Morning Links

Friday, June 29th, 2012
Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark

44 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  David | 

    The Fortune story looked like a prime example of the principle that when you run with a single person’s account of some controversial event, you’ll get a story that makes him look like a saint and everybody else look like an asshole. Good to know that’s still the case.

  2. #2 |  DarkEFang | 

    Together, the Fortune article and Pavlich rebuttal prove, once again, that we probably shouldn’t assign sinister motives to things that could be easily explained by incompetence.

  3. #3 |  UCrawford | 

    I’m going to say that since Fortune Magazine is part of CNN, they’re probably lying while Katie Pavlich is probably telling the truth. For the last few years, CNN has been blatantly quashing stories that criticize key Obama administration policy positions. It was a couple of months before they posted any articles on the Climategate story…they simply acted as if the story didn’t exist. They just posted that LZ Granderson piece criticizing the American public for being “too nosy” about Fast & Furious. They’re essentially Obama’s version of Pravda…that’s partly why their ratings are in the crapper. They don’t have much credibility with the viewing public anymore and their product is weak.

  4. #4 |  UCrawford | 

    And I should caveat that by saying that I used to love CNN, even with their liberal bias. They used to do a great job of covering stories. But they’re just a mess. I gave up on them once they started doing iReports, which were basically just blogs posted by anonymous readers with absolutely no quality control for accuracy or relevance. I love sites with reader-driven content generally, but it was just a sloppy, half-assed product. You still have to set standards for what you publish and do some level of editing. They might as well have just posted the comments pages from their articles in that section because that’s the level of discourse it provided. To me that was pretty typical of the direction CNN overall has gone.

  5. #5 |  StrongStyleFiction | 

    The amount of spin on both sides of this Fast and Furious thing is ridiculous. On one hand we have the left like Rachel Maddow and Bill Maher who is absolutely denying that anything wrong occurred and this is all a political witch hunt by the Republicans. Then with the other hand we have the right spinning this into a conspiracy about Obama destroying the second amendment. This is why most Americans hate politics and have absolutely no faith in any news media anymore.

    I almost positive that this whole thing is political for Republicans, everything is political to both parties. But I also think that Eric Holder should be held in contempt.

    What we have is a CBS report investigating the possibility that an agent was killed with a weapon that may or may not have come to the Mexican drug cartels via the ATF. Even if everything Fortune magazine printed was true, it was Congress’ duty to investigate this to the fullest. Isn’t that we have a three branch government? Something about checks and balances?

    For their investigation Congress asked Holder about this operation and for documents related to it and Holder lied to them, telling them that Fast and Furious did not exist. Then he comes back and says they do exist, and then refuses to hand over the documents necessary to Congress’ investigation. Why the hell shouldn’t he be held in contempt? Shouldn’t their be some severe repercussions for lying to a Congressional committee or obstructing their investigation?

    Here’s the thing that struck me about the Fortune article. The author says in the article that they went through either hundreds or thousands of documents provided to them by the ATF. Are these documents that have been provided to Congress, or are these the documents that Holder’s DOJ denying Congress? The DOJ sure did offer this reporter a lot of information while claiming the need for absolute secrecy to Congress. This isn’t new for the Obama administration. They leak info that makes Obama look good and claim state secrets with everything else. The Fortune article just seemed a little off to me.

    Christ, I’m starting to sound like Alex Jones now.

  6. #6 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “Ronald Thompson gets a new trial in Florida. He was sentenced to the state’s mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison for firing two warning shots into the ground.”

    That must be one of those podunk plantation counties in Florida where
    the prisons outnumber the colleges 20 to 1.
    [Checks map].
    Yep.

