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sok66

What's the status of the DOJ raid on Gibson?

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It's been nearly one year since armed Federal agents raided Gibson's factory in Nashville, confiscated wood & guitars, etc. There's been virtually no news on this since April, 2012. Does anyone know where this issue stands? Have any charges been filed, etc.?

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A heated and cool Government warehouse with 24 hour security. Wonder how much that's costing me? :unsure:

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This appeared in the Wall Street Journal recently:

 

Gibson's Fight Against Criminalizing Capitalism

Government overreach in the criminal-justice system takes money from taxpayer wallets, and takes jobs away from the American people.

 

By HENRY JUSZKIEWICZ

 

Making its way through the House of Representatives is a bill that could help prevent companies from experiencing what happened to mine last Aug. 24. Without warning, 30 federal agents with guns and bulletproof vests stormed our guitar factories in Tennessee. They shut down production, sent workers home, seized boxes of raw materials and nearly 100 guitars, and ultimately cost our company $2 million to $3 million worth of products and lost productivity. Why? We imported wood from India to make guitars in America.

 

Growing businesses face a number of hurdles in today's economy. For Gibson Guitar—a company that has created more than 580 American jobs in the last two years—the largest hurdle is the federal government.

 

The Aug. 24 raid was authorized under the Lacey Act. Originally enacted as a means to curb the poaching of endangered species, the law bans wildlife and plants from being imported if, according to the interpretation of federal bureaucrats, the importation violates a law in the country of origin.

 

The fingerboards of our guitars are made with wood that is imported from India. The wood seized during the Aug. 24 raid, however, was from a Forest Stewardship Council-certified supplier, meaning the wood complies with FSC's rules requiring that it be harvested legally and in compliance with traditional and civil rights, among other protections. Indian authorities have provided sworn statements approving the shipment, and U.S. Customs allowed the shipment to pass through America's border to our factories.

 

Nonetheless, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to enforce its own interpretation of Indian law, arguing that because the fingerboards weren't finished in India, they were illegal exports. In effect, the agency is arguing that to be in compliance with the law, Gibson must outsource the jobs of finishing craftsmen in Tennessee.

 

This is an overreach of government authority and indicative of the kinds of burdens the federal government routinely imposes on growing businesses. It also highlights a dangerous trend: an attempt to punish even paperwork errors with criminal charges and to regulate business activities through criminal law. Policy wonks call this "overcriminalization." I call it a job killer.

 

In America alone, there are over 4,000 federal criminal offenses. Under the Lacey Act, for instance, citizens and business owners also need to know—and predict how the U.S. federal government will interpret—the laws of nearly 200 other countries on the globe as well.

 

Many business owners have inadvertently broken obscure and highly technical foreign laws, landing them in prison for things like importing lobster tails in plastic rather than cardboard packaging (the violation of that Honduran law earned one man an eight-year prison sentence). Cases like this make it clear that the justice system has strayed from its constitutional purpose: stopping the real bad guys from bringing harm.

 

A proposed bill in the House—the Retailers and Entertainers Lacey Implementation and Enforcement Fairness (Relief) Act—could reduce the chances of citizens accidentally running afoul of the Lacey law.

 

But broader change is needed. I recently endorsed the Right on Crime Statement of Principles, which asserts that criminal law is an overly blunt instrument for regulating nonfraudulent business activities. Right On Crime—a conservative initiative supported by Newt Gingrich, Jeb Bush and others—also argues that costly criminal proceedings should be reserved for those acts that threaten public safety, and expensive prison beds should be used only for offenders who are blameworthy or endanger our neighborhoods.

 

Nationwide, the criminal-justice system costs taxpayers more than $200 billion a year, judging by figures from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. While much of that spending is justified, Right on Crime argues that much of it could be eliminated or redirected without hurting public safety. For instance, the government has probably spent millions of taxpayer dollars on the Gibson factory raids, investigating an Indian law India said we didn't break. This is an overreach of government authority and an abuse of taxpayer dollars.

