Dennis Burke's Leaking of Fast & Furious Memo in 2011 "Wholly Unbefitting a US Attorney," Says U.S. Inspector General's Office

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Dennis Burke.jpg
Dennis Burke lied to an investigator and leaked a memo to Fox News in order to retaliate against a government whistle-blower, a U.S. Inspector General's Office report released Monday states.
The day after a high-ranking Justice Department official blasted former Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke for lying about one memo leaked to a reporter, Burke committed an even worse leak.

That's just one damning finding in a U.S. Inspector General report about the actions of Burke in the Fast & Furious "gun-walking" scandal.

Burke's second leak to the news media was "particularly egregious" because it appears Burke's intention was to retaliate against a whistle-blowing agent in the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the report states.

See also - Dennis Burke, Former Arizona U.S. Attorney, Accused of Retaliating Against ATF Agent Who Blew Whistle on Fast and Furious Scandal

The report is an ignominious epilogue to Burke's once-promising political career. Burke served as chief of staff to former Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano and was appointed as Arizona U.S. Attorney by President Obama in 2009.

Burke resigned in August 2011 while under investigation for leaking the first memo and just after he was accused of leaking the second.

Burke gave the New York Times a memo about Jaime Avila, a suspect in a straw-buying scheme whose purchased weapons had showed up at the scene of the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, the report states. When federal investigators called him to ask what he knew about how the Times had obtained the memo from his office, he was "evasive."

From the report:

[Deputy Attorney General James] Cole also said he could not get a clear answer from Burke about whether he had authorized the release of the Avila memorandum or was simply accepting responsibility for it because he was the head of the office. Cole said that he believed Burke was being evasive during this portion of the conversation. Burke subsequently declined to answer further questions from the Department about this
incident.

Cole told the OIG that he placed the second telephone call to Burke after he learned that, contrary to what Burke indicated during the first telephone call, Burke was involved with the disclosure of the Avila memorandum. Cole said he called Burke "to chastise him for (a) lying to me and (b) leaking . . ." Cole also told us that he put Burke on notice
that such disclosures should not occur.

oig-logo-1.jpg
The very next day, the report says, Burke leaked a memo to Fox News reporter Mike Levine about Agent John Dodson, the ATF whistle-blower. As we mentioned in 2011, Burke was reportedly ticked at Dodson for complaining about tactics that Dodson had once requested to use.

Suspicously, Burke did not leak the memo directly to Levine, who is based in New York City. Burke instead forwarded an email with the attached memo to himself, then emailed that to a personal friend in NYC who gave a hard copy to Levine. The friend, who wasn't identified, declined to speak to the Inspector General's investigators, as did Burke.

Burke did not immediately return a call for comment today.

The Inspector General's Office concluded that Burke violated a policy that required him to keep the Justice Department's Office of Public Affairs in the loop for matters of "national importance."

The matter could end up having an impact on Burke's Arizona law license. Burke's alleged violations will be forwarded by the IG's Office to the Arizona State Bar, which confirmed to New Times today that the issue will be investigated. UPDATE: Rick DeBruhl of the Arizona State Bar called to clarify this sentence after the article was published. The IG's Office hasn't yet forwarded the info, he says. When the State Bar receives the official allegation of improper actions by Burke from that office, the State Bar will add it to an ongoing investigation pertaining to Fast and Furious.

Here's part where the IG rips into Burke:


In sum, we found that Burke violated Department policy when he
provided the Dodson memorandum to Fox News reporter Levine without
Department approval, and that his explanations for why he did not
believe his actions were improper were not credible. 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. We further
believe that the seriousness of Burke's actions are aggravated by the fact
that they were taken within days after he told Deputy Attorney General
Cole that he took responsibility for his office's earlier unauthorized
disclosure of a document to The New York Times, and after Cole put him
on notice that such disclosures should not occur. Burke also knew at
the time of his disclosure of the Dodson memorandum that he was under
investigation by OPR for his conduct in connection with the earlier
disclosure to The New York Times. As a high-level Department official,
Burke knew his obligations to abide by Department policies and his duty
to follow the instructions of the Deputy Attorney General, who was
Burke's immediate supervisor.

