Courtesy of Say Uncle, the NRA has caught indication of what could be a very important ATF ruling, if not for what it does, certainly for the precedent it sets.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is taking public comments on its website until December 31, with regard to how it should determine what types of projectiles meet the “sporting purposes” exception to the federal “armor piercing ammunition” law. At this time, the question centers primarily around rifle-caliber projectiles made of metals harder than lead, such as the Barnes Bullets solid brass hunting bullets.
Under the law, adopted in 1986, “armor piercing ammunition” is defined as “a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium.” A second definition, added in the 1990s, includes “a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.”
Because handguns have been made in certain rifle calibers, many bullets that were designed originally for rifles also “may be used in a handgun.” If such projectiles are made of the metals listed in the law, they are restricted as “armor piercing ammunition” unless they meet one of the law’s exemptions. Being considered at this time is the exemption for “a projectile which the Attorney General finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes.”
Last week, BATFE met separately with gun control activist groups, firearm industry groups, and groups representing hunters and other gun owners. The latter meeting included the NRA; Safari Club International; representatives of state wildlife agencies; and firearm and ammunition importers.
BATFE has expressed two opinions about the law and exemption that warrant particular scrutiny.
First, BATFE suggested that it believes that the “armor piercing ammunition” law was intended to affect all ammunition capable of penetrating soft body armor worn by law enforcement officers. NRA reminded BATFE that the law was intended to protect law enforcement officers against the potential threat posed a very narrowly-defined category of projectiles: those, such as KTW and Arcane, which by virtue of their hard metal construction were designed and intended to be used by law enforcement officers to shoot through hard objects, such as automobile glass and doors, when fired at the velocities typical of handgun-caliber ammunition fired from handguns. Neither before nor since the law’s enactment, has an officer been killed due to such a bullet penetrating soft body armor.
NRA further pointed out that the legislative history of the law clearly shows that members of Congress, including the sponsor of the law in the House, Rep. Mario Biaggi (D-N.Y.), a decorated former NYPD police officer, expressly did not want the law to restrict rifle-caliber bullets that happen to also be useable in handguns chambered to use rifle cartridges.
Second, BATFE says it considers projectiles to not be exempt under the “sporting purposes” test if they “pose a threat to public safety and law enforcement.” BATFE also expressed concern that since the law was adopted, various new rifle-caliber handguns have been invented. On that point, NRA made clear that the sporting purposes exemption is straightforward: it applies to all projectiles that are “primarily intended for sporting purposes”–nothing more, and nothing less. Under the law, a projectile would be exempt if it is primarily intended for sporting purposes, even if it is secondarily intended for self-defense or some other legitimate purpose. Furthermore, the law does not condition its restrictive language or its “sporting purposes” exemption on the design of a particular handgun; the law is concerned only with specific projectiles that can be used in handguns. NRA cautioned the BATFE against interpreting the law in a manner more restrictive than Congress intended.
I think that the NRA comments are, in the main, on target. It’s easy to conflate purposes for laws that were crafted so long ago.
Also see the comments at Say Uncle. I agree that this will end up in an effort to control long gun ammunition, and have recommended before the complete abolition of the ATF as an unwarranted, unconstitutional and wasteful intrusion on the rights of citizens of the U.S.
Take careful note, too, what they say concerns them: “BATFE also expressed concern that since the law was adopted, various new rifle-caliber handguns have been invented.”
I wonder how many Department of Justice employees are equally concerned when SWAT teams raids the homes of unsuspecting and incorrect targets, such as Mr. Eurie Stamps, or Ms. Zaelit, or Mr. Tuppeny, or Ms. Lloyd, or Thomas and Rosalie Avina, or Mr. Kenneth Wright? Statists will be statists. Can a leopard change its spots?
Finally, this issue of the sporting purposes test is laughable. The ATF didn’t listen when I pointed this out before, and they aren’t likely to start now. It isn’t that the test is difficult, or convoluted, or hard to apply, but necessary nonetheless because it’s the law. The issue is that it is self referentially incoherent. It cannot be logically applied because it presupposes the consequent.
The ATF must decide what is the “sporting purposes” category by populating the list with examples, and then make the claim that such-and-such an example is deemed to be or not to be a “sporting purpose” because it is or isn’t on the list. It reasons in a circle.
Not that the ATF will care. And not that they will care what we have to say about ammunition either.
UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention!
David Codrea has been at the forefront of Fast and Furious, along with Mike Vanderboegh, and one recent article on the Office of Inspector General’s report on Fast and Furious supplies ample evidence of his accuracy.
