Author Archives: Hognose

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

The Case of the Purloined Pistols

ATF BadgeOne of the best polymer pistols is the Smith & Wesson M&P series, which show that old dogs really do learn new tricks. Smith was slow to respond to the threat of the Glock to its bread-and-butter police business; its first responses were halting screwups, followed immediately by the Sigma debacle1. But with the M&P they finally got it right. And it’s a common pistol among concealed carriers and in the holsters of cops nationwide.

Like most high-quality pistols, it doesn’t turn up in criminal hands all that often, and when it does, it’s usually a stolen example. ATF exhorts local cops to submit recovered guns for tracing (.pdf); even when the chain of possession is broken by a theft or lack or record, they can trace the gun from manufacturer or importer to point of initial sale and initial buyer’s ID, and even if that’s a dead trail, they can learn some facts and make some useful analytical inferences2.

File Photo showing a S&W 9mm serial number location

File Photo showing a S&W 9mm serial number location — not the recovered gun or any of the fraud guns.

So in February, 2012, when Plainfield, Connecticut, police seized a Smith & Wesson 9mm from an owner that could not produce a Connecticut “permit to purchase,”3 they entered the details into ATF’s eTrace system. The ATF’s National Tracing System contacted the manufacturer of the firearm, Smith & Wesson, to get a very surprising reply: “We never manufactured that pistol!”4

Sure enough, Smith’s records did not record the serial number at all. But the acquisition and dispositions records of a Smith supplier, Tri-Town Plastics, of Deep River, Connecticut, did.

They showed the serial number as manufactured, and scrapped, in March, 2011. Yet it was sitting in an evidence locker in Connecticut, mute testimony that the Tri-Town books were not right.

Tri-Town had had a fraught record with ATF’s Industry Operations. After a 2009 inspection, they had been given a punchlist of deficiencies to correct and improvements that the inspectors suggested. Whether the company took action or not is not clear. What is clear is that in preparation for the company’s next inspection, in 2011, Tri-Town employees found a dagger pointed at the heart of the company:

23 missing frames, or as the ATF would see it, 23 missing firearms. 

One or two missing frames is alarming, but it may be an inventory problem. A couple of dozen missing frames is another matter entirely. The employees realized that having the ATF find 23 firearms missing could be a company-killer; Tri-Town had become dependent on Smith & Wesson work for three-quarters of its revenue. For which work, it had to maintain a clean Manufacturer’s Federal Firearms License.

Whether the workers thought beyond the license implications is not clear. Whether one or both of them knew the disposition of the “scrapped” frames is unknown. Who is the criminal, still at large, that diverted at least one and possibly 23 modern handguns from lawful, regulated commerce into the black market is a mystery at this time. But even if the two workers had been entirely on the up-and-up to this point, what they (the two workers) did next was indubitably a crime: they falsified Tri-Town’s A&D records, recording the 23 missing frames as scrapped. (Crime 1). They did not report the lost inventory to the ATF (Crime 2). And they — as far as the legal case made clear — apparently did not report the case to their superior, Tri-Town General Manager Robert Brinkerhoff.

As a result, the ATF’s 2011 inspection observed the loss of parts to scrap, and didn’t note the inventory discrepancy — on the papers the ATF inspectors saw, it didn’t exist. They had no way of knowing the papers were fraudulent.

ATF didn’t come back to Tri-Town until the 2012 trace on the phantom 9mm. When they did, one of the two employees who falsified the records confessed to Brinkerhoff what he had done. What happened next was a fresh crime: Brinkerhoff did not report the lost frames and falsified records to the ATF, either.

What happened next is unclear, but in June, 2012, some four or five months after learning of the loss and deception, Brinkerhoff finally reported the loss of the 23 firearms. This five month delay was extremely costly for Brinkerhoff. In addition, the report he filed did not notify ATF that the firearms had been previously recorded as scrapped, a material omission.

Brinkerhoff must have been well-represented; in the end, he was initially charged with several felonies times 23 missing firearms, but ultimately was able to plead guilty to two misdemeanors: failing to file a theft/loss report and making false statements in a theft/loss report, one count each. He was sentenced to a year of probation, and as a condition of his probation the judge imposed 90 days’ nonparticipation in any firearms business.

To day, Brinkerhoff is the only individual charged in this interesting case, and the Plainfield pistol is believed to be the only one of the up-to-23 phantom Smiths that are “out there somewhere” to be recovered. The other serial numbers have been noted in the ATF Suspect Gun Database and NCIS, and the investigation continues.

We may speculate as to why the two Tri-Town workers who falsified the original records have not been prosecuted, but only the investigators know.

