UK's London also gets in on it...
There's been a bust at the 2010 Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show and Conference (SHOT Show). The FBI has arrested 21 "executives and employees of military and law enforcement products companies" for bribery of foreign officials.
From the Las Vegas Sun:
As part of the undercover operation, the defendants allegedly agreed to pay a 20 percent commission to a sales agent who the defendants believed represented the minister of defense in order to win a portion of a $15 million deal to outfit the country's presidential guard.
In reality, the sales agent was an undercover FBI agent.
And why the mass arrests here and now?
"It just happened that we had the opportunity to bring them all together at one time at one place," Kevin Perkins, assistant director of the FBI's criminal division said.
Just happened? A correspondent who is there tells me "Our own DOJ just kneecapped our security industry."
It's too early to assess what is going on there beyond the information we have at hand, but here's my initial reaction: We've seen apparent efforts to directed at gun shows. Now we're seeing one directed by high levels in the Justice Department at the trade show of the year. Will the NRA Annual Meeting be the next convenient "opportunity"?
We're dealing with a federal law enforcement establishment that hasn't exactly earned the trust of gun owners over the years, and one that appreciates the benefits of high profile media coverage. And it's not like there isn't renewed administration emphasis on international arms trade treaties.
So forgive me if I think all these elements converging bear a bit of cynical questioning, and to wonder if similar spectacular efforts will soon be unfolding with other industries--and if not, why not?
Those of you following his column know Charlotte Gun Rights Examiner Paul Valone is giving us reports from the SHOT Show. If he has any further light to shed, I'll let you know. And this just in as I'm typing, from Seattle Gun Rights Examiner Dave Workman:
I'm here as well, trying to dig out some details.
Stay tuned. And in the mean time, this link will give you Google News updates.
SHOT Show bust leaves more questions than answers
January 22, 11:19 AMGun Rights Examiner
We talked yesterday about the Department of Justice using the occasion of the 2010 Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show and Conference (SHOT Show) to arrest 21 law enforcement products company employees for attempted bribery of a foreign official, along with conspiracy and money laundering charges. It was a sting employing undercover FBI agents posing as a sales agents.
We also discussed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), looking at some of the highlights of what it is and what it covers.
Unfortunately, the story seems to have had its day in the sun--for the immediate present. The most recent update from a Google News search is from two days ago. As we've seen time and again here, it's not exactly like the "Authorized Journalists" have a great track record of bringing us unbiased and complete information regarding matters of concern to gun owners. And so far, the SHOT Show and National Shooting Sports Foundation websites are silent on the matter, as is NRA.
So we're left with questions and very few answers, and it's likely to remain that way until something breaks loose--possibly a statement from lawyers for the defendants.
We can ask why we have an FCPA in the first place--their own guide admits:
Following the passage of the FCPA, the Congress became concerned that American companies were operating at a disadvantage compared to foreign companies who routinely paid bribes and, in some countries, were permitted to deduct the cost of such bribes as business expenses on their taxes.
Yeah, no kidding. But the Carter administration, which signed the original act in 1977, and later the Clinton administration which signed onto a supplemental international convention in 1998, were not exactly known for making "America First" the centerpiece of their foreign or economic policies.
We can ask why, according to the DoJ press release, this industry was targeted for "the largest single investigation and prosecution against individuals in the history of DOJ’s enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act," and why, at a time when the nation's limited resources are needed to secure the Republic from real enemies:
In connection with these indictments, approximately 150 FBI agents executed 14 search warrants in locations across the country...Additionally, the United Kingdom’s City of London Police executed seven search warrants in connection with their own investigations into companies involved in the foreign bribery conduct that formed the basis for the indictments.
We can ask if grandstanding and getting headlines plays into any of that.
We can ask where ATF is on this, and if their absence is indicative of continued noncooperation and friction between their agency and the FBI.
We can ask how this is likely to boost the career of the guy ramrodding the operation, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, an Obama pick who gained notice on the national stage helping represent Bill Clinton during his impeachment.
And we can ask if there is any dot-connecting to do in terms of the administration's renewed push to ratify the global Arms Trade Treaty.
We can also ask questions about the sales policies and practices of the companies involved. The saying "it's not about guns, it's about freedom" is true. I confess I have a hard time working up sympathy for those who deal with some of these regimes, which are the same ones the international gun grabbers believe in empowering. As I asked recently (with tongue in cheek) on WarOnGuns, who better to trust with a monopoly on arms than African governments?
We can ask all of these things, but just don't expect to see the questions answered. For now, barring new disclosures, all we can do is speculate.
And we can reflect on the truth of words attributed to Lenin, of all people, that capitalists will sell the rope by which they will be hanged. Perhaps, as we learn more, the appropriate industry response to the feds will be for suppliers to commit to the same type of response Mr. Barrett gave the state of California.
What are costs of SHOT Show sting?
January 23, 11:54 AMGun Rights Examiner
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Lanny A. Breuer/DOJWe've talked about the SHOT Show bust here, here and here.
John Haughey of Outdoor Life quotes yours truly and brings us additional insights, including this observation:
[T]he agency apparently spent $2.1 million per arrest during this 30-month investigation, according to "JoeT" on northeastshooters.com:
"Let's see, at $75,000 a year, it's $6,250 a month per agent," he calculates. "$6250 x 30 months = $187,500 per agent. $187,500 x 250 agents = $46,875,000 to arrest 22 people."
Voila! That's $46.875 million of your tax money to arrest 22 people, or more than $2.1 million each.
And we haven't even broached the subjects of prosecutions and beyond...
Obviously these are only speculative estimates. But what do you think the chances are the government will be forthcoming with actual costs?
Hey, it gets Lanny Breuer's name in the papers, it must be worth every dime. No?
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