Grassley and Issa blast ATF over block on book by whistle-blower

“Isn’t it ironic that the self-proclaimed ‘most transparent administration ever’ is trying to censor a book about a first-hand account of the administration’s own Operation Fast and Furious?” 

Issa, who leads the House Oversight Committee, has repeatedly faulted the agency for failing to hand over more documents to his committee about the operation. He said the latest news flies in the face of the ATF’s vow to learn from the failed project. 

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“Three years later, the Justice Department is still trying to silence whistleblower accounts of Operation Fast and Furious because they’re embarrassing for the Department,” Issa said in a statement.

The ACLU wrote a letter to the ATF Monday urging it to reconsider, arguing that the agency’s decision “runs afoul of constitutional protections.” According to the ACLU, the ATF denied Dodson’s request for publication because it would “have a negative impact on morale” in the Phoenix office and would be “detrimental” to its relationship with the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration. 

The ATF did not immediately respond for comment. But a law enforcement official told The Washington Post that there is a governmentwide ban on receiving compensation for writing that is related to an employee's official duties. The ATF is also reviewing the book for sensitive information, according to the Post. 

The now-defunct Fast and Furious program began in 2009. Agents allowed low-level weapons purchasers to cross the Mexican border in an attempt to expose trafficking routes used by Mexican cartels. But the agency ultimately lost track of some weapons, including two found at the scene of the killing of a border patrol agent. 

Dodson worked on the program before he brought it to the attention of Grassley’s office. Dodson told CNN Tuesday that it was “absurd” to say the book could hurt agency morale. He said the operation itself has been harmful to morale. 

Many details in the book have not been previously reported, Dodson said. He said he thought about waiting until he retires to publish the book, but he concluded that victims’ families deserve answers that they have yet to receive.