One wonders if the Brinkerhoff case and the fact that Tri-Town Plastics was then on the bubble (at best) for retaining its FFL was a factor in SWHC’s 2014 acquisition of Tri-Town, which is now “Deep River Plastics, a Smith & Wesson Company.” Not only was Tri-Town completely dependent on SWHC (75% of its business went to the Massachusetts firm), but SWHC was completely dependent on Tri-Town for M&P frames and other parts.

Notes

  1. Then-head of Smith & Wesson Steve Melvin famously directed his engineers to “Copy the mother******!“, and they dutifully did, producing the Sigma. Glock unsurprisingly sued, and unsurprisingly won. Melvin, who knew little about firearms, is also the guy who brought the company near death with a dope-deal with the Clinton Administration to enforce anti-gun “laws” Clinton couldn’t get through Congress.
  2. “Time-to-crime” is a useful one, although it should probably be called “time-to-recovery” as many traces are not associated with a particular crime. Average times to recovery are pretty long, five or seven years, as few guns break right out of the legit market into the black market early. Short times to recovery are indicative of diversion or trafficking.
  3. Connecticut, where police and politicians tend to oppose private gun ownership, does not register guns, except for so-called “assault weapons.” Instead, it achieves the same end another way: it registers owners.
  4. ATF did not tell Plainfield this, by the way. ATF does not share trace data as widely as it might, as a matter of policy; while some ATF agents and inspectors blame this on “the Republicans in Congress” or “the Tiahrt Amendment,” ATF’s Ross Arends has admitted this is not the case, and that the decision is driven by concern about exposing u/c investigations.

These are the ATF press releases related to this case:

 

 

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have bleach

Charles Cortright Mugshot“Things that one ought not to do” is a very long list, and one most of us don’t dwell on overmuch, because it would never occur to us to do something like this:

Charles S. Cortright III, 46, now of Westbrook, pleaded guilty to domestic violence assault with a dangerous weapon (the bleach), reckless conduct and two counts each of assault and criminal mischief.

He was sentenced to three years in jail, with all but 160 days suspended, and two years’ probation and was fined $600.

At the time of the offense, police said they went on March 11, 2013 to Pine View Estates on Capitol Street in Augusta, where they found a [60-year-old] woman doused with bleach as well as a 56-year-old man who apparently had been punched by Cortright.

How did she let him do it? He pretended to be a cop, and she opened the door to him.

They said Cortright and the woman had argued earlier that night and then Cortright left. When he returned shortly afterward, he knocked on the woman’s apartment door and identified himself as a police officer in order to get her to open it so he could heave bleach into her face, police said.

via Westbrook man pleads guilty in bleach attack – The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

You gotta wonder what Charles S. Cortrights Numbers I and II would think of this.

He’s already out, on receipt of sentence, because he had spent the entire sentence in pretrial confinement already, unable to make bail. A condition of his release is that he receive mental health counseling or treatment. They should also make him do without whiter whites and brighter colors.

Some guys just can’t be trusted with a bottle of Clorox.

Prison for Official’s Stolen Valor — and Stolen Money

Open wide!

Open wide!

Not a small amount of money, neither. One of the guys in charge of managing veterans’ claims in Maryland is now going to be doing whatever the rules of the jug have him doing for a year and a day in Club Fed. After that he has two hours of Federal beady-eye observation.

Chief U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced U.S. Army veteran David Clark, age 68, of Hydes, Maryland, the former Deputy Chief of Veterans Claims in the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, today to a year and a day in prison followed by two years of supervised release for extortion in connection with a scheme to fraudulently obtain over $1.4 million in veterans benefits. Chief Judge Blake also entered an order that Clark forfeit $1,406,774 and pay restitution of $1,284,399.

So what did he do?

According to his plea agreement, while serving as deputy chief of claims, Clark fraudulently obtained VA compensation for himself and at least 17 others, by submitting false documents to the VA purporting to show that the claimants had been diagnosed with diabetes, and in some cases that the claimanst had served in Vietnam when they had not. The claimants paid Clark half of the retroactive lump sum payment they received in cash, or some other amount of cash. These payments to Clark were made in unmarked envelopes at MDVA offices in Bel Air, Maryland; the Fallon Federal Building in Baltimore; and other locations.

So, he was a legit war vet who leeched off some money? Well, not exactly. Here’s the exact mechanics of his scheme:

In support of these claims, Clark submitted fake letters from doctors purportedly treating the veterans, which falsely stated that the claimants suffered from Type II diabetes. Clark used the names and addresses of real doctors who were unaware of his conduct. Each letter stated that the diagnosis of Type II diabetes had been made a year or more prior to the date of the letter, which entitled each claimant to a retroactive lump-sum payment. The letters also stated that the claimants were currently taking insulin, which increased the amount of compensation the VA paid the claimant.

