5 years, 9 months ago
I read a Washington Post article on Wednesday in which someone at the Justice Department claimed that Representative Darrell Issa had been briefed months ago on Project Gunrunner (more on my views on this in a moment). The Daily Caller reports on Issa’s denial.
A spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican and the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, told The Daily Caller that the Washington Post is the only news organization to bite on new misleading sentiments from the Justice Department.
A Wednesday Washington Post story used anonymous Justice Department sources to bash Issa’s investigation into Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious.
The anonymous sources claimed that Issa attended a classified April 2010 briefing for members of Congress and their staffers about the programs that have allowed American guns into Mexican drug cartels’ hands.
Issa spokesman Frederick Hill told The Daily Caller the Post is the first newspaper to run these DOJ claims, but not the first one the Justice Department went to with them.
“We have had people who have contacted us before the Washington Post,” Hill said. “They told us people in the Justice Department were trying to push this story and I think a number of publications didn’t think it was credible or, for whatever reason, decided not to run it.”
Hill said there was a briefing that Issa attended back in April 2010 on a similar subject. “There were questions at the time about the number of U.S. weapons that were ending up at Mexican crime scenes,” he said. “Basically, [it was about] the efforts of the ATF to stop cartels from doing this.”
Did Project Gunrunner or Operation Fast and Furious come up at that briefing at all? Hill says “they certainly did not.”
When I read the Washington Post article I considered it so unlikely that I didn’t bookmark it or send myself the URL for later use (I normally send myself dozens of URLs per day for potential later use). I have on rare occasion used anonymous sources, an example of which might be when someone who is deployed is providing a perspective that may reflect on his chain of command. I routinely receive notes from people I never use (for instance, I exchanged e-mail with a lawyer who knew facts about the Jose Guerena SWAT raid that couldn’t be shared with my readers).
But bloggers must have some sort of protocol for what may be used and what may not. If someone at the Justice Department, even with legitimate e-mail, phone number, title and name, had told me that Representative Issa had been briefed on Gunrunner in April of 2010 and said nothing about the approach, I would have rejected this source immediately and with prejudice if they had demanded to remain anonymous.
Let me be clear. Even if this report was correct, it doesn’t exonerate the ATF from wrongdoing. As I have pointed out before, “[it] isn’t okay for the ATF to violate the National Firearms Act or the Arms Export Control Act if I must live within its stipulations.” But since the report has no name attached to it, let me offer some counsel to this supposed anonymous source at the Justice Department.
Have some balls. I don’t use a pseudonym. I put my name on everything I write, and I back it up or retract it. If you want to be taken seriously, don’t go around whispering secrets to the media. Step forward, bring your evidence, and stand by your account. Otherwise, you’re just a coward. As for the Washington Post, it really looks awful for you to be in bed with cowards.
UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention.
UPDATE #2: Hmmm … did the DoJ begin almost immediately trying to walk this back?