TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

'Fast and Furious' attorney retaliated against whistle-blower, Justice Department inspector general says

About The Tribune-Review
The Tribune-Review can be reached via e-mail or at 412-321-6460.
Contact Us | Video | Photo Reprints

Daily Photo Galleries


By The Washington Post

Published: Monday, May 20, 2013, 8:06 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department inspector general said on Monday that the former U.S. Attorney in Phoenix retaliated against the main whistle-blower in a botched federal gun operation by leaking information to a television producer that was meant to harm the whistle-blower's credibility.

Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz determined that former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke violated Justice Department policy by giving a Fox News producer a memo about John Dodson, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agent who had testified before Congress about the failed gun operation known as “Fast and Furious.”

“There was substantial evidence that Burke's motive for disclosing the memorandum was to retaliate against Special Agent Dodson, who two weeks earlier had testified before a Congressional committee regarding his concerns about Operation Fast and Furious,” Horowitz wrote in his 21-page report.

Horowitz found that Burke's misconduct was “particularly egregious” because of his effort to undermine the credibility of Dodson's disclosures.

In the two-year Phoenix operation that began in 2009, ATF agents watched as more than 2,000 guns sold to suspected traffickers hit the streets. The operation to link guns to a Mexican drug cartel fell apart after two of the guns were found at the scene of a shootout that killed a border agent. That led to an 18-month congressional investigation and a vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for not disclosing documents about the Justice Department's response to the outcry.

Horowitz said that when Burke gave Fox News the memo in late June 2011, the U.S. Attorney was under investigation by the department's Office of Professional Responsibility for an earlier unauthorized disclosure to the New York Times. Days before, Burke had told Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole that he had provided information to the Times, and Cole warned him not to do it again.

The memo that Burke released to Fox News detailed a 2010 operation in which Dodson proposed to act as an undercover straw purchaser and deliver firearms to a suspected trafficker, but take no enforcement action. The plan was similar to the actions that were taken with thousands of guns in the Fast and Furious operation.

Burke was forced to resign as U.S. Attorney on Aug. 30, 2011, as part of the fallout from the Fast and Furious gun trafficking operation. Burke later took responsibility for leaking the memo about Dodson.

His attorney, Chuck Rosenberg, said Burke regretted his role.

Horowitz said that he has asked the department's Office of Professional Responsibility to determine whether Burke's conduct violated the rules of professional conduct for the state bars in which he is a member.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Study says regular pot use affects the brain
  2. 50 years later, ‘flying housewife’ Mock recalls fun of becoming first woman pilot to fly around the world
  3. Russian fighter jet hounds Navy warship in Black Sea for 90 minutes
  4. Obama justifies reducing prison term for trafficker
  5. Judge set to rule on drug firm’s suit against Massachusetts for painkiller ban
  6. Authorities say they have trove of evidence against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Boston Marathon bombing
  7. Somber Boston marks first anniversary of marathon bombing
  8. Court upholds EPA emissions restrictions
  9. T. rex gets the red-carpet treatment at Smithsonian
  10. At least 5 women linked to sexual torture case in St. Louis
  11. Panel will examine military justice system
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.