Clark created counterfeit versions of a Defense Department form for himself and five others, which falsely stated that each had served in Vietnam. These forms also falsely stated that these individuals had received various awards and decorations for the Vietnam service, including that Clark himself had been awarded the Purple Heart Medal. These documents were submitted to the VA to provide false evidence that they qualified for compensation benefits for diabetes.

via Former Maryland Veterans Affairs Official Sentenced To Prison For Fraudulently Obtaining Over $1.4 Million In Benefits.

Emphasis, obviously, ours.

Despicable.

The guy was a veteran, but not a Vietnam or combat vet. There’s nothing wrong with being a veteran — as long as that’s all you say.

When we wonder about VA red tape, one thing we have to take into account is the sheer volume of regulatory burden that’s imposed when reacting to cases like this. And yet, Clark got away with it for years. Well, until now.

Some thanks are owed to SAC Kim Lampkins of the Department of Veterans Affairs OIG, whose agents investigated Clark, and AUSA Leo Wise, who prosecuted the case. We’ve all seen Stolen Valor go unpunished when cops and prosecutors couldn’t be bothered; we suppose the difference was the sheer magnitude of Clark’s rip-off, but whatever the reason, thanks to the LE and legal staff who worked on this one.

Clark didn’t even make profits that justified his crime and his disgrace. The number sounds big, but because the racket ran so long it really only brought him a few thousand dollars a year. One’s integrity shouldn’t be for sale for any price, but that’s a cheaper than cheap betrayal of our vets.

Make the Tools to Make Bullet Jackets

John at NYC CNC shows you how to do it in this video playlist at You Tube.

Here’s the first of the series, so you can see what it’s all about:

If you let it play, it should play the whole list, but our You-Tube-fu is not strong.

John says:

 

Having been a long time shooter and reloader, I am undertaking my next project for my new Emco V13 lathe: Making Copper Bullet Jackets. The process steps are to blank a copper coin out of a strip of copper, cup it, then draw it in to progressively longer and thinner-walled shapes. The goal in this project is to end up with a 9MM jacket which will be about 0.6″ long and 0.352″ in diameter. That jacket can then be used in a swaging system (e.g. Corbin) and combined with a lead slug to make an actual bullet!

As he suggests, this doesn’t get you all the way there, but takes you far enough that fairly common reloading tools (the Corbin bullet swaging set-up) take you the rest of the way.  Corbin makes a bullet-jacket-drawing press set for .45 and .224, but not for 9mm.

The process John displays here is the identical process that large bullet manufacturers like Remington, ATK and Sierra use — theirs is just automated. Moreover, the same process that he uses here to swage bullets from copper sheet are used with brass to make cartridge cases.  (You just leave a thicker base for fashioning a primer cup and a rim).

Perhaps this will answer some of you preppers who fear that the loss of availability of commercially made cartridges mean an end to shooting. (You don’t even need electricity, although it surely helps. But in the early days of cartridge arms, lathes were powered by treadles, or water wheels.

Perhaps this will also give pause to some of the bansters who think they can disarm the public — for that is their aim, not the disarmament of criminals, who, like the poor, have always been, and will always be, with us — by banning ammunition.

For example, the late and unlamented Ted Kennedy, the intellectual runt of a Hitler-admiring anti-semitic bootlegger’s litter, saw an ammo ban as a backdoor gun ban:

Back in 1974, Kennedy knew that banning ammunition would have the same practical effect as banning guns. On the floor of the Senate, Kennedy said that the “manufacture and sale of handguns should be terminated” and that “existing handguns should be acquired by states.” And toward that end, he urged passage of his amendment to “require the registration of every civilian-owned handgun in America,” to “establish and maintain a nationwide system to license every American who owns a handgun,” and “to reduce the number of handguns in civilian ownership, by outlawing . . . all handguns except those intended for sporting purposes.”

But, Kennedy added, “if [banning handguns] is not feasible we may be obliged to place strict bans on the production and distribution of ammunition. No bullets, no shooting.”

It’s a measure of how far we’ve come in a third of a century that even the most liberal politician with the most secure seat (i.e., Kennedy’s successors in MA) have to preface their ban language with, “I support the 2nd Amendment, but…” or, “No one wants to ban your guns, but….

Sure, that’s the “reversionary but” that renders that part of the sentence before it a nullity, somewhat like the several minutes of praise for allah and the prophet that must be recited as the ritual opening of any cutthroat negotiation in the lands of the Arabs. It’s intended as a sop for uninformed voters.

