Kenneth E. Melson, acting director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has “blown past” yesterday’s deadline for the delivery of key documents relating to the Project Gunrunner inquiry that was launched recently by Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
According to committee spokesman Seamus Kraft, there was no response from Melson, who has also been dodging a separate inquiry by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. National Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea is also reporting this new development here..
It looks like they’re running scared:
As this column reported yesterday, Melson’s name was also withdrawn from a roster of officials, including former Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, now the Obama administration’s Drug czar, before a subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chaired by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). That hearing, which began this morning at 10 a.m., concerns “counternarcotics and citizen security” in this country.
Sources familiar with the Issa inquiry indicated that because Melson was not forthcoming with documents requested by Issa in a March 16 letter obtained by CBS News, further steps may be taken.
Further steps? What might those be? Carnac already told you: subpoenas.
The real question is, what will be Obama’s response? I’m thinking something like this:
One thing is for sure: issuing subpoenas ought to get this guy’s attention.
We don’t yet know how far up the ladder the decision to implement Operation Gunrunner went. But if Obama defies the subpoenas that are sure to issue soon, we’ll all know that the decision to cover it up went straight to the top.
[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here. Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]
Update: Check it out, an Iphone App. I don’t have an Iphone myself, so how about telling me in the comments what you think?
I admit I only found this story moderately amusing. Having been in auto-accident-type situations which are scary at the time, but genuinely funny in hindsight (it’s a special moment when your insurance company asks you about an accident on a certain date and you have to say, “which one?”), I can appreciate that this story might be a little funny for us, but not so much for justice Scalia:
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia seemed unusually subdued at the beginning of arguments Tuesday in Wal-Mart v. Dukes, waiting until the second half-hour – page 29 of the 56-page transcript — to ask his first question of the day. He is usually dominating the discussion well before that point.
Now a possible explanation has emerged: he had been in a car accident in Virginia just over an hour earlier while driving into work. News accounts called it minor, but it must have been unsettling; it involved four cars, and Scalia’s own car was towed away, according to a Washington Post account. The accident occurred just before 9 a.m., and he was on the bench by 10.
Scalia was given a ticket for following too closely behind the car in front of him. When that car stopped, Scalia rear-ended it, pushing it ahead into a chain reaction crash that dinged the two cars ahead of it. No one was injured.
At the Court, few were surprised to hear about the episode. Scalia, who turned 75 on March 11, has a reputation for having a lead foot that activates when he is running late getting to Court from his home in suburban Virginia. A skit by Court clerks once mocked his driving habits. And colleague Justice David Souter even joked during an oral argument about Scalia’s fast driving.
And a few years ago, apparently Justice Souter made a joke about Scalia’s speeding in oral argument.
Souter wanted to explore whether a passenger in these circumstances was free to leave or was effectively seized under the Fourth Amendment. He asked the lawyer for the defendant, Byron Warnken, “Let’s assume that the bright line rule allowed nothing more than requiring the passenger to get out of the car so that if the passenger then said, ‘I’ve had enough of this, I’m leaving,’ the passenger, so far as the bright line rule is concerned, would be allowed to go. Assume that.”
Scalia interrupted to add a humorous twist to the hypothetical: “In fact, the passenger says, ‘Thank goodness. This guy was speeding. I am so glad to get out of this car. Let me catch the nearest cab and go.”
At that point, Souter could not resist this retort: “You can see what Justice Scalia’s passengers tend to feel like.” Amid laughter, Souter reformulated the hypothetical. “Assuming that Justice Scalia is the one who has been stopped and it’s his passenger who is then free to go.”
But now here, is the tangentially cool part. Go to the transcript, here. Now first just press the play button under the transcript window and watch as the computer automatically follows the text as the words are said. Then go down into the search box and search for the words “in fact, the passenger” just like that. That should bring you right to the exchange mentioned in that story. Now here’s where it gets cool. Bring your mouse over those words and click on them. If your browser works like mine, a “play” command will pop up. Now, click on it, and the audio jumps to the exact moment in the transcript.
