The Paradox and Absurdities of Carbon-Fretting and Rewilding

Herschel Smith · 28 Jan 2024 · 4 Comments

The Bureau of Land Management is planning a truly boneheaded move, angering some conservationists over the affects to herd populations and migration routes.  From Field & Stream. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently released a draft plan outlining potential solar energy development in the West. The proposal is an update of the BLM’s 2012 Western Solar Plan. It adds five new states—Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming—to a list of 11 western states already earmarked…… [read more]

Obama Defends Holder in Gunrunner Scandal

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 11 months ago

Today Obama spoke ever so carefully concerning Eric Holder and his involvement in Project Gunrunner.

“My attorney general has made clear that he certainly would not have ordered gun-running to be able to pass through into Mexico,” Mr. Obama said. “I’ve made very clear my views that that would not be an appropriate step by the ATF, and we’ve got to find out how that happened.  As soon as the investigation’s completed, I think appropriate actions will be taken.”

Obama owns Eric Holder in this remark.  “My attorney general …”  But more questions are raised than answered.  If Holder had not ordered it, and Obama himself doesn’t think that Project Gunrunner “would [be] an appropriate step by the ATF,” then what does it mean when their own report claims that?

Initially implemented in our four primary Southwest border field divisions, Project Gunrunner has evolved into a national strategy … Over the past few years the White House, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security and even the U.S. Northern Command have developed various strategies and policies designed to leverage the full capabilities of the U.S. Government in this effort. It is essential that our efforts support the strategies and policies of the President and the Attorney General and where possible, complement the strategies of other agencies.

[ … ]

… over the past few months enforcement strategies (and other guidance) that address firearms trafficking to Mexican cartels have been developed and released by the White House and the Department of Justice. It is essential that ATF efforts support strategies promoted by the White House and Department of Justice. An examination of these and other strategies reveals similarities among the strategies, but also suggests that some revisions to ATF’s current strategy are necessary.

When everyone else is responsible, no one is responsible, which in fact might be the Obama strategy.  The ATF field agents and mid-level managers had better be looking for gainful employment.  At least for the moment, Obama is defending Holder.


Defendant’s Attorney Seeks Discovery in Project Gunrunner

ATF’s Kenneth Melson to Testify Before Congress

Project Gunrunner Update: FoxNews, LA Times and Washington Post

Washington Post Wrong on Issa Knowledge of Project Gunrunner

Gunrunner Investigation Points Much Higher Than ATF Director

Replacing Kenneth Melson At ATF Is Not Enough

The Deepening Project Gunrunner Scandal

Senators Feinstein, Schumer and Whitehouse on Halting U.S. Firearms Trafficking to Mexico

Project Gunrunner: White House and DoJ Knowledge and Oversight

Defendant’s Attorney Seeks Discovery in Project Gunrunner

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 11 months ago

From The Daily Caller:

Texas criminal defense lawyers are investigating the Justice Department’s Fast and Furious investigation of cross-border gun smuggling, using routine “discovery” rules that allow defendants to look for flaws in prosecutors’ evidence, statements and purpose.

“As the lawyer for Jose Sauceda–Cuevas, I’ve got to look at every possibility,” including agency misconduct, that would help him in the courtroom, said David Dudley, a Harvard-trained criminal defense lawyer based in Los Angeles.

The U.S. Attorney for the Arizona district is charging Dudley’s client with 25 counts related to gun trafficking. The charges include 10 false statement made during gun purchases, five identity theft charges, five counts for felony possession of a gun, and “five counts of Illegal Alien in Possession of a Firearm,” according to a May 19 press statement.

“The defendant orchestrated straw purchases of over 110 assault rifles and pistols in a multi–state enterprise to provide weapons for the drug war” in Mexico, the statement said.

The case is one in set of prosecutions covering 17 defendants charged in five separate cases that involve more than 300 weapons, most of which are “AK–47–type rifles and automatic pistols that were recovered in Mexico, Arizona and Texas,” read the statement.

[ … ]

Dudley is working with another client’s attorney to launch the discovery investigations. But neither will get to investigate the investigators unless the trial judges approves their request for discovery.

“I have no idea” if the judges will grant discovery, Dudley said. But, he said, “I assume [prosecutors] will anticipate that we will look at every possibility for our client.”

“Anything he files in court, we’ll respond to appropriately in court,” said Robbie Sherwood, a spokesman for the Arizona prosecutor, based in Phoenix, Ariz.

