For months, the right-wing media has been desperately trying to tie the ATF's failed Fast and Furious operation to the upper reaches of the Justice Department and the White House, claiming that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder must have known the flawed techniques used by the ATF despite their denials.
The right-wing media claimed that the stimulus funded the operation; that wasn't true. They claimed that Attorney General Holder "took credit" for Fast and Furious in a speech; that wasn't true either. They've even claimed, absent any evidence whatsoever, that the Obama administration deliberately set up the operation to arm Mexican drug cartels in order to justify increased gun control.
But in an appearance today on Fox News, Michael Sullivan, acting director of the ATF under President Bush, pushed back against such claims, saying that Operation Fast and Furious was "well within the rights of the director [of ATF] to approve or reject," and that he would be "surprised" to learn that "authorities outside the ATF" would have known the details of a specific firearms trafficking operation.
KELLY WRIGHT (ANCHOR): The President says he knew nothing about the operation, but the Justice Department has been slow in responding. Do you think this will lead all the way to the White House being involved?
SULLIVAN: I would be surprised. From our experience at ATF, firearms trafficking cases were fairly routine in terms of the nature and scope of the investigations. They didn't require authorities outside of ATF, and for the purpose of initiating it. Could folks have been briefed up, considering the violence in Mexico and the violence on the border, about the strategy, that's clearly possible. But the project itself was well within the rights of the director to essentially approve or to reject.
Washington Times columnist, Fox News regular, and National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent is no stranger to violent rhetoric. But today's column seems to sets a new standard for depraved bloodthirst.
Nugent notes that the war in Afghanistan has cost the lives of more than 1,500 American soldiers, along with hundreds of billions of dollars. He comments than "Americans should demand to know specifically what we got for the lives and treasure." That seems like a reasonable statement... until Nugent lays out those specifics.
Nugent wants a "voodoo-vermin body count." He wants to know not only how many "voodoo terror maggots our military has killed," but also wants estimates for how many the military has "wounded and maimed," how many "caves and tents used to provide refuge for terror punks have been destroyed" and how many of their goats we have killed.
He goes on to write:
We can go to Recovery.gov to see how "every cent" of our tax dollars has been spent on reigniting the economy and how many jobs have been created. Why can't we go to a website such as Wipethemofftheplanet.org and see how many voodoo whack jobs our warriors have killed and wounded every day and how many in total we have caused to assume cave temperature and wounded?
I want to see a voodoo-vermin body-count digital board updated in real time much like the debt clock.
The real reason Americans aren't told how many voodoo vermin our military have killed and wounded is that it would not be politically correct. The current crop of Fedzillacrats running America probably believe that those statistics would offend other terrorists and cause them to get even angrier at America. Good.
We should want to make other terrorists and those who support them filled with rage. We should want the enemy to hate us, call us the Great Satan. No, we can't all just get along.
In July, Nugent's publicist denied a Media Matters request for an interview after seeing a list of our questions, which focused on his violent and extreme rhetoric. The publicist told us they wanted to maintain a focus on Nugent's "music and not political statements."
That's a smart PR strategy, but it won't end the questions about Nugent's violent rhetoric or the complicity of the right-wing media and the NRA who provide a forum for his extremism.
Last summer, Minuteman Project co-founder Jim Gilchrist appeared on CNN's Larry King Live to defend Arizona's notorious immigration crackdown law, SB 1070.
The law requires that local and state police officers check the immigration status of any individual they encounter in the course of their law enforcement duties who the officer reasonably suspects to be an immigrant in the country illegally.
Pressed by CNN host Larry King to explain what sort of criteria officers might legitimately use, Gilchrist said, "Responding to an officer, 'No hablo English, Gringo go back to Europe.' Obviously there's an issue there that probably the person may be illegal and perhaps the officer should pursue that."
King identified Gilchrist as the founder and president of the Minuteman Project. That's half-true. Gilchrist is co-founder of the Minuteman Project, the nativist group that popularized the concept of placing armed but untrained civilian volunteers on the U.S.-Mexico border to discourage immigrants from entering the country illegally. But he's not been the group's president since February 2007 when the Minuteman Project board of directors fired Gilchrist for allegedly stealing donations.
Gilchrist promptly launched a new organization called Jim Gilchrist's Minuteman Project, which is little more than a website promoting Gilchrist.
