Monthly Archives: April 2012

Not the Nuge Again…

This could be all-Nugent-alla-time if we let it, judging from the Motor City Madman’s omnipresence in the news lately. In recent news, the guitarist and NRA Board member (there’s an unusual juxtaposition) has been fired from an upcoming concert at the US Army’s Fort Knox. The reason? His harsh criticism of President Obama offended Ft Knox Commanding General MG Jefforey (misspelling is his, not ours) A. Smith. Lanford Beard reports at Music Mix:

Commanders at Fort Knox posted the announcement on the base’s Facebook page, writing, “After learning of opening act Ted Nugent’s recent public comments about the president of the United States, Fort Knox leadership decided to cancel his performance on the installation.” Co-headliners REO Speedwagon and Styx are still on the bill and had not made any announcements about the situation at time of press.

Well, it’s MG Smith’s call. The Army exists to defend democracy, not practice it.

Meanwhile, the Ft Knox MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) organization is seeking a replacement artist to fill Nugent’s shoes.

Family and MWR along with Army Entertainment Division is committed to bringing quality entertainment to the community and will soon be announcing our replacement artist to perform along with REO Speed Wagon and STYX at Godman Army Airfield on June 23.

Presumably, their priority is one that’s pro-Obama enough to please Ranger Smith.

Their concern for the troops doesn’t go far enough to refund Nugent fans’ tickets — for that, they’ll have to call Ticketmaster and haggle.

The oldest gag in the book

Alphonse and Gaston, no. 3 – YouTube.

It’s the oldest gag in the book — as old as this video, a “biograph” that the Library of Congress dates to 1903. It looks like it was a cliché already at the time: The cowboy firing away: “Dance, pardner, dance.”

If you must have color, or a talkie, you could do worse than the Yosemite Sam version:

watch?v=yUe_Pi8NfT4

Now, a fellow could get away with that in the Old West. In the New West, not so much, it turns out. The Bonner County (ID) Daily Bee has the sad story.

This is purportedly Cross's mugshot. What's up with those ears? (We've heard of jugeared cons before, but this is ridiculous). Ah, well. It takes all kinds to make a world. -Eds.

John Ernest Cross, 30, of Clark Fork, Idaho, who’s got to be in trouble if only for having all three names in the news, is charged with aggravated assault for making a “Dance!” demand at gunpoint.

Sheriff’s deputies say that Cross, somewhat the worse for drugs, used an apparent AR-15 to terrify another man into dancing. The weapon was not discharged (for reasons we’ll see momentarily).

Cross doesn’t appear to have sought legal advice, because his excuse to the court is that his weapon just looked like an AR-15 — in reality, it was a harmless Airsoft toy. We don’t think that will buy him the leniency he seemed to think it will.

According to the deputies, Cross at least wanted a more modern dance than the long-deceased cowboy in the Alphonse and Gaston gag above: He wanted his victim to moonwalk, a dance the equally dead Michael Jackson popularized thirty years ago — so long ago that he was not only still alive, he was still black!

Cross has been assigned a public defender (who will probably hang his or her head in hands on hearing about Clark’s Airsoft “defense”) and is being held on $20k bail.

Sunday is for the birds…

…unless they’re Cormorants. In Oregon. (Where they’re playing a game of environmental rock-scissors-paper with migratory birds — must be protected! — and salmon smolts — endangered, but if you’re a migratory bird, tasty!).

For all you other yardbirds, jailbirds, Thunderbirds, and [bleep]birds that hang around here, the TW3 was up last night, the Saturday Matinee will be done and backdated to Saturday today, and regular posting resumes with vigor on Monday — tomorrow.

That Was the Week that Was: 2012 Week 17

Seventeen weeks, about a third of a year into this, and we’re still chuggin’ along. So far so good.

This post introduces something new: a comment of the week.

