The PJ Tatler

ATF Trying to Block Fast and Furious Whistleblower's Book, Threatening to Gut the First Amendment

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ excuse for blocking a book is among the lamest ever offered by any federal entity or teenager caught doing something wrong.

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.

That excuse — that publishing the book would somehow hurt morale — is risible and deserves mockery and contempt.

If that’s the standard, then no negative story or book about any government agency should ever be published in any form. No stories about Abu Ghraib or the GSA spending sprees or sexual harassment in the federal workplace or fraud or waste or abuse would ever be published. The ATF’s excuse amounts to an attempt to gut the First Amendment and would protect all government malfeasance for all time.

It’s as absurd as it is dangerous. But ATF leadership are serious enough about it that they put the excuse in writing.

Mr. Dodson began penning a book late last year about his role as the central whistleblower in the case and in June sought formal permission for outside employment that would allow him to engage a publisher and publish the book. He gave a copy of the manuscript to Washington superiors in late May and to his immediate superiors in Arizona in July.

Documents show that one of Mr. Dodson’s supervisors in Arizona, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Carlos Canino, rejected his request July 19 and was backed in the decision by the agent in charge of the office, Thomas G. Atteberry, four days later.

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.”

Whether that’s even true or not, it’s ridiculous. After the ATF’s actions in Fast and Furious, morale deserves to be down. They got people killed.