“I think there’s a pretty good chance of getting discovery if they show it is relevant to a defense,” said Dick DeGuerin, a Houston-based lawyer who persuaded the federal government last year to quit its gun-trafficking investigation of the Carter’s Country, a four-store chain of hunting shops in Texas.

“Orders from either a Justice Department official or from supervisors in ATF to allow the sale to go forward … will be relevant” to a defense, he said. “It certainly might be used in mitigation” of a tough sentence.

The abbreviated charges outlined above track with the original indictment of Jose Sauceda-Cuevas.  I would be willing to place a wager on the term “automatic pistols” (in both the article and the indictment) being false information, and that the pistols are in fact semi-automatic.  At least part of Dudley’s defense will be that Mr. Sauceda-Cuevas attempted to do something illegal, and would have been denied that chance had the gun shop owners been allowed to do what they wanted to do in the first place, which is refuse to sell.  As it was, illegaility on the part of the ATF played a role in Sauceda-Cuevas’ crime[s].

Entrapment has been successfully argued in similar and other circumstances.  Without knowing the outcome of the case, it is true that Project Gunrunner has not only placed weapons in the hands of criminals in Mexico, it has also made the case against legitimate targets such a firearms trafficker less certain.  The consequences of Project Gunrunner just keep rolling.  We are only at the tip of the iceberg.


ATF’s Kenneth Melson to Testify Before Congress

Project Gunrunner Update: FoxNews, LA Times and Washington Post

Washington Post Wrong on Issa Knowledge of Project Gunrunner

Gunrunner Investigation Points Much Higher Than ATF Director

Replacing Kenneth Melson At ATF Is Not Enough

The Deepening Project Gunrunner Scandal

Senators Feinstein, Schumer and Whitehouse on Halting U.S. Firearms Trafficking to Mexico

Project Gunrunner: White House and DoJ Knowledge and Oversight

The Hard Lessons Keep Coming: Iran’s Leap in Missile Technology

BY Glen Tschirgi
12 years, 11 months ago

The only thing worse than being wrong about something of great importance is being right about something of great importance and not being able to crow about it because the reality is so awful.

So when conservatives warned that Obama’s naive policy of the “open hand” of diplomacy to the mad mullahs of Iran was a quick path to a nuclear Iran, there is absolutely no joy in seeing these predictions take place before our very eyes.

First there was the news some weeks ago which we covered in the post, “Game Over.” That post dealt with the estimation of an Iranian nuke perhaps as soon as this Fall.

Those in denial insisted that Iran was still at least one year or more away from developing its own nuclear weapon and that Iran could not field even a missile of 2000 km range until 2015 at the earliest.

Now comes the news via Newsmax and Ken Timmerman that the Iranians have successfully tested three, different missile technologies, two of which appear to directly relate to nuclear weaponization.

Iran has made dramatic progress in its ballistic missile programs over the past year, unveiling three new missiles it claims are already in production, including an innovative design that could be a “game-changer” if used against U.S. aircraft carriers, an Israeli expert widely considered one of the world’s top authorities on Iranian missile programs says.

Also significant were three unannounced tests of longer-range missiles most experts believe were designed to carry a nuclear warhead.

The longer-range missiles are the Shahab-3 and the Sejiel-2.   The Shahab-3, modified, can strike up to 1600 km away, more than enough to hit major U.S. military bases in the region as well as Israel.   The Sejiel-2 is a solid-fuel rocket that has a 2,000 km range.  These missiles were tested several times, secretly, which is odd behavior for the regime:

In the past, Iran has announced all of its missile tests, often with great fanfare, even when they were a failure, said Uzi Rubin, the father of Israel’s “Arrow” anti-missile program.

One of the unannounced missile tests involved a variant of the Shahab-3, which has been successfully test-fired many times since it was first flown in 1998 and is now in active deployment with Revolutionary Guards Air Force units.

Because the missile has been tested successfully so many times, Rubin believes failure was not why the longer-range missile tests were kept quiet. “I believe it was policy,” he told a breakfast meeting on Capitol Hill hosted by the National Defense University Foundation.

The latest United Nations Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Iran, which passed in June 2010, expressly forbids Iran from conducting tests of “nuclear-capable” missiles.

“The fact that Iran did not disclose those tests is tantamount to admitting they were of nuclear-capable missiles,” Rubin said.

In October 2010, Iran carried out an unannounced test of its Sejil-2 missile, sometimes known as the “Ashura.” The Sejil is a solid propellant missile with a range of approximately 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) that was first flown successfully in November 2008.

So the despots of Iran are taking enormous pains to have at least two, reliable missile systems ready that, by all accounts, can carry a nuclear warhead.  Not only that, the despots now have missiles (although not, presumably, in any great quantity as yet) that can directly threaten large parts of Europe.