 

Policy makers must stop criminalizing capitalism. This begins by stopping the practice of creating new criminal offenses, or wielding obscure foreign laws, as a method of regulating businesses.

 

Especially in a bearish economy, entrepreneurs need to be able to operate without the fear that inadvertently breaking an obscure regulation or unknowingly violating a foreign statute could shut down their company and land them or their employees in jail.

 

Mr. Juszkiewicz is the CEO of Gibson Guitar Corp.

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Henry should call Jamie Dimon. He'll make it go away and have the House declare the 24th Sorry, Gibson Day.

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Searcy, I'm guessing about a penny.

 

Believe it or not, I don't really have a horse in this race, but from all I have read on both sides of the issue, the conservative Wall Street Journal (possibly due to what Henry has said) has failed to point out that it may be possible the problem with the paperwork may have been ongoing and could possibly indicate a chronic practice by Gibson of falsifying documents, among other issues. Like everyone, I think the raid was excessive, Kafkaesque, and Gibson is due their day in court.

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Searcy, I'm guessing about a penny.

 

Believe it or not, I don't really have a horse in this race, but from all I have read on both sides of the issue, the conservative Wall Street Journal (possibly due to what Henry has said) has failed to point out that it may be possible the problem with the paperwork may have been ongoing and could possibly indicate a chronic practice by Gibson of falsifying documents, among other issues. Like everyone, I think the raid was excessive, Kafkaesque, and Gibson is due their day in court.

+1

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The most concerning aspect of this is the lack of any charges being filed, or any sense of when Gibson can defend itself in court. Very troubling.

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The law is an a-s-s, here in the UK and probably most other countries. I have been involved in 'law' since 1969 and seen stuff like this before. Solicitors, lawyers, call 'em what you like, all make huge amounts of money out of creating an industry for themselves - the interpretation of the wording used in a law, criminal or civil.

 

It could be argued that the criminal fraternities started this by using loopholes in the wording of laws, and may be true, and that the law enforcement agencies had to battle against that. But that was in the 'Capone' type years, not now, and certainly not for a case like this.

 

The world has gone nuts, and let's not start on Heath and Safety stuff.

 

Bob

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I am going to get all philosophical on you guys.

 

I think the heart of the problem is that many poeple, society in general, have adopted a view that winning is more important than being right. Also, poeple have a tendancy to want to protect themselves from being "wronged" as more of a priority than being concerned about wronging someone else.

 

Because "we" are no longer concerned with wrong or right as far as our own actions, "we" have a tendancy to use any wrongdoing done TO us as a reasoning to do further wrong and/or GREATER wrong to another in responce. And thus WINNING has replaced ethics as the main justification for "our" actions.

 

Sinse this is the game, it means the most powerful party wins, and determining right or wrong or fair has little to do with it.

 

So as it is, the courts (and the law) are used more to impose the will of the powerful rather than to determine fair, or to "judge". The case against Gibson is a perfect example of this: The more POWERFUL party here is using the court and the law to impose it's will on the less powerful party. Because the Fed feels Gibson is wrong, they are concerned with winning and not concerned with their own actions or any wrongdoing they may do themselves in responce. The legal system is being used to win as opposed to making a judgement.

 

This trend isn't just businesses vs the govt., it is everything and everywhere. I recently got sued and got a judgement by a healthcare provider. Even though I could show them the error was with them and not me, they weren't interested. They were more concerned with getting paid and used the court system to sue me. Long story, but the point is they weren't interested in "winning" before a judge, they were interested in forcing payment by using court.

 

This is not unique to me or them, but every business and entity of any speakable size is using the courts to enforce their will, not based on ethics, but based on power. Small indescretions by the less powerful are used to justify bigger indescretions by the more powerful, and the courts are full of these cases, rather than a determination of wether the more powerful can or SHOULD do as they do.

 

The problem "we" face is that WHEN we are more concerned with the indescetions done TO us, rather than our own, we invite this power play. The more powerful will always win at this game.