“Operation Wide Receiver illustrated the failure of management in ATF’s Phoenix Field Division to alert ATF Headquarters to the use of these tactics,” the report documents, validating a claim made by Mike Detty, the confidential informant at the heart of the case, that “It had nothing to do with Bush or even DOJ.” This is significant, because House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Democrats and sympathetic media allies have made great hay conflating Wide Receiver with Fast and Furious and spreading a blame-transferring “Bush did it too” meme, with no less than Attorney General Eric Holder making a (since withdrawn with minimal fanfare) claim that a predecessor AG, Michael B. Mukasey, knew about the program and kept things quiet. Also of significance, Holder’s boss and executive privilege benefactor, President Obama, is still publicly conflating the operations, falsely telling Univision that Fast and Furious had “begun under the previous administration.”
Other Detty claims, published in this column in October, 2011, are also corroborated by the OIG report, including his account of the US Attorney telling him he refused to prosecute the case because of ATF lies. Another report filed later that month told of failed cooperation attempts with the Mexican government, also referred to by the IG. Other stories filed by Gun Rights Examiner, including one in November, 2011, relayed Detty’s account for phase known as Wide Receiver I and Wide Receiver II, also subjects of the OIG report, as well as attempts to smuggle receivers to Tijuana through San Diego.
The point being, these are but a few examples of innumerable reports filed in this column and at citizen journalist Mike Vanderboegh’s Sipsey Street Irregulars blog that have since been proven through “official” sources, albeit, there is often a significant lag time between sourced claims and validation. It’s important to keep that in mind, particularly when reading claims from media sources that have done practically no original reporting on Fast and Furious except to weigh in on occasion with administration talking points, and absurd, wholly unjustified claims that the OIG report vindicates or exonerates anyone with the admission it has found no evidence.
Read the rest of Codrea’s report and his update. I want to focus on something a little more pedestrian concerning this report. I have not read the IG’s report and do not intend to. David can be relied upon for the “inside baseball” of this scandal.
But there are two things that keep floating their way to the top for me like so much flotsam and jetsam from the shipwreck of what we now know as Fast and Furious. We continually hear about the “failed” operation, the “flawed” program, and the lack of oversight when the main stream media report on the scandal.
I’m not convinced that anything was flawed or that the operation failed. I still believe that it accomplished the precise goal for which it was intended. They just got caught. Unlike previous operations such as “Wide Receiver,” there was never any plan to interdict weapons. More importantly, there couldn’t have been. Once they crossed the border there was no means to track them, no power to confiscate them, and not even a sure means to trace them back to point of origin (although publication of the point of origin was the intended purpose if I am right about the program).
I have previously discussed Project Gunrunner (yes, I understand that this isn’t precisely the same thing as Fast and Furious, predates it, and Fast and Furious is still a subset of Gunrunner if I’m correct), where the U.S. government allegedly provided the means and training for the electronic tracing of firearms for Mexican authorities.
Not enough of them were trained. There weren’t enough assets to accomplish the mission. There was no way to pull it off, and this wasn’t even on the front end of firearms usage – it was on the back end after they had already been used in crimes.
What I’m saying is that the assertion that Fast and Furious is simply a “botched” operation doesn’t comport with the facts on the ground. There was never any possibility that it would yield any fruit, and its handlers knew this if they have only slightly higher ability to perform syllogistic reasoning than, say, my dog.
Second, and just as important, is to observe what’s happening as part of the political cycle. Note that Codrea links an article by Jake Tapper where Jake explains that Obama made false assertions about Fast and Furious beginning under previous administrations.
Of course this is false, and the IG’s report is a failure in that it spent even one second discussion Wide Receiver (for me, that it discusses Wide Receiver is more evidence that it would be a waste of time to read it, and it only further exonerates my view that I can ignore it). Let’s rehearse for a moment what we learned in November of 2011.
It was left to Republican Senators Charles Grassley and John Cornyn to lay bare some crucial distinctions between to two ATF operations. Wide Receiver actually involved not gun-walking but controlled delivery. Unlike gun-walking, which seems (for good reason) to have been unheard of until Fast & Furious, controlled delivery is a very common law enforcement tactic. Basically, the agents know the bad guys have negotiated a deal to acquire some commodity that is either illegal itself (e.g., heroin, child porn) or illegal for them to have/use (e.g., guns, corporate secrets). The agents allow the transfer to happen under circumstances where they are in control — i.e., they are on the scene conducting surveillance of the transfer, and sometimes even participating undercover in the transfer. As soon as the transfer takes place, they can descend on the suspects, make arrests, and seize the commodity in question — all of which makes for powerful evidence of guilt.
