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Was the Gibson raid politically motivated?

Contributed by Gawain Reifsnyder, Saturday August 27th, 2011

Gibson's Thursday press release stated that the federal governent raided their company headquarters because of their use of wood legally imported from India. This rosewood is certified and regulated by the Forest Stewardship Council and is legal, but subject to domestic Indian law which merely "frowns upon" the processing of this wood by non-Indians. Gibson imports the wood and has American workers perform the processing steps.

In part, the press release reads,

The Federal Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. has suggested that the use of wood from India that is not finished by Indian workers is illegal, not because of U.S. law, but because it is the Justice Department’s interpretation of a law in India. (If the same wood from the same tree was finished by Indian workers, the material would be legal.) This action was taken without the support and consent of the government in India.

On August 24, 2011, around 8:45 a.m. CDT, agents for the federal government executed four search warrants on Gibson’s facilities in Nashville and Memphis and seized several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. Gibson had to cease its manufacturing operations and send workers home for the day, while armed agents executed the search warrants. Gibson has fully cooperated with the execution of the search warrants.

This whole thing just smells fishy. First of all, why is the federal government of the United States issuing warrants based upon their interpretation of the laws of another country? The Indian government itself was not involved whatsoever in this situation. Why would the federal government choose to demonize an American, non-unionized company for something that isn't even a crime under American law, and use the American taxpayers money to do it? 

There are beginnning to be strong suspicions that this is an entirely politically motivated attack. Consider that C.F. Martin & Company, one of Gibson's chief competitors uses the exact same Indian rosewood as Gibson. So, what's different? As long as the administration has decided to start enforcing the laws of other countries on our own soil, (grossly misguided in and of itself) why target Gibson specifically?

It turns out that Chris Martin IV is a long time Democratic supporter, with over $35,000 in contributions to Democratic candidates and the DNC over the last two election cycles.

On the other hand, Henry Juszkiewicz happens to be a donor to a couple of Republican politicians, including Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN07), and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN). He's also contributed money to the Consumer Electronics Association, a Political Action Committee with a history of favoring Republican candidates.

Also, we should keep in mind that the 2009 case between Gibson and the feds is still being litigated. The feds are probably not happy about this. Raids and other types of harassment are free for the DOJ, because it's on the taxpayers dime. 

It remains to be seen what the truth actually is, and we're hopeful that the real truth behind this mess comes out. Soon. For now, it's hard not to be cynical about the Obama Administration's motives for pursuing this case. It's clearly not about tax evasion, embezzling, or any other gross or minor infractions of United States law. It's apparently about enforcing vague Indian domestic trade law. Law which even the Indian government doesn't seem very concerned about enforcing. What?!

For now, the questions are still bigger than the answers, but there's something about this which smacks of old-time Chicago politics. Somebody's not falling in line, so a couple of the "fellas" are sent over to provide a kneecap exam and a friendly reminder of who runs the town.

We sure hope not. In the meantime we're supporting Gibson 100%.

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