Long after he was being drummed out of the civilian border patrol movement he played a major role in creating and despite repeated revelations of the white supremacist ties of his followers, including murderer Shawna Forde, Gilchrist continued to be invited to speak at universities and appear on major cable news shows. He's been treated by the media as a legitimate authority on immigration issues and often misidentified as the current president of the Minuteman Project.
Last campaign season, Gilchrist further raised his profile by endorsing and stumping for at least ten Republican state and national candidates who sought his help in burnishing their tough-on-immigration credentials. Through all this, Gilchrist has continued to deny that he misappropriated funds. On the issue of white supremacists involving themselves in the movement he played a major role in creating, however, Gilchrist expresses regret.
"Racial supremacists have been a thorn in my side from day one," he told me earlier this year. "They existed in the Minuteman movement, but they had no legitimate reason for being there, because they do nothing to promote equal treatment under the law for all, which after all was our main goal."
"I've said it before, and I'll say it again, that I am very, very disappointed and saddened at the outcome of the Minuteman Project and the citizen border watch movement," Gilchrist said. "All these different organizations and groups just started calling themselves Minuteman this or Minuteman that and unfortunately it turned out that some of the people involved in them had sinister intentions."
|From Trace The Guns|
The National Rifle Association's (NRA) favorite talking point is that we need to "enforce gun laws on books already before passing more." This sentiment was echoed by Pennsylvania blogger Sebastian at the gun blog Snow Flakes In Hell recently as he dismissed efforts to improve gun laws that combat gun trafficking.
Sebastian has been a featured guest on the National Rifle Association's (NRA) media outlets so it's not surprising to see he is blind to the role the gun lobby has played in making gun laws largely unenforceable.
Sebastian takes issue with the below segment in a The Times of Trenton column by Brady Campaign vice president Daniel Vice:
But our country's weak gun laws allow traffickers and killers to stockpile guns in states with weaker laws and smuggle them into our communities. In New Jersey, strong laws make it so much harder for criminals to get firearms that guns flood in from states with weak gun laws at a rate seven times higher than the number of crime guns trafficked out of the state.
Responding, Sebastian writes:
That's funny, because in the country I live in this practice is a felony. So I would like to understand how our "weak guns laws" are allowing criminals to "stockpile guns" in states with "weaker laws." In all 50 states, it's a felony for criminals to have a single gun or round of ammunition, let alone stockpile them. I'm afraid the weak laws they are speaking of are laws which allow them to be sold at all. One reason firearms are trafficked into New Jersey is that New Jersey only has a relatively small number of FFLs compared to most other states. There are few legal channels in the Garden State, so criminals do what the law abiding can't, go out of state.
Regardless of how New Jersey compares to other States there are lots of Federal Firearms Licensees in New Jersey. Further, there is no reason to assume the gun traffickers Vice mentions are necessarily previously convicted criminals unable to legally obtain firearms.
But to answer the question of how weak gun laws facilitate trafficking is pretty straight forward: the gun lobby kneecaps enforcement efforts at every possible opportunity.
Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) leader William Gheen has frequently presented himself as a moderate within the American nativist movement since founding ALIPAC in 2005.
Last May, for example, Gheen yanked ALIPAC's backing of a major rally for Arizona's notorious immigration crackdown law, S.B. 1070, after learning that one of its organizers was linked to racist skinhead groups.
Such anti-extremist posturing has lent Gheen mainstream media credibility. He's been quoted often, nearly two dozen times by mainstream papers in the last six months, according to a Nexis search. Even The New York Times included his comments in a story on border security published August 9.
Earlier this week, however, Gheen appeared to relinquish his mainstream legitimacy in favor of predicting race war and endorsing violence in response to the immigration policies of "Dictator Barack Obama."
As first reported by Right Wing Watch, Gheen argued on the air that the Obama administration is preparing for "conflict with White America" by allowing millions of non-white immigrants into the U.S. to "back them up."
Gheen advocated for "illegal and violent" actions in response.
GHEEN: What Janet Napolitano has spent most of her time doing in the last couple of months has been, one, preparing the new spy network that's available now, the new data-collecting, see everything you do online, beyond the normal terrorist list that they're creating, they're creating a much larger list now of people who might be troublesome here in the country. And putting out videos and propaganda telegraphing what I believe to be a conflict with White America they're preparing for after they get another 10 or 15 million people in the country to back them up.
