Fox "straight news" anchor Bret Baier and Fox News correspondent William La Jeunesse attacked the Department of Justice's inspector general for releasing audio tapes related to the ATF's failed Fast and Furious program. At no point did Baier or La Jeunesse note that the inspector general's office says the tapes were released in order to comply with the constitutional rights of the targets of a criminal investigation.
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Special Report: DOJ Inspector General Is Accused Of Having "Undermined And Obstructed" The Investigation Into Fast And Furious
La Jeunesse: Republicans In Congress Say DOJ Inspector General's Release Of Audio Tapes Related To Fast And Furious Have "Harmed And Compromised Their Investigation." During the September 21 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Baier and La Jeunesse uncritically reported the accusations of Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) that the Department of Justice's inspector general "undermined and obstructed" their investigation into the failed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Fast and Furious program. The inspector general's office has been conducting its own investigation into Fast and Furious. From Special Report:
BAIER: There is a new accusation tonight that a federal official has undermined and obstructed the investigation into the government gun tracking program known as Operation Fast and Furious by releasing secretly recorded audio tapes. Correspondent William La Jeunesse has an update from Los Angeles.
[Begin audio clip]
ANDRE HOWARD (gun store owner): I'm painted as either the biggest snitch ever in this industry.
HOPE McALLISTER (ATF agent): Right.
HOWARD: Or I'm working for you.
[End audio clip]
LA JEUNESSE: That's Andre Howard, owner of the Lone Wolf gun store, speaking to Hope McAllister, lead ATF agent in the Fast and Furious case. Howard secretly taped McAllister after becoming convinced the ATF was lying to him about stopping the guns he sold before they reached members of the Mexican cartels.
LARRY GAYDOS (Howard's attorney) [video clip]: He was acting under the direct supervision of the Department of Justice and ATF. He thought he was making a difference and that these people were being arrested and that there were going to be indictments and that there were going to be prosecutions.
LA JEUNESSE: Larry Gaydos is Howard's lawyer. Records show Lone Wolf sold more than a thousand weapons to suspected buyers, including those guns allegedly used to kill border agent Brian Terry.
LARRY ALT (ATF agent): Agent Terry's death just brought just a tremendous amount of I guess regret and sorrow and disappointment, disgust.
LA JEUNESSE: Whistleblower agent Larry Alt is speaking out for the first time after McAllister disparaged his family in one of the recordings. Here she says the FBI found three guns at Terry's murder scene. Not two, as the agency claimed.
[Begin audio clip]
HOWARD: There's three weapons.
McALLISTER: There's actually three weapons.
HOWARD: I know that. Three weapons recovered.
McALLISTER: And yes, they have serial numbers for all three.
HOWARD: That is correct. Is that --
McALLISTER: And two of them came from the store.
[End audio clip]
LA JEUNESSE: The FBI says McAllister is wrong, that police found only two guns at the scene. The lawyer involved in the case said an FBI field agent mistook an SKS rifle for an AK 47 even though the AK is much shorter. Regardless, Gaydos claims his client was set up as the fall guy by former ATF Phoenix chief Bill Newell.
GAYDOS (video clip): He thought he was helping the good guys, and he had no way of knowing that those guns were going to crime scenes in the United States and in Mexico.
LA JEUNESSE: Senator Charles Grassley and Congressman Darrell Issa released a letter moments ago demanding to know why the Justice Department's inspector general shared those audio tapes with the U.S. Attorney in Arizona and ultimately Agent McAllister herself, both targets of their probe. The lawmakers, Bret, say the release harmed and compromised their investigation. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 9/21/11]
Inspector General's Office Says It Released The Audio Tapes To Comply With "Legal Disclosure Obligations" In Criminal Cases
DOJ Inspector General's Office Says It Turned Over The Audio Tapes So That Prosecutors "Could Consider Them In Connection With The Government's Disclosure Obligations In The Pending Criminal Prosecutions Of The Gun Traffickers." From a CBS News report:
A spokesman from the Office of the Inspector General today said, "The OIG officially provided the United States Attorney's Office with a copy of the recordings in question so that the USAO could consider them in connection with the government's disclosure obligations in the pending criminal prosecutions of the gun traffickers. Prior to receiving the tapes, the OIG made clear that we would have to provide a copy of the recordings to the United States Attorney's Office because they would need to review them to satisfy any legal disclosure obligations." [CBS News, 9/19/11]
- Constitution Requires Prosecutors To Turn Over "Evidence Favorable To An Accused." In the landmark 1963 case of Brady v. Maryland, the Supreme Court decided that the Due Process Clause of the Constitution requires the prosecution to turn over "evidence favorable to an accused upon request." [Brady v. Maryland, 5/13/63]
La Jeunesse Himself Has Acknowledged That The Inspector General's Office Said "It Is Required To Turn The Tapes Over." From La Jeunesse's FoxNews.com article on Grassley and Issa's complaint about the inspector general's office:
The OIG argues that under discovery rules it is required to turn the tapes over to the U.S. Attorney's Office. [FoxNews.com, 9/21/11]