The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is letting the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have it (with both barrels, Mr. Biden) over the agencies attempt to smother the publication of whistleblowing Agent John Dodson’s book.
Agent Dodson blew the whistle on the decision to “walk” the guns – alerting Congress after it appeared that two were used in a shootout that killed a U.S. border patrol agent. But when he recently asked to publish his own first-hand account of these events, ATF censorship was fast, and it was furious.
Foregoing redactions, they nixed his entire manuscript. Claiming a right to refuse publication requests “for any reason” (the ATF’s emphasis), the ATF explained to Agent Dodson that his book would have “a negative impact on morale in the Phoenix [Field Division] and would have a detremental [sic] effect on our relationships with DEA and FBI.” Agent Dodson doesn’t deny that his book could add to the ATF scrutiny, or even its three-year streak of bad press as a result of the affair. But these reasons just don’t cut it when it comes to a whistleblower’s right to speak – and the public’s right to hear what he has to say.
The ATF has been the unwanted step-child of federal law enforcement for more than 70 years, just another make-work program from FDR to keep alcohol agents employed after Prohibition was repealed. There is literally nothing in the ATF’s purview that not done better, faster, and more competently by the personnel of other federal law enforcement agencies, other than embroiling themselves in controversies over their incompetence.
Yes, Dodson’s book would hurt morale at the Bureau, but with a body count in two countries now estimated at over 300, the ATF’s ego is the least of their problems.
They should be more worried about justifying their very existence.