We're no longer referring to him as President Barack Obama, our national organization has made the decision and made the announcement we now refer to him as Dictator Barack Obama. That's what he is. And basically at this point, if you're looking for a peaceful, political recourse there really isn't one that we can think of, and I'm really not sure what to tell people out there other than I guess they need to make decisions soon to just accept whatever comes next or some type of extra-political activities that I can't really even talk about because they're all illegal and violent.
The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that while open expressions of racial radicalism are new for Gheen, the ALIPAC leader is "no stranger to more more garden-variety bigotry and fear-mongering":
He has accused Mexican immigrants of carrying infectious diseases and plotting to take over the Southwest. In April 2010, he targeted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), claiming that the 56-year-old bachelor is gay and saying he should come out to avoid being blackmailed into working with Democrats on immigration reform. In July 2010, Gheen told revisionist "historian" David Barton that LGBT people secretly want to import undocumented immigrants as a way of "replacing many core Americans and American values," part of an overall "war" against Americans.
Behind Chuck Norris' beard, there is only another fist. Behind his latest column are a variety of National Rifle Association (NRA) myths about gun trafficking between the United States and Mexico and the Obama administration's latest attempt to curb that problem.
Norris is a fervent supporter of the (NRA), cutting ads and serving as honorary chairman of their voter registration efforts in 2010. So it's no surprise that he devotes much of his column to echoing claims recently offered by his friend and the executive vice president of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre.
Norris' piece is filled with absurd hyperbole. He declares that President Obama is "trying to eliminate our Second Amendment rights" and "restricting the right to bear arms, "which he says "primarily ties the hands of good guys." Norris also accuses Obama of trying to "demonize good, law-abiding American gun dealers."
Norris' argument makes no sense at all, unless the goal is to enrage gun owners rather than inform them; the rule Norris is attacking will not prevent a single American from purchasing a gun. All it does is require gun dealers in the Southwest border states to inform the ATF when the same person purchases two or more certain types of rifles - including AK-variant assault weapons - in a five-day span. They can still buy as many of the guns as they want as quickly as existing law allows; gun dealers will just have to inform law enforcement, helping them establish patterns that can help detect trafficking.
Norris goes on to push LaPierre's claim that the Obama administration is disingenuous in trying to "disarm cartels with a form." But according to ATF agent and Fast and Furious whistleblower Peter Forcelli, whom the NRA has previously cited as an expert on tactics, these reports would be a "huge tool" for the ATF, providing them with an investigative tool that could help them crack down on gun traffickers who buy these weapons in large numbers and then turn around and sell them to Mexican drug cartels.
Norris goes on to claim:
The facts are, as Wayne LaPierre points out, that cartels get their machine guns, grenades, missile launchers and tanks from Central and South America, Russia, China, international black markets and defections from the Mexican army. State Department cables, released by WikiLeaks, support those facts.
But the same cables show that while the cartels get their heavy arms (arms not generally available to U.S. civilians) from other countries, their handguns and many assault rifles come to Mexico through the U.S.
The former Walker, Texas Ranger even takes time to promote the NRA's lawsuit seeking to bar the enforcement of the rule, calling its implementation "just one more example of the feds exceeding their powers and averting congressional permission." In fact, such "congressional permission" exists, through the Gun Control Act of 1968, which requires licensed firearms dealers to submit such records as the Attorney General "may specify." According to the ATF, "courts had upheld similar regulations in the past -- including the rule requiring reports about bulk handgun sales."
Perhaps Norris should spend more time pushing the Earth down, and less time spouting NRA talking points.
From the August 18 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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"Grab your gun and get a drink and go drink in Virginia" does not sound like wise advice but that's how Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade is interpreting the latest news about Virginia's law allowing concealed guns to be brought into bars.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch recently collected data showing that crime at bars and restaurants is down slightly in the last 12 months. They reported this decline in relation to a recently passed Virginia law allowing concealed carry permit holders to bring guns into alcohol-serving businesses.