Senator Schumer’s drawing of an equivalence between “tracing” in a controlled-delivery situation and “tracing” in Fast & Furious is laughable. In a controlled delivery firearms case, guns are traced in the sense that agents closely and physically follow them — they don’t just note the serial numbers or other identifying markers. The agents are thus able to trace the precise path of the guns from, say, American dealers to straw purchasers to Mexican buyers.
To the contrary, Fast & Furious involved uncontrolled deliveries — of thousands of weapons. It was an utterly heedless program in which the feds allowed these guns to be sold to straw purchasers — often leaning on reluctant gun dealers to make the sales. The straw purchasers were not followed by close physical surveillance; they were freely permitted to bulk transfer the guns to, among others, Mexican drug gangs and other violent criminals — with no agents on hand to swoop in, make arrests, and grab the firearms. The inevitable result of this was that the guns have been used (and will continue to be used) in many crimes, including the murder of Brian Terry, a U.S. border patrol agent.
In sum, the Fast & Furious idea of “trace” is that, after violent crimes occur in Mexico, we can trace any guns the Mexican police are lucky enough to seize back to the sales to U.S. straw purchasers … who should never have been allowed to transfer them (or even buy them) in the first place. That is not law enforcement; that is abetting a criminal rampage.
As Sen. Cornyn pointed out, there is another major distinction between Wide Receiver and Fast & Furious. The former was actually a coordinated effort between American and Mexican authorities. Law enforcement agents in both countries kept each other apprised about suspected transactions and tried to work together to apprehend law-breakers. To the contrary, Fast & Furious was a unilateral, half-baked scheme cooked up by an agency of the Obama Justice Department — an agency that was coordinating with the Justice Department on the operation and that turned to Main Justice in order to get wiretapping authority.
By the time Cornyn was done drawing this stark contrast between Wide Receiver and Fast & Furious, Holder was reduced to conceding, “I’m not trying to equate the two.”
But Obama trotted this out as if most people have not heard of Wide Receiver, and if they have, they don’t know anything about the differences between it and Fast and Furious.
In fact, I fear that most people in America are watching sitcoms at night before bed. Obama may be right, and he may pull off yet another misdirect on the American people, at least, the ones who don’t care.
As Evan Perez reported in the WSJ last month, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been thinking about turning its unwieldy seven-word name into something a little snappier. At the time, he wrote that Violent Crime Bureau was a candidate.
Now, quietly, the name change has happened—at least a little bit. For a few days now, the bureau has featured the new name at the top of its home page (atf.gov), just below the old name. The site’s top banner reads, “Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives / The Violent Crime Bureau.”
The new name doesn’t have any legal status yet. Asked about changing names Wednesday, ATF acting director B. Todd Jones said, “That’s a concept that we batted around.” He added that the agency was focused on returning to its fundamental mission and said, “How it’s labeled is less important than what it does.”
The Violent Crime Bureau moniker reflects the agency’s ambition to take the lead in tackling violent-crime outbreaks in big cities such as Philadelphia that have seen an increase in murders and drug-related shootings. The agency’s current name is something of an anachronism because it brings fewer than a hundred alcohol and tobacco cases a year. And its reputation as a firearms regulator took a hit because of the Fast and Furious scandal …
So a name change has been “batted around” within the DOJ/ATF in order to save their battered reputation? That’s how the new head is spending his time and energy? My idea is somewhat different. Leave firearms regulation entirely to the states, and hand ATF employess their pink slips. All of them. It would save money, and my bet is that it wouldn’t cause one iota of difference in crimes.
It would more closely comport with the doctrine of federalism so important to our founders, it would help to protect our constitutional rights, it would decrease federal meddling in the lives of U.S. citizens, and it would sweep yet another bloated and wasteful federal bureaucracy out of the way as we press towards streamlining of the system. What’s not to like about it?
Jones has replaced six out of his eight top assistant directors at Washington headquarters. And he says he’s tried to promote a new generation of leaders all over the country, including ground zero for the Fast and Furious scandal, along the Southwest border.
“Sixteen out of our 25 field divisions have new special agents in charge,” he said. “It’s really been a historic transformation, and it’s really been an opportunity for us to … cherry pick our best and brightest.”
But five ATF managers in Washington and Arizona, who were blasted by House Republicans in their report on Fast and Furious, still work in the federal government.
That seemed to rankle Fox News host Megyn Kelly and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
“Of these five guys who you point to who are responsible for this at ATF, no one’s been fired,” Kelly said on her program this week. “They’re still on the federal taxpayer dime. And the head guy, Ken Melson, he’s working for DOJ right now. Are the taxpayers still paying all these folks and why?”
Issa replied: “They are still paying all these folks. We are concerned that there has been no real repercussions.”
To which Jones says, just wait.
“On this issue of folks who are identified in the House report that are still with ATF, well there’s this little concept called due process,” Jones told NPR. “And until we get a factual report and a complete record from the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General, which is our normal process, and make the referral to our internal affairs division, then there are rights that employees have.”
He even wants to change the name of the ATF to the Violent Crime Bureau. Sounds as if Mr. Jones really wants to get to the bottom of this whole scandal, no? But not so fast or furious.
Acting Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Director B. Todd Jones has failed to acknowledge overtures by the confidential informant at the heart of Operation Wide Receiver to give him detailed information about the failed gun smuggling investigation, Gun Rights Examiner learned over the weekend. Firearms dealer Mike Detty, who sold about 450 guns to straw purchasers under the assurances of his ATF handlers that they would be under surveillance, attempted to give Jones operational information both in person and by letter earlier this year, only to be ignored.
“I met him in the Sig booth at SHOT this year,” Detty told this correspondent. “I asked one of his people if he had time to say hello to another former Marine. He came over with a big smile and shook hands. I handed him a business card and told him, ‘If you’re serious about getting to the bottom of the gunwalking scandal you’ll need to start at the beginning–that’s me and Operation Wide Receiver.’
“He nodded and said he’d be in touch,” Detty continued. “Several weeks later I sent him a letter with my contact info and offer to help. Nothing.”
Gun Rights Examiner has obtained a copy of that letter, written on February 27, as well as the certified domestic mail return receipt, providing proof of delivery on March 5.
“There are currently something like 30 people serving prison sentences because of my involvement to help end illegal gun trafficking to Mexico,” Detty informed Jones, giving him a means of validating his credibility with an easily verifiable claim. “Not one case has gone to trial because of the overwhelming and indisputable documentation of these transactions–often videotaped in the living room of my home.”
“Operation Wide Receiver accounted for 450 guns being lost across the border but there were two other major cases that I brought to ATF that accounted for at least another 200 guns that are now in cartel hands,” Detty related. “As a CI it was not my place to question ATF’s motives or demand a detailed plan of action. I had assumed that my efforts would truly be used to help take down a powerful cartel.”
“If you’re sincere in wanting to get to the bottom of the gunwalking scandal then you’ll need to start at the beginning and that is me and Operation Wide Receiver,” Detty advised Jones. “Throughout my time as a CI, I kept meticulous notes–some 600 pages worth. In fact, it was my journal that raised the ire of SAC Newell. Once he learned of my documentation he ordered the field agents not to accept any new cases from me. He knew immediately that my records, irrefutable and unimpeachable, would prove troublesome for him at some point in the future.”
[ ... ]
“Whoever said he was a placeholder is correct,” Detty has sadly concluded in a private correspondence to Gun Rights Examiner. “He doesn’t care a bit about changing anything at ATF.”
Meet the new boss … same as the old boss. Don’t rename it, just get to the bottom of the illegalities and then get rid of the damn organization.
So Eric Holder has been held in contempt of Congress. Good. And the Congress should continue the quest for the truth in its examination of the depths of lawlessness in Fast and Furious – and its coverup.
Representative Trey Gowdy tells us why this is necessary. Honestly, I’m jealous. The South Carolina upstate area, Greenville-Spartanburg, has some great people. Representative Gowdy is one of them, and we need more like him. If the entire Congress consisted of men like this we wouldn’t be in such a mess on so many levels. This is worth the time – please ignore the glitch at about 3:28 into the video.
A new report on the botched Fast and Furious operation that has landed Attorney General Eric Holder on the hot seat alleges that contrary to popular belief, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives never meant to allow guns into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
The lengthy story, published Wednesday by Fortune after a six-month investigation, claims that according to law-enforcement agents directly involved in the operation, ATF did not intentionally let arms cross the U.S.-Mexico border so they could end up in the hands of criminals on the other side.
“They insist they never purposefully allowed guns to be illegally trafficked. Just the opposite: They say they seized weapons whenever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws, which stymied them at every turn,” the report says.
Featured prominently in the story is Dave Voth, a former Fast and Furious supervisor for the ATF who came under fire in 2011 when an agent publicly accused supervisors of ordering subordinates to purposefully refrain from seizing weapons in the hopes that the guns could lead them to criminals. One such gun has been linked to the death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
The story charges that “the public case alleging that Voth and his colleagues walked guns is replete with distortions, errors, partial truths, and even some outright lies,” and accuses some lawmakers, including House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), of seizing on and amplifying the initial allegations to “score points” against the Obama administration.