Comment of the Week

Jeff Rutter said, responding to this post about a cringe-inducing negligent discharge at gun safety class:

When I was an M.P. in Germany in the 70′s; we had a death occur due to horseplay with the (then)issued .45 pistol. Orders came down from on high to have mandatory classes on the proper way to do “Inspection Arms” with the .45.
The first class in our area, a Staff Sergeant with long years of service was giving the class. He managed to do it very wrong. He chambered a round,and promptly sent it through the ceiling into the office above where fortunately it didn’t hit anyone.

Sounds like the Army all right. You would think “inspection arms” would not be a perishable skill for MPs (don’t they do this as part of every shift change, or are we wrong about that?), but you never know. An experienced guy who overestimates his own knowledge is a lot  more dangerous than a newbie who knows he’s a newbie.

What We Blogged

As ever, the meat of this is the rundown on the week’s posts so you can go back and catch the ones you missed (will be linked soon).

  • A pet peeve… “ordnance” vs. “ordinance.” – was this post this week or last week? We’ll, it’s worth restating. If you don’t know which “ord” is right, just say “weaponry” or “regulation” as the context requires, and you’ll never mess this up, and we’ll never make fun of you before our growing global readership.
  • Sunday is for cheating and we did cheat a bit on last Saturday’s posts. (We’re doing something similar today with the Matinee post).
  • Historic Naval Guns to Guard Phoenix War Memorial — we never served in the Navy or in artillery, but by gum there are some serious guns there. And the war-memorial builders in Phoenix have gotten hold of two of them, that neatly bookend World War II — a main-battery tube from USS Arizona and one from USS Missouri — the Alpha and the Omega of the Pacific War and of US participation in Global Unpleasantness II.
  • Travis Mills update — he’s not an SF guy but as a paratrooper he’s still a brother. (Just a little brother). So we’re proud of him for surviving an attack that was supposed to kill him, and we’ve got a brotherly eye on his recovery.
  • Engagement Dynamics of a Police Gunfight — in which a cop gets very, very lucky but also does things right once the perp starts shooting. We’ve had some criticism from other cops on this and may have a follow up post next week.
  • Local Wannabe Pleads NG — a slimy guy who’s been inflating his record so long it got him tossed out of the actual Navy is on trial.
  • Lord Love a Duck… another gun safety “bad example” where a guy manages to shoot himself and his wife with just one single negligent discharge. Bonus points for doing it in gun safety class.
  • This is a geeky post that only AR-15/M-16 collectors will get excited about. The so-called “605″ upper receiver that was used on some Air Force M16s and one-off Colt prototypes is tracked down and we answer the 5Ws on it, throwing in “how many” for completeness’s sake. (Actually, we don’t know exactly how many, but we are able to set an upper bound for manufacture of this receiver).
  • Weapons Website of the Week: Corbin bullet swaging machinery lets you make jacketed bullets at home, and, if you take care, lets you make them better than factory bullets. Many custom makers, the bullet-makers to the target-shooting champions and extreme-range hunters, use this equipment.
  • Some days you eat the bear…some days the bear eats you… some days the Feds take a dim view of you eating the bear and you wind up in court, like happened to Ted Nugent.
  • ATF Mexican Trace Data Released — this post just gave you the link. We’ve had our hands on the data for a while, and we’ll tease you that the most interesting numbers are the ones that they didn’t release.
  • The Value of Your Law Degree from U Baltimore Just Plunged, if you’re dim enough to have attended University of Baltimore Law in the first place (it’s an expensive, low ranked school, so the grads don’t make enough to pay off their student loans). But they apparently think they’re reputation is so bad they needed to hire a guy who’s got a criminal lawyer on retainer over Fast & Furious, the ATF brainstorm that armed the Sinaloa Cartel with thousands of weapons and contributed to hundreds (and counting) of murders. Maybe they know he has a promise of a presidential pardon in his pocket.
  • We went Inside the Izmash AK Factory thanks to a well-timed Russian photo essay, and noted that as interesting as it is (much more manual than an American or German factory), it’s struggling as a business and declared bankruptcy on the 6th of April. That doesn’t mean liquidation, perhaps: Remington, Colt, Winchester and Smith and Wesson have all had the wolf at the door at one time or another, too.
  • Fill your hands… (Slightly NSFW) — we got a tremendous kick out of this Bushmaster AR-15 with its personalized slogan. We’ve seen some pretty entertaining takes on the old 16 (as we’ll always think of it), including Zombie Hunter biohazard decorations and a steampunk AR-15 that left us kind of cold (after all, there’s already steampunk guns out there — what’s a Mazim with a brass water jacket?)
  • Saturday Matinee  — didn’t get done on time and will be backdated. Sorry, some days you eat the bear, some days you spend some time in the mad science lab and then fall asleep in the recliner with a cat. Relax, though, we don’t own a single Nehru suit, Mr Bond.
  • That Was the Week that Was: 2012 Week 17 – This post, which brings us full circle.

What’s Coming Next Week

God willin’ and the creek don’t rise:

  • Legendary Weapons of SF 1972-1992… no, seriously!
  • Who really made the calls on the Abbotabad Raid?
  • Bank of America vs. McMillan — evidence that breaks the he-said/she-said deadlock. Guess who’s lying?
  • Some analysis on the ATF Weapons Statistics and the dreadful media.
  • A local (NH) gun story that was incredibly badly botched (or dishonestly reported).
  • (Maybe) meet a service-disabled veteran — who’s a dog. (This one may slide till the week after).
  • (Maybe) a couple of book reviews.

The Boring Statistics

17 posts, 9708 words (not counting the Matinee post which isn’t done at this writing), about a half-dozen substantive comments.

 

Saturday Matinee 017: The Patriot (2000)

The American Revolution is an interesting conflict from both the general historical and unconventional warfare aspects, but it’s been little celebrated on screen of late. The Patriot from 2000 was a successful blockbuster starring Mel Gibson and directed by Roland Emmerich. Along with a strong script and clear heroes and villains, the movie was hustled along by strong performances by supporting actors including Jeremy Isaacs, Adam Baldwin, and a young Heath Ledger.

The movie is set in South Carolina. Ben Martin (Gibson) distnguished himself during the French and Indian War, but he’s reluctant to fight this time around. Of course, in the end he does, or there’d be no movie. The villain, Colonel William Tavington (Isaacs), is loosely based on British officer Banastre Tarleton — not on the historical Tarleton, exactly, but the American legend of “Bloody Ban,” a considerably worse character than the flesh-and-blood Tarleton was; and Isaacs’s cold, merciless Tavington takes the monster of legend and raises him to Godzilla proportions.

Gibson’s character is loosely based on Francis Marion with a leavening of several other historical southern militia leaders, and an overlay of Hollywood.

Historical Accuracy

We’ve already mentioned the characters’ departures from their historical prototypes. Tavington is particularly over-the-top, at one time rounding up civilians into a church and them torching the church. There’s no record of such an atrocity in the Revolutionary War; instead, the screenwriter seems to have adapted the 1944 Nazi enormity at Ouradour-sur-Glane in France to his screenplay. Tarleton’s descendants and Britons, particularly the residents of Tarleton’s native Lancashire where he’s still fondly remembered, were livid. Now, Tarleton (and his American opponents for that matter) was not interested in fighting by Marquess of Quensberry rules and the real South Carolina campaign saw abominable acts by both sides, acts which were more tolerated in their day than they would be now. But the movie makes no pretense of being a documentary; it’s a popcorn flick, take it as offered.

The skirmishes and battles in the movie are not identified by name, and re either fictional or combine events and actions from multiple real battles.Again, it’s a fictional movie set in a real time period.

There is a bit of depiction of the irregular nature of the war, in that the fluidity and patrols-and-ambushes nature of the war in the South spends some time on screen, but there are also massive setpiece battles that, frankly, didn’t take place until the very end of the war at Yorktown. In the Revolutionary War, South Carolina was an ancillary theater of war, so while the fighting was desperate enough for those engaged, its primary bearing on the outcome of the war was the logistical burden that the Carolina guerillas placed upon the British forces, tying down significant numbers of Redcoats and Loyalist militia to secure key points and lines of communications.

The real Tarleton earned much of his reputation as a bold cavalry leader and a leader of those Loyalist militiamen, and once chased the historical Francis Marion all day until Marion evaded him in a swamp, which caused Tarleton to call him “that d—ed Swamp Fox,” a name which stuck to the Colonial. That scene did not make it into the Patriot.

One thing you always see in irregular war is divided loyalties, and quislings or loyalists (depending on your point of view). (One of the reason the British indie film It Happened Here (1965), a previous Saturday Matinee,  is so brilliant is that it shows you resistance from the collaborationist point of view). In The Patriot, the character played by Adam Baldwin is a fellow member of the colonial legislature, who winds up taking the King’s Commission and fighting for King George III alongside Tavington. His disposition is unclear at film’s end, but it’s interesting to note that the real-world Marion used his fame to advocate for amnesty for loyalists — an unpopular idea at the time. Whole regions of Canada would be settled by Loyalists expelled from the new United States, and expropriated of everything but the shirts on their backs.

Gun Accuracy

Charleville musket... the distinct oval opening in the hammer is a characteristic of French design. Click to expand.

Back when Hollywood made more movies about the Revolution, they took much less care with the weaponry. The crew here worked hard to put plausible arms in the hands of their actors and extras, and it shows. The British are armed and accoutered properly for the period (although we seem to recall that the real Tarleton’s men were the ancestors of the later Green Jackets, and so shouldn’t have been in red coats, except to spare audiences confusion). The British carry Brown Bess muskets’ the Colonials, French Charlevilles, both generally correct. Earlier in the war, and in the North, militia weapons resembled the Brown Bess, or were Besses. But by the time of the events shown here, Louis XVI’s France had become the most significant armorer to the Continental Army. When the US made its first standard infantry muskets, they would owe more to the Charleville than the Brown Bess.

When Ben Martin and his sons go out to settle scores, they do it with flintlock rifles of the Kentucky or Pennsylvania style. This is defensible, even plausible. While smoothbore muskets were the rule for infantry combat in the late 18th Century, private citizens prized more accurate rifles for hunting.

In the battle scenes, there’s never enough smoke, and some explosions tend to be rather too firey — both quite typical of Hollywood. The power of the British line (although not the power of the square) is depicted well, as is the corrosive effect on morale that leads from any breakdown in the element to a deep spiral plummet into chaos.

We’re not sure about the accuracy of the cannons. However, in one scene, the British and Continental forces are mixed in a melee and the cannons have ceased firing because the gunners cannot discriminate friend from foe. At that point, the British general, Lord Cornwallis orders the gunners to fire into the scrum without regard for friendly casualties, and the gunners do. This is often taken by modern audiences to be a Hollywood stunt, like the church-burning; but this was actually a recognized, if cold-blooded, tactic at the time, and Cornwallis himself did use it at Guilford Court House, one of the battles that provided concepts for this movie. In fact, it broke the American line and led to a British victory, albeit a sanguinary one.

Bottom Line

The Patriot is a fun and intellectually non-taxing action movie set in a backwater theater of the Revolutionary War. It attracted a great deal of criticism at the time, although movie critics gave it generally positive reviews, and as is pretty normal for war movies of any kind, audiences liked it much more than the hemp-scented herd of hippies that movie critics apparently are. (Compare, say, Metacritic or Rottentomatoes critics scores with reported audience ratings). If you’ve ever loaded and fired a flintlock musket, you’ve seen how complicated and fiddly it is. You can’t help but admire the soldiers who were able to conduct that complicated drill under fire (and even under your own side’s grape shot, if you were unlucky enough to work for Cornwallis). These old guns are great fun to watch on the screen, too… you have to keep telling yourself that they weren’t old at the time. A flintlock Kentucky rifle was the high-tech of the 1780s.

It’s available at all the usual places, including Amazon in the theatrical cut and in an extended (10 minutes) version that restores some scenes that were cut for time, mostly character-establishing scenes. (Links are to DVD, but you can find blu-ray at links also. One note, despite the verbiage about the ten-minute extension, both DVDs list a 165-minute run time).

