Feds Silent on Stolen Red Lodge Explosives
Recovery Announcement With Zero Details Suggests They Have Something to Hide
BY DAVID S. LEWIS
Usually, when federal authorities resolve some problem that’s been in the public eye, they trumpet their success and revel in the details to show us how wonderful they are.
Remember George Bush’s Mission Accomplished, when he flew onto an aircraft carrier and talked up the fall of Sadaam Hussein? And when Navy Seals took out Bin Laden, Barrack Obama rushed in front of television cameras within 24 hours, telling the world Osama had been taken out (tipping off al-Quaeda operatives, who could also have been targeted, what with the intelligence trove from Osama’s compound, had the commander in chief waited a month or so). In other words, Bush and Obama couldn’t wait to publicize the details (and in Obama’s case, so much so, that he revealed the existence of a top secret stealth helicopter used in the raid, putting politics before national security, as with his disclosure of the Stuxnet virus used to confound centrifuges in Iran’s nuclear weapons program).
Recently though, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms told us they had recovered 559 pounds of explosives stolen from a Forest Service bunker near Red Lodge last April, but revealed nothing else, nothing at all. The Forest Service, ATF, and the Obama Administration had committed and unpardonable sin, letting all those explosives “walk” in the first place, leaving people of common sense to wonder how a supposedly security conscious government, one that makes harmless travelers take off their shoes when boarding airplanes, could lose a quarter ton of their explosives, failing to keep them under guard, and in an era when terrorists blow up Americans in places like Boston and Manhattan.
ATF Agent Ken Bray of Billings announced in November that all of the stolen explosives had been recovered. He declined to supply any details, revealing nothing, for example, that might prove embarrassing (or that would give the story legs), no who, where, how, why (we did get what—explosives, but we already knew that). We were also told that no arrests had been made, and that an investigation is continuing. Zero details.
With virtually no information offered pertaining to such a serious crime, one with life and death implications, and the ATF clearly hiding something, responsible parties ought to shout—Why?
We were told after news of the stolen explosives hit the fan in May (without much fanfare) that the authorities knew nothing about the case, had no idea who had broken into the bunker or why, but that they did know the theft was not terrorism related.
Excuse me? If they admittedly knew nothing about it, how did they know it was not terror related (not that it necessarily was)? This was, rather, a blatant political statement, and you can bet the directive and lid that has shut down tight on this snafu came from on high, due to the hugely embarrassing nature of it and indications of such obvious incompetence (post 9/11 Feds letting 559 pounds of explosives get stolen, not having secured the holding facility).
And so, the recent recovery announcement ought to be taken as suspect as well, possibly part of a political strategy, in that we were told the explosives were recovered, and nothing more. It is possible (remotely) that releasing more could compromise an investigation, and that ATF publicized the recovery to ease people’s minds (their stated reason on behalf of Red Lodge area families), but when there is incompetence, deception and self-serving bureaucracy in the first place, such reasons become a mere possibility rather than likely, as an already disgraceful record on such matters (Benghazi, Fast and Furious, Stuxnet) forms the context for a supposedly bright leadership failing to do one simple thing right—protect a cache of explosives in a secure facility, so bad guys can’t use them to blow people up.
Given the deceptions and track record, one might even wonder if they have recovered the explosives at all.