 

Unless we all make a choice to make doing right or wrong more important than winning, this is how it will be.

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One thing I find of great interest is how I've seen similar responses toward the court system in general by folks from North America, the UK and from Oz.

 

We all have, at base, the same legal system on the same foundation, albeit some differences especially in the US.

 

But something about our Anglophone culture seems to have tended toward increasingly complex wording in legislated statutes and toward similarly increasingly complex wording in case law.

 

Bottom line is, yes, the lawyers are the ones making money and the system seems to have changed altogether from "justice," whether in civil or criminal lawsuits, into something else.

 

Frankly I tend at base to blame the way our governments in general have adopted so many more laws over the years that the legislative process created increasingly complex webs of law that become increasingly complex to litigate.

 

Again, I think it's because our system is so old it may need some cleaning out and simplification. "Common law," rather revered in Anglophone nations, is rather simple. Courtroom arguments once involved exposition of evidence and then argument of justice according to those principles. Now, it appears to me, the arguments are increasingly tilted toward legal wording than in justice - or even "reality."

 

Gibson's case, in my best guess, will not be litigated until after the November US elections. The result of the elections will, again IMHO, play a role in how the game plays out, if at all.

 

I think there are too many on the government side invested in the case at this point to run any risk of personal losses of face to come in with case they themselves might consider weak in a given venue. Besides, the justice department itself is under not a little bit of scrutiny.

 

All politics? Maybe, but frankly I think individual egos are more at play and it's easy to point to their political affiliations.

 

The structure of current laws, with their often apparently contradictory wordings, is a cultural screwup that we Anglophones in general are having to live under since only courts can legally determine which wordings and which interpretations will prevail. Now add egos and... Sheesh.

 

m

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so,, not to get into any discussion on politics... I caught an insider story on this whole issue a while back, I think it was on one of the web sites, but buried in a side bar story.

 

So with Gibson, being in Tennessee, and of course, where as the south in general being far more conservative population than say oh I dunno,, California, the gist of this story was that while all Guitar manufactures are all using similar woods, why was Gibson raided, while Fender, Taylor, Guild, Gretch (are they not based in California?) were not? The interesting side note was comparing various campaign contributions from companies going to a certain "party", verses another. there were some numbers to back it up too. (I wish I could find this and post it here)

 

But -- With out going to far over the line to a discussion on politics, that I don't want to be in on this board - I'm just saying I found this pretty interesting and in light of this topic, it has never come up.

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Yes, a timely reminder of this bizarre and hysterical story...which can do no favours for US' world reputation for common sense...

 

A personal daily annoyance is the rampant obfuscation of 'who pays' in the many high profile cases...asylum seekers, users of wood etc

 

Where endless appeals and re-exams of cases are happily bankrolled by 'me and thee' :blink:

 

Legal eagles seem to earn escalating fees...and as mentioned, are encouraged to dream up new semantic interpretations to permit yet more lucrative court cases...

 

The world has indeed gone mad...a throwback to the 'horn o' plenty' ethos pre 2009...when little serious scrutiny was given to 'fantasy' billing for legal services...also tenuously linked to the behaviour of commercial bankers...

 

Unfortunately there is a strong 'old friends' network binding politicians with lawyers, bankers etc

 

So a 'top down' resolve is urgently needed... [crying]

 

V

 

:-({|=

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Yes, a timely reminder of this bizarre and hysterical story...which can do no favours for US' world reputation for common sense...

 

A personal daily annoyance is the rampant obfuscation of 'who pays' in the many high profile cases...asylum seekers, users of wood etc

 

Where endless appeals and re-exams of cases are happily bankrolled by 'me and thee' :blink:

 

Legal eagles seem to earn escalating fees...and as mentioned, are encouraged to dream up new semantic interpretations to permit yet more lucrative court cases...

