Congressman Darrell Issa and Senator Charles Grassley are looking to plug leaks in their on-going investigation of Operation Fast and Furious, and today sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding answers about how sensitive information was available on a shared network computer drive that was accessible to more than 75 people.
Among those people were 24 Justice Department employees including six employees of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and more than 50 other people inlcuding “contractor staff (who) had access to portions of the shared network drive at varioius times, though most of these individuals never had access to the folder containing records that were produced or made available to” either Issa’s House committee or Grassley’s Senate committee, the letter said.
One of the leaked documents “contained information protected under the Privacy Act regarding ATF whistleblower John Dodson’s participation in an undercover law enforcement operation,” the Issa/Grassley letter states.” Dodson was one of the first whistleblowers to come forward in the case, and he was interviewed by CBS News earlier this year.
Perhaps the most sensitive aspect of this disclosure, according to the letter, was this:
“This leaked document was also accompanied by a set of talking points designed to undermine Agent Dodson’s credibility as a whistleblower.”
Issa, whose House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has been investigating the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ mishandled gunrunning sting operation, and the alleged cover-up by the Justice Department, and Grassley, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, have asked Holder for specific details that may help identify who leaked the documents.
· Please identify, by name, all DOJ and ATF employees who had access to this shared drive. This should include, by name, all employees who had access to the entire contents of the shared network drive, including which individuals still had access after July 1, 2011.
· Please identify, by name, the more than fifty individuals who had partial access to the folder containing records that were produced or made available to the Committees, and the dates on which those employees had access.
· Please identify, by name, each employee who had access to the portion of the shared drive containing the leaked documents that were only made available to the Committee in camera, and the dates on which these employees had access.
· For the eight individuals who had access to the shared drive after July 1, 2011, but were removed some time before September 6, 2011, please identify, by name, these employees, and the dates on which these employees had their access terminated.
· Please identify, by name, the six employees who continued to have access to the shared network drive as of September 6, 2011.
· If any of the six employees who continued to have access to the shared network drive as of September 6, 2011 have since had their access terminated, please identify, by name, these employees, and the dates on which these employees had their access terminated.
Their letter to Holder also reveals that in a telephone call last week with Grassley’s staff, the Justice Department “indicated that someone had resigned, in part, due to actions related to the leaking of this document.” Grassley’s staff discussed this with the Office of the Inspector General staff, who apparently knew someone had left the department, but was unaware that this was related to the leaked document.
Grassley’s staff asked for the name of that person, but the OIG declined to identify the individual, citing privacy concerns. Issa and Grassley point to the irony of that situation. But instead of chuckling, they ask Holder:
· What is the name of the individual who resigned, or was asked to resign, as a result of the leaked documents?
· On what date was this individual’s employment terminated?
· Was his matter self-reported to the OIG? If so, when was this matter self-reported to the OIG?
· What evidence supports the conclusion that the employee was responsible for the leak?
· According to the Department, its Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is investigating other leaks of information related to Fast and Furious. What evidence led to the opening of these additional leak investigations?
· Why are these investigations being handled by OPR rather than by the OIG?
· Who are the targets of the OPR’s leak investigations?
· Are the targets of OPR’s investigation any of the whistleblower known to the Department to have testified or communicated with Congress regarding Operation Fast and Furious?
Copies of the letter were also sent to Elijah Cummings, ranking member on the House committee and Sen. Patrick Leahy, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Holder is scheduled to appear before that committee next week. The Tuesday, Nov. 8 hearing could have some fireworks, as Grassley will have the opportunity to grill Holder on specifics that have been disclosed since the attorney general insisted in May that he had only recently heard of the Fast and Furious debacle.
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