And, you can hear the whole joking exchange, which is made more ironic in hindsight.
That is all given to the public, for free, by Oyez.org. Which is very cool. Not every transcript can do that, yet, but they seem to be working on it. Yes, I have heard of (but not interacted with) these kinds of luxuries before, but this is being offered to the public, for free.
I would be surprised if the Supreme Court ever actually puts cameras in its courtrooms, and as a rule I tend to think that is wrong. If the public has a right to see something, the cameras should, too. But this is a pretty good substitute.
And of course they also have regular audio—including downloadable mp3’s—of many oral arguments. Which is good for the aspiring lawyer, the law geek, or just the concerned citizen who wants to at least listen to the third branch in action.
[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here. Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]
I know Ben Quayle suggested Politico was the worst media outlet in history, but truthfully they break a lot of interesting stories, which puts me in a bind because I want to respect Patrick’s boycott of the site, but I often want to talk about their stories. So they had an excellent article about the briefing that Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates gave, and thus the workaround today is provided by Hot Air:
[Congressional sources] said one dynamic was very clear: The administration doesn’t much care what Congress thinks about the actions it’s taken so far.
Challenged on whether Obama overstepped his constitutional authority in attacking Libya without congressional approval, Clinton told lawmakers that White House lawyers were OK with it and that Obama has no plans to seek an endorsement from Congress, attendees told POLITICO…
“If they didn’t need congressional authorization here in these circumstances, can you tell me under what circumstances you’d ever need congressional authorization if we’re going into a war? Nobody answered [that] question,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.). “The administration and its lawyers believed they had the authority under the War Powers Act.
(emphasis added) If that claim is accurate, that means that the White House’s conduct is unreal. I am honestly not sure if they are absolutely incompetent in the law, or utterly contemptuous of it.
Let me pull that apart. First, their lawyers supposedly said that this was legal, under the War Powers Act. Seriously have they read the thing? Let me quote it to you:
The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to
(1) a declaration of war,
(2) specific statutory authorization, or
(3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.
If you are going to argue that the President can do this under his inherent powers under the Constitution, that is fine. I will disagree with you, but you are within the realm of reasoned debate. But you can’t pretend that the War Powers Act covers this—you can argue that this power is inherent in the office of Commander-in-Chief, but you can’t honestly and competently claim that the War Powers Act covers this. This isn’t a foreign language. Hell, this isn’t even lawyer-code-talk. We were not in an emergency created by an attack on the United States, its territories or its armed forces when Obama started bombing Libya. It is, simply put, a lie to say it lawful under this act.
And what the President argued the other day was that this was born out of extreme necessity:
At this point, the United States and the world faced a choice. Gaddafi declared that he would show “no mercy” to his own people. He compared them to rats, and threatened to go door to door to inflict punishment. In the past, we had seen him hang civilians in the streets, and kill over a thousand people in a single day. Now, we saw regime forces on the outskirts of the city. We knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi – a city nearly the size of Charlotte – could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.
Never mind that he also didn’t get Congress’ consent as things crept in that direction. I mean can’t he walk and chew gum at the same time? It took days to secure the UN resolution he thought was worth waiting for, but he couldn’t have also taken the same time to get a Congressional approval, too, as he waited for UN approval? But okay, let’s just say that Obama is a really poor planner. So then shouldn’t he get approval now?
Well, no, the story says. To quote them again, because I can’t get over it, it is so unreal:
Clinton told lawmakers that White House lawyers were OK with it and that Obama has no plans to seek an endorsement from Congress[.]
What the hell?!
Indeed, the contempt of Congress—meaning the sentiment, not the crime—is laced throughout the Politico piece. Normally I would just recommend reading the whole thing, but, well, we are trying to boycott them so let me pick out a few choice quotes. For one the vaunted briefing sucked:
Lawmakers said they weren’t told much by Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen or Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that they couldn’t read in the newspaper or see on television.
And you know that story about secretly sending in covert forces on a mission that is not so secret anymore? Well…
And, as if to add insult to injury, news broke during the House briefing that Obama had already signed an order authorizing covert action in support of the rebels. When asked about it after the first briefing, House members were unaware the president had taken that action….