We found Burke's conduct in disclosing the Dodson memorandum
to be inappropriate for a Department employee and wholly unbefitting a
U.S. Attorney.


Click here to read the Inspector General's report on Dennis Burke.


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33 comments
yourproductsucks
yourproductsucks

This fella belongs in prison...It's certain the one who appointed him to the US attornies position (napolitano) was also aware of his antics...she should be in prison as well.

royalphoenix
royalphoenix

@ExpertShot  I do not believe elected representatives are allowed to violate federal law. So what some straw purchasers are in jail, plenty of them to be found. In my opinion there is a big difference between following drug dealers in the US, and allowing guns to move illegally across the southern border. Where did you say these guns are today ? peace

robert_graham
robert_graham

So let's see here: Fast and Furious - strike 1; Benghazi - strike 2; IRS scandal - strike 3; Wiretapping AP - strike 4. It should have been batter out after strike 3.  Things don't look so good for the Democrats now do they?

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

By revealing classified information about a program to reduce the flow of weapons from the US into Mexico and other countries (thus increasing the violence in those countries), Mr. Dodson was responsible for the degradation of an effective crime fighting technique.  Just like in the US, law enforcement officials will follow the trail of illegal goods in order to find the "mastermind".  IN FACT this program DID result in the prosecution of US Straw purchasers who were fronts for the Drug Cartels in Mexico.  We need more of this type of investigation, not less.  The fact that a weapon or weapons ended up being using in criminal activity is not pertinnent to the issue of whether or not this program was valuable - clearly it was or it would not have been used by so many Presidential administrations. 

Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga, Ivan Soto-Barraza, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes and Lionel Portillo-Meza with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and other crimes. Manuel Osorio-Arellanes pled guilty to avoid the death penalty and is expected to be sentenced in March 2013. 

On October 15, 2012, Danny Cruz Morones, one of the twenty individuals indicted as a result of Fast and Furious, was sentenced to 57 months in prison. He was the first of the twenty to be sentenced. He pled guilty to straw purchasing and recruiting others to buy guns. According to prosecutors, he bought 27 AK-47s, and his recruits bought dozens more.

On December 12, Jaime Avila, Jr. received the maximum penalty of 57 months in prison for gun dealing and conspiracy. He pled guilty after two AK-47 type rifles purchased by him were found at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry's death. Federal prosecutors stated that, in addition to gun trafficking, he had recruited others to do the same. He was under ATF surveillance at the time.

These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations which results resulted in prosecutions from that program.  To put it in perspective, over the period of time that these investigations were conducted during the Bush and Obama administrations, over one hundred million guns were smuggled each year into Mexico by citizens of this country who KNEW they were acting illegally in being a straw purchaserer for these dangerous people.  The Fast and Furious program only observed permitted 1800 (approx.) guns which went through the same process.  Do I HAVE to explain what a small fraction of the total illegal gun trade to mexico by way of traitorous US Citizens the "Gunwalker" programs OBSERVED go across the border? 

You numbnuts who are complaining about this and the person who revealed details of this secret CONFIDENTIAL investigation are the traitors. 

It is the military industrial complex that is to blame here - they are the ones instigating the sales of weapons to narco-traffickers and are the ONLY one group of people who are able to profit on that death and destruction.  I only wish the gun-nuts would just simpy stop the shouting long enough to hear their own stupidity.




kytfrkyigygguhuoug
kytfrkyigygguhuoug

I went to law school w/ Dennis, served on the Arizona Law Review editorial board with him. I knew him well enough to visit his home, meet his family and travel to Iowa with him to work for Bruce Babbitt's presidential primary campaign. I did not stay in close touch with him after law school. 

The person whose actions are described in the OIG report,  who authored the emails released during the F & F investigation, and who opposed the request by Agent Terry's mother to be given victim status in the Federal court prosecution of her son's murderer, is not the same Dennis Burke that I remember from law school. I would not have been friends with the person who did these things.

Dennis was not an ideologue in law school. The only time I remember him mentioning guns in a conversation was when he discussed a trip he took in the 1980's to visit relatives in Belfast, Ireland. He spoke about how tough it was for his relatives to live in a police state and described his personal  experience of walking down a Belfast street, minding his own business, and then looking up to suddenly realize that he was in the sights of a British sniper's rifle scope. 