The map below, while outdated, nonetheless shows the effective coverage of a 2,000 km-range missile based in Iran.

Funny.  That missile defense system that the U.S. had promised to provide to eastern European allies like Poland and the Czech Republic would have come in handy.  Too bad Obama caved in to the Russians and decided that Iranian missiles posed no threat to Europe.

Or as Timmerman puts it:

Both China and Russia are believed to have intervened with the U.N. Security Council to suppress the report by the U.N. experts panel investigating violations of U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran.

Uzi Rubin believes the Obama administration has abstained from revealing Iran’s recent long-range missile tests “in support of Russia’s claim that Iran cannot threaten Europe.”

The lack of an Iranian missile threat was a key justification used by the Obama White House to cancel plans in early 2009 to deploy missile-defense radar and ground-based interceptors in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Cancelling U.S.-made missile defense in Europe was a major demand of the Russian government, and was touted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a key factor in her “reset” of U.S.-Russian relations.

Rubin also speculated that the Obama administration “wants to say that sanctions are working, so if they say that Iran’s missile tests have been successful, they wouldn’t look too good.”

But not to worry.  According to the story and headline in The Washington Post on this subject, a “senior” Revolutionary Guard commander promised that Iran won’t manufacture missiles with ranges beyond 2,000 km.

Growing up, I had an almost morbid fascination with the time period between the end of World War I and the beginning of World War II.  I could never understand how Great Britain, France and the U.S. allowed Germany to violate the clear terms of the armistice by re-arming, taking control of the Rhineland and stoking again the fires of militarism.  Hitler and the Nazis seemed like such an obvious threat.  How could the victors of World War I put their collective heads in the sand to such an absurd degree?

Now I am beginning to understand.

No one seems to be paying any, real attention to the steady, remorseless march of the Mad Mullahs to deploy nuclear weapons.  We hear nothing from the President– of course not, that would serve only to point out his international fecklessness even further.  We hear nothing from the Government Media outlets like the New York Times or Washington Post, except a dry note on a back page.  There is no worry.  No reaction.   No sense of crisis.  Indeed, from my recollection of the last Republican debate, not a single candidate mentioned the threat of Iran.  We have time for Libya and Egypt and Syria and even a tiny, terrorist outpost called Gaza, but the real menace to peace in the 21st century is completely ignored.   Worse yet, there are serious political leaders, people aspiring to the presidency, who are openly calling for defense cuts and a pared down military capability.

Another hard lesson learned that will cost us dearly in the near future.

ATF’s Kenneth Melson to Testify Before Congress

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 11 months ago

The Daily Beast is reporting that a deal has been brokered between Congress and the administration concerning testimony in the Project Gunrunner scandal (and illegalities).

The head of the embattled federal agency that combats gun trafficking has agreed to talk with Senate investigators, a potentially important breakthrough as Congress tries to determine whether higher-ups in the Obama administration knew about a controversial sting that let assault weapons flow across the border into Mexico’s drug wars.

The testimony—expected next month from Kenneth Melson, the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives—was brokered as part of a deal between Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and the committee’s top Republican, Iowa’s Charles Grassley. Grassley and his fellow Republicans were given full access to ATF documents, Melson, and other key witnesses; and in return, Grassley agreed to release three Obama administration nominees he had been blocking, according to correspondence obtained by NEWSWEEK and THE DAILY BEAST.

Grassley had been fighting to get full access for months. He finally got it with a letter Leahy wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting access for both his staff and Grassley’s investigators to the evidence and witnesses in the gun-sting investigation. In return, Grassley agreed to let proceed the nominations of Jim Cole to be deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco to be assistant attorney general for national security, and Virginia Seitz to be head of the Office of Legal Counsel, the letter shows.

So in order to get access to investigate the various illegalities and corruption involved with Project Gunrunner, Senator Grassley had to agree to open the floor for nominations from the same adminstration who gave us Kenneth Melson at ATF and Eric Holder at Justice, and who wants to give us Andrew Traver at ATF, so that they can fill the ranks of the executive branch of government with more people who would presumably do more of the same kind of thing (note that David Codrea finds Traver’s fingerprints on Project Gunrunner).  We simply cannot have any confidence at all in this administration’s nominees.