Clinton, approached by reporters in a Capitol hallway, refused to say why the order was not discussed in the briefing[.]
Within sixty calendar days after a report is submitted or is required to be submitted pursuant to section 1543 (a)(1) of this title, whichever is earlier, the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which such report was submitted (or required to be submitted), unless the Congress
(1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces,
(2) has extended by law such sixty-day period, or
(3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States. Such sixty-day period shall be extended for not more than an additional thirty days if the President determines and certifies to the Congress in writing that unavoidable military necessity respecting the safety of United States Armed Forces requires the continued use of such armed forces in the course of bringing about a prompt removal of such forces.
That report referenced above is required to be submitted within the first 48 hours, so he can extend himself at most for 92 days, max. But that 30 day extension only applies to attacks on “the United States.” Since the provision involving the initiation of hostilities differentiates between attacks on “the United States,” and attacks on “its territories or possessions, or its armed forces” that means literally nothing less than an attack on one of the 57 50 states allows for that 30 day extension. So does the President believe that this war will be done in 60 days?
During “In the Arena,” Jon Lee Anderson, staff writer for The New Yorker reporting from Benghazi, Libya, tells Eliot Spitzer that the number of opposition fighters on the front lines are fewer than anyone would think and that they are poorly armed and badly trained. Anderson says, “Effective number of fighting men, well under 1,000. Actual soldiers, who are now in the fight, possibly in the very low hundreds on the opposition side.”
Now during the Revolution our military force was pretty pitiful, too, but usually the underdog loses. That is why we call them the underdog, and why it is an inspiring movie cliché when they win. Because they usually don’t win. So we might end up blowing another hole in our deficit, with little to show for it. Nice.
I have supported the idea of intervening from the beginning. I think McCain was right to ask for intervention when he asked for it. But if in our dithering the rebels have dwindled down to a force that cannot win, then we have to fish or cut bait. We either do a full scale invasion—which I oppose—or we shouldn’t even bother.
But just having a no-fly zone (which apparently does include blowing up some tanks—huh?), is just half-assed. It’s like the great Mr. Miyagi said:
Either you karate do “yes” or karate do “no.” You karate do “guess so,” [makes squish gesture] just like grape. Understand?
Or to put it in a more Southern way, sometimes the worst place to be is in the middle of the road.
But I had been trying to put words to my concern about how this war has been run for days, and I think I finally found the best metaphor. It’s the Underpants Gnomes theory of warfare. Of course I explain the Underpants Gnome metaphor here, but this is Obama’s theory of how to win the war:
Step 1: Enforce a No-Fly Zone
Step 2: ?
Step 3: Regime Change!
So his second step is a question mark, because he is just hoping the Rebels do something to take down Qdaffy, but he has no idea what it would be, or apparently even if they are capable of doing it, with our help. I support regime change and so on, but I am against half-assing it.
Anyway, Congress has to put its foot down. At the very least he has to be censured. That should be step one. And if Obama continues to show this contempt of the separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution, it would be impeachment time. And some would say it was overdue.
Media Matters for America is a well funded, well organized and effective truth killing machine. Here are three short films I’ve made in the past few days to expose their techniques.
Yesterday, I did a film showing how Media Matters used deceptive editing techniques on the Fox / Bill Sammon story. This story has been all over the left wing blogosphere – if you haven’t seen the original piece that MMfA did, it’s here. Gotcha journalism at its worst. Here’s my video on it.
The next video shows how Media Matters used the ‘straw man’ fallacy to attempt to discredit the piece published by Lila Rose yesterday on the Mammosham story. As I say in the video, your position on the controversial issue of abortion doesn’t really matter here – Media Matters are contemptible news twisters.
But – who cares? So Media Matters lies. You know that so why does it matter? That’s what my second video is about. It matter because they have influence on the media narrative today and through the effective use of SEO techniques, they are also writing tomorrow’s ‘history book’. Watch and see what I mean.
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