With the economy still cratered, a slew of foreign policy debacles, and a government shutdown, most Americans probably haven’t thought much about the Fast and Furious scandal in recent months. The Scrapbook doesn’t know what it says about the times we live in that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ homicidal negligence is all but forgotten a few years later, but we’re pretty sure it isn’t good.
The ATF is certainly doing everything it can to make sure that Americans don’t revisit its inexplicable decision to give thousands of guns to Mexican gangs, resulting in the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and dozens of Mexican nationals. Two years ago, ATF whistleblower John Dodson revealed the incompetence of the Fast and Furious operation, which led to the resignation of a number of top-ranking ATF officials. It also led to Eric Holder becoming the first attorney general in U.S. history to be held in contempt of Congress for stonewalling congressional investigators. To this day, the ATF and its overseers at the Justice Department have refused to provide the House Oversight Committee thousands of documents that would shed light on Fast and Furious and possibly prevent another such debacle from occurring.
Dodson has now written a book about the scandal and his role in bringing it to light. Surely, his story is worth telling. However, the ATF has denied Dodson the right to publish his book, using the excuse that the agency is allowed approval over “outside employment.” As if to thoroughly burnish the ATF’s deserved reputation for incompetence, here is the note the bureau sent Dodson denying his request to publish his book, as quoted in the Washington Post: “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.”
Well, it’s good to know the ATF still has its priorities straight. It doesn’t want to tell the family of Brian Terry the full circumstances behind his death, but they’re concerned with maintaining morale among employees in a field office chiefly known for concocting the most incompetent sting operation in memory. And bear in mind this letter comes after the Justice Department leaked a document to the press in 2011 that brazenly tried to smear Dodson, suggesting falsely that the whistleblower had set up his own questionable sting operation involving guns. According to Senator Chuck Grassley, one of the authors of the 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act, the document appeared to be “a clear and intentional violation of the Privacy Act as well as an attempt at whistleblower retaliation.”
The good news is that Dodson has some powerful friends and allies. Grassley and House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa have both written introductions for the book, and both have decried the ATF’s attempt to squash it. The ACLU has also weighed in, slamming the ATF’s attempt to censor Dodson and the disregard for his “constitutional protections.” Despite the ATF’s petty and vindictive behavior, the American people need a full accounting of the Fast and Furious scandal. Dodson’s book will go a long way towards that goal, and it should be published as soon as possible.