We’re pulling weeds in a very sick and dying garden, and the time has come for a complete overhaul as called for by the Beaufort Observer.  They’re right.  Sometimes an organization becomes so corrupt that it’s no longer effective simply to revamp it from within.  It must be dismantled from without.  This post by Vincent Cefalu seems to indicate a very ailing organization, with maladies that cannot be treated with a few medicines, even if those medicines include a new director.  If that new director is Andrew Traver, we will have gone from bad to worse.

As we move forward with this investigation, the corruption will become ever more manifest, and the ATF should be expected to body slam whistleblowers and participants in its own demise.  This all just gets worse and worse.

UPDATE: Make sure to check out what Congressman Issa says he found out on his recent trip to Mexico.  This operation could never have succeeded, and the folks at ATF knew it, all the way to the top.  Not only does the ATF not have any jurisdictional authority in Mexico, the Mexican authorities were intentionally uncooperative.  The scandal deepens even further.


Project Gunrunner Update: FoxNews, LA Times and Washington Post

Washington Post Wrong on Issa Knowledge of Project Gunrunner

Gunrunner Investigation Points Much Higher Than ATF Director

Replacing Kenneth Melson At ATF Is Not Enough

The Deepening Project Gunrunner Scandal

Senators Feinstein, Schumer and Whitehouse on Halting U.S. Firearms Trafficking to Mexico

Project Gunrunner: White House and DoJ Knowledge and Oversight

Project Gunrunner Update: FoxNews, LA Times and Washington Post

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 11 months ago

Glenn Reynolds links a Fox News report on the illegal termination of ATF whistleblower Vince Cefalu.  This news is a couple of days old, but this interesting (and heretofore unknown) fact is revealed in the report.

Cefalu first told about the ATF’s embattled anti-gun smuggling operation in December, before the first reports on the story appeared in February. “Simply put, we knowingly let hundreds of guns and dozens of identified bad guys go across the border,” Cefalu said at the time.

Indeed.  So Fox News first learned of this illegality in December.  Actually, David Codrea was among the first to report on this back in December of 2010.  But if Fox News learned of this in December, why did they wait to begin reporting on the corruption?  Why did ABC News report on this in early February, and then several days later CBS News (all around the same time that Fox News began running reports on gunrunner)?

Next, take note of an editorial in the LA Times.

Congress is rightfully angry that the operation went awry, and it should demand an explanation. The ATF must be held accountable and must provide answers.

But it is worth noting that the ATF is charged with an impossible mission: enforcing weak laws in a nation awash in firearms, where even the most modest attempts to regulate or prevent mass straw purchases invite accusations of infringements on 2nd Amendment rights from the gun lobby.

Consider that in 2006 the ATF came under congressional scrutiny for attempting to crack down on straw purchases at Virginia gun shows. That operation had been launched in response to a rise in homicides in the state. Agents traced about 400 guns recovered from crime scenes back to Virginia gun shows, according to congressional testimony. ATF officers who attended the shows and conducted residency checks to verify that interested buyers provided accurate information were later accused of harassing legitimate gun owners.

If Congress wants to stop mass straw purchases and stem the flow of guns to Mexican drug cartels, it ought to begin by confirming a permanent ATF director. The agency has been rudderless for nearly five years, largely because the National Rifle Assn. has publicly opposed nominees, including President Obama’s pick, Andrew Traver, who currently heads the ATF’s Chicago field office.

Federal lawmakers might also consider limiting the number of guns an individual can buy. In California, for example, a person can only buy one handgun a month.

The ATF should be held accountable for Fast and Furious, but Congress and the White House are responsible for letting the agency drift, and for failing to adopt sensible laws to prevent mass straw purchases.

The editorial board for the Washington Post must have had a conference call with the editorial board of the LA Times.

THE GUN RIGHTS lobby has spent considerable time and energy in pursuit of one goal: crippling the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). It has largely succeeded — and with dire consequences.

Concerned to the point of paranoia about the erosion of the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, the National Rifle Association and far too many lawmakers have fought against virtually every proposal to empower the bureau to better track and crack down on illegal firearms. They have won reductions in the ATF’s already meager budget. They have restricted the bureau’s ability to share information with other law enforcement agencies. They have kept the bureau rudderless for the past six years by blocking confirmation of new directors. And they continue to fight new rules that would allow the bureau to track bulk sales of long guns that have played a major role in the drug-fueled violence in Mexico.

Now, the very critics who have tied the bureau’s hands are expressing outrage over a novel, and we would agree questionable, ATF operation intended to curb gun smuggling into Mexico.

