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The Truth About the Fast and Furious Scandal

The Truth About the Fast and Furious Scandal

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Published by Katie Pavlich

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Published by: Katie Pavlich on Sep 28, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/13/2014

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LSTON 
B
IR
LLP
The Atlantic Building950 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20004-1404 202-239-3300Fax: 202-654-4970www.alston.com 
Atlanta • Brussels • Charlotte • Dallas • Los Angeles • New York • Research Triangle • Silicon Valley • Ventura County • Washington, D.C.
RobertN.DriscollDirectDial:202-239-3470Email:bob.driscoll@alston.com
September 27, 2012VIA EMAILRe: The truth about the Fast and Furious scandalDear Mr. Serwer:I represent John Dodson, a Special Agent at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearmsand Explosives (“ATF”), and one the subjects of Katherine Eban’s June 27, 2012 articleheadlined “The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal” that
Fortune
published and continues topublish on CNN’s business website, CNNMoney. As you are likely aware, the JusticeDepartment Inspector General has now issued his exhaustive report about Operation Fast andFurious (the “IG Report”). Given its findings, it is clear that Ms. Eban’s purported finding of “the truth” was far from it, and in fact is demonstrably false in many respects. A retraction is inorder to correct the record.The main thrust of Ms. Eban’s article is set forth in its sub-headline: “A
Fortune
investigation reveals that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.” At a minimum,
Fortune
was on notice that this conclusion was dubious atthe time the article was published, as this conclusion had already been publicly contradicted notonly by the whistleblowers who had first-hand knowledge of Fast and Furious, but also by theWhite House, Attorney General Eric Holder, ATF Director Kenneth Melson, and the majorityand minority staff reports of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.However, for reasons known only to
Fortune
and Ms. Eban, Ms. Eban’s article simplyparroted the very position the Justice Department took at the outset of the Fast and Furiousscandal – that ATF had attempted to interdict weapons when it had legal authority to do so andhad not intentionally allowed the purchase and transfer of guns to Mexico by suspected strawpurchasers. Of course, the Justice Department, after almost a year but well before this articlewas published, retracted its own statement to that effect after acknowledging it was false.The irony of the next sentence of Ms. Eban’s sub-headline in support of her conclusionthat guns were never walked was apparently lost on her: “How the world came to believe just theopposite is a tale of rivalry, murder, and political bloodlust.” By the time of publication, thosewho had come “to believe just the opposite” included the White House, Justice Department, ATFand both houses of Congress. Regardless, Ms. Eban pressed on with her “tale” based largely onone source. The IG report, though, was highly critical of this source and was “not persuaded” by
 
September 27, 2012Page 2the self-serving narrative he offered, which contradicted many of the documents that werealready public at the time of publishing.This official presented the same narrative to Ms. Eban, which she then presented as thetruth. Ms. Eban asserted that ATF never intentionally walked guns, yet the IG report makesclear that ATF intentionally failed to interdict guns based on its “strategic goal,” and that ATFallowed guns to walk to avoid compromising that goal. She portrayed those responsible for Fastand Furious as upright and punctilious but, as the IG Report found, they encouraged andfacilitated the sale of hundreds of weapons in support of their larger investigation. She assertedthat local ATF officials disagreed with Justice Department officials regarding probable cause toarrest, yet the IG report found agreement between those officials to “hold out for bigger.” Now,the only people clinging to the discredited narrative published by
Fortune
are Ms. Eban and thesources who have found themselves referred for disciplinary action.I need not engage in a line-by-line analysis of Ms. Eban’s article here. The flaws wereobvious to anyone who knew the facts of Fast and Furious, and are obvious to everyone whoreads the article following the release of the IG report.
Fortune
has since tried to correct one factregarding gun laws upon which Ms. Eban erroneously relied. However, a piecemeal approach toresuscitating an article suffering from striking errors and omissions will not suffice. Theinvestigation for this article began with its conclusion, and avoided the facts that undermined thatconclusion. Accordingly, it should come as no surprise to
Fortune
that Ms. Eban came nowherenear discovering the “truth” in the end.
Fortune
, for its part, chose to become involved in the investigation of Fast and Furious,and through this article became involved in the Justice Department’s and ATF’s efforts toconceal the truth about the Fast and Furious scandal from the public. In early 2011, the JusticeDepartment and ATF publicly denied any wrongdoing. Agent Dodson then came forward andpublicly affirmed the deliberate recklessness of Fast and Furious. For that brave act, he paid asignificant price. Within days, certain officials within the Justice Department and ATF began aprotracted campaign of harassment and intimidation against Agent Dodson to prevent the fulldisclosure of this operation.Ms. Eban sourced her investigation to at least one of those officials, and made some of the same allegations he and other officials made against Agent Dodson after he blew the whistleon Fast and Furious. As her sub-headline clearly provides, Ms. Eban concluded that AgentDodson’s whistleblowing was replete with false statements. Significantly, well over a year ago,Agent Dodson became aware of threats to criminally charge him for making false statementsshortly after he blew the whistle.Ms. Eban also concluded that the schism amongst the group was due to Agent Dodson’sand other whistleblowers’ petty grievances, and further concluded that Agent Dodson actuallysupported gun walking. Agent Dodson became aware of those allegations after the JusticeDepartment and ATF disclosed confidential documents in an attempt to discredit him.

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