ACLU: ATF blocking whistleblower book on Fast & Furious

posted at 2:41 pm on October 7, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

We already know that our friend and colleague Katie Pavlich literally (literally literally, not Joe Biden literally) wrote the book on the ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other stories to tell.  One man in particular has the access, insight, and inclination to inform readers of the scope and motives of the scandalous operation and cover-up that armed thousands of drug dealers with weapons used in hundreds of murders.  The ATF and the Department of Justice have blocked Special Agent John Dodson, the whistleblower in the scandal, from telling the story … on the basis that it will make the bureaus feel bad.

I. Am. Not. Kidding:

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is blocking the main whistleblower in the Fast and Furious case from publishing a book, claiming his retelling of the Mexico “gun-walking” scandal will hurt morale inside the embattled law enforcement agency, according to documents obtained by The Washington Times.

ATF’s dispute with Special Agent John Dodson is setting up a First Amendment showdown that is poised to bring together liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and conservatives in Congress who have championed Mr. Dodson’s protection as a whistleblower.

The ACLU is slated to become involved in the case Monday, informing ATF it is representing Mr. Dodson and filing a formal protest to the decision to reject his request to publish the already written book, sources told The Times, speaking only on the condition of anonymity.

The Washington Times reports that they are treating Dodson’s request as “outside employment” in order to make that argument, even while acknowledging through tacit omission that the information would not compromise actual, legitimate ATF efforts:

Their rejection made no claims that the book would release sensitive or classified information or compromise ongoing law enforcement proceedings.

Rather, the supervisors offered a different reason for their decision. “This would have a negative impact on morale in the Phoenix [Field Division] and would have a detrimental effect on our relationships with DEA and FBI.”

The ATF general counsel’s office subsequently sanctioned the decision, all but killing the book project.

“An employee’s supervisory chain may disapprove any outside employment request for any reason, at any supervisory level,” ATF attorney Greg Serres wrote Mr. Dodson on Aug. 29, underlining the word “any” for emphasis. “The Office of Chief Counsel cannot approve outside employment requests in lieu of the supervisory chain’s disapproval.

The ACLU got involved today in this case on Dodson’s behalf:

The Obama administration is blocking a federal law enforcement agent from publishing a book about the failed “Fast and Furious” gun-smuggling sting operation because of concerns that the book would negatively affect morale, the American Civil Liberties Union said Monday.

The ACLU charged that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is worried that the book proposed by an ATF agent would hurt relationships with other U.S. law enforcement agencies.

In a six-page letter to ATF Deputy Director Thomas Brandon, the ACLU said the bureau’s decision to block the book proposed by Special Agent John Dodson was a violation of his First Amendment rights. The ACLU described Dodson as a whistleblower.

It’s not difficult to understand the ACLU’s interest in this case.  This isn’t an issue of “outside employment” but of free speech.  It has nothing to do with protecting classified materials, and everything to do with protecting the butts of Dodson’s superiors.  This falls squarely under the First Amendment, which notably does not include an exemption for speech that might cause damage to the morale of government and law enforcement. Letting this slide would set a precedent the ACLU can ill afford, even in its public relations.

One has to wonder just whether Thomas Jefferson and James Madison would laugh or cry at that argument. Probably both.

The Times’ John Solomon also notes that this will undoubtedly pique the curiosity of House Oversight chair Darrell Issa, who is still pushing to gain access to e-mails and correspondence that the White House protected under a claim of executive privilege.  Both Issa and Senator Charles Grassley wrote a forward to Dodson’s book, and the ATF action will bring the agency back to the top of the priority list for Issa, at the least.

By the way, one would think arming drug dealers to score cheap political points in the gun-control debate would hurt morale at the ATF more than providing accountability for it, but apparently that mileage varies at the top echelons of the ATF, the Department of Justice, and the White House.  This Hopenchange Most Transparent Administration Evah is a real hoot, huh?


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The truth hurts!

Resist We Much on October 7, 2013 at 2:44 PM

The most transparent administration ever!
Bishop

LeftCoastRight on October 7, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Drats

LeftCoastRight on October 7, 2013 at 2:44 PM

kdp.amazon.com

Self-publish!

UnderstandingisPower on October 7, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Obama is banning books?????

faraway on October 7, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Remember the video that set off Benghazi? I still do.

If it don’t fit the narrative, like the immigration rally proceeding this week where the WW2 Vets are denied visiting their memorials, then to hell with the truth and the 49%.

My disdain for these people knows no boundaries.

patman77 on October 7, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Get that 9 year old kid to publish it. He’ll have it printed and for sale before the ATF knows what hit them.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on October 7, 2013 at 2:53 PM

Now if the image associated with this post showed up as an image choice to share on facebook, that would be peachy.

Connie on October 7, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Right, and sure as the sun rises, the ACLU will walk away and start slamming the whistle-blower after just one threatening phone call from Valerie Jarrett or an email from Michelle asking “hey don’t you guys want to have Barack’s back?”

Sacramento on October 7, 2013 at 2:55 PM

I’m trying to decide if bringing Fast & Furious up now hurts or distracts in favor of the Spite House.

J_Crater on October 7, 2013 at 2:55 PM

I have no idea, but I do know that you guys come up with really cool names for your fake scandals.

crr6 on July 10, 2011 at 1:24 PM

Del Dolemonte on October 7, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Most open and transparent Administration ever? Contemptuous Arrogance.