 

The world has indeed gone mad...a throwback to the 'horn o' plenty' ethos pre 2009...when little serious scrutiny was given to 'fantasy' billing for legal services...also tenuously linked to the behaviour of commercial bankers...

 

Unfortunately there is a strong 'old friends' network binding politicians with lawyers, bankers etc

 

So a 'top down' resolve is urgently needed... [crying]

 

V

 

:-({|=

 

 

So... if your point is, our government needs an enema, you are 100% correct!

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I suppose I have to stand up for my profession here, and take the knocks. Having lived in more than one country, I do consider the US legal system to be one of the fairest out there. Americans love to hold contradictory views on many things ("less spending but more service for me") and this includes the courts. The average American will tell you that the courts are useless, corrupt, filled with vampire lawyers who do nothing but take your money, etc etc, but as soon as they get hurt in a car wreck, and feel their insurance company isn't treating them fairly, they get a lawyer and go to court. THIS IS A GOOD THING. In many counties, including the UK where I came from, the system is set up so that only the more powerful and wealthy party in a dispute can afford to go to court. You have to take what the insurer, your employer, the local authority, the zoning board etc offers, because losing a court case can ruin you. Your easy access to legal counsel and to the courts is a national treasure you should be very grateful for.

 

On the question of "why are regulations so bloody complicated that no-one can tell what they mean" the very same business organizations that raise this complaint generally had a large hand in creating the situation. Believe me, from experience (I spend most of my day on statutory interpretation) regulations are written vaguely because every time a regulation is made specific or simple, the regulated party immediately attempts to evade it, or claim that its simplicity makes it over broad. The process goes something like this:

 

 

Original Regulation: "No dumping of Zink Bromides in the river"

 

Industry: Aha but the chemical we're dumping is a Zinc Bromide derivative – it's not covered

 

New Regulations: "No dumping of Zink Bromides or derivatives in the river"

 

Industry: Aha, the word derivative is ambiguous and vague. Our chemical may be similar to Zinc Bromide, but we don't believe it's a "derivative"

 

New new Regulations: "No dumping of Zink Bromides or derivatives of Zink Bromides, or chemicals of the same or similar class, structure or type"

 

Industry: but the studies you relied on to enact the regulations dealt only with Zink Bromide 41A6X, we are using a very similar chemical, Zink Bromide 41A6Y, and you have no specific studies dealing with that derivative, therefore your action is arbitrary and capricious. Further, the phrase "similar class, structure or type" is unconstitutionally vague

 

New new new Regulations " After a two year study costing $400,000, we have determined that Zink Bromide 41A6Y is every bit as harmful as Zink Bromide 41A6X,and its dumping is prohibited."

 

Industry: But we are now using Zink Bromide 41A6Z -you have no specific studies dealing with that derivative, therefore your action is arbitrary and capricious.

 

New new new new Regulation: "NO DUMPING NASTY STUFF IN THE RIVER"

 

Industry: what a screwed up regulation. How are we supposed to know what we are allowed to dump? its not our fault the we can't follow this nightmare of regulation. All we asked for was a nice simple instruction. . . ..

 

It's a two-sided game, just as Henry's desire to push the Harvard Business School view of proper regulation and gain a national platform for his political views is the other side of the coin to an obscure and probably worthless agency action

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So from the other side of Martinhs writing, I'll say that I work for your government, and I agree with all that he wrote. It is two teams constantly playing against each other. Chemicals, Airplanes, Guitars, doesn't matter what it is, none of us really matter a whit. It's two teams that only see each other and don't care what crap they sell you.

 

rct

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Martin...

 

Only one objection to what you stated:

 

It's every bit as much a money game in the US as it is in the UK - just hidden better for cultural reasons.

 

A perfect example is the bullying of small venues with live entertainment once ASCAP or BMI decide to go after them. They have the choice of ending live entertainment and losing potential revenue and going out of business due to costs of litigation.

 

The laws ASCAP and BMI use are functionally a matter of "guilty until proven innocent" regardless what a court might think right and just. Again, being "right," and being found "right" in court is small consolation when one is bankrupted.