[ … ]

Lawmakers should give the ATF the tools it needs to fight illegal gun trafficking. They should enact stronger penalties for straw purchases and craft a federal gun-smuggling statute; close the gun-show loophole, which allows buyers under certain circumstances to purchase weapons without a background check; resuscitate the ban on assault weapons; and give the ATF the authority to collect data on multiple sales of long guns in border states. The Senate should move quickly to confirm a director for the long-leaderless bureau.

So according to the LA Times and the Washington Post, the problem is the NRA and the fight to protect second amendment rights, and the remedy is to close a gun show loophole through which the Mexican drug cartels do not purchase firearms, and enact stronger penalties for the very illegality in which the ATF was themselves engaged.

Sounds a bit like Senator Feinstein’s talking points, no?  And it also sounds a bit like the Justice Department fed them this perspective, just like they fed the Washington Post incorrect information on Congressional knowledge of Project Gunrunner.

COP Honaker Miracle in Kunar

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 11 months ago

While the President and generals debate, the grunts still do the heavy work in the South (Marines in Now Zad, Marjah, Sangin and other locales), and remote outposts in the East.  USA Today has a must read on COP Honaker Miracle in the Kunar Province that gives us a view to the still salient importance of chasing the enemy into his sanctuaries.

COMBAT OUTPOST HONAKER MIRACLE, Kunar province, Afghanistan — Sgt. Lawrence Teza was in his barracks when the door was ripped open by an explosion, spraying his left side with shrapnel and breaking his hand.

“When the bombing started I was counting all my men … then wham!” he recalled from his hospital bed hours later.

Teza, along with Spc. Mathew Standford, who was peppered with shards from the metal door, joined the growing ranks of the wounded at this remote combat outpost in Afghanistan’s restive Pech River Valley in Kunar province, which borders Pakistan.

Since deploying in late April to this small base nestled among jagged mountains, small farms and mud-brick villages, about 10% of the U.S. troops here have been injured by Taliban mortars, small-arms fire and improvised explosive devices.

“We’ve had a lot of guys get hurt, but we have a tough AO (area of operations),” said Capt. Brian Kalaher, commander of the outpost, which was named after two servicemembers killed in action.

Much of the attention over the past year has been on southern Afghanistan, where thousands of U.S. reinforcements have been deployed and have pushed the Taliban from former strongholds in a visible effort to regain the momentum.

Here in the Pech Valley, U.S. and Afghan forces are fighting an “economy of force” mission, holding the line against the Taliban while building the capability of Afghan security forces.

It’s part of a broad coalition strategy to concentrate forces in main population centers and to scale back in remote areas. Until recently, Combat Outpost Honaker Miracle was one of four U.S. bases along the Pech, a region that was previously occupied by a battalion, Kalaher said. Battalions are typically 600 to 700 troops. Over the winter, several of the bases were turned over to the Afghan army and another U.S. position — Combat Outpost Michigan — was closed and razed.

In previous years even smaller bases were scattered deeper in remote valleys off the Pech.

The troops here at Honaker Miracle have received a regular barrage of attacks, more than a dozen in less than two months, some lasting several hours.

During one attack, a mortar round hit a crane used to tow disabled armored vehicles and set it ablaze, reducing the vital piece of equipment to a charred hulk.

“They tested us during the first part of the deployment, a lot in May,” said Kalaher from his office where an all-white Taliban flag, removed from a nearby mountainside, hangs from the ceiling. “We set a precedent that we are not afraid to shoot back.”

Following the recent attack injuring Teza and Standford, airstrikes obliterated a nearby fighting position, reportedly killing at least two Taliban fighters.

Plenty of hidden crevices and caves dotting the mountains make effective retaliation difficult. The hardscrabble terrain and a largely unseen enemy fighting from mountainside positions makes for a daunting mission, in general.

“When we first got here it was night, so we couldn’t see what was around us,” said Cpl. Ian Beard, who was injured during the first few weeks of their deployment, taking shrapnel to his arm, leg and his lip. “When we woke up the next morning and saw all the mountains around us, it was intimidating. You feel like people (in the mountains) are looking at you all the time.”

The proximity of enclaves of Afghans surrounding the outpost adds to the difficulty. The prospect of civilian casualties weighs heavily on soldiers trying to win over a populace that is largely on the fence in their loyalties.

Platoons of troops regularly patrol nearby villages on foot and interact with the local populace in hopes of winning their trust and gaining intelligence on Taliban movements in the area.

According to local leaders, the Taliban has set up impromptu checkpoints along the roadways and even donned Afghan soldier and police uniforms to “rough up the locals,” Lt. Matt Snyder said.

Haji Ajab Khan, district sub-governor, claimed that the residents of the Pech oppose the Taliban “but can’t do anything to stop them.”