You don’t say? So the very player who was responsible for implementing the corrupt strategy at the ground level, and who certainly doesn’t want to be the first to go down if this all unravels, is claiming that it was all botched rather than intentional. Take careful note how this is all couched, i.e., in language of frustration over the lack of tools to do the job. In this case, tools = laws and regulations.
That’s right. They are still going after laws and regulations, as if Voth began the approach, go just so far into the thick of it, and then to his great surprise, suddenly figured out that there was no set of regulations that allowed him to do this, or abetted his efforts, or gave him the latitude to pull all of this off. The disingenuous part of all of this is that there is no possible world in which any set of U.S. regulations assists the ATF in tracking weapons when they get into the hands of criminals and war lords South of our border. In order for any U.S. regulation to apply, they would have had to do that which Voth specifically forbade, that is, interdict the weapons before they crossed the border.
Voth’s approach is the same as the one used by Dianne Feinstein: blame it all on lack of regulations and laws. And for an administration that claims Fast and Furious had nothing to do with a push for increased regulation, they sure seem to want more regulation out of all of this mess. Of course, this is all reason enough to continue the mission towards complete openness, beginning with a vote of contempt concerning Eric Holder.
As a side bar, I haven’t followed Fortune very closely, but for Politico to parrot the talking points only sullies their own reputation. Every time I read Politico I have even less respect for them than I did the time before. They are quickly becoming an un-serious group of folks.
Days before the House of Representatives is scheduled to take an unprecedented vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, Obama administration officials and House Republican aides met today at the White House in an unsuccessful attempt to resolve the standoff over documents related to the Fast and Furious gunwalking operation.
Those participating in the meeting included White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, Justice Department associate deputy attorney general Steven Reich and staff representing House Speaker John Boehner and Oversight and Government Reform chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, although neither lawmaker was there.
At the meeting, GOP staffers from the speaker’s office and the Oversight and Government Reform committee were permitted to briefly look at about 30 pages of documents, but both sides were unable to strike an agreement to avoid the contempt vote Thursday.
The hour-long meeting was described by a senior Obama administration official and GOP congressional sources as “picking-up on the offer DOJ made last Tuesday to the Committee” and was a product of a previous conversation between the speaker’s office and the White House.
“At the time [last week], Republicans rejected the offer because they claimed to be uncomfortable making a deal without seeing the documents,” the administration official told ABC. “In response, today we reached out and showed them a representative sample of the documents so they could see first-hand the types of communications in contention. This offer would result in the committee getting unprecedented access to documents showing how the Department responded to the Committee’s inquiry and would dispel any notion of an intent to mislead Congress.”
A congressional GOP aide who asked not to be identified also told ABC the offer was essentially the same as what Holder had presented Issa at the Capitol a week ago: A promise to make a compilation of documents available if the committee ends its investigation and takes contempt off the table. That offer was flatly rejected again today.
Republicans also asked the White House today whether it was willing to make a log available of the documents that the president would continue invoking executive privilege over, but the officials made clear that was “off the table,” according to a congressional source.
Fox News calls this a last ditch effort to resolve the contempt issue with Eric Holder. This is one branch of our government holding another branch accountable. At least back when I attended grammar and middle school, Americans were being taught that the branches of government have means to do this, and the practice of it is called balance of power.
There is no reason to attempt to avoid the vote. The fast and furious scandal is the most significant and obscene lawlessness in any administration in recent history, and maybe ever in American history. Congress has a duty to act. As Glen Tschirgi observed:
Congress has an absolute duty to exercise its Constitutional power to oversee and reign in (when necessary) the excesses of the Executive Branch. While there have been calls for the appointment of independent counsel (formerly known as a “special prosecutor”), those calls have been directed at the Obama Administration to make that appointment, presumably under Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution known as, “The Appointment Power.” But this power is not the exclusive prerogative of the Executive Branch. According to the case of Morrison v. Olson, 487 U.S. 654 (1988), Congress has the power to indirectly appoint “inferior officers” such as Independent Counsel by directing the Judiciary to make such an appointment with its approval. This power arises for the very reason that the Executive Branch cannot always be expected to cooperate in appointing an Independent Counsel when Executive wrongdoing is involved.
And recall what I have mentioned before concerning the walking of guns into Mexico for use by criminals and war lords. “The trafficking of weapons in violation of the National Firearms Act and Export Control Act isn’t a “mistake.” It’s an illegality.” As one astute and knowledgeable individual described to David Codrea:
While the ATF, and by extension the USGOV, did not formally sell (or provide) weapons to straw purchases and physically deliver these weapons across the border to into a foreign sovereign nation, the ATF and the USGOV was/were the intellectual author(s) of a comprehensive plan to facilitate the sale and illegal export of weapons to a foreign country. As such, the ATF and the USGOV are the intellectual authors of a conspiracy (I am not an attorney, but use the word “conspiracy” in a broad sense) to illegally export weapons to a foreign country.