 

I've watched many other examples of money being the determinant in civil litigation regardless of right and justice, and reaching the level of being punitive even when the case was brought without evidence simply to make the target spend a bundle to get out from under.

 

I'll admit that my line of work has had me in courtrooms more than most folks, including lawyers. And I'll admit that it has made me rather cynical regardless that I might have had great respect for the individual judge and his court.

 

m

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Martin...

 

Only one objection to what you stated:

 

It's every bit as much a money game in the US as it is in the UK - just hidden better for cultural reasons.

 

A perfect example is the bullying of small venues with live entertainment once ASCAP or BMI decide to go after them. They have the choice of ending live entertainment and losing potential revenue and going out of business due to costs of litigation.

 

The laws ASCAP and BMI use are functionally a matter of "guilty until proven innocent" regardless what a court might think right and just. Again, being "right," and being found "right" in court is small consolation when one is bankrupted.

 

I've watched many other examples of money being the determinant in civil litigation regardless of right and justice, and reaching the level of being punitive even when the case was brought without evidence simply to make the target spend a bundle to get out from under.

 

I'll admit that my line of work has had me in courtrooms more than most folks, including lawyers. And I'll admit that it has made me rather cynical regardless that I might have had great respect for the individual judge and his court.

 

m

 

 

 

"I'll admit that my line of work has had me in courtrooms more than most folks, including lawyers" Darn right. Unless you are a junior prosecutor, or work for the PD's ofice you almost never get to trial nowadays. I assume you were a journalist? I'm pretty sure good 'ol Bill Brawn, the legal reporter for the the Tulsa World spends more time in court than most attorneys in town

 

As to your points about copyright law, ASCAP BMI etc - Agreed.

 

If I had to pick an area of law that I feel is rife with abuse, and that had been expanded from its original useful purpose by a god-cursed alliance of trial lawyers and industry lobbying, it would be the entire field of copyright and patent. My own view is that if, as Justice Kennedy believes, punitive damages veer towards the edge of constitutionality if in a ratio of more than 9:1 over actual damages, I cannot understand how the same court can uphold the completely punitive "statutory damages" available to copyright holders, that are typically many hundred times the actual economic loss.

 

Patents, originally intended to spur innovation and creation of " the useful arts" now act as a complete deterrent to innovation because any new feature is likely to be challenged in court as a violation of some else's patent. Firms such as Apple, Samsung Google etc in the technology field purchase huge swaths of patents, not because they want to develop the subject matter, but because they represent a defensive war chest if the company is sued, e.g. " you claim that our shiny phone casing violates your patent 91892836, well we believe the rounded corners of your phone casing violate our 463926495 – let's make a deal"

 

 

This was largely due to a meltdown in the patent office on the 80s. Patent law is clear that you cannot patent a "prior art" or a "clearly obvious use or clearly obvious extension of prior art" However with the advent of the internet, the patent office made the appalling error of deciding that, because the internet was new, nothing on it was a prior use, or clearly obvious

 

By Example, people have been selling cars by auction since cars existed- but someone was able to patent the idea of an "internet car auction" and make a lot of trouble before the patent was determined invalid. Likewise, it has been an established part of sales procedure since the seventeenth century that an auctioneer could halt an action before it started if some early bid in an amount specified by the seller was received. Yet someone sued Ebay claiming that they had patented this concept on the internet. The list is endless. Now Samsung and Apple are spending millions litigating whether a "swipe" is a patentable means of input, and if so, whether a "moving touch" violates the "swipe" patent. It is absurd.

 

 

If an early radio manufacturer claimed that it had patented "the tuning knob" and "the volume knob" and that all other radios had to have foot pedals or levers to tune with, the traditional patent office would have rejected such a claim without a moment's hesitation. Nowadays, if someone has figured a way to trigger an action by touching the screen with a finger, someone else can try and patent touching it with two fingers as a new innovation not a logical extension of the prior art, and the patent office buys it.

