Book by whistleblower at center of ‘Fast and Furious’ blocked by the ATF

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 Published time: October 08, 2013 00:20 Edited time: October 09, 2013 09:47                                                                            

AFP Photo / Pedro PardoAFP Photo / Pedro Pardo

A book authored by an agent at the center of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ “Fast and Furious” gun running debacle has been rejected and barred from being published by the agency, citing concerns for morale.

Special Agent John Dodson, who became a whistleblower in 2011  when he approached Republican lawmakers in Congress with details  of a botched attempt by the ATF to allow sales of firearms in  order to build a case against Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa cartel,  has already penned a book on the saga, though it was unclear on  Monday whether it will ever see the light of day.

“This would have a negative impact on morale in the Phoenix  [field division] and would have a detremental [sic] effect on our  relationships with [the Drug Enforcement Administration] and  FBI,” the ATF’s rejection letter stated.

Current restrictions prevent federal employees from profiting  from “any source other than the government for teaching,  speaking or writing that relates to the employee’s official  duties,” ruling out the possibility for Dodson to cash in on  any book deal.

According to officials who spoke with the Washington Post, the  ATF is currently evaluating whether Dodson’s book divulges any   “law enforcement sensitive” information. Dodson could be  allowed to publish his book while receiving no monetary  compensation.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Dodson  on the matter, filed a protest on Monday with the ATF’s Deputy  Director Thomas Brandon over his agency’s efforts to block the  book’s publishing, citing a violation of Dodson’s constitutional  rights.

“It was Agent Dodson’s disclosures that helped bring the  operational failures at the Phoenix field division to light. As a  knowledgeable and informed ‘insider’ who was directly involved in  Operation Fast and Furious, Agent Dodson will add significantly  to the national conversation about gun policy,” writes the  ACLU.

Senator Charles Grassley and Representative Darrell Issa, two  Republicans who spearheaded a Congressional investigation into  the ATF’s “Fast and Furious” operation, have written a foreword  for Dodson’s book.

Responding to the ATF’s rejection of Dodson’s book, Grassley  noted that “this isn’t the first time somebody from the ATF  or another government agency has written a book.”

“Just because the ATF leadership doesn’t like the content of  the book doesn’t mean they should be able to prevent the author  from giving his side of the story,” adds Grassley.

Sen. Grassley, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member, and  Rep. Issa, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee  Chairman, produced an expansive joint report on “Fast and  Furious” consisting of over 2,000 pages of dozens of  interviews and a review of more than 10,000 pages of documents.

That Congressional inquiry also led to accusations that the  Justice Department had withheld documents and denied access to  witnesses, which culminated in Attorney General Eric Holder being  held in contempt of Congress in June of 2012. The investigation  also led to the resignation of Arizona US Attorney Dennis Burke  and the reassignment of ATF acting director Kenneth Melson.

Dodson, who began to write his book last year, sought permission  for external employment allowing him to secure a publisher in  June, according to the Washington Times.

A manuscript was presented to Dodson’s superior in Washington in  May, and to an immediate superior in Arizona in July. According  to documents first reported by the Washington Times his request  was rejected first in Arizona in July, and backed by the ATF’s  head in that office four days later.

Testimony presented by Dodson of his first day of undercover work  in Phoenix was possibly some of the most embarrassing for the  ATF. While trailing a suspected gun runner who had just purchased  10 semiautomatic rifles from a Phoenix gun store, Dodson and  another agent sought permission to seize the guns, but were  rebuffed by superiors who hoped to instead trace the firearms  back to more significant figures within the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Dodson and some fellow ATF agents disagreed with what they  considered a large volume of arms being allowed to flow into  Mexico in the “gun walking” sting program. In one case,  two AK-47 semiautomatic rifles sold at a Phoenix gun store  monitored by the ATF were linked to the deadly Arizona shooting  of US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December of 2010.

“Fast and Furious” was launched in the fall of 2009, at  which point the ATF estimated that 90 percent of firearms  recovered for tracing by Mexican authorities struggling to deal  with spiking cartel violence were originating in the US.


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