So at the same time ATF was directing these FFLs to sell semi-automatic rifles to known straw purchasers, they were also illegally leaking the names of these FFLs to the Washington Post as sources of crime guns.
And that's what you get for working with the ATF. You try to help them out with their "sting" operation, and they turn around and release this kind of info which I'm sure is not very good for the reputation of your business.
FFLs have the right to refuse a sale even if ATF clears it. So why didn't they? If some guy came in trying to buy 50 guns, it's pretty obvious something's up. And when ATF clears the sale and just tells me to go ahead I would probably be thinking "Yea, how about I don't. Whatever ATF is up to they can do it on their own. I want no part of this."