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Tag: Dennis Burke

Whistleblower, Ex-Arizona U.S. Attorney Says His Office Was Cast As Scapegoat

Fprmer U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, who blew the whistle on the Fast and Furious gun investigation, said he leaked the information because he feared his superiors in Washington would unfairly blame the problems on his office, Main Justice reports.

During an Arizona State Bar disciplinary proceeding on March 27, Burke said his bosses were more concerned with political expediency than getting to the bottom of the problem.

Burke “believed that his office and employees were not being protected by DOJ, and that accurate and complete information was not being provided to the national media,” according to the disciplinary agreement.

Burke was issued a reprimand and accepted responsibility and agreed to $1,200 to reimburse the state bar, Main Justice wrote.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST


IG Report on Fast and Furious Rumored to Be Coming Out in August

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

I don’t often like to deal too much in conjecture, rumor or speculation, but in this case I will.

First off, the rumor circulating in Washington is that the Inspector General’s report on ATF’s failed Operation Fast and Furious will likely come out in August.

Who will get whacked?

Well, first off, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix will, including then-U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke and some of his underlings.

So will William Newell, the head of ATF in Phoenix at the time, who helped lead the bone-headed operation that encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels.  How Newell remains as an ATF employee is puzzling question.

Former ATF head Ken Melson and some of his underlings are likely to get a good spanking.

I’m speculating that the I.G. won’t place any blame at the feet of Attorney General Eric Holder or President Obama.

But Lanny Breuer, who heads up the Justice Department’s criminal division, could be the subject of some criticism.

In any event, I can’t wait for the report to come out. Ditto, I’m sure, for folks like Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley, some of ATF’s chief critics on the Hill.

 

Dem Staff Report Says Top Justice Officials Did Not Give Green Light for Fast and Furious

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A report issued late Monday night by the Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform tries to debunk suggestions by Republicans that high level appointees at the Justice Department conceived and directed the very flawed ATF Operation Fast and Furious. It places the blame for the operation squarely on the agents in Phoenix.

“This report debunks many unsubstantiated conspiracy theories,” Representative Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the top ranking Democrat,  wrote in a cover letter for the detailed report. “Contrary to repeated claims by some, the committee has obtained no evidence that Operation Fast and Furious was a politically motivated operation conceived and directed by high-level Obama administration political appointees at the Department of Justice.”

“The documents obtained and interviews conducted by the Committee indicate that it was the latest in a series of reckless and fatally flawed operations run by ATF’s Phoenix Field Division during both the previous and current administrations,” Cummings wrote.

The report counters repeated claims by Republicans like Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-Calif) that top ranking Justice Dept. officials gave the green light for  Fast and Furious.  Under the operation, ATF’s Phoenix office encouraged gun dealers to sell to “straw purchasers”, all with the hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels.  Some of the weapons surfaced at crime scenes including at the murder scene in Arizona of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.  Many Republicans have called for Atty. Gen. Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, to resign.

The report is expected to be met with skepticism by many Republicans and critics of ATF, which has come under intense scrutiny, and has undergone a major shakeup in management. Holder is scheduled to appear before Issa’s and Cumming’s committee on Thursday where he’s likely to get a grilling from the Republicans.

Cummings, who has sometimes been at odds with Issa over Fast and Furious, said in a press release  that the minority staff report was the result “of the Committee’s year-long investigation into the actions and circumstances that led to multiple gunwalking operations in Arizona from 2006 to 2010.”

The report concludes that the ATF Phoenix office failed to use sufficient controls to stop weapons from getting into the hands of violent criminals.

“Although this report provides a great amount of detail about what we have learned to date, it has several shortcomings,” Cummings wrote in his letter. “Despite requests from me and others, the Committee never held a hearing or even conducted an interview with former Attorney General Michael Mukasey. The Committee obtained documents indicating that in 2007 he was personally informed about the failure of previous law enforcement operations involving the illegal smuggling of weapons into Mexico, and that he received a proposal to expand these operations. Since the Committee failed to speak with Mr. Mukasey, we do not have the benefit of his input about why these operations were allowed to continue after he was given this information.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings/govt. photo

“The Committee also rejected my request to hold a public hearing with Kenneth Melson, the former Acting Director of ATF, the agency primarily responsible for these operations. Although Committee staff conducted an interview with Mr. Melson, the public has not had an opportunity to hear his explanations for why these operations continued for so many years without adequate oversight from ATF headquarters.”