I submit the following.  First, I am sick of hearing about “economy of force” efforts.  Second, not only should these boys not have been afraid to shoot, they shouldn’t have been afraid to chase the enemy into the hills.  Third, winning the population with more patrols should take on secondary or tertiary importance to killing the Taliban.  Fourth, if the Taliban feel the freedom of movement to set up checkpoints, we are losing.  Bring in more troops and chase them and kill them … all of them.  No negotiations.  Sit snipers in the hills waiting for the checkpoints, and then rain death from above when the try to bully the population.  They must all die.

Washington Post Wrong On Issa Knowledge Of Project Gunrunner

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 11 months ago

I read a Washington Post article on Wednesday in which someone at the Justice Department claimed that Representative Darrell Issa had been briefed months ago on Project Gunrunner (more on my views on this in a moment).  The Daily Caller reports on Issa’s denial.

A spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican and the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, told The Daily Caller that the Washington Post is the only news organization to bite on new misleading sentiments from the Justice Department.

A Wednesday Washington Post story used anonymous Justice Department sources to bash Issa’s investigation into Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious.

The anonymous sources claimed that Issa attended a classified April 2010 briefing for members of Congress and their staffers about the programs that have allowed American guns into Mexican drug cartels’ hands.

Issa spokesman Frederick Hill told The Daily Caller the Post is the first newspaper to run these DOJ claims, but not the first one the Justice Department went to with them.

“We have had people who have contacted us before the Washington Post,” Hill said. “They told us people in the Justice Department were trying to push this story and I think a number of publications didn’t think it was credible or, for whatever reason, decided not to run it.”

Hill said there was a briefing that Issa attended back in April 2010 on a similar subject. “There were questions at the time about the number of U.S. weapons that were ending up at Mexican crime scenes,” he said. “Basically, [it was about] the efforts of the ATF to stop cartels from doing this.”

Did Project Gunrunner or Operation Fast and Furious come up at that briefing at all? Hill says “they certainly did not.”

When I read the Washington Post article I considered it so unlikely that I didn’t bookmark it or send myself the URL for later use (I normally send myself dozens of URLs per day for potential later use).  I have on rare occasion used anonymous sources, an example of which might be when someone who is deployed is providing a perspective that may reflect on his chain of command.  I routinely receive notes from people I never use (for instance, I exchanged e-mail with a lawyer who knew facts about the Jose Guerena SWAT raid that couldn’t be shared with my readers).

But bloggers must have some sort of protocol for what may be used and what may not.  If someone at the Justice Department, even with legitimate e-mail, phone number, title and name, had told me that Representative Issa had been briefed on Gunrunner in April of 2010 and said nothing about the approach, I would have rejected this source immediately and with prejudice if they had demanded to remain anonymous.

Let me be clear.  Even if this report was correct, it doesn’t exonerate the ATF from wrongdoing.  As I have pointed out before, “[it] isn’t okay for the ATF to violate the National Firearms Act or the Arms Export Control Act if I must live within its stipulations.”  But since the report has no name attached to it, let me offer some counsel to this supposed anonymous source at the Justice Department. 

Have some balls.  I don’t use a pseudonym.  I put my name on everything I write, and I back it up or retract it.  If you want to be taken seriously, don’t go around whispering secrets to the media.  Step forward, bring your evidence, and stand by your account.  Otherwise, you’re just a coward.  As for the Washington Post, it really looks awful for you to be in bed with cowards.

UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention.

UPDATE #2:  Hmmm … did the DoJ begin almost immediately trying to walk this back?


Gunrunner Investigation Points Much Higher Than ATF Director

Replacing Kenneth Melson At ATF Is Not Enough

The Deepening Project Gunrunner Scandal

Senators Feinstein, Schumer and Whitehouse On Halting U.S. Firearms Trafficking To Mexico

Project Gunrunner: Whitehouse and DoJ Knowledge And Oversight

Gunrunner Investigation Points Much Higher Than ATF Director

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 11 months ago

The Daily Caller quotes a staffer for Congressman Darrell Issa as saying that the Gunrunner investigation points much higher than acting director Kenneth Melson.

Even if Melson resigns, Issa spokesman Frederick Hill said the Committee expects to find much more and continue with investigations. “The investigations are far from over,” Hill told TheDC. “It’s quite certain that Kenneth Melson was not the principal architect of this plan nor was he the only high-ranking official who knew about and authorized this operation.”

