam Fellman Staff writer   |   Comments

The Navy’s top civilian has tapped a former naval officer and veteran lawman to head the 2,500-person Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which provides security and leads criminal and counterintelligence investigations for the Navy and Marine Corps, the service said in a Friday news release.

But Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ selection of Andrew Traver may bring more attention than a typical appointment. Traver was nominated by President Obama to lead the bureau of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in 2010 and again in 2011; the National Rifle Association opposed the move, and both nominations died in the Senate.

Traver served as a surface warfare officer before joining the ATF in 1987.

“Andrew Traver is absolutely the right person to lead the NCIS,” Mabus said in a statement. “His strong law enforcement background and experience make him the ideal choice to guide NCIS in preventing and solving crimes and helping to counter those who would do us harm. As a former naval officer, he understands the Navy and Marine Corps and the evolving security issues we face today.”

The Navy secretary chooses the NCIS director, a position not subject to Senate confirmation, which differs from admirals and top Navy civilians.

Pro-gun groups successfully stonewalled Traver’s 2010 nomination, with the NRA saying he was “deeply aligned with gun-control advocates and anti-gun activities.”

The NRA did not respond Friday afternoon to a request for comment.

However, some fellow ATF officers have defended Traver’s record as a solid, no-nonsense ATF agent and team leader.

Traver, who is still an ATF employee, will have to wrap up his job there, so the date he will take charge of NCIS hasn’t been set.

“The desire is to have him in place as director in the fall,” SECNAV spokeswoman Cmdr. Tamara Lawrence said.

Traver served aboard the Charles F. Adams-class destroyer Benjamin Stoddert and was stationed in Newport, R.I.; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; and San Diego and Coronado, Calif., during his naval career.

Traver takes over an agency that has seen some internal turmoil, with agents and former agents assailing dozens of involuntary transfers as a de facto force-out campaign. NCIS has been run by acting director Mark Ridley since March.

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