But, this: many of the attempted legislative bans whose dead-ends were described in that April, 2008 article are non-starters today, given Heller and McDonald. They’re not just dead because they’re politically noxious, they’re equally toxic Constitutionally. Progress over the last dozens of years adds up; we’ve really shifted the Overton window towards gun rights and freedom. Not that we can relax.

But, reverting to the point of this post, as long as the know-how to manufacture ammunition survives, or can be recreated by creative minds, the Kennedys of the world can’t achieve their objectives of total concentration of armed power in their own hands. Having seen, and fought against, totalitarian societies of several kinds, all founded on some utopian vision of an improved lot for mankind, we can only view that as a good thing.

Plus… making your own dies for bullet jackets is neat. The videos vary from five to fifteen minutes long, but we found them hugely interesting. Also, if you view them on YouTube rather than on here, each has a comment section with a pretty good s/n ratio.

Here’s a Good Gun Review

The editors of Shooting Illustrated did something wicked smart — they gave one of those new “guns for gals” to an actual gal to review, but even more cleverly, they gave it to one who was able to appreciate the engineering, not only the feminine colors (wait. How many of the women you know drive pink cars? Not knowing any Mary Kay reps, my answer is ze-ro. Interesting fact, that). But in this case, the designers of the gun, European American Armory (and their production partners, Italy’s Fratelli Tanfoglio) redesigned the firearm around the fact that there is sexual dimorphism in the human species.

Di-what? That means, men and women tend to be different sizes and strengths. While there’s a lot of overlap in the distributions, both the mean and the positions of the tails of the distributions of things like size and strength skew far higher for men than for women. Which is why you’re going to see a woman on an NFL offensive line around the time a man wins the ladies’ gymnastics gold at the Summer Olympics, and Satan stops burning coal because he needs the carbon credits.

There was a time when metalflake was a guy thing, on cars. Just sayin'.

There was a time when metalflake was a guy thing, on cars. Just sayin’. Some EAA Pavona colors.

Here’s what our distaff, engineering-wise reviewer has to say about the EAA Pavona:

[W]hat sets EAA’s offering apart from so many in the field, is how the company handled the other half of the equation: the engineering side of things. Mechanically, what EAA needed to accomplish was to design a pistol that would be easy for a new shooter—perhaps with small hands and below-average grip strength—to operate, and still have it appeal to more experienced shooters as well. Fortunately, the platform EAA started with was a solid one.

The gun is based on the CZ-75. Back when the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic was being stingy with export licenses to the Evil Capitalists, the licensed their design to the Tanfoglio Brothers, whose early pistols were close copies, and whose current pistols are, like current CZs, more in the line of evolved derivations.

The Pavona is a single-action/double-action semi-automatic, with a long trigger pull for the first shot, and a shorter, lighter pull for subsequent shots. My trigger scale only reads to 8 pounds, and the Pavona’s double-action trigger broke just past the end of the calibrated area. The single-action pull broke consistently right at 4 pounds. The double-action pull, while heavy, was not gritty on the test sample, and the single-action pull had minimal take-up and broke cleanly.

It is just stupid-easy to shoot well, especially for a compact pistol in a service caliber.

Firing controls are also intended to be unobtrusive and snag-resistant. Unfortunately, they are not ambidextrous, although a southpaw might find it easier to activate the slide-stop lever with their trigger finger than a righty would with their thumb. This is a roundabout way of noting the reach to the slide-stop lever is a long one. I

The safety was easy to use and fell naturally under the thumb as the pistol was grasped. Further, unlike a 1911, the Pavona’s slide can be worked with the thumb safety on. That’s a good thing, because it means administrative chores like unloading the handgun or taking it apart for cleaning can be accomplished with the hammer cocked—so the shooter doesn’t have to fight the resistance of the mainspring while running the slide—and still have the safety on as an added layer of precaution.

That’s a CZ-75 feature, as is the ability to carry cocked-and-locked. If you carry cocked-and-locked, why carry a DA pistol? In our case, it’s for a second strike at some Third Worldian primer. The rest of you, keep toting those 1911s. The tradeoff is, as our reviewer notes, that you don’t have a decocker. Some people prefer a decocker to a safety (like in the Beretta 92G). Some want both as independent controls (hence, the fans of SIG’s service pistols). Some of us just live dangerously and point it at the dog while dropping the hammer with our thumb on it (just kidding! No dogs were harmed, or even threatened, in reviewing this review).

Conscious of the needs of new shooters or those with less grip strength, the folks at EAA took a two-pronged approach to remedying this potential pitfall. [The Petter rails-inside-frame design leaves little freeboard for grasping the slide to operate it — Ed.]

