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Feds: Agent Can Now Write Book on Fast and Furious

By Cathy Burke   |   Thursday, 17 Oct 2013 08:02 PM

A federal agent reportedly will be allowed to write a book about the gun sting dubbed Operation Fast and Furious, reversing an earlier attempt by the government to block the publication.

But the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms will request some redactions in the book by whistle-blower Special Agent John Dodson, Politico reported Thursday.

And whether Dodson will be able to profit from sales of "The Unarmed Truth" is under review, according to Politico and CNN, which first reported the story.

Dodson had been told earlier this month federal regulations prohibit agents from profiting off their work as employees while still working for the agency.

But the ACLU; Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.; and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, all sent letters to the ATF on his behalf, questioning whether Dodson's free speech rights were being violated.

Politico said the ATF wrote a letter this week to the ACLU saying it had no objection to the publication after a review of the manuscript.

"ATF does not object to the publication of Special Agent Dodson's book, once it has been scrubbed of any information that would be law enforcement-sensitive or restricted from dissemination … We have identified certain places in the manuscript that meet those criteria, and we intend to convey those to you early next week," Department of Justice senior counsel Charles Gross writes in the Oct. 15 letter, Politico reported.

But the letter said it was still a question whether Dodson can profit; Department of Justice regulations state a special agent may not profit from their experiences "while still acting in the special agent capacity," Politico noted.

A law enforcement official offered no timeline on that decision now that the government shutdown has ended; the letter said a decision was expected "shortly thereafter," Politico reported.

CNN reported Dodson's supervisors in the ATF's Phoenix office had earlier rejected his request to seek a publisher for his book in part because they said it would have "a negative impact on morale" and have a detrimental effect on ATF relationships with other agencies, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

"We're heartened that the ATF has acknowledged Agent Dodson's right to publish his account of the events surrounding Operation Fast and Furious," ACLU lawyer Lee Rowland told Politico. "We're now working with the Justice Department and ATF, and we're hopeful we can come to a resolution that lets the public hear Agent Dodson's voice and his story."

Dodson's publisher declined to comment.

Dodson was among several agents who claimed whistle-blower status to provide information to Congress about the controversial Fast and Furious operation. The operation run by ATF agents in Phoenix allowed suspected smugglers to buy about 2,000 firearms in 2009 and 2010. Their plan was to use the gun sales to try to prosecute major arms traffickers.

But agents had no way to track the weapons, and hundreds wound up in the hands of drug cartels. Two Fast and Furious guns were recovered at the scene of a border agent's slaying in 2010 near the Mexican border, although it isn't clear whether they were used to kill him.

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