People can change in 25 years.  In my experience, basic character traits like decency, honesty and respect for the rule of law rarely change this dramatically.

jonnyquest
jonnyquest topcommenter

Ah yes, Janet. She releases gun felon undocumented criminals and joins Obama calling for backround checks.

david_saint01
david_saint01 topcommenter

@JoeArpaioFan lets see here..13 Embassies attacked, a US Naval ship (USS Cole), 9-11, WMD lies, Pat Tillmans death lied about and covered up, Jessica Lynch faux rescue for propaganda purposes (which Tillman was at..and was pissed about apparently), IRS targeting the NAACP and Black Churches for anti war and anti Bush sermons..the AP wasnt sire tapped though moron, they just looked at the phone logs. If you are going to call something out, lol get it right...but Bush was tapping Americans overseas without warrants, and Murdoch (Fox News Board member) if you recall was caught tapping the Royal family and other celebs phones. yet, no one even got remotely this upset at the above acts that FAR exceed any Obama is accused of. So, spare me your faux outrage...(and for someone that partakes in voter intimidation and doesnt like the democratic process, you should just shut your mouth and move along..fascist) 

teknik
teknik

so it's ok when Sherrif joe profiles Latino citizens of our state but it's bad when the IRS gives scrutiny to a flood of seemingly political non profits that are not supposed to be political?

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967

@JoeArpaioFan 

Fast & Furious: Started under W

Benghazi: Obama Administration can't control terrorist attacks or strikes.

IRS scandal: IRS is independent of the WH. Just like the Post Office.

AP wasn't wiretapped.

coyotejoe
coyotejoe

@ExpertShot Sir, you are out to lunch. "Tracking" contraband material is a legitimate law enforcement technique. "Tracking" is the element missing in Fast & Furious. They did not lose any guns because they never attempted to track any guns. The plan was to let the guns go and wait for them to be recovered by police from crime scenes. Nothing was "botched", everything went exactly as planned, the plan was criminal from the get go. You boast, as the ATF boasted of straw buyers arrested. But when Fast & Furious was first revealed the excuse was that arresting straw buyers was not worth the time and effort because there were so many and the penalty was so small. According to the ATF spokesman Fast & Furious was intended to lead to the "big fish", except no one could explain how letting guns go without tracking and without cooperation of Mexican authorities could ever possibly lead to the arrest of anyone in Mexico. Can you clarify that for us? As to the straw buyers, their arrest was announced with great fan fare as the crowning achievement of the operation. Problem is, those straw buyers could have been and should have been arrested on the spot, as agent Dodson and others pleaded to be allowed to do, the case was not strengthened and nothing was gained by allowing the guns to cross the border.

The whole purpose, the only possible purpose of allowing guns to cross the border was to compile statistics on how guns sold in the USA could end up in various locations all over Mexico. That was not "tracking" but "tracing". Tracking implies eyes on from start to finish, always knowing exactly where the contraband is and what is being done with it. Tracing means simply checking the serial number of a gun recovered by police and saying "yep, that's one of ours". It is exactly analogous to putting poisoned drugs on the street and waiting to see who dies.

jonnyquest
jonnyquest topcommenter

Missed the part in your post where the high level cartel leaders were bagged. Oh wait. That didn't happen. Maggie's Drawers ExpertShot!

jonnyquest
jonnyquest topcommenter

You sound like Lisa Allen giving Arpaio's latest "landscaper/taco vendor/maid" tally.

yourproductsucks
yourproductsucks

@ExpertShot The family of Brian Terry probably take exception to the manner in which their son died and the coverup that continues in relation to the responsibility his government had in his demise.

david_saint01
david_saint01 topcommenter

@jonnyquest ah yes, you idiots bitch about guns walking, but refuse to make the punishment for doing so harsh instead of the slap on the wrist it currently is...

jonnyquest
jonnyquest topcommenter

Benghazi wasn't a terrorist attack. Hillary said so. No wait, she said it didn't matter. They're dead.

jonnyquest
jonnyquest topcommenter

Actually Fast and Furious started under Obama. Operation Gun Walker started under Bush. OGW attemped to coordinate with Mexican law enforcement. FF not only didn't coordinate with Mexican LE, ATF Mexico City office wasn't in the loop. How were the guns going to be followed once they crossed the border? Ouija boards?

yourproductsucks
yourproductsucks

@MaskedMagician1967 If Fast and Furious were Bush's fault, Obama would not have sealed the records. 