Inside the Izmash AK Factory

Thanks again to English Russia, we have the English translation of a photo essay on a visit to the fabled Izmash arms plant, where Kalashnikov-pattern weapons have been made for over sixty years, and are still made. (We’ve shown some pictures from this plant before, in a report on the AK-12 they’ve offered to the Russian MOD, in an effort to get the MOD to break its AK-purchasing moratorium, on which we also reported here). The plant photos show workers assembling and testing military rifles and carbines, Saiga shotguns, and Tigr hunting rifles. There are also a couple of shots of the community of Izhevsk, capital of the Udmurt Republic (a Republic in Russian Federal organization is roughly analogous to a US or Canadian State or Province).

Izhevsk has been a center of arms manufacture at least since the days of Alexander I; that Tsar ordered the establishment of a weapons plant on the Izh River in 1804, but an ironworks predated even that. In fact, the city of Izhevsk was built to support the imperial arsenal.

For those of you who can gavoreet paw-roosicky, the original Russian article is here on “Good, old Sirin”‘s LiveJournal blog. (See, LJ isn’t dead, it’s just on hiatus in Russia. I wonder if it’s seen that clown from Six Apart/TypePad?). Sirin’s post may have a couple more photos; he says he has 34, and the English Russia post has 31. Anyway, Sirin posted on April 18th, and English Russia picked it up for you monoglots on the 22nd, so we’re a few days behind. You complainers will be glad to know your refunds are being processed.

Unfortunately, though, Izmash the company is not doing well. Its automotive-industry subsidiary went belly-up in 2009, and, despite this sudden promotion on Russian and Russian-American blogs, the company entered bankruptcy protection on the 6th of April, according to this story (Russian language).

Value of Your Law Degree from U Baltimore Just Plunged

Several threads of popular culture come together here in this post — but at a very low level.

  • Consider the low reputation of lawyers — the reputation that launched a thousand lawyer jokes (“What do you call a thirty-foot pyramid of lawyer skulls? A good beginning”).
  • Consider the low reputation of Ronald C. Weich, which limbos under even the low bar that the profession as a whole sets. Weich is best known for a lying letter to Congress that may yet land him in jail.
  • Consider the low reputation of Congress, which is currently tormenting Weich but where he served most of his life as a toady staffer for various gun-control-happy Senators, including his mentor Ted Kennedy. It’s a puzzlement, though, whether Weich’s turpitudinous reputation drags Congress’s down or the other way around… they’re both in that “residue in the bottom of the barrel when all useful has been drained” region. Where they look up to see the whale sign at the bottom of the sea. Or the oil from the BP oil spill, which as the Huffington Post noted, had a higher approval rating than Congress.

We didn't shrink this pic of Weich -- his head is that small on his official DOJ bio.

So guess who’s the new Dean of Baltimore Law? And why? Let’s cut to the tape (Fox News):

“During this time of considerable transition in legal education and the legal profession, it is important to have leadership with integrity and vision,” University of Baltimore President Robert Bogomolny said in a statement issued Wednesday.

He said it’s “important to have leadership with integrity and vision.” But that costs money. So he hired Ron Weich instead.

There is one ray of light in this for somebody: Bal’more ganstas, thuggees and other criminal defendants. Since the only way Baltimore Law grads will ever be able to repay their loans is with public-service loan forgiveness, they’re gonna be all the $40k/year public defenders in Maryland for ever. And so every con enroute to the North Branch Correctional Institution in the Old Line State will hace a slam-dunk ineffectiveness-of-counsel appeal in the bag: “My lawyer was a Baltimoron.”  Or better yet, “My lawyer was a Baltimoron that trained under Weich.”  That metallic sound you hear is the cell doors on Death Row springing open.

ATF Mexican Trace Data Released

This is the full text of the ATF release. I guess you could say it’s a guest post. We really want to get out of this field and back into the gun technical stuff that is our strengths, but we also have the chance to apply some MBA-fu to the stats and may be doing that. That’s what’s messed up our schedule just a bit.