Those exports were a clear violation of US weapons export laws, and the USGOV knowingly conspired and allowed those weapons to leave the United States without, (1) A valid US Department of State Export License, (2) a valid End Use statement signed by an appropriate Mexican GOV authority attesting as to the use and end destination of the weapons, and (3) a valid Import License issued by the GOV of Mexico documenting approval for the weapons to enter Mexican sovereign territory. It would not be a stretch to suggest that one could successfully argue that the ATF’s actions, and by extension the USGOV, by facilitating these exports are: (a) complicit in illegal arms trafficking in violation of US weapons export law as codified by ITAR (DOS export regulations), and (b) complicit in a violation of Mexican law by knowingly allowing the weapons to transit into Mexican sovereign territory. Whether the USGOV could be found complicit or guilty of arms trafficking under international law (apart from ITAR and Mexican law) is not something I could speak to. I would, however, offer the following: (1) If any individual or any private group of any national origin had coordinated such an operation, the full legal powers of the Mexican government, the USGOV, and Interpol (not legal powers strictly speaking) would have been brought to bear on that individual or group (witness international arms trafficking prosecutions over the last 20 years), each of those government/other entities would have competed to get the arrest and prosecution headline in their national newspapers, that individual or group would have been immediately detained and incarcerated pending charges, charges would most likely be not in the dozens but in the thousands (as each weapon trafficked can be made to count for several if not dozens of individual violations), and all assets (financial and other, whether or not gained from trafficking) would be seized, and (2) if this were conducted by any number of sovereign countries – in particular any Latin American or African country – perhaps Ecuador facilitating transit/delivery of weapons to the FARC in Colombia, or South Africa providing weapons to a sub-Saharan civil war (create any scenario you wish) – that country facilitating the weapons transit would likely suffer several consequences: (1) The low-level individuals involved, if found by international authorities would be incarcerated (but likely they would never be found), (2) an international court (and perhaps the USGOV under previous administrations) would call for all top level GOV officials (Minister of Defense, Minister of Justice, and perhaps the President – as they are all in the chain of corruption) to be held accountable and tried – and perhaps extradited and (3) the country in question would be labeled as an international pariah, perhaps sanctioned, and certainly black-listed from purchasing and selling weapons and “bellic materiel” from the “civilized nations”.
Thus – the “who knew what when” and the “who told you not to release material that my office requested” etc. is nice to know but gets away from the real issue. The real issue is that the USGOV, through the ATF, was the intellectual author of an illegal arms trafficking operation that violated both US law and Mexican law – and perhaps international law. That is institutional and governmental corruption of the worst kind, above and beyond a few AKs crossing a border.
Far from something to be avoided, holding Eric Holder and the DoJ accountable is a year late. But it’s better late than never.
UPDATE: Thanks to David Codrea for the link. Also, I concur with his expectation that the NRA flex its significant muscle concerning this scandal. David remarks:
The NRA must be involved. Now is not the time to avoid confirmation, now is the time to show the leadership it claims, and that its membership expects of it.
Turning to their politically potent candidate rating process, they can and should make it clear that a contempt vote will be scored, as will members of the GOP leadership thinking about going squishy. If they will not play this card, and before it’s too late, gun owners deserve to know why.
We have previously discussed the illegal bullying tactics used by the D.C. police to go after second amendment rights. Now from the most recent reporting by Emily Miller, there is a coverup underway over this incident.
Army 1st Sgt. Matthew Corrigan learned the hard way that the District of Columbia doesn’t believe it has to abide by the Constitution like the 50 states do. For nearly 40 years, the nation’s capital completely ignored the Second Amendment.
On Feb. 3, 2010, the Metropolitan Police Department also didn’t give much thought to the Fourth Amendment right of Americans to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures. The department’s SWAT team blew through due process and into the home of Sgt. Corrigan without a warrant because the reservist was suspected of having an unregistered personal gun in his home.
When the incident was taken to court, the city realized its prosecution was jeopardized by the lack of a warrant. Officers came up with various cover stories of “exigent circumstances,” but the scheme unraveled before going to trial. Though all charges were dropped last month, the veteran who volunteered to serve a year in Iraq has suffered immensely. He is suing the city for a minimum of $500,000 in damages. The story of how the city’s case against Sgt. Corrigan fell apart says a lot about the contempt in which the District holds gun owners.