The report states that in 2006, ATF agents in Phoenix initiated Operation Wide Receiver with the cooperation of a local gun dealer.

“For months, ATF agents watched in realtime as traffickers purchased guns and drove them across the border into Mexico,” the report states.

The report also states “that ATF’s former Acting Director, Kenneth Melson, and ATF’s Deputy Director, William Hoover, told Committee staff that gunwalking violated agency doctrine,that they did not approve it, and that they were not aware that ATF agents in Phoenix were using the tactic in Operation Fast and Furious. They also stated that, because they did not know about the use of gunwalking in Operation Fast and Furious, they never raised it up the chain of command to senior Justice Department officials.”

The report further stated: “Former Phoenix U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke told Committee staff that although he received multiple briefings on Operation Fast and Furious, he did not approve gunwalking, was not aware it was being used, and did not inform officials in Washington about its use.”

“He told Committee staff that, at the time he approved the proposal for a broader strategy targeting cartel leaders instead of straw purchasers, he had been informed that there was no probable cause to make any arrests and that he had been under the impression that ATF agents were working closely with Mexican officials to interdict weapons.”

The report goes on to state: “Gary Grindler, the former Acting Deputy Attorney General, and Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, both stated that neither ATF nor the U.S. Attorney’s Office ever brought to their attention concerns about gunwalking in Operation Fast and Furious, and that, if they had been told, they ‘would have stopped it.’”

“When allegations of gunwalking three years earlier in Operation Wide Receiver were brought to the attention of Mr. Breuer in 2010, he immediately directed his deputy to share their concerns directly with ATF’s leadership. He testified, however, that he regretted not raising these concerns directly with the Attorney General or Deputy Attorney General, stating, “if I had known then what I know now, I, of course, would have told the Deputy and the Attorney General.”

“The Committee has obtained no evidence indicating that the Attorney General authorized gunwalking or that he was aware of such allegations before they became public. None of the 22 witnesses interviewed by the Committee claims to have spoken with the Attorney General about the specific tactics employed in Operation Fast and Furious prior to the public controversy.”

Arizona U.S. Atty.’s Abrupt Resignation Raises Doubts About Political Future

U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke

By JOSH GERSTEIN
Politico

WASHINGTON — Dennis Burke, one of Arizona’s most prominent and well-connected Democratic political figures, abruptly resigned as the state’s top federal prosecutor Tuesday, stirring doubts about earlier expectations that he might mount a bid for governor, attorney general or U.S. senator.

Burke served in Washington as a senior adviser to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and in Arizona as her chief of staff when she was governor. His departure as U.S. Attorney comes as congressional investigators and an internal Justice Department inquiry are examining how an Arizona-based federal gun-trafficking investigation may have allowed as many as 2,000 guns to flow to criminals.

Many Arizona politicos assumed that Burke was trying to walk in Napolitano’s footsteps by seeking a federal prosecutor’s job, then perhaps the Arizona attorney general’s post and the governor’s office. However, Arizona analysts said those possibilities now seem more remote in the wake of Burke’s sudden resignation and as questions swirl about his office’s handling of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives probe known as “Operation Fast and Furious.”

To read full story click here.

ICE Agent Busted on Charges of Leaking Sensitive Info to Drug Traffickers South of the Border

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Fed authorities in Arizona have busted a special agent with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on charges that she illegally accessed, stole and transferred sensitive U.S. government documents to family members and associates with strong ties to drug trafficking organizations south of the border, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Jovana Samaniego Deas, 33, of Rio Rico, Ariz. was charged with computer fraud, theft of government records and making false statements/entries, authorities said. She made her initial court appearance Tuesday in Tucson federal court.

The indictment, which capped a two year investigation, was filed in Tucson federal court.

Authorities said Deas is accused of abusing her position as an HSI special agent to illegally obtain and disseminate government documents classified as “Official Use Only.”

“When it comes to our national security, blood is not thicker than water,” U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke said in a statement. “This defendant used and abused her position as a special agent to illegally help family members south of the border with ties to drug trafficking organizations. That is a violation of the public’s trust and a breach of our security that, thanks to this very thorough joint investigation, will have serious consequences.”

Deas became a U.S. government employee in June 2003 as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at a Nogales, Ariz., port of entry. In 2008, she became a special agent at the HSI Nogales office.

The two-year investigation of Deas was conducted by FBI and ICE Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) agents at the FBI’s Southern Arizona Corruption Task Force (SACTF).

