When a company like Gibson Guitar is singled out for harassment by US government agencies, if our country had legitimate media, reporters would go on a fact-finding mission.
After covering the first raid on Gibson in 2009, I didn’t hear anything more about it until Friday. I interviewed the CEO of Gibson Guitar after the second raid on plants in Tennessee. In that raid, armed federal agents burst in and questioned workers who did not have legal counsel present.
I am researching the 2008 amendments to the Lacey Act originally passed in 1900. As I’ve said before, US manufacturers are at a definite disadvantage where this Act and the amendments are concerned. I seriously doubt China is going to be very concerned—that country has a robust economy to protect.
I did find an association between a leftwing environmental group and Gibson. In a report posted at the Environmental Investigation Agency (not related to the US government), Gibson is mentioned.
The report said in 2007 procurement officers from Gibson and two other manufacturers (Taylor and Martin) “were taken by Tropical Forest Trust on a fact-finding trip to Madagascar. The object of the trip was to identify sustainable sources of wood suitable for guitar construction and encourage efforts to build a value-added industry in Madagascar that could reliably supply US industry with suitable high-value wood.”
TFT originated in the United Kingdom.
Guess what the TFT environmentalists found? “It could take years to create a sustainably managed supply of ebony…”
Gibson, having every reason to continue manufacturing quality instruments, kept manufacturing guitars, taking pains to vet vendors and taking pains to comply with US government regulation.
EIA of course knows as much about producing a quality guitar as I know about designing a space shuttle.
In their report EIA cited a vendor that Gibson had done business with. EIA said, “Theodor Nagel, a large international dealer in exotic and tropical wood, has had an exclusive working relationship with the Malagasy Société THUNAM Roger for some twenty years, importing semi-finished ebony, pallisander, faho and other woods in significant quantities.”
EIA also claimed that there was “dubious legality” in the wood supply available after the procurement officers’ trips.
The phrase “dubious legality” is outrageously subjective and would never be admissible as legal testimony. For instance, it is my opinion many progressives in Congress have “dubious” abilities and ethics. They still hold office, however, and my use of “dubious” is an opinion.
EIA said, “Despite these warning signs, trade data indicates that Gibson continued to purchase wood from Nagel…”
The term "warning signs" is subject to biased interpretation.
In the EIA report are numerous photos of deforestation. There is no way to determine whether the cut wood was used domestically or internationally, whether for guitars or fuel. The photos are of course very dramatic.
EIA admits most of the wood believed to be illegal goes to China.
EIA originated in the United Kingdom. The EIA report also credits Global Witness as a partner in the investigation.
Among benefactors of Global Witness there is a high profile progressive donor: George Soros.
That alone leads one to wonder what benefits Soros might derive from indirectly manipulating timber exports from other countries. In fact, EIA and Global Witness’ influence seriously impacts the global timber market.
How much influence do EIA and Global Witness have on the Obama administration and the US Congress?
Theoretically aren't these groups interfering with interstate commerce, with that interference based on political ideology? Those are questions worth asking and exploring.
EIA does not list donors or sources of funding other than to say they rely on "public support."
Is the US Dept. of Justice harassing an American manufacturer because of two leftwing environmentalist group’s “dubious” claims?
Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz told me his company hired 580 workers in the last two years despite the economic downturn. Those workers and millions more will be out of a job if environmental extremists continue to dominate US policy and legislation.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Aug. 26, 2011)
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