In this era of increased harassment and persecution of people on the basis of political viewpoints and…
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First Amendment Rights: Good News from the IRS on Donor Privacy

In this era of increased harassment and persecution of people on the basis of political viewpoints and First Amendment expression, there’s actually good news to report.

In fact, that positive development comes from none other than the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which few people typically consider a font of good news.

Specifically, the IRS just announced a proposed rule to stop requiring nonprofit organizations to file what’s known as a Form 990 Schedule B, which exposes sensitive donor information not only to the federal government and potential rogues like former IRS official Lois Lerner, but also people who seek to access and use that information to target people on the basis of political belief.

As we at CFIF have long asserted, this welcome move will help protect the…[more]

September 12, 2019 • 11:07 am

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Operation Castaway, Another ATF Gun Scandal Print
By Ashton Ellis
Tuesday, July 19 2011
To date, there are an estimated 1,400 guns from Phoenix’s 'Operation Fast and Furious' whose whereabouts are unknown. Adding Tampa’s 'Operation Castaway' to the mix may increase the number of by another 3,000.

Who knew the federal agency that brought us the idea of letting guns illegally “walk” into Mexico would also oversee a similar program connecting Florida and Honduras?

Apparently, no one in senior management at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), or its parent organization, the Department of Justice.  ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson and United States Attorney General Eric Holder have both claimed ignorance of the Phoenix-based “Operation Fast and Furious.”  Congress is still waiting for either man’s reaction to new revelations about a Tampa program, “Operation Castaway,” that seems suspiciously similar to its southwestern cousin. 

In both the Phoenix and Tampa field offices, ATF agents – with approval from Washington, D.C., managers – wanted to trace the illegal sale of firearms from straw men (legal buyers who then sell to people who can’t legally own guns) to “bigger fish” in the international criminal community.  The plan was to nab the leaders of street gangs and drug cartels instead of picking off their errand runners.

The deadly failure of that plan became apparent when U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed with one of those guns in a shootout with illegal crossers near the Arizona border last December.  Since then, congressional focus has fixed on the flow of Arizona guns allowed to wash into Mexico.  House Government Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have been applying increasing amounts of pressure to Melson and Holder, and those under them, to get straight answers about who knew about Operation Fast and Furious. 

Melson and Holder will be getting even more questions in the wake of the information uncovered by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL).  As a member of House committees on Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs, Bilirakis found out about another ATF program monitoring illegal firearm sales going into a foreign country.  This time, the destination was Honduras, and the point of origin was ATF’s Tampa field office. 

Though the details are still being sorted out, Bilirakis and guns rights reporters David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh indicate that ATF’s Tampa office knew that guns it monitored through third-party sellers were finding their way to Honduras.  Bilirakis wants to know if members of the international crime syndicate “MS-13” are known to ATF or DOJ to be in possession of guns that were once supposedly under surveillance. 

To date, there are an estimated 1,400 guns from Phoenix’s “Operation Fast and Furious” whose whereabouts are unknown.  Adding Tampa’s “Operation Castaway” to the mix may increase the number of by another 3,000. 

In response, President Barack Obama is listening to advice from the ultra-liberal Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the highest profile gun control lobby in Washington, D.C.  According to Brady’s Acting President Dennis A. Henigan, ATF’s deliberate escalation of the arms flow to Mexican drug cartels means that gun store owners who followed ATF orders (even after some questioned those orders) should now be regulated even more than before. 

On July 12, the Department of Justice publicized President Obama’s executive order requiring gun store owners to report multiple firearm sales to DOJ and other federal agencies like ATF. 

But if increasing reporting requirements is so easy, why wasn’t it done before?  Because there is no statutory authority to enforce such a requirement.  A press release from the Brady Campaign praising Obama’s executive order acknowledges as much by saying “We need to give the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sufficient legal authority to crack down on corrupt dealers who feed the stream of trafficked guns.”  (Emphasis added) 

By the Brady Campaign’s own admission, the Obama Administration does not have “sufficient legal authority” under current law to enforce this new burden on gun store owners.  In a sane world, the political leaders on both sides would root out the bureaucrats gone wild, and then get what’s left of ATF back to policing crime for which it does have authority. 

Alas, as the debt ceiling debate is proving, this is far from a sane moment in our nation’s history.  As that circus continues to distract, responsible members of Congress shouldn’t forget to hold rogue or willfully negligent law enforcement agents to account. 

Question of the Week   
On September 17 of which one of the following years was the U.S. Constitution sent to Congress for ratification by the states?
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Quote of the Day   
 
"An FBI assistant to James Comey says in a book released Tuesday that the former FBI director took advantage of the 'chaos' of the early Trump administration to set up an interview with Michael Flynn, the national security adviser.Josh Campbell, who was Comey's personal assistant at the FBI, writes in 'Crossfire Hurricane: Inside Donald Trump's War on the FBI,' that FBI leadership had 'intense discussion…[more]
 
 
—Chuck Ross, Daily Caller
— Chuck Ross, Daily Caller
 
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