FORTUNE — Since Fortune published “The Truth about the Fast and Furious Scandal” on June 27, thousands of comments have been posted on Fortune.com either praising or vilifying the article. Among the questions often raised by critics of the article (including Sen. Charles Grassley) concern assertions that the ATF encouraged gun dealers to sell weapons to known traffickers. If the ATF was encouraging such sales, the argument goes, it would be proof that the agency had a policy to allow weapons to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, the core contention in what is known as the Fast and Furious scandal.
In the six months of investigations that led Fortune to conclude that the ATF had no policy to intentionally permit weapons to be trafficked, we examined 2,000 pages of ATF records, Congressional reports and testimony, and interviewed 39 people involved in or knowledgeable about the case. That body of evidence shows the ATF did not have a policy of encouraging gun dealers to sell to traffickers. Until now, the alleged encouragement of gun-dealers has not been a central focus of the Fast and Furious scandal. As a result, we did not address those points in the article. However, given the interest in this question, we thought it was worth taking readers through the evidence on this point.
It should be noted at the outset that the Congressional committee investigating Fast and Furious has never claimed the ATF had any official, written policy to encourage gun dealers to sell to traffickers. No documents, emails, or testimony mentioned in Congressional reports show signs of an agency-wide policy, or even a policy within Phoenix Group VII, the unit that worked on Fast and Furious.