First, the company reshaped the serrations on the slide. Despite appearing cosmetically pretty with their shallow, scalloped cuts, when I gripped the slide, I was impressed by the purchase they afforded. There was no problem getting a sufficient grip, even with a thumb-and-forefinger pinch instead of my preferred over-the-top, whole-hand grab.

Another aid built into the handgun is the use of lighter recoil and mainsprings. The reduced-power mainspring (which is accompanied by a heavier firing pin to ensure reliable ignition) also makes it easier for those with less grip strength to cock the hammer before racking the slide.

You know we are going to tell you, especially the chick yous, to go and  Read The Whole Thing™. It’s also a pretty good example to illustrate the kind of stuff to cover in a review. Things like:

  • What’s special about this design?
  • Who is it best suited for?
  • How does it compare to a few guns everybody knows (or thinks he knows?)
  • When you shot it, and it didn’t jam, exactly how many rounds are we talking about?

Finally, a review has places for both subjective impressions and cast-iron facts. An extra plus in this review for trying to verify some of the manufacturer’s specifications. Sure, the manufacturer says it weighs this, has a trigger pull of that, and holds so many rounds in its magazine. I greatly prefer reviews where they verify these factory numbers. The ugly fact is that the numbers that come in the press packet (for those firms turned-on enough to have a press packet) come from the marketing department and they may have nothing but a nodding acquaintance with the numbers the engineering department is using when they QC the guns.

So we always like it when a reviewer gets the trigger gage out and that sort of thing. This was a good review. We liked it. We’re not the target demo for the gun, but we know people who are. And she’s dead right that the gun-store guys recommending snubby revolvers to women as EDC guns need to reexamine their preconceptions.

Oh, did we say who the reviewer was? Tam of A View From the Porch, one of the folks who made gun blogging look so easy that we followed ‘em in. As we close in on three years, it’s a damn sight harder than we expected….

The [Criminal] was a…

Here’s a few stories of people indulging in behavior not normally associated with their professions.

The Shoplifter was a Lawyer

Sandra LM Gosser's December Shoplifting Mugshot

Sandra LM Gosser’s December Shoplifting Mugshot

Look, crooked lawyers are basically a stereotype, but usually not this kind of crooked. We’ve heard that the lawyer glut was having an effect on their finances, but this is ridiculous.

Sandra Gosser, 45, of 260 Marcy St., was most recently arrested on Dec. 15 at 4:34 p.m. when staff at the Woodbury Avenue Market Basket reported she was being detained for theft, according to the public police log. Police Sgt. Kuffer Kaltenborn said that when officers arrived, they were told that Gosser had attempted to steal a rib roast, avocados and pet food by concealing them in a bag and leaving without paying.
Following her arrest, Gosser was released on personal recognizance bail and she is under a court order to stay away from Market Basket, according to police.
Last month Gosser was arrested by Rye police on a misdemeanor count of theft that alleges she stole a pair of $348 boots. According to a complaint by Rye Police Corporal Mark Webster, Gosser stole a pair of brown Frye boots from Christine’s Crossing on Washington Road by placing them inside a bag she was carrying.

via Lawyer arrested second time for theft – News – seacoastonline.com – Portsmouth, NH.

Sandra LM Gosser's November mugshot.

Sandra LM Gosser’s November mugshot.

You know that there’s going to be an interesting article when they ID the perp as a lawyer in the headline, and then in one of the early grafs they talk about her “most recent arrest.” Here’s the previous one (she looks a little more together in this mugshot). This one-woman crime wave advertises herself as a general practice attorney. (What? She looks more like a criminal lawyer to us. ‘Cause nothing says “officer of the court” like your own rap sheet).

But it gets better — according to her LinkedIn, she was a cum laude grad of Tulane Law (Ranked 46th) and an bachelor’s grad of Vassar (US News #11 liberal arts college).

One can’t help but wonder how someone starts off at a near-top-ten undergrad and a tail-end-of-top-tier law school and winds up shoplifting clothing and groceries within a couple decades of graduation.

One also wonders what other disasters and calamities reign in Ms Gosser’s life these days.

Supposedly there are moral turpitude requirements for lawyers, but they’re either never enforced, or they run backwards from how non-lawyers define the term.

The Gunrunner was a Cop

Tyler kinney

Tyler Kinney in happier times.

According to ATF and court documents, Detective Corporal Tyler Kinney of Colchester, VT, supplied “a Smith and Wesson .38 caliber Airweight revolver, serial number DCE9574,” to a friend (boyfriend?), Pete Burnett, who happened to be a convicted felon with a 30-entry rap sheet. The gun was stolen from the police department’s evidence room; it had been seized in an investigation.