 

 

This is the area IMO most in need of legal reform. Given that the current abuses benefit mostly high stakes monied players, the likelihood of legislative reform is slim. . .

 

 

 

MH

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So from the other side of Martinhs writing, I'll say that I work for your government, and I agree with all that he wrote. It is two teams constantly playing against each other. Chemicals, Airplanes, Guitars, doesn't matter what it is, none of us really matter a whit. It's two teams that only see each other and don't care what crap they sell you.

 

rct

 

 

Sort of -- I work for the Supreme Court of Oklahoma. I'm a law clerk to one of the appellate Judges in the Court of Civil Appeals. Thats why my posts are pedantic and sometimes very very long and boring.....

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Sort of -- I work for the Supreme Court of Oklahoma. I'm a law clerk to one of the appellate Judges in the Court of Civil Appeals. Thats why my posts are pedantic and sometimes very very long and boring.....

 

I work for a Full size Administration that Administers stuff, but I don't makea big deal out of it.

 

rct

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Martin...

 

Still am a journalist. Since 1965. Yeah, a little long in the tooth.

 

I won't quite mention names, but a circuit court judge who ended up being the chief justice of a state supreme court helped walk me through litigation the first few years I was doing a lotta court coverage. For about two years, it was every morning plus additional time for major stuff.

 

So... I've covered lots of criminal and even some interesting civil stuff. In fact, I was tossed from a retrial of a condemnation case involving the Interstate highway system back in '66 or 7. The judge had decided he wanted no news coverage of the retrial. Since I was just still kinda a cub reporter at 21 or 22, I have no idea why the editor and publisher didn't push how that probably was illegal. To my knowledge it's still sealed.

 

Luckily most of my personal needs for copyright or patent work came before the current major "do" of copyright law. As far as I can tell, I was the first to handle a copyright on martial arts forms. At the time we didn't know whether it would be a copyright or patent - and how such choreography would be handled.

 

Anyway, my pet peeve is really on copyright law, especially the laws that carry over in favor of BMI and ASCAP, that are ridiculously antediluvian in terms of current technology.

 

As one who has been involved in creating written and visual materials for nearly 50 years, I still figure the way the law is applied is stupid, over restrictive and harmful. That may not have been the case pre-Internet, but it certainly is now.

 

<grin>

 

m

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Mr. J. just isn't too sophisticated when it comes to dealing with his problems. He's a political activist who's started a public fight with the cops who busted him.

 

If you want to tell when somebody knows they broke the law, take what they say before they talk with their lawyers and see how they change their tune after they talk with their lawyers. The difference in their story tells you exactly what they know they did wrong.

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Mr. J. just isn't too sophisticated when it comes to dealing with his problems. He's a political activist who's started a public fight with the cops who busted him.

 

If you want to tell when somebody knows they broke the law, take what they say before they talk with their lawyers and see how they change their tune after they talk with their lawyers. The difference in their story tells you exactly what they know they did wrong.

I don't think this is correct about Henry.

 

I don't see any activism by him until this happened. In fact, he didn't take it public until AFTER the second raid.

 

But when you are wronged at the level of what the Feds are doing, that is enough to turn many poeple into becoming an "activast".

 

The only thing I really see that has changed is that Henry at the point of after the second raid has made attempts to make it public what is happening, to draw attention to it. Any time you go public with a case, you open yourself up to scrutiny and the possibility of having to answer questions you don't want to. It's a risk. Perhaps after the second raid, it became clear the Feds weren't going to stop or there was nothing to lose making it public.

 

The message Henry has been trying to get out is pretty simple: this is what the Feds can do, this is what the Feds ARE actually doing. If they can do it to Gibson, they can do it to anyone, you and me included. By going public, he is letting it be seen so hopefully poeple might believe it actually happens.

 

If anyone doesn't see anything wrong with what the Feds are doing, you have missed the point. But I can almost gaureentee if and when it happens to you, you will feel it is wrong as well.

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