And whose morale will this hurt? Eric Holder’s? Barack Obama’s?

Strange how the truth will hurt morale – while lies, cover-ups, and being accountable and responsible for hundreds of deaths doesn’t hurt morale.

Athos on October 7, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Truth Revolt!

John the Libertarian on October 7, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Letting this slide would set a precedent the ACLU can ill afford, even in its public relations.

The ACLU has shown the most intellectual integrity of any leftist group that I know of. I still it consider an enemy, but I think we should give credit where it is due.

thuja on October 7, 2013 at 3:10 PM

The ACLU has shown the most intellectual integrity of any leftist group that I know of. I still it consider an enemy, but I think we should give credit where it is due.

thuja on October 7, 2013 at 3:10 PM

Here is what Alinsky thinks of you

Alinsky advised the radical activist to avoid the temptation to concede that his opponent was not “100 per cent devil,” or that he possessed certain admirable qualities such as being “a good churchgoing man, generous to charity, and a good husband.” Such qualifying remarks, Alinsky said, “dilut[e] the impact of the attack” and amount to sheer “political idiocy.”

faraway on October 7, 2013 at 3:12 PM

This isn’t an issue of “outside employment” but of free speech.

Just one of those “negative liberties” that Dear Liar disdains, and it is filtering throughout the entire federal government.

rbj on October 7, 2013 at 3:16 PM

J_Crater at 2:55

Spite House … excellent.

King Putt is banning books. If this guy doesn’t end up in a psychology handbook for disorders, in this case ‘Narcissist’ then some editor’s are not paying attention.

Missilengr on October 7, 2013 at 3:16 PM

Obama is banning books?????

faraway on October 7, 2013 at 2:45 PM

This bears repeating.

WitchDoctor on October 7, 2013 at 3:19 PM

Richard Nixon was forced from office over 1 scandal, for simply KNOWING about a crime and participating in the cover-up.

Obama is participating in no less than 4 scandals he is helping cover-up!

Regarding Fast and Furious, Obama KNOWS his hand-picked Attorney General perpetrated 3 proven Felony counts of Perjury, that Holder is not in jail now only because the DOJ refused to press charges against him, and that Holder is now the only U.S. Attorney General in U.S. history to be Censured – which was unanimously voted for by a Bi-Partisan Congress for his crimes. Obama rejected firing his CRIMINAL Attorney General, who is now attempting to ‘represent & enforce the law’ after having been Censured for Violating the law.

Onama has already FAR surpassed the requirements for ‘booting’ a President, as established under Clinton.

SO, CAN WE JUST IMPEACH / FRCE OBAMA OUT OF OFFICE FOR CRIMES & CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATIONS ALREADY?!

easyt65 on October 7, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Hey I got a $50 if the guy wants to publish it for free. We can make donations right?

Johnnyreb on October 7, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Alcohol is legal, Tobacco is legal, and Firearms are legal, the ATF not so much. Why does it even exist?

Dasher on October 7, 2013 at 3:45 PM

Welcome to the US of Zimbabwe, where O’Mugabe rules.

Schadenfreude on October 7, 2013 at 3:47 PM

You think the ATF was worried about feelings when they destroyed Koresch’s Waco compound? Was it ATF at Ruby Ridge?

This is bogus.

freedomfirst on October 7, 2013 at 3:50 PM

So bureaucrat morale is now a valid reason to strike down / ignore / violate the first amendment……

dentarthurdent on October 7, 2013 at 3:55 PM

I wonder what the morale is if the deceased border agents relatives or the relatives of the Mexicans killed?

neyney on October 7, 2013 at 3:56 PM

There is some ring of truth to the argument that it would make them feel bad. If I was responsible for letting Narco-terrorist thugs get high powered weapons that they used to kill hundreds of people, I know I would feel bad.

KW64 on October 7, 2013 at 3:57 PM

Alinsky advised the radical activist to avoid the temptation to concede that his opponent was not “100 per cent devil,” or that he possessed certain admirable qualities such as being “a good churchgoing man, generous to charity, and a good husband.” Such qualifying remarks, Alinsky said, “dilut[e] the impact of the attack” and amount to sheer “political idiocy.”

faraway on October 7, 2013 at 3:12 PM

That’s interesting, but aren’t we trying to be better than they are?

thuja on October 7, 2013 at 4:10 PM

I can think of a few countries which would have no problem publishing the book.

diogenes on October 7, 2013 at 4:12 PM

That’s interesting, but aren’t we trying to be better than they are? thuja on October 7, 2013 at 4:10 PM

I recall Gen. Patton not saying the same thing that time when he stopped his jeep on a bridge and pissed in the Rhine.

Akzed on October 7, 2013 at 4:24 PM

easyt65 — I’d /love/ to. I would /absolutely love to/… but it would never get through the current Senate.

Remember, the House can only vote to bring charges; it takes the Senate to actually convict.

Chuckg on October 7, 2013 at 4:53 PM

May the ATF be as competent in stopping publication as they are in law enforcement.

JIMV on October 7, 2013 at 6:25 PM

ATF – Hey! Screw the 1st Amendment. We’ve got to protect the asses of Obama’s political appointees. Wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings and have it pointed out what a bunch of jerk-offs they are!

GarandFan on October 7, 2013 at 6:37 PM

But this is a “faux scandal” or something, right? …err, right?

dominigan on October 8, 2013 at 9:20 AM