After the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, John Dodsonpulled bodies out of the wreckage at the Pentagon. In 2007, following theshooting massacre at Virginia Tech, Dodson walked through the classrooms,heartbroken, to cover up the bodies of the victims.
Then came Arizona—the American border.
Ten days before Christmas, 2010, ATF agent John Dodson awoketo the news he had dreaded every day as a member of the elite team called theGroup VII Strike Force: a US border patrol agent named Brian Terry had beenshot dead by bandits armed with guns that had been supplied to them by ATF. Wasthis an inevitable consequence of the Obama administration’s Project Gunrunner,set in place one year earlier ostensibly to track Mexican drug cartels?
Brian Terry’s murder would not only change John Dodson’slife forever; it would reveal a scandal so unthinkably unpatriotic that itforced President Barack Obama to claim executive privilege and caused AttorneyGeneral Eric Holder to be held in contempt of Congress.
Federal Agent John Dodson, an ex-military man, took an oathto defend the world’s greatest country and proudly considered himself awalking patriotic example of the American Dream. Brian Terry, ex-military likeDodson, was only forty years old, a family man who served his country byworking for the government.
Dodson was terrified when the next phone call came, one withthe potential to destroy his career, his family, and his life. CBSinvestigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson asked Dodson to go public with whathe knew about Fast and Furious. To Agent Dodson, this meant blowing thewhistle. But to the family of Agent Terry, it was a chance to save lives andright a wrong. As he took a fight from the border towns of Arizona to ashowdown in the halls of Congress, Dodson clung to the hope that truth wouldprevail, that he would be redeemed, and that Brian Terry’s death would not bein vain.
Like whistle-blowers before him, John would not be welcomeback on the job. But he found strength in his conscience, in the support of theAmerican public, and in Senators Darrell Issa and Chuck Grassley. When hisfirst-amendment rights to publicly tell his story were threatened, the ACLUtook up his case. For her report revealing Dodson as the key whistle-blower inFast and Furious, Sharyl Attkisson received an Emmy Award for OutstandingInvestigative Journalism.
Ultimately, Dodson was cleared by the Inspector General’soffice, publicly heralded as a hero, and returned to Arizona.
Perhaps a lesson gleaned from John Dodson’s powerful accountis well stated by former Speaker of the House of Representatives Sam Rayburn:“If you always tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said.”