Why regime change doesn't always work

Ever since the First Gulf War, the preferred strategy for dealing with madman dictators was and remains one of regime change.  The theory goes that once the head of state is eliminated or removed from power, the rest of the populace and the armed forces will bow to our will.  The major problem with this strategy is that established governments of any stripe tend to embed their ideological allies in the nation's bureaucratic and national security infrastructures; in some cases, down to local militia and municipal level councils.

Most people would point to the administration's internal wars against the intelligence community and other agencies in the Fifth Branch of Government  as good examples of this concept in our own country.  But apparently it goes further than this.

Last year, agents from our own Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) conducted a series of operations at a Richmond, Virginia gun show using tactics that at best could be called heavy—handed, and at worst were illegal, and certainly not within the intent of long—standing legislation.

Hearings conducted by the US House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, chaired by Rep. Howard Coble, R—N.C., found that:

  •  Dozens of BATFE agents and local law enforcement officers intrusively questioned dealers and customers;

  •  Agents and officers tried to discourage people from buying guns;

  •  Stopped show attendees' cars on the way home, and in some cases agents confiscated customers' lawfully purchased guns;

  •  Officers interrogated of family members and neighbors concerning the motivations of the purchaser

  • Where guns were confiscated, the BATFE gave the people a letter that said 'the firearm that you purchased is being taken into [BATFE] custody' and that '[f]ailure to appear' at the BATFE office 'could result in the immediate issuance of a federal arrest warrant.'

    Where is the hue and cry from the privacy advocates on the left?  I guess they're too busy with the NSA data mining imbroglio to be concerned with real violations of privacy.

    At any rate, Congressional hearings have resulted in two House Resolutions  that reign in the BATFE and firmly codify the intent of our elected representatives.  But the scary part is that several of the provisions of this legislation have been law in the form of appropriations bills that some civil servants in the BATFE have been ignoring for years.

    For example, H.R. 5005, the 'Firearms Corrections and Improvements Act,' by Rep. Lamar Smith (R—TX) would:

  •  Permanently ban taxes or 'user fees' on background checks by the federal instant check system — fees that Congress has prohibited in appropriations amendments every year since 1998.

  •  Permanently ban electronic registries of dealers' records — a threat to gun owners' privacy that Congress has also banned through appropriations riders for a decade.

  •  Limit disclosure of firearms trace records — which Congress has already limited through a series of appropriations riders over the past few years, out of concern for gun owners' privacy and the confidentiality of law enforcement records.

  • Is there any part of 'Congress banned' or Congress prohibited' that the BATFE doesn't understand?

    This in no way is meant to compare our government functionaries with the political and military structure of a Saddam Hussein or the dangerous nut job, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Just be aware that a president or a representative of solid conservative credentials does not necessarily translate into a magical transformation of the nation's bureaucratic machinery, especially if they simply subvert or ignore the laws of the land.

    Douglas Hanson  5 23 06

    Ever since the First Gulf War, the preferred strategy for dealing with madman dictators was and remains one of regime change.  The theory goes that once the head of state is eliminated or removed from power, the rest of the populace and the armed forces will bow to our will.  The major problem with this strategy is that established governments of any stripe tend to embed their ideological allies in the nation's bureaucratic and national security infrastructures; in some cases, down to local militia and municipal level councils.

    Most people would point to the administration's internal wars against the intelligence community and other agencies in the Fifth Branch of Government  as good examples of this concept in our own country.  But apparently it goes further than this.

    Last year, agents from our own Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) conducted a series of operations at a Richmond, Virginia gun show using tactics that at best could be called heavy—handed, and at worst were illegal, and certainly not within the intent of long—standing legislation.

    Hearings conducted by the US House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, chaired by Rep. Howard Coble, R—N.C., found that:

  •  Dozens of BATFE agents and local law enforcement officers intrusively questioned dealers and customers;

  •  Agents and officers tried to discourage people from buying guns;

  •  Stopped show attendees' cars on the way home, and in some cases agents confiscated customers' lawfully purchased guns;

  •  Officers interrogated of family members and neighbors concerning the motivations of the purchaser

  • Where guns were confiscated, the BATFE gave the people a letter that said 'the firearm that you purchased is being taken into [BATFE] custody' and that '[f]ailure to appear' at the BATFE office 'could result in the immediate issuance of a federal arrest warrant.'

    Where is the hue and cry from the privacy advocates on the left?  I guess they're too busy with the NSA data mining imbroglio to be concerned with real violations of privacy.

    At any rate, Congressional hearings have resulted in two House Resolutions  that reign in the BATFE and firmly codify the intent of our elected representatives.  But the scary part is that several of the provisions of this legislation have been law in the form of appropriations bills that some civil servants in the BATFE have been ignoring for years.

    For example, H.R. 5005, the 'Firearms Corrections and Improvements Act,' by Rep. Lamar Smith (R—TX) would:

  •  Permanently ban taxes or 'user fees' on background checks by the federal instant check system — fees that Congress has prohibited in appropriations amendments every year since 1998.

  •  Permanently ban electronic registries of dealers' records — a threat to gun owners' privacy that Congress has also banned through appropriations riders for a decade.

  •  Limit disclosure of firearms trace records — which Congress has already limited through a series of appropriations riders over the past few years, out of concern for gun owners' privacy and the confidentiality of law enforcement records.

  • Is there any part of 'Congress banned' or Congress prohibited' that the BATFE doesn't understand?

    This in no way is meant to compare our government functionaries with the political and military structure of a Saddam Hussein or the dangerous nut job, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Just be aware that a president or a representative of solid conservative credentials does not necessarily translate into a magical transformation of the nation's bureaucratic machinery, especially if they simply subvert or ignore the laws of the land.

    Douglas Hanson  5 23 06