The simplistic view that Kilmeade is apparently endorsing is a highly flawed approach to understanding the dangers of guns in bars. Reached for comment David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and the Youth Violence Prevention Center, explained that simply counting crimes doesn't get at the issue:
Guns don't cause violence, but they make it much more likely for violence--for fights, assaults, or robberies--to turn lethal. Few crimes are committed with guns, but guns can quickly escalate the problem
Further, it's impossible to determine if a trend exists or find correlation to a change in policy by looking at only one data point, in this case the number of crimes committed in bars and restaurants during one year.
Stanford Law Professor and economist John Donohue has written a series of research papers on right to carry laws and he told Media Matters that it's too early to jump to conclusions:
It is very hard to tease out the effect of a law from the many factors that influence crime, but it is impossible with just one year of incomplete data.
From the August 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the August 12 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Last month, we documented how right-wing media used the Norway terrorist attack to push for more lenient gun laws. They're at it again, now using the riots in the United Kingdom as their hook.
Today, Andrew Breitbart's Big Government published a blog post by AWR Hawkins headlined "If We Let the Government Take Our Guns, We'll Have To Run and Hide Like Londoners." Hawkins claimed that "because England banned the private ownership of handguns the "criminals are confident the citizenry is thoroughly unarmed" and are "going into homes and business ... taking whatever they want." They then attempt to strike fear into readers by suggesting "if we ever let the government take our guns, it won't be long till we'll be scrambling under tables like Londoners."
He punctuated that post with this picture, although it's unclear if this is supposed to be a picture of the rioters or those running in fear because they don't have guns:
Not to be outdone, Fox News soon got into the act.
On Friday, America's Newsroom hosted National Rifle Association (NRA) executive vice president Wayne LaPierre to discuss an NRA lawsuit that challenges a rule requiring gun dealers along the southwest border to report purchases of two or more rifles, like AK-47s. LaPierre only spoke briefly about the lawsuit and instead used most his appearance to push the myth that America is not a significant source of firearms for Mexican cartels.
The facts on U.S. guns going to Mexico are straight forward. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' (ATF) has seized more 10,000 firearms and more then 1.1. million rounds of ammunition headed to the southwest border since 2006. On the Mexican side of the border, 20,504 or 70 percent of the total firearms seized and submitted for tracing in the last two years were from the United States. Undeterred by the facts LaPierre continues to push the idea that U.S. guns play a minimal role in arming Mexican cartels.
LaPierre began by suggesting that State Department cables, released by Wikileaks, support his theory:
LAPIERRE: Everyone now admits the drug cartels in Mexico are getting their guns from Russia, China, defections from the Mexican army, the international black market and largely through Central America. The Wikileaks cables from our own State Department prove that. They went to Congress [Crosstalk]
ALISYN CAMEROTA: So are you saying that no semiautomatic guns from the U.S. and from the southwest border are falling into the hands of Mexican criminals?
LAPIERRE: There may be a small time operator coming in, trying to break the law, they ought to be prosecuted. But our own State Department cables say the Mexican drug cartels are not getting their guns from the U.S., they're getting from Central America. They're not getting them from the U.S. dealers.
Richard Andrew Poplawski was convinced in early 2009 that America was secretly controlled by a Jewish cabal that was moving fast to eradicate free speech and use the military to enslave the American people. Naturally, federal agents and law enforcement officers would first have to seize all privately owned firearms, he believed.
According to the Anti-Defamation League Alex Jones' website Infowars.com was among Poplawski's "favorite" venues for conspriracy theories:
One of Poplawski's favorite places for such conspiracy theories was the Web site of the right-wing conspiracy radio talk show host Alex Jones. Poplawski visited the site, Infowars, frequently, shared links to it with others, and sometimes even posted to it. One of his frustrations with the site, though, was that it didn't focus enough on the nefarious roles played by Jews in all these conspiracies. "For being such huge players in the endgame," he observed in a March 29, 2009 posting to Infowars, "too many 'infowarriors' are surprisingly unfamiliar with the Zionists." Another time he was more hopeful, noting that "racial awareness is on the rise among the young white population." *
Less than a week later, Poplawski ambushed and shot to death three Pittsburgh police officers who responded to a domestic disturbance call at his residence.
One might think that such a tragic outcome would give Alex Jones pause before he started another round of promoting his wild-eyed theories about the U.S. government coming to take our guns.
Alas, Jones is up to his old tricks. A "bunch of Hitlers," he says, are running the country, and they're just itching to douse us with Ebola and nerve gas.
