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Joke Photo Of French Firing Squad In ATF Manual Angers Whistleblower Advocates

Even the Justice Department has a sense of humor, but watchdog groups and a conservative newspaper are crying foul over the DoJ’s attempt at a sick joke in an online training manual.

According to the right-wing Washington Times newspaper, a vintage photo of what appears to be a French firing squad was included in an online training manual that warns Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives employees against leaking information to the press and public.

A leading advocate of whistleblower protection came down hard on the photo (seen at right). Stephen Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center, said that it “would have a chilling affect on legitimate speech. And some of the rhetoric used against whistleblowers could be construed as inciting to violence because they’ve turned up the rhetoric.”

But other in the law enforcement profession took the photo as tongue-in-cheek.

“During many years of law enforcement experience, I can attest to the fact that law enforcement personnel often use gallows humor as a release from the grim realities of the profession,” Richard Roberts, a spokesperson for the International Union of Police Associations told the Washington Times.

According to the paper, whoever in the Department of Justice authored the manual meant the rather quaint-looking photo as a joke.

According to Richard Marianos, who heads the Washington branch of the Bureau, the department was unaware of any agents who had ben offended by the photo, but it would nonetheless be removed.

But Kohn said the photo was just one more shot fired by the administration of President Barack Obama in its war on whistleblowers.

“This is a campaign to silence and intimidate whistleblowers and what is the most troubling part of this aggressive campaign, is that the justice department has completely ignored the first amendment,” Kohn told the Washingtom Times.

SOURCES: Washington Times, Whistleblowers Protection Blog


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