It now looks like John Dodson, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agent at the center of the Operation Fast and Furious controversy, will get to publish his book account after all. But it's unclear whether he'll be permitted to receive any proceeds from it.
The manuscript, The Unarmed Truth: My Fight to Blow the Whistle and Expose Fast and Furious, was finished and due to be published by Simon & Schuster when the ATF, where Dodson is still employed, blocked it by rejecting his request for an outside work application. The American Civil Liberties Union promptly got behind the special agent, as did Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa, who once went so far as to suggest the botched "gunwalking" operation was a plot to bolster gun laws. (Spoiler: it wasn't.)
But the ATF insisted all along that it wasn't an attempt to censor the agent, despite explicitly articulating fears that the account "would have a negative impact on morale":
ATF has not denied the publishing of a manuscript or an individual’s 1st Amendment rights. We have denied an employee’s outside employment which can be denied for any reason by a supervisor. While his supervisor stated morale and interagency issues for the denial, the fact remains no agent may profit financially from information gained through his federal employment while still an employee.
The authorities in question have taken some time to review the manuscript, and Politico reports that they are letting it be published—with some revisions in place (read: censorship):
“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 letter, which is dated Oct. 15.
The ACLU says it's "heartened" by the decision. Dodson, as his book's subtitle clearly indicates, considers himself a whistleblower in the case; others have called him a liar, including a major Fortune investigation concluding that, despite Dodson's story, ATF agents never actually purposefully passed guns to Mexican drug traffickers. Dodson promptly sued Time Inc. for libel; presumably, his book will further respond to those allegations. It's out in January.