Did Fast & Furious violate the Arms Export Control Act?
First, the Arms Export Control Act, 22 USC §2778.. It authorizes the President to define defense articles and regulate their export. In so doing, he must consider the possibility that export could "support international terrorism, increase the possibility of outbreak or escalation of conflict..."
Those defense articles may not be exported without a permit, issued by the Secretary of State ( Department of State guidelines here), "except that no license shall be required for exports or imports made by or for an agency of the United States Government
(A) for official use by a department or agency of the United States Government, or
(B) for carrying out any foreign assistance or sales program authorized by law and subject to the control of the President by other means."
The firearms involved here were not being exported for official use by an agency, nor as part of foreign aid. This a lot narrower than the GCA exception for acts by a government agency, and for good reason: the purpose of this statute is to control executive agency actions. No gun running to foreign governments or persons without a paper trail (and in cases of large transactions, a prior request for Congressional approval).
Any person who willfully violates these provisions "shall upon conviction be fined for each violation not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both."
There have been some reports of agents having directly transferred firearms to drug cartel buyers, in order to boost their "street creds." That'd clearly be a violation. In other situations, the person who actually exported the firearms would be in clear violation. But what of those government supervisors who allowed the arms to flow -- especially the cases where a protesting FFL was told to sell the guns anyway?
18 U.S. Code §2 provides:
"§ 2. Principals
(a) Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal.
(b) Whoever willfully causes an act to be done which if directly performed by him or another would be an offense against the United States, is punishable as a principal."
I have wondered whether this could develop into a Iran Contra style scandal. Though unlike Iran Contra, in which the defendants were trying to circumvent this section of Federal law, the present action seemed to be a complete ignoring of the act.
Posted by: James N. Gibson at July 12, 2011 10:08 PM
Can we cut these guys some slack? After all, all they did was help the wrong side in the war between the Mexican government and the drug cartels, infuriate the government of a neighbor nation, furnish the means to get multiple people killed, give material aid to terrorist organizations, and arm Arizona criminals with weapons that will probably still be in circulation 100 years from now, and then try to cover the whole thing up. Who would care about a little thing like that?
Posted by: denton at July 13, 2011 10:03 AM
You forgot to mention the underlying purpose of all these crimes was to use them as an excuse to make gun purchase and ownership more burdensome...restricting long arm sales and requiring more regulation/reporting...in other words incrementally infringe on the peoples right to bear arms...
...another straw, and another...and pretty soon? Busted camel, dude....
Posted by: kalashnikat at July 13, 2011 04:51 PM
One fly in the ointment. Even assuming the principal participants ARE eventually prosecuted, who's to say that before he leaves office President Obama won't grant all of them blanket presidential pardons? That way they would never even have a record.
Nope, I, for one, do not expect anybody of consequence to do time for any of this mess.
But I'm an optimist.
Posted by: Bad Cyborg, Texas at July 13, 2011 06:04 PM
No doubt Holder, Napolitano, and a few others ALREADY have their signed presidential pardons in hand....
I feel sorry for the fallguys, though. Looks like Melson won't be one.
In the old days, the way to deal with such people was to leave them in a room, alone, with their pistol and one round. Sometimes the old ways are the best.
Posted by: Flight-ER-Doc at July 13, 2011 08:59 PM
When Nixon lied, nobody died.
Posted by: lazlo at July 14, 2011 03:26 PM
Posted by: Coyote at December 18, 2011 10:14 AM