Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Slow and Infuriating

Some interesting developments in the "Fast and Furious" scandal, involving ATF and the Justice Department.

You might recall that the Justice Department under Eric Holder refused a Congressional subpoena asserting executive privilege for records about the program to allow dealers to sell guns to shady characters along the border, allegedly to be able to "track" the guns to "big fish", but in reality, to gin up support for gun control when such guns were found at crime scenes.  Bodies were the intended product. It took long enough, but a Judge rejects Obama's executive privilege claim over Fast and Furious records
A federal judge has rejected President Barack Obama's assertion of executive privilege to deny Congress access to records pertaining to Operation Fast and Furious, a gunrunning probe that allegedly allowed thousands of weapons to flow across the border into Mexico.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled Tuesday that the Justice Department's public disclosures about its response to the so-called "gun walking" controversy undercut Obama's executive privilege claim.

"There is no need to balance the need against the impact that the revelation of any record could have on candor in future executive decision making, since any harm that might flow from the public revelation of the deliberations at issue here has already been self-inflicted," Jackson wrote. "The Department itself has already publicly revealed the sum and substance of the very material it is now seeking to withhold. Since any harm that would flow from the disclosures sought here would be merely incremental, the records must be produced."
So, maybe we'll find out how high in the Obama administration the desire for those bodies went.

And speaking of "big fish" and those guns being used in crimes, (and they were, including the murder of U.S Border Patrol agent Brian Terry), one of those guns, a big 50 caliber helicopter hunting rifle, turned up in the hand of none other than Mexico's premier drug lord: ‘Fast & Furious’ rifle capable of taking down helicopter found in 'El Chapo' cache
A .50-caliber rifle found at Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman’s hideout in Mexico was funneled through the gun-smuggling investigation known as Fast and Furious, sources confirmed Tuesday to Fox News.

A .50-caliber is a massive rifle that can stop a car or, as it was intended, take down a helicopter.

After the raid on Jan. 8 in the city of Los Mochis that killed five of his men and wounded one Mexican marine, officials found a number of weapons inside the house where Guzman was staying, including the rifle, officials said.

When agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives checked serial numbers of the eight weapons found in his possession, they found one of the two .50-caliber weapons traced back to the ATF program, sources said.
 and taking down helicopters is precisely what 'El Chapo' intended.
Federal law enforcement sources told Fox News that ‘El Chapo’ would put his guardsmen on hilltops to be on guard for Mexican police helicopters that would fly through valleys conducting raids. The sole purpose of the guardsmen would be to shoot down those helicopters, sources said.
And while this isn't strictly "fast and furious" it's gun control related, and highly amusing. A number of journalists (or journolisters?) fell for a proposed law to register journalists, modeled on a hand gun registration law: How many journos actually fell into the reporter-registration trap?
Yesterday, a proposal by South Carolina state representative Mike Pitts floated the idea of requiring journalists to register with the state to ensure a responsible approach to the First Amendment. As someone who has more than a passing familiarity with Second Amendment activism, the “South Carolina Responsible Journalism Registry Law” was immediately recognizable as a provocation to the media over its reporting on gun control demands. Unfortunately, a number of journalists showed themselves to be woefully unfamiliar with the gun-rights argument about regulating the First Amendment to match the way gun-control advocates want to regulate the Second Amendment, as could be seen in numerous tweets.

Washington Post reporter Callum Borchers unfortunately took his outrage to print … without actually doing enough due diligence to ask Pitts exactly what he had in mind:
My visceral reaction isn’t printable but can be summarized thusly: This is a naked attack on the First Amendment — you know, the one that says “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.” I realize we’re talking about a state legislature here, not Congress, but we’re also talking about one of the nation’s founding principles.
That aside, this kind of law would be completely unworkable. Look, there’s plenty of media garbage out there, but everyone has a different definition of what garbage is. Does anyone want a bunch of self-interested government officials setting the standard?
We register surgeons and pilots and teachers and people in many, many other professions. You can make a coherent case that journalism is a very important profession too, but there’s a reason why journalists have reputations, instead of licenses. They have a fundamental American right to share information, and their audiences have a right to decide whether to believe it or dismiss it. By contrast, no one is entitled to remove brain tumors, fly airplanes or teach third-graders.
There’s also a practical problem: How on Earth would South Carolina’s secretary of state, charged with maintaining the registry, do its job here, anyway? Journalists can’t even define who is a journalist anymore, what with all the bloggers and tweeters posting the kind of information and opinion that used to come only from a highly institutionalized press. Good luck to Pitts when it comes to crafting a legal definition of journalism.
Come to think of it, that’s really the great folly here. What Pitts is proposing isn’t just wrong; it simply can’t be done. There’s no stopping people from spreading the news in a digital society — certainly not with some outdated idea for a registry.
This, as I noted last night, is what is called falling into the trap. National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke springs it:

Which is how the proposal was intended. . .

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