An investigation by The Los Angeles Times into the criminal export of ballistic vests ten years ago by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to their counterparts in Cambodia points to yet another double standard on enforcement of federal laws. Revelations that the U.S. Customs Service gave LASD a pass on the assumption they were ignorant of legal specifics, despite their having left a convoluted trail showing extraordinary measures taken to mask their actions, lead to no other conclusion than government favoritism and deliberate indifference to willful violations.
Those measures include the Sheriff’s underlings using the City of Gardena, whose mayor is also a top LASD official, as the presumptive recipient of the vests, which were then hidden inside a patrol car and exported without being declared. The Gardena City Council was never apprised of this, not did the city ever take possession of the vests.
“Federal investigators decided not to press charges on the ground that there was no evidence that anyone involved in the transactions were aware of the relevant export laws,” Clif Burns at Export Law Blog wrote in a follow-up commentary. “Of course, that’s not the standard. The scienter requirement is that the accused knew that the exports were against the law, not that they were aware of the particular export laws in question.
“Call me cynical,” he added, “but if someone not in law enforcement went to these extremes to disguise what they were doing, that person would be indicted faster than you can say ‘ham sandwich.’”
Naturally, Lee Baca claimed “a complete vindication,” even though the county auditor claims no one ever said a word to her about Cambodia. And naturally, his spokesman says no one did anything wrong, and that this is all just a misunderstanding.
Even though “Sheriff's media representatives gave The Times differing accounts about the transaction, initially denying any sheriff's officials were involved in sending the vests to Cambodia, then offering explanations contradicted by records and interviews” and even though “The officials involved in the transaction refused to discuss it” ...
If there is a legitimate law enforcement requirement to send equipment to a foreign nation, there are laws which must be followed. LASD not only did not follow those laws, they clearly went to great lengths to circumvent them, and the feds then made sure the violation was allowed to stand without repercussion.
This discretionary application of rules, when, as Burns correctly observed, a non-favored person or group would be prosecuted, turns the presumption of equality under the law on its head. And, as this story reinforces, it’s not just a problem with the Obama administration, it's been ongoing -- this happened during the Bush presidency, and Baca is, at least in name, a Republican.
Allowing such things to pass not only makes a mockery of the laws through the sheer hypocrisy of elitist application -- as the David Gregory/magazine outrage reminds us -- it confirms that those with connections and approval of the ruling elites enjoy special privileges and immunities.
It also sets tones and expectations within enforcement agencies. A case in point, in spite of being urged to investigate export law evasions that occurred under Fast and Furious, neither the Congress nor the Office of Inspector General have shown any inclination to even acknowledge, let alone to pursue that line of inquiry.
If you're a regular Gun Rights Examiner reader and believe it provides news and perspectives you won't find in the mainstream media, please subscribe to this column and help spread the word by sharing links, promoting it on social media like Facebook (David Codrea) and Twitter (@dcodrea), and telling your like-minded friends about it. And for more commentary, be sure to visit "The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance."