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Gibson Guitars under pressure from the DOJ

August 27, 2011

For reasons that still are not evident, the Gibson Guitar company has been repeatedly harassed by the Department of Justice. The latest bit was a raid a couple of days ago when agents (according to one account, from the Fish and Wildlife Service) to seize wood that the DOJ believes was taken illegally from India. The backing for the government on this comes from the Lacey Act of 1900, which was enacted to prohibit trade in illegally taken wildlife, fish, or plants.

This isn’t the DOJ’s first attempt at this nonsense. About a year and a half ago they did the same thing, taking wood that they said had been illegally taken from Madagascar.

There are a few problems with this. First, Gibson has all the paperwork from the Madagascar government showing the wood was legally exported. Second, the wood from India was secured from a Forest Stewardship Council supplier, which is an industry-wide group that attempts to comply with not only laws like the Lacy Act, but those of other countries, as well as policies about good forest sustainability practices.

Apparently India has a law that wood is supposed to be “finished’ in India prior to export. This wood consisted of sawn ebony logs, unfinished. Therefore, the DOJ apparently felt it was serving as an agent of a foreign government in seizing the wood.

That’s scarier than the fact that Fish and Wildlife and the DOJ ignored the Madagascar documents and the certifications for the India wood. What is to stop the Holder Justice Department from deciding to become the world’s police within our borders?

But, you say, we shouldn’t be doing something illegal anywhere. Here’s an extreme, but not that unlikely example: During the Iraq wars several nations, involved and uninvolved, decided to name the President as a war criminal. We didn’t worry much about that, of course. But now his party isn’t running the DOJ. What’s to keep them from showing up in Texas to arrest George W. Bush, or any of a number of other officials or military officers involved in the war? Extradition is a dicey thing. When the UK government decided to let the Lockerbie bomber go on humanitarian grounds in 2009, because of his supposed cancer, he bolted to Libya. Many of those killed in the bombing of the plane in 1988 were Americans. We couldn’t get him from Libya because of a lack of extradition from Libya.

I’m not so sure Attorney General Holder would deny the extradition of, say, Dick Cheney.

So this illegal wood thing looks like an attempt by the Obama Administration to kill more American jobs, and it will most likely do that, shifting the largest guitar maker’s manufacturing business overseas. But I think it is far more dangerous when our Department of Justice becomes an agent of foreign governments, and even more so when it does so based on it fitting the Department’s hidden agenda.

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