KINNEY stated that he had used opiates for approximately a year, and was attempting to recover from opiate addiction. He met Burnett in his official capacity
as a CPD Detective, and a friendship developed between the two. KINNEY said that for about a year he and Burnett had used heroin together, obtaining it in several ways.

They got the heroin from the evidence locker, or when the evidence locker had no heroin to steal, by stealing other drugs and swapping them for heroin. Kinney had responsibility for the evidence locker. God knows how many cases he’s screwed up, now.

This is causing some ructions in Vermont law enforcement circles. The ATF and FBI agents who investigated the case are outraged, and want to see Kinney hung by his thumbs, or as near an approximation as American jurisprudence can accomplish. The Chief of the Colchester department says it’s “the darkest day in CPD’s history” and she has “never been so
disappointed,” but Kinney’s not fired yet, just suspended (albeit without pay). The Governor has been careful not to criticize the cop, it’s all the addiction’s fault. “It’s a terrible, terrible disease.”

The Other Gunrunner Was Another Cop

He looks a little like a younger, fitter SF/Ranger phony John Giduck, but this is John Nyunt.

He looks a little like a younger, fitter version of notorious SF/Ranger phony John Giduck, but this is John Nyunt.

Hey, didn’t we just have this story? This one’s a different cop and a different fact set, but it still comes back to stealing cop guns. About as far away from Colchester, Vermont as you can go and not hit the cold Pacific, Pacific Grove, CA Police Commander John Nyunt was committing similar crimes on the Monterey Peninsula — although his motivation was greed, not addiction.

Nyunt stole a large quantity of firearms from a closing police academy, and sold them off. He did sell them through an FFL, which increases the likelihood that the stolen property can be recovered, and makes it much less likely they’ll wind up in felons’ hands.

Nyunt’s life has been collapsing for months now, as he was already jammed up over having a worker in his side private investigator business use bogus credentials to access cop databases.

Hat tip, Guns.com, which has the charging documents from both cases..

What Paying the Dane-Geld Has Bought

connect-the-dotsLet’s get out a straight edge and connect some dots, shall we?

Here are our dots:

  • Sony Pictures Entertainment’s groveling attempt to appease North Korea, by canceling the movie The Interview.
  • North Korean cyber attacks, to which Sony’s and the US Government’s responses have been identical in one important way: completely ineffective.
  • Over 140 people, mostly children, murdered by the Taliban in a school in Pakistan.
  • The USA’s swap of 5 Taliban leaders for deserter Bowe Bergdahl.
  • The USA’s swap of diplomatic recognition and five Cuban spies and criminals, including a multiple murderer, for an American aid worker taken hostage in Cuba.
  • Repeated attempts to pay ISIL and the Taliban cash ransoms for American and allied hostages.
  • Russian neo-Soviet saber rattling and aggression, even as their economy totters.
  • Years of groveling and submission to Russia on ballistic missile defense and our own relations with such allies as the former Soviet slave states Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, among others.
  • Iranian progress on nuclear armament.
  • Years of negotiation that takes the form of Foggy Bottom FSOs wringing their hands and begging on behalf of the USA.

You may connect them any way you like, but what we see are repeated attempts to pay Danegeld, and the results that go with appeasement from time immemorial, which Kipling explained thus:

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: —
“Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

Viking Dragonship

Kipling wraps his poem up in this manner:

So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say: —

“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!”

He is, of course, writing before both of the cataclysmic wars of the 20th Century1, and almost 30 years before Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain would fail to take his counsel, with results well recorded by history.

Exercise for the reader: when Chechen islamists blew up airliners, took hostages in Moscow, suicide-bombed the Stalingrad train station, did Vladimir Vladimirovich:

  1. Seek to understand the root causes of their social alienation?
  2. Convene a blue-ribbon Presidential Commission on the Chechen Question?
  3. Work within the system to address their grievances and integrate their values into society?
  4. Send hard men to blow them to hell and gone?

This is one of the tests that’s like the great Test of Life: it’s an IQ test, and it’s not graded on a curve.

Notes

1. Dane-Geld is from CRL Fletcher’s A History of England, a 1911 children’s book of history “illustrated” by a collection of historical poems by Kipling running chronologically from prehistoric to modern days, each assigned a date or a date range. (Dane-Geld is so “dated” A.D. 980-1016 in poetry anthologies, but did not have a dateline in Fletcher’s book).

A cool 1911 graphic

We saw this blurbed at Instapundit:

1911_graphic

The full thing by artist Jacob O’Neal is something you have to see. Because as cool this is, even clicked-to-embiggen, this is just one small part of it, as a static graphic. The real thing offers several views, and is animated. 