SACTF agents were assisted y agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, HSI, the U.S. State Department’s Consular Integrity Division and the Brazilian Federal Police.

Mexican Man Indicted in Murder of Border Agent Brian Terry

Brian Terry

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A Mexican man has been indicted in the murder last Dec. 14 of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in Southern Arizona.  Terry was killed during a firefight.

Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, of El Fuerte, Mexico, and his co-defendants, who are fugitives,  were charged in a 14-count indictment that was unsealed Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. The names of his co-defendants remain under seal while they are on the lam.

Osorio-Arenllanes was arraigned Friday in Tucson. Trial is set for June 17 before U.S. District Court Judge David C. Bury in Tucson.

Terry’s murder became the subject of a controversy after Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.) claimed that a gun sold through ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious may have been used to kill him. The operation encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the drug cartels.

“Today’s indictment is an important step in this case, but it is only a first step to serving justice on behalf of Agent Brian Terry, his family and the other agents who were with Terry and their families,” said U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke. “This is an active ongoing investigation that is making more and more progress every day.”

Burke added: “Agent Terry – who served his country honorably as both a Marine and a member of the Border Patrol – made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the people of the United States. His family deserves to see justice served, and everybody involved in this investigation is deeply committed to making that happen.”

Authorities alleged that  Osorio-Arellanes was part of an armed group of illegal immigrants who got into  a firefight with Agent Terry and other border patrol agents in  a remote area known as Mesquite Seep near Rio Rico, Ariz.

Agent Terry died from his wound.

Authorities said Osorio-Arellanes, who was wounded, was apprehended, treated for his injuries. Authorities had him detained on felony immigration charges.

On Friday, Rep.  Issa issued a statement on the arrest:

“The announcement of an indictment against Manuel Osorio-Arellanes for the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry is certainly good news, but leaves critical questions unanswered.

“The Justice Department still hasn’t said how and why guns purportedly being tracked and monitored by federal law enforcement officials as part of Operation Fast and Furious ended up in the hands of Agent Terry’s killers.”

“It angers me to think that this death might not have occurred had it not been for reckless decisions made by officials at the Department of Justice who authorized and supported an operation that knowingly put guns in the hands of criminals. For these officials to imagine that this operation would result in anything other than a tragic outcome was naive and negligent. Sen. Charles Grassley and I continue to demand accountability as we investigate this matter.”

Az. Feds Bust Gun Runners to Mexico

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In Arizona, which is locked in an endless battle to keep guns from going into Mexico, comes the latest.

Authorities on Tuesday announced indictments in five cases resulting in charges against 34 people accused of assisting Mexican drug trafficking organizations with illegally running firearms from the United States to Mexico.

Authorities charged in one of the key indictments that from approximately September 2009 to December of 2010 the defendants conspired to purchase hundreds of firearms, including AK-47s, to be illegally exported to Mexico.

Authorities alleged that the defendants acted as “straw purchasers” by falsely declaring they were buying the weapons for themselves. AK-47’s are considered the “weapon of choice” for Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations.

“Our office is committed to stopping the illegal flow of guns into Mexico,” U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke said. “The massive size of this operation sadly exemplifies the magnitude of the problem — Mexican Drug Lords go shopping for war weapons in Arizona.”

Bill Newell, head of ATF in Phoenix said: “This investigation is further proof of the relentless efforts by Mexican drug cartels, especially the Sinaloa Cartel, to illegally acquire large quantities of firearms in Arizona and elsewhere in the U.S. for use in the ongoing Mexican drug war.”

Az. U.S. Atty. Plans to Try Shooting Case in State

Jared Loughner/pima county sheriff photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke says he wants the prosecution of mass-shooter Jared Loughner to remain in the state.

“For good reason, federal law dictates these offenses be tried in this district,” a Burke spokesman said in a written statement, according to the Arizona Republic “We are moving forward and confident in this course.”

His statement was backed by a Justice Department spokesman in Washington, which contradicted a Washington Post report citing an unnamed federal source as saying it was just a matter of time before it was moved out of state.

U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke

All the federal judges in Arizona recused themselves of the case since Chief U.S. District Judge John Roll was among the six murdered earlier this month.

Loughner is accused of killing six people and wounding 13 including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, whose appears to improving.

Loughner’s shooting and apparent mental instability have set off a fresh debate over gun control.