Fast & Furious 'never about politics'
04:28 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Memo written by federal agent was critical of the botched gun-running operation

IG report says the leak was intended to undermine credibility of agent

Top federal prosecutor in Arizona at the time says he did not think he did anything wrong

Washington CNN  — 

A former top Justice Department official in Arizona leaked an internal memo from a federal agent who had criticized the politically charged “Fast and Furious” gun trafficking operation, a government report found.

Dennis Burke, who was U.S. Attorney for the state, admitted to senior Justice Department officials in 2011 that he had leaked to the media the memo written by John Dodson, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to the Justice Department inspector general’s finding on Monday.

The IG report said the leak was an apparent attempt to undermine Dodson’s credibility.

Burke resigned after making the disclosure.

What was ‘Fast and Furious,’ and what went wrong?

The report said the memo was among documents gathered for review by congressional committees investigating the botched ATF operation dubbed “Fast and Furious.”

The controversial program allowed 2,000 guns to cross Arizona’s border with Mexico beginning in 2009 with the intention of tracking them to criminal gangs.

Authorities lost track of hundreds of weapons that wound up in the hands of drug cartels and two guns wound up at the scene of a border agent’s slaying the next year although it was not clear whether they factored in the death.

A report last September by the Justice Department’s inspector general found that the operation was marked by “a series of misguided strategies, tactics, errors in judgment and management failures.”`

According to the report, the “Fast and Furious” memo should not have been released to the media without approval by the Justice Department’s public affairs office.

Excerpts from the ‘Fast and Furious’ report

The report said Burke told a senior Justice Department official that he didn’t know the memo was only to be given to congressional investigators and thought the member of the media who received it had already seen it.

Burke reportedly also said he didn’t think he’d done anything inappropriate.

Burke later told congressional investigators that he provided the memo to a friend who gave it to a FOX News producer, according to the report.

Dodson’s attorney complained to the DOJ Office of Inspector General in July 2011 that someone had leaked the memo after the agent received an e-mail from a FOX news producer asking for comment on excerpts.

According to the inspector general’s report, the memo suggested an operation using tactics similar to the ones Dodson had later criticized in congressional testimony.

The IG report said “although Burke denied to congressional investigators that he had any retaliatory motive for his actions, we found substantial evidence to the contrary.”

Chuck Rosenberg, a lawyer representing Burke, had no comment on the report.

The inspector general’s office said it would refer the matter to the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility to determine whether he had violated rule of professional conduct for any state bars of which he is a member.

Report slaps 14 at Justice, ATF