Friday, February 25, 2011

The Shooting Wire On Project Gunwalker

Jim Shepherd, the publisher of The Shooting Wire, had an excellent editorial today on Project Gunwalker. He also has some updates in the Sabre Defence story. Jim brings the administration to task over the failings of ATF in the Southwest much better than I could.

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Investigations and Findings

Two weeks ago, we told you that a Valentine's Day auction was set to sell the Nashville, Tennessee company formerly known as Sabre Defence Holdings. The sale by Cadence Bank, was organized under a UCC filing after the bank called the company's line of credit.

Only days later, the story took another nasty turn as federal officials arrested Sabre's senior corporate officers, charging them with a litany of charges related to "years" of illegal international arms trafficking. At that point, Cadence saw their hoped-for cashout on Sabre drop to a best bid of only $2.3 million from Alabama's Manroy USA.

This one just keeps getting more convoluted.

Last week, Sabre filed for bankruptcy, hoping to stop the sale. Now, the Office of the U.S. Trustee for the bankruptcy has appointed Nashville attorney Michael Collins as a third-party trustee to oversee Sabre's assets.

Next week, Cadence Bank will have another day in court as they have petitioned for relief- an end to the bankruptcy. At that point, the Manroy USA sale is expected to proceed.

Yesterday, we spoke with one of the industry insiders involved with the now-aborted liquidation. What we've learned is that this story is far from over- and the ripples from Sabre's conduct over the past few years may spread "from the U.S. State Department to the British Home Office".

It has all the ingredients of a great mystery: international arms deals, shaky business conduct, an arrogant owner who thumbed his nose at government regulations, and, lest we forget, a company with a reputation for solid products that seems to have effectively been destroyed by shaky business products.

Watch this space -the Sabre Defence Holdings story is far from over.

To whom do you turn when the chief law enforcement officer of the land ignores you? That's the question being asked across the firearms industry as Attorney General Eric Holder continues to turn a blind eye to BATFE disaster increasingly being referred to as "Project Gunwalker".

As facts emerge, it appears that ATF agents actually let firearms "walk" into Mexico as part of some screwball operation designed to see where the guns turned up. The idea they would let this number of guns (some are now saying up to 2,500) "walk" into what is basically a combat zone (Mexico), is screwball enough; the truly crazy thing now the Justice Department continuing to call for crackdowns on legal gun dealers while ignoring a half-baked scheme to go investigated.

Increasingly, evidence says that murdered Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed by one of those walking firearms. And the Justice Department refuses to comment.

Fortunately, National Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea and blogger Mike Vanderboegh got onto the story early and refused to let it die - or be swept under the bureaucratic carpet.

Now, it's getting major national attention. In fact, CBS News has called it a story bigger than Ruby Ridge or Waco - not what an administration that wants to crackdown on private firearms rights wants to hear.

Now, Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa-who just so happens to be ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee - is calling for a full investigation of the ATF and Justice Department actions.

ATF and Justice have stonewalled to this point, but organizations like the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) have started calling for more than an investigation- they want the immediate firing of acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson, a new director from outside the agency, and a full and open investigation of the whole sorry mess.

And CCRKBA head Alan Gottlieb has said that, should Attorney General Holder remain reluctant to investigate ATF and "gunwalker" he, too, should be shown the door.

After roiling across the internet via discussion boards, forums and all the social media much the same way democracy has shaken up the middle east and given Colonel Khadafy and other despots fits, it looks like mainstream media -or at least CBS News - has found a hot story to ride.

Here, in the crucible where the idea of democracy was formed, it remains to be seen if our current leadership is even paying attention.

Unfortunately, the administration's idea of policing firearms is much like the old saw about the NCAA's unwillingness to punish marquee schools. "The NCAA's so angry at Kentucky," the old saw used to go, "that they've given Slippery Rock three more years of probation."

In this sad scenario, anyone who is a law-abiding gun owner is being cast as Slippery Rock.

Hopefully, Senator Grassley will stick to his proverbial guns and get to the bottom of "gunwalker" - no matter how distasteful the findings.

Should the administration not toss the old cloak of "national security" over the whole thing, we'll likely find that once again, we've set our lowered expectations not nearly low enough.

The Justice Department has already started their crab-walk away from the whole affair, saying ATF - an agency under their ultimate responsibility- would never "knowingly" allow such a thing to happen.

Unfortunately, we've become so numbed to poor conduct from our government that it's not going to be hard to predict the way the administration would like to see this play out.

If- the Senate gets its investigation, top officials will disavow any knowledge of the event - or be unable to determine who gave the ultimate permission for it to happen. A few lower-level administrators will be ceremonially tossed to the wolves in a bit of misdirection that would make a Las Vegas magician proud.

I realize that's cynical; but it has been allowed to happen innumerable times before. This time, we need to let our "elite leadership" know they're neither following nor above the law.

A housecleaning is still essential to clean up the mess, even if there is an honest investigation.

--Jim Shepherd

Reprinted with permission. Here is a link to today's Shooting Wire with the editorial.

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