Without further ado, your tax dollars in action:

 

 

 

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release – Public Affairs Division – Washington, DC

The Violent Crime Bureau

ATF RELEASES GOVERNMENT OF MEXICO FIREARMS TRACE DATA

WASHINGTON – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) today announced the release of trace information for firearms recovered in Mexico and submitted to ATF for tracing. Trace information shows that between calendar years 2007 and 2011 the Government of Mexico recovered and submitted more than 99,000 firearms to ATF for tracing. Of those firearms more than 68,000 were U.S.-sourced. More complete information will be available on the ATF website.

U.S.-sourced firearms are guns determined by ATF to be manufactured in the United States or legally imported into the United States by a federal firearms licensee. Since 2007, trace data shows a trend in recovered and submitted crime guns from Mexico shifting from pistols and revolvers to rifles. Law enforcement in Mexico now report that certain types of rifles, such as the AK and AR variants with detachable magazines, are used more frequently to commit violent crime by drug trafficking organizations.

ATF is working with its law enforcement partners at every level and the Government of Mexico to keep firearms out of the hands of gang members and criminal enterprises. The Mexico trace data is the result of information provided by the Government of Mexico to ATF about crime guns recovered in Mexico and submitted for tracing.

Firearms tracing provides information on the movement of a firearm from its first sale by a manufacturer or importer through the distribution chain in an attempt to identify the first retail purchaser. This information provides investigative leads for criminal investigations.

The Mexico trace data is not the result of any criminal investigation, or investigations, initiated by law enforcement in the United States.

ATF’s National Tracing Center (NTC) is the nation’s only crime gun tracing facility. The NTC provides critical information that assists domestic and international law enforcement agencies solve firearms crimes, detect firearms trafficking and identify trends with respect to intrastate, interstate and international movement of crime guns. The NTC traced more than 319,000 crime guns in calendar year 2011.

ATF is dedicated to reducing firearms trafficking and firearms-related violent crime on both sides of the border.

ATF will also release trace information for firearms recovered in Canada and the Caribbean and submitted to ATF for tracing between calendar years 2007 and 2011.

For more information about ATF and its programs go to www.ATF.gov.

###

Weaponsman Analysis

First, thanks to the ATF for publishing this information. Transparency is necessary for a public safety agency in a representative republic.

Second, one very important note is that these are traces on weapons submitted for tracing. In our experience with overseas police agencies, they submit weapon for tracing if they believe that the weapon has a US nexus. This includes obviously American-made weapons like a Colt M16A2 or a Smith & Wesson pistol, and weapons that bear US import marks (weapons imported to the USA legally must be marked with the licensed importer’s name, city, and state).

We’re going to have to consider what they mean by “The Mexico trace data is not the result of any criminal investigation, or investigations, initiated by law enforcement in the United States.” (Emphasis ATF’s). Does this mean that ATF and other US law-enforcement provided guns are not included? We know that ATF furnished some 3,000 guns in about one year under one operation alone, some of which were recovered at crime scenes in Mexico and the USA.

The numbers of traced guns are interesting: 68,000 from Mexico over five years, versus 319,000 successful Domestic traces. That’s ~14,000 a year from Mexico (although we’d bet there’s a strong growth trend in that number, it’s not an even year-to-year figure). Another 31,000 guns that the Mexicans thought would trace in the USA didn’t.

Without knowing more figures — for example, how many weapons total did Mexican authorities recover per year and in this whole period? How many guns submitted to ATF in the USA failed to trace? We need the missing numerators and denominators to do much of anything with the numbers. We also need some granularity on the numbers. We’ll see if we get it.

UPDATE: The ATF has provided data on Mexican and Canadian gun traces that are very interesting. There is only one year of Caribbean data at this juncture. You can find the files with other ATF stats at http://www.atf.gov/statistics/ and rest assured we’ll be getting what we can out of them. Unfortunately they’re PDF dumps of PowerPoint summary data, not much in the way of crosstab potential. Advocacy, not information, unfortunately.