Boy. Sure wish we’d had this back in Weapons School, when two of us ran a study hall late into the night to try to save the guys who had been recycled from the class before us. (We did, but it was hard work — mostly by them, we just happened to be college boys with good study habits who could help out).

Go to his animations site, animagraffs.com and enjoy Jacob’s artistry. Along with the gun he’s got jet and piston engines and a tarantula. Then come back, hear?

Back now? Was that 1911 animation cool, or what? So, now go see the animated infographic he did for SilencerCo some time back. (And all you 1911 bashers who wanted a Glock, guess what’s hosting the SilencerCo Osprey in the graphic?)

Guy’s a talented artist. Some website looking for differentiation ought to commission him. (We don’t think we can afford him without crimping the toy budgets).

Wednesday Weapons Website(s) of the Week: Two FOIA Pages

question markThis is one of those Wednesday Weapons Websites of the Week, where we send you out to make your own experience. The reason is that there is an almost unlimited amount of quality information available here, but it’s all information that’s going to need to be winkled out using some awkward search facilities.

FOIA stands for the Freedom of Information Act, a 1970s law aimed at government transparency that has made many lawyers indecently rich for finding exceptions to shield misconduct and wrongdoing by government agencies or (more often) by senior government officials. Nonetheless, these sites offer the secrets of two agencies that have had a great deal of success as well as some spectacular failures; released documents tell the tales of both.

CIA FOIA Page

The CIA is subjected to a barrage of FOIA requests daily and has developed robust protocols to respond to  these requests, whether serious or frivolous. (The most frequent request, we’re told? Information on UFOs. The kooks are out there). The CIA has one of the more comprehensive and, fortunately, easily navigated FOIA sites in the Federal government.

A perfect example of the sort of declassified historical information the CIA excels at providing is this collection on the building of the Berlin Wall and what US intelligence knew about it at the time.

cia_west_german_paper_1960Here’s a specific example of the sort of thing you can find on the CIA site: a translated West German set of political objections to the Western Powers potentially renegotiating the status of West Berlin with the Soviet Union, from 1961 or thereabouts. Some of these objections are quite prescient and were narrowly forestalled by statesmanship at the time; others did come to pass, without seriously impeding the Western defeat of the USSR in the Cold War. (Or the USSR’s defeat of itself, perhaps). But the Germans had no way to know it at the time.

In addition, the Center for the Study of Intelligence and the Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis‘s Occasional Papers are not part of the FOIA page, but they’re also on the Agency’s public website and provide a rich trove of declassified as well as never-classified material. Here’s a recent posting from the CSI, an unclassified extract of the classified in-house magazine Studies in Intelligencewhich deals with a secret Australian unit in the invasion of the Philippines and conquest of the Sulu Archipelago in 1944-45.

USAF FOIA Page

We went to the FOIA page looking for something very specific that we were promised was there — an accident report on an aircraft mishap this year in Kyrgyzstan to a tanker flying from Manas. We couldn’t find that, but we found so many other good things that we shrugged it off.

winter_study_group_1

winter_study_group_3To set up a remarkable example of the material available here, we’re looking at a recently (28 Aug 2014) released report of the Winter Study Group’s sensing sub-panel from 1960. The Winter Study Group was set up by Lt. Gen. Bernard Schriever USAF and managed by the Mitre Corporation in approximately 1956 to examine the chaos that electronic systems procurement had become. The sensing panel made interesting assumptions about the Soviet bomber and ICBM threat and about systems for detecting an attack. It is no exaggeration to say that this work led to the DEW Line, NORAD, and satellite early warning, just as the WSG’s overall work led to the AIr Force Systems Command’s Electronic Systems Division (which was established within a year of the final report) and the entire concept of Electronic Command and Control.

The report is a priceless time capsule of 1960 thinking, and the fear of The Bear is palpable in it.

winter_study_group_2

Unfortunately, the bad news: the USAF FOIA website has a human interface that might as well have been designed by Mitre in 1960, and it’s a bear (as in difficulty, not Russian, although it is a bit like a long Russian novel in a bad translation) to link an individual report (and impossible to link an individual .pdf). Your only hope is to search the site for WINTER STUDY GROUP, and Lord alone knows what you’ll find.

More recent information includes a report of investigation of a green-on blue incident in a command center in Kabul, that we hope to analyze soon; there are valuable lessons for everyone in a “safe place” overseas, and some important facts about the limitations everywhere of “good guys with guns” vis-a-vis bad guys with guns.

Both agencies are host to a lot of documents that are low quality (microfiches, photostats, old mimeographs) and tend to do a pretty lousy job preparing them for the web (they’re seldom OCR’d or printed to .pdf yielding a searchable document). But they have information you’ll never find anywhere else.  That’s the trade-off.