  7. #7 |  Waste | 

    The Fortune story is an attempt at a whitewash. At a minimum, even AG Holder has admitted that BATFE allowed weapons to cross the border into the hands of drug dealers. They’ve also admitted they did not inform the Mexican government (unlike in Wide Receiver) and they made no effort to actually track the guns. According to Sec of State Clinton the BATFE did not request nor receive a State Dept waiver that they are legally required to. They allowed about 2000 firearms AND 2000 grenades (everyone seems to forget about the grenades) to cross the border. Each weapon crossing the border is a felony comitted by BATFE. That’s about 4000 felonies. You could also add criminal charges for the 300+ murders those weapons were used in plus charges from Mexico for violations of their laws. AG Holder has said that they are ‘investigating’. So after more than a year we not only have no indictments, we don’t even have a suspect yet. As all the suspects are part of the BATFE the DoJ doesn’t even need to get subpoenas. All the documents they need are internal to their own organization. Even if we take AG Holder at his word he is saying that after a year they have not been able to identify a suspect even with all the evidence being in their hands prior to the start of the investigation. He can file suit against an AZ law he hasn’t even read a few weeks after it has passed but he can’t find who is responsible for a couple thousand felonies that have resulted in a couple hundred deaths in his own organization?

    The firearms are fairly easy to trace because of the serial numbers. However the grenades that crossed don’t have them. So how many more deaths are or will be associated with this that we will not know about?

  8. #8 |  Chuchundra | 

    The Town Hall article doesn’t seem like much of a rebuttal to me.

    In the Fortune/CNN article Voth claims that federal prosecutors told him he did not have a legal justification to make arrests or seize weapons. I doubt very much that he had the authority to tell gun dealers not to sell weapons to people legally entitled to purchase them.

    After examining one suspect’s garbage, agents learned he was on food stamps yet had plunked down more than $300,000 for 476 firearms in six months. Voth asked if the ATF could arrest him for fraudulently accepting public assistance when he was spending such huge sums. Prosecutor Hurley said no. In another instance, a young jobless suspect paid more than $10,000 for a 50-caliber tripod-mounted sniper rifle. According to Voth, Hurley told the agents they lacked proof that he hadn’t bought the gun for himself.

  9. #9 |  Michael Chaney | 

    There’s little, if any, debate about F&F. It is what the right wingers say it is. The Fortune article is embarrassing.

    Note this report in CBS:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-31727_162-57338546-10391695/documents-atf-used-fast-and-furious-to-make-the-case-for-gun-regulations/

    From the article:
    ATF officials didn’t intend to publicly disclose their own role in letting Mexican cartels obtain the weapons, but emails show they discussed using the sales, including sales encouraged by ATF, to justify a new gun regulation called “Demand Letter 3″. That would require some U.S. gun shops to report the sale of multiple rifles or “long guns.”

    I’m sure it was just a coincidence [eye roll] that Democrats began talking about all the violence in Mexico caused by guns from America and claiming that we need stricter gun laws:

    http://articles.cnn.com/2011-06-14/us/mexico.guns_1_mexican-drug-drug-cartels-drug-gangs?_s=PM:US

    I’m not sure why this is even considered a “controversy”. If it really were what Fortune claims then President 1% and his lackey wouldn’t be trying to hide documents from Congress. This isn’t rocket science. If they had nothing to hide they would not only turn documents over to Congress they would post them on the web to embarrass the Republicans.

    And note that the ATF quite well can make arrests in straw-buyer scenarios. That the gun dealers were emailing them about this makes it obvious that everybody knew what was happening.

  10. #10 |  Guidonet | 

    So the rebuttal is from someone with a book to sell on fast and furious. That seems legit. And maybe i’m biased, but anytime i see Michelle Malkin chime in saying how shocking it is, i tend to believe it’s crap.

    And let’s be clear about what documents Issa is asking for. They aren’t holding him in contempt for the fast and furious case documents, they want the internal e-mails detailing the internal discussions over the initial letter holder sent to congress claiming they didn’t know anything about it. I don’t really see the point in that. Is the goal to prove that law enforcement is incompetent or that it does the bidding of whomever is in the white house? Tell us something we don’t already know.

    I just don’t see what comes of this other than political points. If they actually gave a crap about any of this, they would be suggesting ways to change these processes and improve accountability. This is a witch hunt (whether it’s legit or not).

  11. #11 |  Chris in AL | 

    If there is nothing to F&F why the executive privilege cover up? I mean, if you have nothing to hide…

  12. #12 |  celticdragonchick | 

    The report seemed convincing until I read Katie Pavlich’s rebuttal, which points to ATF emails that seem to directly refute some of the Fortune report’s key findings. So I have no idea what to think.

    Looks everybody else pretty much hit what I was going to say, so to sum up:

    1. There are incompetent people in the DOJ

    2. There are unscrupulous congressmen who will use items from 1. to make unsustainable arguments for personal political gain.

  13. #13 |  cdg | 

    Maybe we could ask Ravlich under what authority ATF should have blocked these purchases? Is it or isn’t it true that in Arizona, someone can legally purchase a huge quantity of guns and simply hand it over to anyone they wish unless you can prove the buyer knew the recipient intended criminal activity?

    How can the NRA be against this alleged gun walking and against requiring gun dealers to report bulk gun purchases along the border (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/04/us/04guns.html) or the creation/use of a database of gun transactions that might assist tracking these guns without manual operations like Fast and Furious?

    What about the 1000s of people in Mexico who have died due to guns purchased in the US that weren’t being tracked by the ATF? What do Issa and the NRA propose to do about that?

  14. #14 |  Guidonet | 

    I look at it like this. At my work, my boss and I routinely have discussions about the problems with my company. We are blunt about where the problems lie and say some not so nice things about others. Unfortunately, we still have to work with these people and we have no ability to fire them. But if our discussions were written down, it would do no good to send those to the people we were talking about as it would just make things harder to get done. Not to mention how it makes the political climate in the office go to hell. I can’t imagine how anyone could do their job if everything they said amongst themselves was broadcast to the world. I’m all for transparency, but there is some limits to that if you want to actually get work done in a large organization.

    Now i’m not saying there isn’t something nefarious going on, but using exec privilege doesn’t prove anything as none of us are mind readers. So it’s entirely possible they are doing something bad, but you, nor i, have any proof of that.

    Another thing that bugs me about this townhall article is the other piece they link to about Voth. So let’s assume the Fortune article has the e-mails it detail’s about the back and forth within the ATF group running this. We are to believe that the guy who routinely is a smart ass in e-mails to his boss is the truth teller and Voth is the bad guy. I don’t know which one is true, but in my experience, the guy who doesn’t think he has to answer to his own boss for anything is usually the problem. If i talked to my boss like that i would have been fired, or at the very least put on a plan to drive me out (corporate america is just like unions when it comes to firing people).

  15. #15 |  Chris in AL | 

    @Guidonet

    Your ‘company’ analogy falls just short of the situation it represents. Yes, if you had records of discussions about employees that were problematic it would not be a good idea to just share those with the employees.

    However, if those employees screwed up, and people were dead as a result of that screw up, and then the board of directors of the company asked for your records of those discussions, you should provide them. Refusing to do so implicates you. You are refusing to provide the information to the people to whom you are accountable.

  16. #16 |  Mike T | 

    Is the goal to prove that law enforcement is incompetent or that it does the bidding of whomever is in the white house? Tell us something we don’t already know.

    Compare and contrast the parameters of the Bush program with the Obama variant. Unless the BATFE suffered a collective brain fart in only a few years, the operational parameters were changed for political reasons. I am not defending Bush here because I don’t support his efforts on this either. I am merely pointing out that an agency doesn’t execute such a complicated program fairly successfully and then repeat it with such amateurish controls without a reason. This would be like the US Air Force suddenly losing the ability to launch precision strikes rather than having to use carpet bombings of entire cities to take out a few terrorists.

  17. #17 |  Chris Mallory | 

    Here is the first of an 8 part time line of what happened in F&F by one of the “right wing” bloggers who broke the story.

    https://www.examiner.com/article/a-journalist-s-guide-to-project-gunwalker-part-one

    Here is a CBS (not a “right wing” source) story from December 2011, about ATF attempts to use F&F as a way to push gun control measures.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-31727_162-57338546-10391695/documents-atf-used-fast-and-furious-to-make-the-case-for-gun-regulations/

    What part of “shall not be infringed” is so damn hard to understand. Every gun law now on the books is unconstitutional.

  18. #18 |  Guidonet | 

    Maybe that’s where i’m confused. My understanding is the documents about the investigation were handed over, it’s the internal documents relating to the letter that are in question. To be honest, i can’t find an article that clearly lays that out. But if it is just the documents relating to the letter, what does that have to do with the death of the border agent that happened prior to that letter?

    And cdg brings up an excellent point. The Townhall rebuttal doesn’t refute that the ATF may have had no grounds to arrest anyone. Just like any police agency, they still have to get sign off on a warrant (well we hope anyway). Considering how much time this blog spends detailing misconduct with DA’s and Judges, i find it shocking that they didn’t agree to just give them a warrant for whatever they wanted and have the guys arrested. So if Fortune is to be believed, what exactly should the ATF have done assuming they couldn’t get sign-off from the DA? This could have been a completely different scandal if they had gone after the straw buyers. Really seems like a no-win for anyone. Well except for the politicians.

  19. #19 |  johnl | 

    You don’t need to read or agree with the Townhall article to see that CNN relied heavily on one source for the bulk of its story.

  20. #20 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Didn’t Archer have a j/k about talking urinal cakes? Something about somebody making a fortune by inventing talking urinal cakes or something like that?

    at all events, I recommend Archer for the funniness and smartness of it. My wife doesn’t like it because of the casual cruelty, but I find it cartoonish enuf 2 take.

    “Its Gotta Be Burgers” (TM)

  21. #21 |  Bergman | 

    Well of COURSE he’s worried about the lack of mens rea now. He’s a former prosecutor, which means he no longer has absolute immunity in the courts. He could be caught without ill intent now and sent up the river!

  22. #22 |  Bergman | 

    Re: Chris in AL, #11:

    Obama has a proven record of covering things up. Even when the covered-up evidence would exonerate him of the accusation. The whole birth certificate mess for example.

    He claims to be the most transparent president, but the only transparent thing about him or his administration are the lies.

  23. #23 |  crazybob | 

    I hope I don’t ever run across one of them talking urinal cakes when I’m stoned.

  24. #24 |  Jack Slate | 

    RE: Headline of the Day.

    Not Even Close To This One:

    http://dailycaller.com/2012/06/28/lawsuits-claim-kim-kardashian-is-al-qaida-operative-made-sex-tape-with-unicorn

  25. #25 |  celticdragonchick | 

    So if Fortune is to be believed, what exactly should the ATF have done assuming they couldn’t get sign-off from the DA? This could have been a completely different scandal if they had gone after the straw buyers. Really seems like a no-win for anyone. Well except for the politicians.

    Yep. The problem really seems to be with the Federal prosecuter end of the affair rather then the ATF…which is a bit of a shock for me. I despise the ATF right up their with the best of them, but if they cannot get approval to make an arrest and seize property…what the fuck are they expected to do?

    As for the claim of exec privilege, Issa is transparently fishing for anything he can get and refused a DOJ offer to allow the committee to examine the documents in closed session (many requested documents have classified sources and undercover officers etc).

    Issa wants the controversy and the publicity. This isn’t about the actual investigation at all. It’s all games on our dime.

  26. #26 |  celticdragonchick | 

    there…not their. I need more sleep.

  27. #27 |  crazybob | 

    One only needs read the tone and screech of Katie Pavlich’s “rebuttal”. To know what to think. In general the facts she can present are consistent with the fortune story. Her ‘rebuttal’ really hinges on the claim she repeatedly made that the gun dealers were “ordered” to sell guns to the traffickers. She presents no evidence of the claim, and so her whole case falls apart.

  28. #28 |  crazybob | 

    What part of “shall not be infringed” is so damn hard to understand.

    What part of “well-regulated militia” is so damn hard to understand?

  29. #29 |  Sandhillpam | 

    “That must be one of those podunk plantation counties in Florida where
    the prisons outnumber the colleges 20 to 1.”

    Doesn’t have to be – unless Jacksonville is also a podunk – 20 yrs for damaging drywall, and she had a restraining order!

    http://www.facebook.com/JusticeForMarissaAlexander

  30. #30 |  StrongStyleFiction | 

    @#18

    “My understanding is the documents about the investigation were handed over, it’s the internal documents relating to the letter that are in question. To be honest, i can’t find an article that clearly lays that out.”

    That’s one of the problems with this whole thing. We keep getting everyone’s opinions on the scandal or lack thereof and no facts from these mainstream “news” sources. Just an endless amount of spin from both sides.

    “So if Fortune is to be believed, what exactly should the ATF have done assuming they couldn’t get sign-off from the DA? This could have been a completely different scandal if they had gone after the straw buyers. Really seems like a no-win for anyone. Well except for the politicians.”

    The ATF blamed “prosecutors and weak laws.” The weak laws bit is interesting as it plays into the right wing’s anti-gun conspiracy theory. This isn’t the only investigation that the DoJ under Obama has really screwed up with incompetence of the law and system. Check out Tech Dirt’s series of posts on Kim Dotcom’s case. They sent a warrant for his arrest and extradition without even putting what claws he is suspected of on it. They handed Australia a warrant for nothing. Them screwing the pooch on this is entirely consistent with the DoJ and ATF’s history.

    Personally, I think this whole operation blew up in their faces and Holder and the Obama administration tried to salvage the whole thing by shifting the blame to prosecutors and weak laws and turn this into a gun control issue until the elections. I’m not saying there was an intentional conspiracy. Just this whole thing went sideways on them and the politicians are trying to save their asses. The Republicans smell blood in the water so they attack with their trademark viciousness.

    What’s really messing with me right now is that I can’t read an article on CNN.com and take it at their word. That’s mainstream news for you.

  31. #31 |  StrongStyleFiction | 

    Eek…That should read “what laws he is suspected of breaking on it.”

  32. #32 |  Mike T | 

    Yep. The problem really seems to be with the Federal prosecuter end of the affair rather then the ATF…which is a bit of a shock for me. I despise the ATF right up their with the best of them, but if they cannot get approval to make an arrest and seize property…what the fuck are they expected to do?

    A US Attorney would typically not sign off on something like this only if they thought the special agents were breaking the law or had an unprovable case. When federal agencies put together stings, they don’t do let a handful of agents just run off and do their own thing. Something on the scope of Fast and Furious generally requires very high signing authority to execute. The sort of authority that can compel cooperation from the rest of the system unless there is a reason not to give it.

  33. #33 |  Aresen | 

    In Michigan: Talking urinal cakes warn you not to drink and drive.

    If a urinal cake spoke to me, I’d be checking with the bartender to find out just what he put in my drink.

  34. #34 |  Deoxy | 

    Maybe we could ask Ravlich under what authority ATF should have blocked these purchases?

    It’s illegal for a gun shop to sell to a “straw purchaser”. That is, it’s ALREADY illegal – existing law.

    What happened in these cases was that the stores identified a likely straw purchase, but the ATF told them to sell anyway.

    That is, the ATF TOLD the stores to violate EXISTING law.

    So yeah, the whole “weak law” thing and “lacking authority” thing is a complete joke.

    Just going by what Holder has admitted to Congress (much of it recanting earlier testimony to Congress… that is, he has definitely committed perjury), this is horrendous, no conspiracy theories or political BS required.

    Of course, YES, DUH!, there is politics involved. That’s a given. The motives of the group doing the prosecuting do not change the underlying facts, for or against – even if Issa is motivated ENTIRELY by politics and he doesn’t care if it’s true or not, he’s a scumbag politician, but that doesn’t change that Holder, etc, are accessory-to-murder scumbag politicians.

    Oh, and one more thing about the Forbes article:

    The Mexican government has estimated that 2,000 weapons are smuggled daily from the U.S. into Mexico.

    Yeah, 700,000+ a year. Sure. And I have ocean-front property on the Sun to sell you.

