Former U.S. Attorney Reprimanded for Leaking “Fast and Furious” Documents

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Former U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, Dennis K. Burke was reprimanded by the Arizona State Bar for leaking two classified documents to the media involving the "Fast and Furious" gun smuggling operation. Even though the state bar admitted that the "respondent did not have a self-serving, selfish or pecuniary motive," Burke did not only have to resign his job for passing on the information to the media, but also, now after his official reprimand, he will have to shell out another $1,200 for expenses of the disciplinary proceeding.

The reprimand was with consent and Burke told the Arizona Republic "It's a fair resolution … As U.S. Attorney, my ultimate client is the United States. At the end of the day, I did not follow the process."

Notwithstanding the reprimand, the text of the resolution clearly mentioned the mitigating circumstances and observed, "these events occurred in a political context in which allegations were being published and made in congressional hearings that the (U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix) had failed to take actions that would have prevented the death of a federal agent."

This is the first time after his resignation in 2011, that Burke made a public comment on the issue.

In December 2010, U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry died in a shootout with a gang of smugglers near the Mexico border. Investigators found two weapons near the shooting scene that were tied to a cache of about 2000 guns sold to international criminals by the U.S. administration claiming a sting operation dubbed "Fast and Furious." Inconveniently, the administration had lost track of 1,400 of the 2000 guns known to have been sold through the operations to Mexican drug smugglers and criminals.

Burke was accused of improperly leaking this information to the New York Times and other media outlets in what he called an effort to protect his office and provide more transparency on the investigation.

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