Notes

1. For more on the Winter Study Group, see pp. 13-14 of the MITRE history, Fifty Years of Service in the Public Interest. (.pdf) and pp. 192-198 of Johnson, Stephen B. The United States Air Force and the culture of innovation 1945-1965 (.pdf). Bolling AFB, DC: 2002. Johnson refers specifically to this study but it is another thing entirely to review the original document (as he no doubt did, writing an official history).

Gunwalker Docs: AP, CBS, NBC Reporters in ATF’s Pocket

newspaper-fishwrapWe’ve long suspected that some reporters, including Pete Yost of the Associated Press, Carrie Johnson of Narodniy Politichesky Radio, and Sari Horwitz of the LA Times, were in the pocket of the Holder DOJ and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. But information in documents pried out of the DOJ by a Judicial Watch lawsuit expose the extent to which the government agents actually dictate the stories to those, and other, reporters.

We only took one journalism class in long-ago undergrad days, so we may not have made it to the upper-division or graduate level where you learn to put a slight verbal polish and your own byline on government-issue propaganda points, but Horwitz and Yost are clearly there.

Here’s an example that Sharyl Attkisson found in the DOJ election-day document dump, and reported on 22 November (yeah, some of this stuff hangs around a while before we go live with it):

You don’t want to call a press conference on this because it will blow things out perspective, but if you have any events in the next few days (preferably tomorrow), you could find a way to take two or three questions on it afterwards. Or if that’s not easily doable, you could find a way to “run into” a couple of reporters on your way to something. Maybe Pete Williams, Carrie [Johnson], Pete Yost — that part can be managed.

That document came from a spin consultant, Matthew Miller, who was briefed on what reporters were available to DOJ as, in effect, propaganda channels, and was trying to help AG Eric Holder spin the revelations that the ATF had been systematically arming the Sinaloa Cartel in an attempt to run up gun crime numbers.

Miller knows who among the reporters are willing to slant a story for a politician that they support. Like Holder. He knows that Williams, Johnson and Yost are party loyalists above any loyalty they have to the news profession — a group that includes CBS’s Bob Schieffer, too, as we’ll see.

Attkisson reports that Yost came through with Miller’s talking points:

Pete Yost of AP wrote article on Bush-era gunwalking case that seemed to so impress Holder, he wrote ” WOW!” p. 539 AP presented the story as if it were “new”…

Using, if you needed any other indicators of Pete Yost’s integrity as a journalist (stop laughing! Stop laughing, what’s so funny about using “integrity” with “journalist”?), Attkisson’s previous reporting without crediting her, and presenting it — with the ATF/DOJ-dictated spin — as a Yost “scoop.”

Tracy Schmaler — the DOJ spokesdollie who’s famous for losing her $#!+ and screaming at reporters who weren’t Yost/Horwitz/etc.-style lapdogs — has a long exchange with White House spin doc Eric Schultz on the problem, noting that some reporters are on board with the ATF/DOJ talking points, and some are not. Worst of all, Attkisson has published memos exposing lies in Holder testimony to Congress. Here’s Attkisson, quoting Judicial Watch:

On October 4, 2011, Holder’s top press aide Tracy Schmaler tells White House Deputy Press Sectary Eric Schultz, “I’m also calling Sharryl’s [sic] editor and reaching out to Scheiffer. She’s out of control”

Schultz responded, “Good. Her piece was really bad for the AG.”

Schmaler to Holder, noting one reporter who dropped the facts of the case, and obliging ran with Schmaler’s talking points instead:

Sari (WaPo reporter) [Horwitz] was good – pointed out Issa previous briefing, that weekly reports didn’t reveal tactics and noted previous op in Bush Admin

Screamin’ Schmaler has left DOJ (where she was about to lose her top-cover, with Holder’s resignation) and is employed at ASGK, a Public Relations (i.e. damage control) firm for dishonest, corrupt and all-around no-good firms, organizations, and above all people. She’ll fit right in.

The corruption of the soi-disant Ruling Class of America certainly extends to the sunken-chested, shadow-dwelling Media Wing of same.

They’re not reporters. They’re activists with bylines.

If nothing else comes out of this, you could establish a list of reporters who willingly wrote false information at the request of Miller, Schmaler, and other officials, or who suppressed or tried to suppress stories for the White House and DOJ. Or you could just do like we do, and trust none of them. (Along with the others mentioned in this article, the LA Times’s Richard Serrano, Victoria Kim, and Kathleen Hennessey are also bylines available to spin for The Party).

Party on, reporters.