Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley sent a letter to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Thursday demanding more information about the agency’s decision to prohibit the agent who blew the whistle on Operation Fast and Furious from publishing his book.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman and Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member, who have been outspoken critics of the failed gun-walking operation, wrote to the director of the ATF that the rejection of Special Agent John Dodson’s book was “disconcerting.”
Issa and Grassley said they found the decision to not publish the book ‘disconcerting
“We find it disconcerting that ATF denied Special Agent Dodson’s request merely because the content of his book might be uncomfortable and embarrassing to some within your organization,” the lawmakers wrote. “This position does not reflect the commitment you made in your confirmation hearing to be supportive of whistleblowers in your role as director of the ATF.”
The ATF’s rejection of Dodson’s manuscript was brought to the forefront on Monday when the ACLU wrote a letter on his behalf criticizing the agency’s action as suppression of his free speech. Dodson on Tuesday called “absurd” the agency’s claims that publishing his book could have a harmful effect on morale and agency relationships, saying he wanted to give the public answers about Fast and Furious.
Issa (R-Calif.) and Grassley (R-Iowa) on Thursday wrote that ATF failed to apply its own policies correctly in its initial rejection of Dodson’s book and said its followup claim that federal regulations prohibit employees from profiting financially from experiences as employees was not cited in their letter to Dodson. They also said the rest of that regulation suggests Dodson’s book could be approved.
Their letter also contrasts Dodson’s situation with another agent who received approval for outside employment with JP Morgan, moved to the Philippines and remained on the ATF payroll for months despite not showing up for work.
Issa and Grassley asked ATF to provide more information about Dodson’s case by 5 p.m. on Oct 22, asking for all cases since the beginning of 2009 when an employee asked to publish a manuscript, all documents related to Dodson’s request, all requests for outside employment since the beginning of 2012 and current employees who are engaging in approved outside employment.
A spokesman for the ATF said they had received the lawmakers’ letter and had discussed the concerns with their offices. On Tuesday, the agency said while Dodson’s request to publish the book for a profit had been rejected, the manuscript was still under review by ATF and other agencies named in it for sensitive information if Dodson were to publish for free.
Dodson’s book, “The Unarmed Truth,” is set for release by Simon & Schuster in January.