In an August 1, 2011, video posted on PrisonPlanet.com, Alex Jones states:
I have confirmed through two Texas gun dealers and through someone in my office that when you buy two rifles, and by the way it's in this letter, or two handguns, revolver or pistol, that you get an ATF or FBI visit to your house. And they demand to come in your home and see your guns without a warrant. It's a chilling effect, it's intimidation, just like in Nazi Germany.
The system does not want armed citizens, they want to set a precedent. And as our country goes into designed banker depression, as we implode, they are coming after our guns.
The system is having the police and military start a fight where they know gun-owning constitutionalists are not going to along with it. They are going to start responding as things degenerate. And they are going to be called terrorists. The system, the social engineers, are sending the ATF and the Feds on a collision course with law abiding patriotic Americans so they can kick off a civil war in America.
Addressing a rally in April 2011, white nationalist lawyer William Johnson lamented the media scrutiny he drew with his recent failed campaign for a judgeship in California.
|White nationalist lawyer William Johnson at San Juan Capistrano rally
"Ron Paul endorsed me for Superior Court judge, and I was on my way," Johnson said. "No sooner than I'd put my hat in the ring than ... it came out that Johnson is a white nationalist, that Johnson wants to create a separate white ethno-state, that Johnson supports the 14 words of [white power domestic terrorist] David Lane, that 'We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children,' and the media went wild with all of that, and Ron Paul withdrew his endorsement of me...because he did not believe in a separate white ethno-state and he didn't know that I did."
A white ethno-state? The 14 words?
Johnson sounded like he was at a neo-Nazi conference, as in 1986 when he addressed the Aryan Nations World Congress. But the banner hanging over the stage was not a Swastika flag. It read: "Tax Day Tea Party."
The April 16 rally in San Juan Capistrano, California, corresponded with more than 100 Tea Party rallies scheduled across the country for that Saturday. It was promoted on the website of Tea Party.org, also known as 1776 Tea Party, one of six well-established Tea Party umbrella groups. Its true organizers, however, were from American Third Position, or A3P, a white nationalist political party founded by racist skinheads. A3P did not respond to repeated inquiries for this article. Neither did 1776 Tea Party.
Since April 2010, A3P members have organized, co-sponsored or freely distributed literature at no fewer than 10 Tea Party rallies in six states, including Augusta, Georgia; Harrison, Arkansas; Baton Rogue, Louisiana and throughout California, where A3P was founded in May 2009 by Freedom 14, a racist skinhead crew seeking to establish a more respectable-seeming political front group.
Although it would be unfair to characterize the Tea Party movement on the whole as white nationalist, it's clear that large gatherings of angry, conservative, predominately white Americans are viewed with relish by groups like A3P.
"The Tea Parties are fertile ground for our activists," said A3P Pennsylvania Chairman Steve Smith. "Tea Party supporters and the A3P share much common ground with regard to our political agendas."
Yesterday Naser Abdo was arrested for what local Police Chief Dennis Baldwin suggested was likely a terror plot against soldiers at Fort Hood. Abdo's alleged actions highlight the threat of lone wolf and suicide militia attacks using conventional weapons such as the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
Abdo's shopping list suggests he was likely planning a combination of shooting and bombing somewhat like the recent Norway attack. Since 2009, Al Qaeda has increasingly encouraged terrorists to ditch complicated hijacking and bombing plots instead use easily obtainable firearms and explosives.
The National Counterterrorism Center's 2009 report on terrorism noted, that Mumbai style attacks have been on the up swing around the globe:
Most attacks in 2009 were perpetrated by terrorists applying conventional fighting methods such as armed attacks, bombings, and kidnappings. Drawing on the lessons learned from the Mumbai attack in 2008, Sunni extremist elements used suicidal militia style attacks in numerous large scale attacks in 2009.
Last month Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn instructed would be terrorists in the United States to visit gun shows where they can bypass the usual background check for individuals buying a gun. Being on the terrorist watch list doesn't disqualify individuals from purchasing a gun and at gun shows private sellers can bypass conventional background checks.
Fortunately Abdo's suspicious behavior led vigilant Fort Hood area gun store clerk Greg Ebert to contact the police. Unfortunately not every gun seller has shown the responsibility that Ebert displayed, some of the worst have even been caught selling to buyers that said they couldn't pass a background check.