Official Report: Govt Lawyer's Leak 'Wholly Unbefitting'

Monday, 20 May 2013 04:19 PM

By Greg Richter

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A former U.S. attorney with ties to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano violated policies of the Justice Department when he released an Operation Fast and Furious whistleblower's memo to the media, an Inspector General's report says.

Dennis Burke's actions were "wholly unbefitting a U.S. Attorney," said the report, issued Monday. Burke, who was U.S. Attorney for Arizona, resigned after he admitted to the release, and since he no longer works at DOJ, the agency can't punish him.

But Inspector General Michael Horowitz referred the case for possible review by the bar associations for Arizona and the District of Columbia.

John Dodson, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives wrote the memo, in which he proposed selling firearms to a suspect and then not trying very hard to track them.

He said the memo was an attempt to show problems in the Fast and Furious operation, and he assumed it would be rejected.

It ended up not only being accepted, but implemented. The whereabouts of six weapons were lost after Dodson sold them.

During the Fast and Furious probe in 2011, Burke released Dodson's memo to Fox News producer Mike Levine in a possible effort to undermine Dodson's credibility after he brought his complaints about Fast and Furious to Congress.

"We believe this misconduct to be particularly egregious because of Burke’s apparent effort to undermine the credibility of Dodson’s significant public disclosures about the failures in Operation Fast and Furious," the IG's report said.

Burke said he leaked the document because Levine seemed to know its contents, and he believed it to be in the possession of Congress anyway, and likely to be released eventually.

Congress did not have the memo at the time.

The report also blasted Burke for his role in leaking another memo to The New York Times. Deputy Attorney General James Cole called that leak "another horrible incident of bad judgment."

Burke, who worked for Napolitano when she was Arizona governor and at the Department of Homeland Security, has refused to cooperate with the IG's investigation.

"Mr. Burke’s refusal to cooperate with the Inspector General’s investigation shows me that he didn’t operate in good faith," said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who has been involved in the Fast and Furious probe. "His actions are indicative of this administration’s willingness to attack whistleblowers who cooperate with Congress and show the administration’s commitment to undermine legitimate congressional oversight."





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