As I have pointed out before, their own documents say that the White House knew about the strategy.  So this goes higher than even the Department of’ Justice.  That’s why it isn’t for Kenneth Melson simply to resign.  A special prosecutor is needed to get to the bottom (and top) of this crime.  There is apparently pushback from Melson, who believes he has done nothing wrong.  But it isn’t okay for the ATF to violate the National Firearms Act or the Arms Export Control Act if I must live within its stipulations.

And while we’re focused on this issue, the unrepentent Obama administration is busy going from bad to worse.  Andrew Traver, Obama’s pick to head the ATF, is scheduled to meet with Justice this week.  The NRA strongly opposes the appointment of Traver, and for good reason.  He is associated with the leftist Joyce Foundation’s Study, Taking a Stand: Reducing Gun Violence in our Communities.  Among other ridiculous things, they advocated that the Centers for Disease Control take a role in the regulation of the firearms industry.

This administration sees this as an opportunity to slip in their man at the ATF, and it’s time to gear up for the next anti-firearms battle that Obama wants to wage.

UPDATE #1: The NYT has done their expected puff piece shilling for Senator Feinstein, et. al.

If Congressional Republicans are really intent on getting to the bottom of an ill-conceived sting operation along the border by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, they should call President Felipe Calderón of Mexico as an expert witness.

Mr. Calderón has the data showing that the tens of thousands of weapons seized from the Mexican drug cartels in the last four years mostly came from the United States. Three out of five of those guns were battlefield weapons that were outlawed here until the assault weapons ban was allowed to lapse in 2004. To help him stop the bloody mayhem, he is pleading with Washington to re-enact the ban and impose other needed controls.

Such horrible analysis work!  They are propagating the 90% myth, just as did the St. Petersburg Times.  And just like Bono.  That’s what happens when opinion gets in the way of facts.  But at least the NYT has more people on staff than Bono to cipher the data, and so while Bono might be just responding emotionally, the NYT is showing how shoddy and lazy they have become in their analysis.


Replacing Kenneth Melson At ATF Is Not Enough

The Deepening Project Gunrunner Scandal

Senators Feinstein, Schumer and Whitehouse on Halting U.S. Firearms Trafficking to Mexico

Project Gunrunner: White House and DoJ Knowledge and Oversight

The Taliban Strategy of Nuristan

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 11 months ago

The Iowa Army National Guard, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, recently saw significant kinetic operations in the Nuristan Province.

A tale of courage under fire has been received out of Afghanistan involving soldiers of the Waterloo-headquartered Iowa Army National Guard battalion.

Members of the Guard’s 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment – the “Ironman Battalion” – lived up to their nickname in the recapture of the Afghan town of Do Ab, Nuristan province, in heavy fighting with entrenched Taliban insurgents on May 25.

After being pinned down for more than an hour by unrelenting mortar and machine gun fire in an exposed helicopter landing zone, the soldiers fought their way to a livestock compound that offered a defensible position.

They provided cover fire for a second wave mainly made up of friendly Afghan forces. Supported by assault helicopters and Air Force fighter jets, they drove off the enemy and retook Do Ab, a governmental center similar to a county seat, according to soldiers’ accounts.

The 60-soldier force – 42 “Ironmen” and 18 Afghan nationals – sustained no casualties while killing more than 100 Taliban.

While the 1/133rd, part of the 34th “Red Bull” infantry division, has seen combat throughout its eight months in Afghanistan, the May 25 operation was the heaviest fighting experienced to date.

It was one of the “most significant engagements the Red Bull has been involved in since World War II,” Guard spokesman Maj. Mike Wunn in Afghanistan said.

“We had many points through the day where luck was on our side. Our guys did an outstanding job, which led to all of us coming home,” added 1/133rd battalion commander Lt. Col. Steven Kremer of Cherokee.

“It’s just amazing to me, it’s unbelievable everyone came out,” Kremer said.

The soldiers were members of the 1/133rd’s headquarters and headquarter company, as well as Charlie Company, and the battalion mortar and sniper teams. The sniper team was headed by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Buhr of Waverly.

Intelligence reports indicated the reinforced Taliban had seized Do Ab. The 1/133rd’s mission, Kremer said, was to assess the enemy strength and determine how large a force would be needed to deal with the insurgents. The Guardsmen flew in on two Chinook helicopters in a fairly confined landing zone, the only flat area in the rough terrain around Do Ab.

They discovered the enemy strength soon after landing. Guard 1st Lt. Justin Foote of New Hartford, formerly of Evansdale, 1/133rd reconnaissance platoon leader, said an air burst from an enemy rocket-propelled grenade exploded over one of the Chinooks as it took off, and the fight was on.