On the night of his arrest, SWAT team members woke Sgt. Corrigan at 4 a.m. and ordered him out of his home. They demanded the keys to his English basement apartment. When the soldier refused, the officers broke down his front door, ransacked his apartment, threw his dog Matrix in the pound, and seized his three personal guns and seven types of ammunition.
The cops zip-tied the first sergeant’s hands and put him into an armored command truck, where he was questioned before any guns were found. They didn’t check with a judge. “When I was secured, a warrant could have been obtained,” Sgt. Corrigan said. “When I offered not to give my consent to enter my place, a warrant could have been obtained. When the first weapon in plain view was allegedly seen, a warrant could have been obtained. … During each of these incidents what was the exigency that prevented a warrant from being obtained?”
Sgt. Corrigan’s attorney, Richard E. Gardiner, filed a motion to suppress the evidence in August 2010, saying the police violated his client’s rights to be free of unreasonable search and seizure. City officials claimed they had to act because Sgt. Corrigan was an expert in planting explosives and there was a smell of gas in the building. According to a November 2010 filing, police “gained intelligence about the defendant, including information that the defendant was an Iraqi war veteran with specialized training (believed to be training in connection with deploying ‘booby traps’).” These factors supposedly created an emergency situation requiring entry without a warrant.
Both exigent circumstances – the smell of natural gas and experience with booby traps – were fabricated.
Well there you have it. Material false information presented as the truth. I didn’t say anything in the last post because I wanted to see how all of this shook out, but I knew at that time that the D.C. police were either liars or pathetic idiots. The smell of gas, as any half-educated person knows, means that one immediately calls the gas company who has people on call 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, for just such emergencies. Bringing weapons – that were potentially to be discharged – into such an environment, could have been deadly, and at the very best was simply juvenile and stupid. SWAT raids take a back seat to public health and safety in the case of gas leaks.
Perhaps by assuming that the D.C. police weren’t idiots I assumed too much. Perhaps they need training in basic health and safety decision-making such as this. But since they were apparently lying, it was all fabricated. Being a liar is worse than being stupid.
Eric Holder is at the very minimum a liar, and was stupid to think that tactics such as Fast and Furious wouldn’t be found out. Now that Mr. Obama has invoked executive privilege over the documents Congressman Issa has requested, his hands are all over this. Perhaps his hands were all over this well before now.
Either way, for the U.S. Congress to back down now would be a travesty, and cowardly in the superlative. Eric Holder is apparently a criminal and should spend time in prison. Hopefully the light will shine into Mr. Obama’s main camp before this is all over. We will find out if he is merely stupid or a liar and criminal like Mr. Holder.
Regarding truth-telling, it isn’t just what the American people expect. It’s what God demands.
There seems to be no end to the articles, discussion threads and posts pointing to the fact that Obama has not issued any new firearms laws since his administration took over in Washington. This cynical post is but one more example. True enough, Romney, as I have pointed out, has a bad reputation with second amendment advocates like me. So when Romney recently addressed the NRA, it leaves the door open for charges of duplicity and – let’s go ahead and say it – flip flop.
Mitt Romney drew a warm reception from the National Rifle Assn. on Friday as he attacked President Obama for “employing every imaginable ruse and ploy” to restrict gun rights, which Romney pledged not to do if elected in November …
“In a second term, he would be unrestrained by the demands of re-election,” Romney told a crowd estimated at 6,000 in the cavernous Edward Jones Dome. “As he told the Russian president last month when he thought no one else was listening, after a re-election he’ll have a lot more, quote, ‘flexibility’ to do what he wants. I’m not exactly sure what he meant by that, but looking at his first three years, I have a very good idea.”
Referring specifically to the right to bear arms, Romney said: “If we are going to safeguard our 2nd Amendment, it is time to elect a president who will defend the rights President Obama ignores or minimizes. I will.”
But there is this:
Even before Romney’s speech, the Obama campaign hit back with a statement attacking the presumptive GOP nominee, along with a hefty file of news clippings intended to show that he had a checkered history on gun rights.
“The president’s record makes clear the he supports and respects the 2nd amendment, and we’ll fight back against any attempts to mislead voters,” said campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt. “Mitt Romney is going to have difficulty explaining why he quadrupled fees on gun owners in Massachusetts then lied about being a lifelong hunter in an act of shameless pandering. That varmint won’t hunt.”
Again, true enough. Romney has some explaining to do on the campaign trail. But understanding why Romney is speaking before the NRA and Obama is not requires only that one understand the people with whom Obama has surrounded himself. The President cannot pass laws, but the President can do two things that are unique to the office. He can appoint judges, and he can fill positions in the executive branch of government.
