August 29, 2011
By ERIC FELTEN
Federal agents swooped in on Gibson Guitar Wednesday, raiding factories and offices in Memphis and Nashville, seizing several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. The Feds are keeping mum, but in a statement yesterday Gibson’s chairman and CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, defended his company’s manufacturing policies, accusing the Justice Department of bullying the company. “The wood the government seized Wednesday is from a Forest Stewardship Council certified supplier,” he said, suggesting the Feds are using the aggressive enforcement of overly broad laws to make the company cry uncle.
It isn’t the first time that agents of the Fish and Wildlife Service have come knocking at the storied maker of such iconic instruments as the Les Paul electric guitar, the J-160E acoustic-electric John Lennon played, and essential jazz-boxes such as Charlie Christian’s ES-150. In 2009 the Feds seized several guitars and pallets of wood from a Gibson factory, and both sides have been wrangling over the goods in a case with the delightful name “United States of America v. Ebony Wood in Various Forms.”
The question in the first raid seemed to be whether Gibson had been buying illegally harvested hardwoods from protected forests, such as the Madagascar ebony that makes for such lovely fretboards. And if Gibson did knowingly import illegally harvested ebony from Madagascar, that wouldn’t be a negligible offense. Peter Lowry, ebony and rosewood expert at the Missouri Botanical Garden, calls the Madagascar wood trade the “equivalent of Africa’s blood diamonds.” But with the new raid, the government seems to be questioning whether some wood sourced from India met every regulatory jot and tittle.
May 28, 2010
King: “ACLU calls the shots at the Justice Department”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Steve King (R-IA) today called upon Attorney General Eric Holder to immediately make the DOJ’s “draft complaint” challenging Arizona’s immigration law public.
“President Obama has ordered Attorney General Eric Holder to use the Department of Justice in an attempt to invalidate Arizona’s illegal-immigration enforcement law,” said King.
“The ACLU, SEIU and the Muslim American Society are calling the shots at the Justice Department. The ‘draft complaint’ DOJ has prepared to challenge the Arizona law is a ‘cut & paste’ version of the class-action lawsuit the ACLU filed in United States District Court on May 17th.
No other conclusion could be reached unless Holder releases the Department’s ‘draft complaint.’ But when it becomes public, all of America will know what I know today. The ACLU and their radical affiliates are dictating the policy of the White House and the Department of Justice.”