“The whole (landing zone) erupted into fire,” Foote said. “From every point of high ground, from every piece of defensible fighting position the enemy were in, it pretty much rained down – all types of weapons, small arms fire, machine gun fire, RPG fire and enemy mortar rounds.”

Soldiers would take cover behind rocks for protection, only to be subjected to fire from another angle. “You were taking fire from pretty much every direction,” Foote said.

The experienced Taliban were dug in up to their chests in the rocky fortifications. The two Chinooks had landed 300 meters apart, under such withering fire it took the Ironmen an hour to consolidate their divided force.

Noncommissioned officers moved back and forth in the open, exposed to enemy fire, to coordinate their soldiers’ efforts. But the Ironmen, at this point in their deployment, know their jobs well in such situations, said Maj. Aaron Baugher of Ankeny, senior ground force commander during the operation, and Sgt. Edward Kane of Portland, Ore., an interstate transfer soldier serving with the 1/133rd.

The Ironmen mortar and sniper squads and supporting Black Hawk assault helicopters laid down suppressing fire on the north side of the landing zone. That allowed the entire force to finally move to defensible positions. The Black Hawks also sustained heavy damage from the Taliban fire, but survived the fight.

The force leaders on the ground decided to head for the shelter of the compound of defensible livestock buildings rather than take a narrow and exposed road directly into Do Ab, especially after a friendly Afghan police force the Guardsmen were to meet up with did not show.

With the assistance of Air Force personnel, the soldiers called in F-15 and F-16 fighters which dropped 500-pound bombs on the enemy positions – some within 200 meters of their own. Apache helicopter gunships also arrived to help take out the Taliban positions.

Read the rest of the report at the WCF Courier.  This engagement isn’t surprising, given that the Taliban had stated that their focus would be on this area of operations.

… history is not on NATO’s side. The 1978 uprising by landowners and clerics, which led to civil war, the virtual collapse of the government and ultimately the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, began in eastern Nuristan and spread quickly to Kunar. “Trouble here can break the central government,” said Qari Ziaur Rahman, a regional commander for the Taliban who is also a leader of the Punjab-based militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad, in a 2008 interview. “Whoever has been defeated in Afghanistan, his defeat began from Kunar.” Whether the Taliban and their allies can pull off a successful assault on Asadabad is questionable, but there seems little doubt they’ll try. For its part, NATO has redeployed troops to the valley linking Waygal with Asadabad in what looks like an attempt to lock the door.

Not only in Nuristan, but Kunar as well.  In fact, the whole Pech River Valley and throughout the Hindu Kush is important as a staging area for enemy fighters.  And rather than focus only on the population centers, we seem to be expending some effort on chasing the enemy.

It’s almost as if someone had previously pointed out that we need to do something like this.

Because The TSA Can’t Compete

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 11 months ago

From The Daily Caller:

Earlier this year, the Transportation Security Administration halted a program that allowed airports to privatize their screeners, citing safety concerns, but airport administrators say TSA stopped the program with little warning and without adequate justification.

The Daily Caller spoke with three Montana airports — Glacier Park International Airport, Missoula International Airport and Bert Mooney Airport — which all said they were encouraged by TSA to apply for the privatization program — known as the Screening Partnership Program (SPP). All three airports’ applications were denied in January.

One airport director even said TSA agents actively protested the airport’s attempt to privatize, going so far as to stand at gates in uniform and tell passengers they would be less safe if the airport joined the SPP.

For its part, TSA said it stopped the program because of security concerns.

“It is critical that TSA retains its ability to operate as a flexible nationwide security network,” a TSA spokesperson wrote. “TSA’s capacity to push out intelligence information to our frontline workforce and quickly change procedures based on threat and intelligence is paramount to effective security. Further expansion of privatized screening will increase the complexity of this process.”

After 9/11, TSA was created and given authority over passenger and bag screening, but airports were allowed by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act to opt out after two years and join the SPP. Sixteen airports in the US currently use privately-contracted screeners.

Cindi Martin, the director of Glacier Park International Airport, said her airport struggled with adequate staffing under TSA.

“From the beginning the airport experienced staffing cuts, such that it became difficult to process passengers and bags during our summers swells,” she said.

When a government agency or bureau can’t compete with the private sector, its reflexive tendency is to bully the private sector into submission with rules, regulations, infractions and fines.  The TSA is nothing more than a jobs program, and I have pointed out before that when we start caring about security rather than government jobs programs, there are other things we can do to minimize risk against terrorism than grope people, bully companies and airports, and spew scare propaganda.

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