Justice Department Sued on Behalf of ATF Fast & Furious Whistleblower John Dodson

Justice Department Sued on Behalf of ATF Fast & Furious Whistleblower John Dodson

Judicial Watch has a long history of protecting whistleblowers, the brave government insiders who expose corruption, incompetence, and abuse of power inside the federal government. Often these individuals are subjected to all manner of retaliation and abuse in order to keep them quiet and to discourage other would-be truth-tellers. 

This is exactly what is happening now to ATF Special Agent John Dodson, who blew the whistle on Operation Fast and Furious, the Obama Justice Department’s insane scheme to allow weapons to “walk” across the border and into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. Dodson has been subjected to a Obama appointee-orchestrated smear campaign designed to destroy his reputation, and JW is now coming to his aid. 

We recently filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) on behalf of Dodson, who filed three FOIA requests back on September 24, 2012, seeking the following information: 

a) Any and all emails between (either directed to or received from) DOJ Spokeswoman/Director of Public Affairs Tracy Schmaler and Katherine Eban, between the dates of January 20, 2011 and September 24, 2012.

b) All emails (sent and received) by DOJ Spokeswoman/Director of Public Affairs Tracy Schmaler that contain the name John Dodson, Dodson, or make reference to any ATF whistleblower (whether directly stated or implied), between the dates of January 20, 2011 and September 24, 2012.

c) All Department of Justice communications generated between January 20, 2010 and September 24, 2012 including, but not limited to, emails, internal memos, letters, drafts, recordings and other documents, which refer to me (Special Agent John Dodson) whether by name or implication, or make reference to me as an ATF whistleblower, whether directly stated or implied. Excluded from this request are my own ATF case files, case documents, and emails from my ATF/DOJ email account. 

The DOJ has failed to respond to Dodson’s requests. Our lawsuit on behalf of Dodson asks that the District Court order the DOJ to conduct searches for all records responsive to the FOIA requests and to set a date for them to produce “any and all non-exempt records,” along with indices of all records that the DOJ continues to declare exempt. 

Now, why would Dodson (and now Judicial Watch) be interested in communications involving Schmaler and the Fortune magazine writer? 

Evidence suggests Schmaler leaked information about Dodson to Eban, including Dodson’s confidential personnel file. The alleged purpose was to smear Dobson’s name and to undermine his credibility. In 2011, Dodson became the first ATF special agent to go public with allegations that his supervisors had authorized the flow of weapons into Mexico as part of the failed Fast and Furious gun-walking operation.

In May 2013, the Justice Department’s Inspector General published a report confirming that senior officials at DOJ, including Schmaler, discussed discrediting Dodson. Schmaler resigned her position at the DOJ in March 2013 after news broke that she had worked with left-wing Obama ally Media Matters to discredit Dodson, other whistleblowers, members of Congress, and reporters who sought to investigate DOJ scandals. 

(Incidentally, Eban’s June 2012 Fortune magazine article defending the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms was denounced by the House Oversight Committee, which publicly called for a retraction.) 

John Dodson offered the following statement in conjunction with the filing of the lawsuit: “For almost two years, the Obama Justice Department has stonewalled my efforts to receive information about me. It is disappointing that I have to sue to receive information about how my employer provided personal and confidential information about me to eager reporters willing to tell the administration’s side of the story.” 

It is clear that Special Agent Dodson was smeared by DOJ officials for having the courage to be the first whistleblower in the Fast and Furious scandal. And it is equally clear that those who attacked him have gone unpunished, despite the disciplinary provisions of the Whistleblower Protection Act. Perhaps once we have the complete records of Ms. Schmaler’s actions, the Office of Special Counsel will do its job, and we will finally see justice prevail. 

The Dodson FOIA lawsuit is not the first such suit Judicial Watch has filed against the Obama administration seeking records related to the Fast and Furious scandal. (And it likely won’t be the last.) 

On October 11, 2011, we sued the DOJ and the ATF to obtain all Fast and Furious records submitted to the House Committee on Oversight. On June 6, 2012, we sued the ATF seeking access to records detailing communications between ATF officials and Kevin O’Reilly, former Obama White House Director of North American Affairs at the U.S. National Security Council.

On September 13, 2012, we filed a lawsuit against the DOJ for records regarding President Obama’s claim of executive privilege after Holder’s refusal to produce records for the House Oversight Committee.

On September 5, 2013, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit against the DOJ seeking access to all records of communications between DOJ and the Oversight Committee relating to settlement discussions in the Committee’s 2012 contempt of Congress lawsuit against Holder. The contempt citation stemmed from Holder’s refusal to turn over documents to Congress related to the Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal.

Fast and Furious is one of the most serious scandals in modern political history. And this effort to smear and silence John Dodson is yet another in a long line of actions taken by Obama administration officials to conceal the truth.


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