ATF to spin Mexican data this afternoon

The ATF is holding a press conference of sorts at headquarters today. The purpose is to try to promote the organization’s gun-control political agenda, and to justify its “gunwalking” operations. At today’s event, the message will be: bad evil gun dealers are selling guns to Mexican dope gangs, so let’s round up the gun dealers. (They’ll also claim American sportsmen are the armorer to the Jamaican crime gangs, too, in support of the same message). But the ATF will be silent about one of the dominant sources of Mexican crime guns: the ATF.

Under the “gunwalking” initiative of the Holder Justice Department, ATF supplied an unknown number (over 3,000 are documented so far) of weapons directly to Mexican drug cartels, in order to push a crime wave and build support for tighter gun laws and increased ATF budgets. Most of the guns were bought with the drug dealers’ money, but at least some of them were bought with American taxpayer funds. ATF initially justified Operation Fast and Furious, Opertion Castaway, and other gunwalking efforts by using Mexican trace data to allege that 90% of Mexican crime guns came from dealers in the USA. (Closer examination showed the number was more like 17-20%).

Guns from Fast and Furious alone are implicated in the murders of two Federal agents, one sheriff’s deputy, and hundreds of Mexicans, many of whom were Mexican cops and innocent bystanders, not just rival druggies. Fast and Furious guns appear to have gone exclusively, and with ATF and DOJ approval at regional if not higher levels, to the Sinaloa cartel, suggesting US Government favoritism towards that cartel. Mexican authorities were never informed.

The story began to break in January, 2011 after Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was gunned down by four cartel gunmen — one of whom was an FBI agent or informant — using Fast & Furious-furnished guns. Two key figures in Fast and Furious, US Attorney Dennis K. Burke and ATF manager “Gunwalker Bill” Newell, in a display of legendary hypocrisy, made a grandstand show of attending Terry’s funeral but didn’t tell his grieving family they’d supplied his murder weapon. Sickened ATF Special Agents came forward to blow the whistle on the gunwalking, but apart from Burke — who has resigned and lawyered up — most of the instigators have been promoted by ATF, while the whistleblowers have been singled out for mistreatment.

Because the invitation is limited to pre-approved, pro-ATF media, and the provisions are more restrictive than a normal press conference (no cameras, no audio recorders), it’s likely to be a further propaganda release. ATF has also limited the scope of what media representatives may discuss: questions about Fast and Furious and other ATF gunrunning operations are off limits.

Bottom line: this is a dog-and-pony show, not a press conference.

The basic facts, from the ATF their own selves:

WHO: ATF Special Agent John Hageman

WHAT: Release of Government of Mexico Firearms Trace Data

WHERE: ATF Headquarters

99 New York Avenue, NE

Washington, DC 20226

WHEN: April 26, 2012

TIME: 2:30 p.m.

The ATF says they will put their presentation slides on their website after the presentation, but not clear about whether they will release raw data (our guess is not; they’ve even stonewalled investigators’s subpoenas, used a wide variety of delay and obstruction tactics, and taken the fifth like mafiosi).

The ends of this canine and equine display? Our best guesses follow:

1. Get some ink in the friendly press in case Congress starts doing a budget in this election year.

2. Make a pre-emptive PR strike on lawsuits that are threatening to reverse a new ATF reporting requirement.

3. Create enough informational confusion about Mexican guns to justify further encroachments on Americans.

4. Try to create some “reasonable gun control” spin that may resonate with a future Romney Administration.

The ATF managers are deeply committed to their ideological partners in the Obama government, but that’s not the same thing as saying they’re loyal. Their loyalties are to self, career, and Bureau in that order. A second Obama term gives them everything they want, but they need to be prepared with Plan B. To the degree to which Obama seems threatened, they may downplay that innate brotherhood between the charismatic politician who orders omelets made and the black-suited functionary who breaks the eggs to execute the order. They don’t care who the politician is, they just want to run the camps.

UPDATE: Dave Workman, who’s also presumably not invited to SA Hageman’s political dog-n-pony show, does have what appears to be the whole text of the invitation here.