Update: This story has been updated to include a statement from Fortune Magazine.
The Republican congressional report released yesterday on ATF’s role in Operation Fast and Furious included a 50-page rebuttal to Fortune Magazine’s investigation, written by Katherine Eban.
The report, released by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), examined Eban’s game-changing story, paragraph by paragraph, adding context and clarifications they believe were missing.
“Rather than a fair accounting with the information that contradicted her thesis, the end result was a one-sided, hit piece that attempted to discredit the whistleblowers who testified to Congress and defend the supervisors responsible for overseeing the reckless operation,” the GOP lawmakers say.
Moreover, the “criticisms of whistleblowers in the story were thinly sourced and often petty,” the report said. The lawmakers criticized Eban for investigating the divorce of the ATF whistleblower in the gun-tracing investigation, John Dodson, implying she’d gained access to his personnel file.
Eban’s story made headlines after its release in late June, as it offered a narrative very different from the one that had come to be accepted by the general public. Her six-month investigation revealed that Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents never intentionally allowed guns to “walk” over the border, as so many considered truth. “Just the opposite,” she wrote, ”they say they seized weapons whenever they could, but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws, which stymied them at every turn.” Eban’s investigation casts the accounting of events throughout the 18-month congressional investigation, which has produced a contempt of Congress censure for Attorney General Eric Holder, in a spurious light.
Central to Eban’s story was the friction between Dodson, the whistleblower, and other members of the ATF team working the gun investigation. Eban essentially tells the story from the point of view of the other ATF agents, whom Eban describes as straight-arrow law enforcement types, contrasted with Dodson, whom she describes as bridling at authority and careless, sometimes wearing flip-flops to work.
While Eban’s story garnered attention, Issa and other congressional Republicans took to the interview circuit to knock its credibility. The GOP lawmakers have a huge political investment in Fast and Furious, and Eban’s story undermined their rationale for the probe and credibility.
A Fortune Magazine spokesperson told Main Justice that it stands behind Eban’s work.
“Fortune fully supports Katherine Eban’s exhaustive investigation, the result of more than six months of reporting and unprecedented access,” the spokesman said in an email.