Ex-official leaked Fast, Furious memo
Tim Steller Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Thursday, November 10, 2011
12:00 am | Comments
Dennis Burke, the former U.S. attorney for Arizona, has admitted he
leaked a memo related to Operation Fast and Furious in a move being
scrutinized by Congress and Justice Department internal investigators.
Burke resigned Aug. 30 in the wake of the expanding controversy over
the gun-smuggling investigation that allowed about 2,000 firearms
from Phoenix-area gun shops to be smuggled into Mexico.
It emerged Tuesday that on Aug. 16, two weeks before Burke resigned,
he had admitted to Justice Department internal investigators that he
leaked the document, which has been investigated by congressional
Republicans, especially U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley.
The memo has not been made public, but Grassley said it includes
information critical of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives agent who blew the whistle on Operation Fast and Furious.
A set of talking points also accompanied the leaked memo, Grassley said.
"This looks like a clear and intentional violation of the Privacy
Act, as well as an attempt at whistle-blower retaliation," Grassley
said during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
Later in the day, Burke's attorneys sent a letter to Cynthia
Schnedar, the Justice Department's acting inspector general, and
released the letter publicly. In it, Burke said a reporter contacted
him and mentioned a memo written by the whistle-blower, Special Agent
"It was clear to Dennis from their conversation that the reporter had
either seen the memo or had it read to him," the letter says.
"Dennis' intention was to give context to information that the
reporter already had to explain that investigations similar to
Operation Fast and Furious had been previously proposed by ATF," it
goes on. "The investigation proposed by Agent Dodson was closed, and
the memo did not contain any grand jury or otherwise classified
Burke's admission did not satisfy Grassley, who put out a statement
"The Justice Department should not be allowed to continue
scapegoating the one person who has resigned," Grassley said in the
statement. "We're in contact with Mr. Burke's attorneys and will
continue to seek additional information about the document leak and
retaliatory talking points."
The exchange over the leak in Tuesday's hearing was notably halting
and awkward, as Grassley and Attorney General Eric Holder
acknowledged their own previous discussion of the leak, and Holder
tried to avoid discussing the subject in public.
"In a different time in Washington. I'm not sure that information you
just said would have been shared with everyone here, but so be it,"
Grassley interjected: "You understand that I told you over the phone
conversation that if you want me not to ask these questions, to have
your staff work with my staff, and give the details so that I would
know that this would be an inappropriate question to ask at this
Holder responded: "There were a couple of leaks, and those leaks are
under investigation by the inspector general, by the Office of
Professional Responsibility, and I'm not in a position to comment on
an ongoing investigation."
Contact reporter Tim Steller at 807-8427 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more: http://azstarnet.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/ex-