If Banghazi wasn't blamed on a youtube video and help would have been sent when requested, it wouldn't be what it is today. 

It's interesting that Obama has the authority to apppoint an interim head of the IRS with it being that "independant" agency that libs are using to distance this administration from. 

There seems to be a lot of horrible things happening around Obama that he has no recollection of...seems omniniously reminiscent of the arpaio administration.

jonnyquest
jonnyquest topcommenter

Good job, CJ. Wish I could have explained it as well as you.

david_saint01
david_saint01 topcommenter

@yourproductsucks @ExpertShot well then they should take exception to the lax laws that allowed the straw purchaser to buy the guns then..sorry, but theres no logic in blaming his death on something that was uncontrollable, over something that is. If youve read the facts, the guns were purchased over a holiday (July 4th weekend im pretty sure), and while the gun store sent out a warning to ATF that it looked suspicious, they werent in the office until 4 days after the fact. Not making excuses, just being logical about it. On the other hand, we have border agents shooting mexican kids across the border and getting away with it. 

jonnyquest
jonnyquest topcommenter

Was it CNN that said most of the public doesn't care about this stuff? That means most won't bother with the midterm election. But make no mistake, the Tea Partiers are in a rage. They WILL show up. Maybe they'll cut the legs off the current fascist regime.

david_saint01
david_saint01 topcommenter

@jonnyquest ps the majority of the public sees this lame, faux attempt at outrage by the GOP for what it is..a sham. Just like Issa's hearings are. as per the recent polls. thanks for playing, night night

david_saint01
david_saint01 topcommenter

@jonnyquest you sound like every right winger, delusional enough to think the GOP cares at all about your rights. Take a gander at what they are trying to do in the Supreme court of late: force a state religion (Christianity), overturn roe vs wade so they can force rape victims, no matter their age, to have a child conceived from said rape..thats just the tip of the iceberg also. So, i retort with: we ALL will be pissed if they get both the House and Senate...cause we will live under a theocracy if that happens. 

ps i think you forget Schumer (D -NY) tried to get a bill passed for oh, the last 4 years, that would have nixed this whole issue before it ever started..but the GOP has continually blocked it! but dont let the facts get in the way of your rants

jonnyquest
jonnyquest topcommenter

You sound like Obama trying to justify his goons trampling the 4th Amendment then offering his support for a Media Shield Law. Bet you'll be pissed when the GOP have both the House AND the Senate in 2014.

david_saint01
david_saint01 topcommenter

@jonnyquest lol i love how people forget about Dodson HIMSELF LETTING GUNS WALK. And thats what Burke was saying.."how can this guy claim what he is, when he was doing it himself?!!". I cant get mad at that honestly. The real crime is the GOP trying to find anything they can to create a scandal, even going so far as to edit emails to fit their narrative. Its pretty damn close to treason in my book. 

jonnyquest
jonnyquest topcommenter

On the contrary, Dennis Burke and Eric Holder should go to prison. They can share a cell with Arpaio. Oh wait, Holder called off the investigation into Joe. Political expediency sucks doesn't it?

jonnyquest
jonnyquest topcommenter

You're right. I got the name wrong. It was late. I was tired. Other facts are correct though. Tell me how they planned to track the guns without any coordination in Mexico. I haven't read any good fiction lately.

david_saint01
david_saint01 topcommenter

@jonnyquest wrong answer..it wasnt called gun walker lol..it was called Operation Wide Receiver. obviously someone concerned with facts and getting things they talk about correct i see. 

david_saint01
david_saint01 topcommenter

@yourproductsucks @JohnQ.Public it was his appointee that was in charge..not Obamas FYI..the whole IRS thing is a wash to me..those groups SHOULD have been targeted, as should any other claiming the exempt status (left included). The real isse for me is the abuse of the exempt status, and the hidden donors. for all we know, its just legal money laundering..but the good majority of the tea party groups are purely political, which is against the law.

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