Department of Justice undeterred in appealing on behalf of Operation Choke Point
posted at 9:21 pm on June 3, 2014 by Erika Johnsen
As Ed noted last week in regard to the Obama Justice Department’s ultra-bizarre and super-shady Operation Choke Point — an ATF scheme in which the feds tried to cut off what they deemed to be, ahem, objectionable enterprises’ access to banking services — it sure seems like a really great way to set up a system that will eventually ripen with corruption and abuse. The fact that two federal judges have recently recognized it as such, however, is not a deterrent for the ATF:
Two federal judges have ruled that widely used sting operations designed to ensnare suspects with the promise of a huge payday for robbing an imaginary drug stash house are so “outrageous” that they are also unconstitutional. One judge said the charges were so unfair that he threw them out after three suspects already pleaded guilty.
Each of the men admitted to charges that would put them in prison for seven years or more. But instead of sending them there, U.S. District Court Judge Manuel Real declared that federal agents had “created the fictitious crime from whole cloth” and that their conduct was unconstitutional. Then he dismissed the charges and ordered that all three be set free. …
Another judge there, Otis Wright, dismissed a similar case in March, concluding in a scathing order that a “reverse-sting operation like this one transcends the bounds of due process and makes the Government the oppressor of its people.”
The Justice Department has appealed both decisions.
Nor, I imagine, will the Justice Department be deterred by the House vote last week to stop all federal funding for Operation Choke Point, nor by the House Oversight Committee’s official complaints that the whole thing is pretty much a sham:
The Justice Department’s “Operation Choke Point” is so flagrantly illegal it cannot continue in any form under the law, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Charman Darrell Issa’s staff said in a new report, setting up a constitutional confrontation between the legislative and executive branches of the federal government.
“In light of the Department’s obligation to act within the bounds of the law, and its avowed commitment not to ‘discourage or inhibit’ the lawful conduct of honest merchants, it is necessary to disavow and dismantle Operation Choke Point,” the report said. …
DOJ has said the program is targeted at fraud, but the oversight committee report provided evidence the program was “was created by the Justice Department to ‘choke out’ companies the Administration considers a ‘high risk’ or otherwise objectionable, despite the fact that they are legal businesses.”
I might be a little more inclined to give the Justice Department the benefit of the doubt on this one if they didn’t already have another bizarre, completely ineffective, and ultimately deadly operation targeting perfectly legal gun shops under their belt. As it stands, I’m not.