Forgetting for a moment scandals such as Fast and Furious, there are four individuals that define Obama’s views of firearms and the second amendment. First, let’s consider Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Perhaps the most startling aspect of the Supreme Court opinions in McDonald v. Chicago was the dissenters’ assault on District of Columbia v. Heller. Not only did Justice Stephen G. Breyer vote against extending the Second Amendment to state and local governments, he also argued forcefully and at length for overturning Heller and, therefore, for turning the Second Amendment into a practical nullity. Ominously, Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined the Breyer dissent – contradicting what she told the U.S. Senate and the American people last summer.
Regarding the key issue in McDonald – whether the 14th Amendment makes the Second Amendment enforceable against state and local governments – Justice Sotomayor resolutely refused to tell the senators how she might vote. So in voting against incorporating the Second Amendment, Justice Sotomayor was not inconsistent with what she had told the Senate. But regarding Heller, her actions as a justice broke her promises from last summer.
The Breyer-Sotomayor-Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissent urged that Heller be overruled and declared, “In sum, the Framers did not write the Second Amendment in order to protect a private right of armed self defense.”
Contrast that with her Senate testimony: “I understand the individual right fully that the Supreme Court recognized in Heller.” And, “I understand how important the right to bear arms is to many, many Americans” …
To the SenateJudiciary Committee, Justice Sotomayor repeatedly averred that Heller is “settled law.” The Associated Press reported that Sen. Mark Udall, Colorado Democrat, “said Sotomayor told him during a private meeting that she considers the 2008 ruling that struck down a Washington, D.C., handgun ban as settled law that would guide her decisions in future cases.”
Next, consider Obama’s nominee for head of the ATF, Andrew Traver. John Richardson does a good job of examining the larger aspects of the Traver nomination within the context of his history. But the single most telling thing about Andrew Traver is his work with the Joyce Foundation, and specifically, his positions in the report entitled Taking A Stand: Reducing Gun Violence In Our Communities. Among the other onerous regulations on firearms manufacturers and owners, they would require ballistic fingerprinting of all firearms, otherwise called “microstamping.” But the single most bracing position taken by this study group has to do with federal oversight of the firearms manufacturing industry.
Congress should enact legislation to allow federal health and safety oversight of the firearms industry.
Unlike other consumer products, domestically manufactured firearms are not subject to any design standards to reduce risk to the user or protect the safety of the general public and those sworn to protect them. Moreover, unlike other consumer products, no federal agency is empowered to require a remedy in the case of a defectively designed or manufactured firearm.
The lack of health and safety oversight is particularly worrisome given the manufacture and sale of firearms that pose a unique threat to law enforcement and the general public, such as high-caliber handguns that can penetrate bullet-resistant vests, anti-personnel military-style assault weapons and .50 caliber sniper rifles that can penetrate armor plating from a mile away.
This oversight and regulation would involve the Centers for Disease Control, ATF, Justice Department and other federal organizations. However controlling and oppressive this would be, the third example that should interest us involves Obama nominee for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Caitlin J. Halligan, who in her tenure as Solicitor General of the State of New York, attempted to hold firearms manufactures and retailers responsible for crimes committed with guns. In 2006, Halligan also filed a brief arguing that handgun manufacturers were guilty of creating a public nuisance. This caused an almost incredulous rejection by the New York Court of Appeals.
“The New York Court of Appeals has never recognized a common-law public nuisance cause of action based on allegations like those in this complaint. Moreover, other jurisdictions have dismissed public nuisance claims against firearms manufacturers on similar or other grounds… In light of the foregoing, we believe it is legally inappropriate, impractical and unrealistic to mandate that defendants undertake, and the courts enforce, unspecified measures urged by plaintiff in order to abate the conceded availability and criminal use of illegal handguns.” (People Of The State Of New York v. Sturm & Ruger Co., 309 A.D.2d 91, 2003).
Finally, there is the example of Eric Holder, who believes the following about firearms.
From rejection of the Supreme Court decision in Heller v. D.C., to advocacy for federal control over firearms manufacturers, to attempts to bankrupt firearms manufacturers with lawsuits, Obama’s friends have a storied and ugly history concerning their views on the second amendment.
The NRA knows full well Romney’s history on firearms and the second amendment. But the circumstances that give credibility to Obama’s promises to implement gun control “under the radar,” or explain the ATF’s rejection of the import of almost 800,000 M1 Carbines from South Korea aren’t speculative either. Obama is certainly aware of the anti-firearms positions of his appointments and nominees, for the contrary is simply impossible. And people in such positions can effect policy, regulations and legal decisions for a generation.
This is Obama’s intent – at least, there is no other explanation. To the NRA, Romney is a slightly to moderately uncomfortable ally. Because of his chosen company, Obama must be seen as the enemy.
UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention.