Archive for the ‘ATF’ Category
Tear Gas Is A Banned Chemical Weapon, But US Lobbying Made It Okay For Domestic Use… And, Boy, Do We Use It
The Washington Post has a detailed look at how it’s being used in Ferguson, and how the police there seem to think it’s perfectly safe:
Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson has defended the use of tear gas. “There are complaints about the response from some people,” he said, “but to me, nobody got hurt seriously, and I’m happy about that.”
But another report highlights that the negative health effects of tear gas are severely underestimated by law enforcement groups who use it. In an interview with Vox.com, Sven-Eric Jordt, a scientist who studies tear gas, warns that law enforcement has become too complacent with this narrative that tear gas is a harmless way of dispersing crowds:
I frankly think that we don’t know much about the long-term effects, especially in civilian exposure with kids or elderly or people in the street who might have some kind of lung disease already. There’s very few follow-up studies. These are very active chemicals that can cause quite significant injury, so I’m concerned about the increased use of these agents.
I’m very concerned that, as use has increased, tear gas has been normalized. The attitude now is like, this is safe and we can use it as much as we want.
Even as it’s been banned for use in war. Something seems… very, very wrong with this situation.
A federal judge ordered President Obama’s team to hand over some documents pertaining to Operation Fast and Furious and to provide a list of withheld documents.
Once House Republicans see the list of withheld documents, they will have a chance to challenge the withholding of particular documents.
“This Administration has been so intent on hiding the contents of these documents that it allowed Attorney General Holder to be held in contempt instead of just turning them over to Congress,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) said of the ruling. “The privilege log will bring us closer to finding out why the Justice Department hid behind false denials in the wake of reckless conduct that contributed to the violent deaths of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and countless Mexican citizens.”
Holder was held in contempt in 2012 after he refused to produce 1,300 pages of documents subpoenaed by Issa’s committee. Obama said that the documents were shielded from congressional review by executive privilege.
“How can the president assert executive privilege if there was no White House involvement?” Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) said at the time. “How can the president exert executive privilege over documents he’s supposedly never seen? Is something very big being hidden to go to this extreme?”
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson “signaled that under the ruling she would devise, DOJ would have to persuade her on each document as to why she should allow Holder to withhold it from Congress” when she heard the case in May, according to Breitbart’s Ken Klukowski.
In response to a lawsuit filed by government watchdog Judicial Watch, a federal court rejected legal arguments by the Obama administration and ordered the Justice Department to release certain information about “Fast and Furious” documents it is withholding from Congress and the public. Analysts and lawmakers have long argued that Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, the latter of whom is still in criminal contempt of Congress, are trying to cover-up details in the deadly “Fast and Furious” scandal, which saw the Obama administration put thousands of weapons into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. The latest order could finally shed some light on what the executive branch is trying to hide.
Under the order, issued last month by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Department of Justice is required to produce a so-called “Vaughn index” of all documents and materials sought by Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The non-profit organization asked for all documents on Fast and Furious being withheld from Congress by the administration under claims of “executive privilege.” While the actual materials will not be released, DOJ will have to provide a detailed listing of all documents it is withholding by October 1, along with information on why the material is not being made available to the public or congressional investigators.
The Justice Department fought hard to block Judicial Watch’s demands, seeking an indefinite delay until the House of Representative’s lawsuit against the administration for the same information was resolved by the courts. The administration has also been battling Congress in an effort to stonewall congressional investigations. In the end, though, the U.S. District Court for D.C. rejected the DOJ’s implausible claims that releasing the information in the Vaughn index would somehow upset “the delicate balance of powers” between Congress and the executive branch.
In fact, the judge noted that Congress and the executive branch, by passing FOIA in 1966, had intended to create the balance that now exists. “To the extent DOJ argues that the mere production of the Vaughn index — not involving the release of any documents in dispute — would alter the historical balance of powers between the branches, any unbalancing would result from FOIA itself, a law passed by Congress and signed into law by the President, and which this Court cannot ignore forever,” said the July 18 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge John Bates announced last week by Judicial Watch.
Technological innovation and circumventing gun control legislation leaves only one path toward control guns: ammunition control. The New York SAFE Act has already begun to move in that direction. By restricting ammunition sales, registering it, requiring a license, or raising prices, states might effectively enact gun control by controlling ammunition. After all, what good is a firearm without the bullets?
Restriction of ammunition supply is already happening. Ammunition prices have already spiked in recent years, as have gun sales, leading to dramatic shortages every gun owner notices when browsing at the store. Ammo stockpiling from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other agencies like the U.S. Post Office is not reducing the demand, either. The AFT has already moved in this direction by banning some surplus ammunition imports from Russia.
By definition, polymers, or even metal, cannot be 3D printed into gun powder. The components of gun powder are easily subject to regulations, and 3D printers don’t produce granulated powder. In other words, home production of ammunition would require workarounds and technological innovations which do not yet exist.
People should oppose gun control restrictions and registration requirements, but we shouldn’t let these turn our eyes from the existential threat of ammunition control. If ammunition printing ever becomes as cheap and effective as printing firearms parts currently is, then we can all rest assured that the right to keep and bear arms will never again be as infringed as it is today. Until that day comes, ammunition controls may be the most effective form of gun control.
Two federal judges have ruled that widely used sting operations designed to ensnare suspects with the promise of a huge payday for robbing an imaginary drug stash house are so “outrageous” that they are also unconstitutional. One judge said the charges were so unfair that he threw them out after three suspects already pleaded guilty.
Each of the men admitted to charges that would put them in prison for seven years or more. But instead of sending them there, U.S. District Court Judge Manuel Real declared that federal agents had “created the fictitious crime from whole cloth” and that their conduct was unconstitutional. Then he dismissed the charges and ordered that all three be set free.
Real’s unusual decision this month is the latest and most pointed indication yet of a growing backlash against undercover operations that have become a central part of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ efforts to target violent crime. Until now, federal courts have largely signed off on the practice, if not always enthusiastically. As the stings proliferate across the United States, an increasing number of judges are offering new resistance to the government’s tactics.
A 2010 Pentagon directive on military support to civilian authorities details what critics say is a troubling policy that envisions the Obama administration’s potential use of military force against Americans.
The directive contains noncontroversial provisions on support to civilian fire and emergency services, special events and the domestic use of the Army Corps of Engineers.
If we were living in normal times, the following scandals and failures — without going into foreign policy — would have ruined a presidency to the point of reducing it to Nixon, Bush, or Truman poll ratings.
Think of the following: the Fast and Furious scandal, the VA mess, the tapping of the communications of the Associated Press reporters, the NSA monitoring, Benghazi in all of its manifestations, the serial lies about Obamacare, the failed stimuli, the chronic zero interest/print money policies, the serial high unemployment, the borrowing of $7 trillion to no stimulatory effect, the spiraling national debt, the customary violations of the Hatch Act by Obama cabinet officials, the alter ego/fake identity of EPA head Lisa Jackson, the sudden departure of Hilda Solis after receiving union freebies, the mendacity of Kathleen Sebelius, the strange atmospherics surrounding the Petraeus resignation, the customary presidential neglect of enforcing the laws from immigration statutes to his own health care rules, the presidential divisiveness (“punish our enemies,” “you didn’t build that,” Trayvon as the son that Obama never had, etc.), and on and on.
So why is there not much public reaction or media investigatory outrage?
In one sense there is: an iconic, landmark president was ushered into office with a supermajority in the Senate and a solidly Democratic House, at a time the public felt angry over the Iraq war and the 2008 financial meltdown. Six years later, Obama’s poll ratings bottomed out at about 43%. He lost the House in 2010, and he probably will see the Senate gone in 2014. But that said, amid such failure Obama will never descend to 30% approval ratings, and that again bring to mind the question: why?
Because everyone has this fear of being labeled racist due to the fact that the first Black president has failed so brilliantly. And I am appalled that no one, on either side of the Congressional aisle has the guts to raise the spectre of impeachment. Or are we just too afraid of having Joltin’ Joe Biden as our interim president. I’m tired of our representatives sitting square on their thumbs while my country goes to pot.
The Justice Department is updating a report on how many guns the federal government has.
It will be the first time Justice has addressed the topic in six years, and it comes as conservative and libertarian complaints about an excessively gun-happy government have intensified.
The issue was central to the recent controversy generated by a stand-off between right-wing rancher Cliven Bundy and agents from the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada.
Bundy and his supporters argued an armed federal government threatened too much force in a dispute over grazing and public lands. But critics of Bundy worry that the decision by federal and local officials to back off in response to armed resistance by Bundy and his supporters could embolden self-styled militia groups.
The Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) will undertake this year’s report. It will begin surveying federal agencies about how many of their agents carry guns and have the authority to make arrests in July, according to the author of the 2008 version Brian Reaves.
It is not clear when the data will be finalized, though the final release could take until early 2015.