    The “2000″ claim is approximately how many weapons were trafficked as part of this program TOTAL, not how many per day. Hard to take an article seriously with that kind of stupidity as the lead.

  35. #35 |  Chris Mallory | 

    #26&27
    Well, the dealers made notes of their conversations with the ATF thugs where the ATF thugs did order them to make the sales. They would not have sold the weapons without ATF thug approval.

    “A well regulated milita,” is a nominative absolute. A nominative absolute is a noun phrase that contains a participle and begins or ends a sentence. A nominative absolute phrase has, “diagrammatically” speaking, no connection to, nor impact upon, the rest of the sentence. The rest of the sentence is an independent clause. It in no way limits “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms…”.

  36. #36 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @27 – That the thing’s one sentence, mayhaps?

  37. #37 |  StrangeOne | 

    I don’t see the controversy. The US government has always sold weapons to dangerous fringe groups. Hell that’s like what half of the CIA does. They sell weapons to some asshole and then the political class can get all high and mighty about getting rid of him two or three decades later.

    Is there anything substantial different from Fast & Furious, that isn’t true of CIA action in Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan in the 60′s and 70′s? Is it really better or worse than Iran-Contra? No one suffered consequences for these other activities. Why would we expect anyone in Washington to suddenly catch accountability fever?

    America selling weapons to their “enemies” is the political equivalent of getting your hand caught in the cookie jar. I mean sure its bad, and everyone’s gonna be real mad that you got caught, but no ones really getting punished.

  38. #38 |  supercat | 

    #34 | Chris Mallory | “A nominative absolute phrase has, “diagrammatically” speaking, no connection to, nor impact upon, the rest of the sentence.”

    The function of the ‘well-regulated militia’ language is to make clear that the “arms” it to which it refers are not just “hunting or sporting weapons”, but rather any and all such artifacts which would be reasonably suitable for use as arms in a well-functioning citizen army. All free persons have the right to keep and bear such artifacts in such manner as they see fit.

  39. #39 |  Windy | 

    @ #27 crazybob, In the days that was written, “well regulated” meant “well equipped” and the militia was every armed person.

  40. #40 |  William Anderson | 

    Gee, this is the same Larry Thompson who gave us the infamous “Thompson Memo” that threatened to destroy any corporation that might have the effrontery to help pay for the defense of employees that were being investigated by the feds. This is the same Larry Thompson who was responsible for the destruction of Arthur Andersen, which meant that U.S. businesses had to scramble for other accounting firms, which really had serious economic consequences.

    In the end, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the destruction of Andersen really was not necessary, but that was after the fact. Thompson was on a crusade and if throwing innocent people in jail, abusing power, and destroying companies was part of the mix, well, that was just “progress.”

    To see him now essentially claiming to be against those things that defined his tenure as Deputy Attorney General is just sickening. If the man had a conscience, he would be begging forgiveness from a lot of people he needlessly destroyed.

  41. #41 |  Other Sean | 

    Even if the most damning version of this scandal is true down to the last detail, it’s still only a minor crime by ATF and US Attorney General standards.

    These guys are among the world’s leading fabricators of prison rape and ruined lives, and we’re supposed to get excited because they’ve been caught letting some guns cross the border into Mexico.

    That’d be like charging Jeffrey Dahmer, not with murder, but with the crime of impersonating a shochet.

  42. #42 |  Burgers Allday | 

    @ #27 crazybob, In the days that was written, “well regulated” meant “well equipped” and the militia was every armed person.

    which would mean that the right to bear arms cannot be infringed unless and until the idea of everybody having a gun has become unnecessary for the security a free state.

    Houston, we have a problem.

  43. #43 |  Chris Mallory | 

    #42
    That idea will never come to pass. Armed citizens are the only defense of a free state.

  44. #44 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @38 – Not outside the militia. Which has the requirement of being well regulated.

    @43 – Funny, no, that gets blood in the street. The revolutions which have occurred have been largely violence-free. The reality is, if people in America rise up then the Army will HAVE to see them as an armed enemy and act according. It’s a system for crushing dissent.

Leave a Reply