In a New York Times interview with Attorney General Eric Holder, published Sunday, author Charlie Savage made use of a factual inaccuracy in what was — in effect — a defense of Holder from his chorus of critics.
“Mr. Holder has denounced the tactics used in the operation, known as ‘gunwalking,’ but said he did not know about them or sanction their use,” Savage wrote. “No documents or testimony have shown otherwise, but Republicans have pummeled him at oversight hearings and in news media appearances.”
Savage made these statements without attribution.
Despite those assertions, Holder’s office was provided with multiple briefings and memos about Operation Fast and Furious by top Justice Department officials. The memos contained intimate details of how Holder’s DOJ allowed guns to walk.
“This investigation [Fast and Furious, which is named earlier in the memo] — initiated in September 2009 in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Phoenix Police Department — involves a Phoenix-based firearms trafficking ring headed by Manuel Celis-Acosta,” reads one such memo that was provided to Holder’s office with his name on it. “Celis-Acosta and straw purchasers are responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to Mexican drug-trafficking cartels. They also have direct ties to the Sinaloa Cartel, which is suspected of providing $1 million for the purchase of firearms in the greater Phoenix area,” the memo continues.
Though this memo has existed in the public sphere since early October and is the main drive behind a groundswell in calls for Holder’s resignation, Savage ignored this in his report.
The operation was an ATF program, overseen by the Department of Justice. It sent thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels via straw purchasers — people who legally purchase guns in the United States with the known intention of illegally trafficking them somewhere else. This tactic is known as “gunwalking.”
At least 300 people in Mexico were killed with Fast and Furious weapons, as was U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. The identities of the Mexican victims are unknown.
New York Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha hasn’t responded to a request from The Daily Caller about how — or if — the publication will hold reporter Charlie Savage accountable for the inaccuracies he reported on the front page of the Sunday Times. It’s also unclear if the Times will issue a correction.