Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The art of the non-denial denial and the demand for the names of our sources.

Non-denial denial is a statement that seems direct, clearcut and unambiguous at first hearing, but when carefully parsed is revealed not to be a denial at all, and is thus not untruthful. It is a case in which words that are literally true are used to convey a false impression. -- Wikipedia.
Today we have this gem from NRA courtesy of ARFcom:
Thank you for contacting NRA-ILA regarding recent negotiations between the National Rifle Association and the BATFE.
The NRA-ILA is not sure where this internet rumor started or by whom, but it is completely untrue. I have attached the NRA-ILA sign up for legislative alerts. This is the best way to stay informed of the legislative activity within the NRA-ILA. We will continue to fight for your 2nd Amendment rights day in and day out.
NRA-ILA Alert Sign Up
Nick C
NRA-ILA Grassroots
Now let's go back to my original story for the statement of fact gleaned from my own sources:
Last week, a secret deal involving the National Rifle Association lobbying arm and brokered by politicians of both national political parties was struck in Washington DC that would save the ATF from the political and legal consequences of its own regulatory errors.
Does this say that this is "recent negotiations between the National Rifle Association and the BATFE"? No. It does not say that the NRA and the ATF are in direct negotiations. This is itself a non-denial denial.
Let's recap with my best understanding of the way this "deal" happened.
The ATF, caught in a testicular vise of their own construction on the pistol grip shotgun "destructive device" definition, went crying to their mommas and poppas on the Democrat side of the Congress for help. The Democrat politicos did what they usually do and tasked the Congressional Research Service to research the subject, to include the National Firearms Act and, among other things, the "sporting purpose" language in the 1968 Gun Control Act. According to my sources, and the reason I wrote it as I did as detailed above, the Dems then approached the GOP about getting the ATF's ass (and those of millions of pistol-grip shotgun owners) out of this crack and, oh by the way, you get the credit and we get this itty-bitty ban on "specialty" ammunition. It is certain that the GOP would not agree to anything like this, which my sources say that they did, without first running it by someone in the NRA leadership.
Now, it is POSSIBLE that Chris Cox didn't know about this? Unlikely but possible. If so, where else could it have come from? LaPierre? Only the NRA can answer this question. But to think that the GOP seriously entertained changing any legal language having to do with firearms and the ATF WITHOUT the input stretches the bounds of incredulity.
Then we have this remarkable statement: "The NRA-ILA is not sure where this internet rumor started or by whom."
REALLY? Maybe he should have asked his boss, Chris Cox, for he has absolutely no doubt who wrote it and where the story came from.
Finally, we also have trolls in all the usual places calling me a pathological liar and demanding my sources. This is a familiar pattern, most notable in the early days of Fast and Furious when both the administration and the media were trying to discredit the story and to learn the names of the whistleblowers and other sources used in our stories.
I recall one phone conversation at the time with Michael Isikoff quite vividly. Boiled down, its meaning was: "Okay, the professionals are here now. Give us your sources and we'll figure out where you're lying." Although I passed Isikoff's request for interview down the email chain to the whistleblowers, it was rejected with the comment that "this prick is working for DOJ."
We go to great lengths to protect our sources, and in my case at least, with some unconventional techniques. Readers may recall that during my Benedict Arnold period I was a trained communist cadre. I was taught the fieldcraft of the dead drop and how to shake a tail.
Most of the folks at the NRA national meeting (never say "convention," it is a faux pas) who had access to the conversations of the NRA leadership were frankly reluctant to be seen talking to me. Perfectly understandable since I had announced myself in the press room that early Friday morning with printed copies of David's initial story. It wasn't like the NRA leadership didn't know what story I was working on. That is why some of those conversations took place in restrooms, elevators, outside the venue and in one case (yes, shades of Deep Throat) in a parking garage. I struck out more often than not, but between Nashville and DC I got the story that I ultimately ran with. If you can't be sensitive to needs of the folks who can give you the story then you won't get the story. It is a matter of common sense and trust.
Indeed, the only reason that folks within various agencies communicated with David and me on Fast and Furious was that we had developed a prior track record of reliability and they knew that we would die before we would give up a source. That remains our policy. And if we wouldn't give up our sources to the armed minions of the federal leviathan, we're sure as hell not going to give them up at the demand of the Internet trollweenies of the NRA.
Again, I repeat what I told Chris Cox to his face: I stand by my story (and my sources) and if he feels he has been libeled he is free to sue me any time he feels froggy. They are welcome to doubt my sanity, my probity and my ancestry as they choose, but don't doubt that I have sources that I trust for what I write.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps some clarification may be in order. The names of your sources may become a valuable part of this story at some time in the future. But the story of the Watergate burglary and subsequent coverup by the Nixon administration was not dependent on or diminished in any way by us not knowing the identity of "Deep Throat". We don't need the names of your sources at this point. We may never need their names.

The names we need are those of the members of Congress who were complicit in this proposed backroom deal, the names of those in the NRA who were party to the negotiations, and perhaps even the names of any staffers who were in possession of this knowledge yet chose to keep their mouths shut and thereby became accessories to the act.

In as much as you can reveal names without significant risk to your sources' identities,


Uncle Elmo said...

Perhaps the non-denial denial is taught in the same art class as the non-apololgetic apology- at law school.

I apologize if I offended any lawyers with this comment.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice if we did have proof in the form of an email, meeting minutes, something other than a namless source.

Anonymous said...

I don't see what the big deal is for the ATF. Just leave the law on the books. No other guns laws seem to be enforced these days, so just leave this one unenforced. Were they planning to enforce this somehow when they aren't enforcing any of the other gun control laws?

Anonymous said...

A diversionary trap is set for you and you guys take the bait every time! They get you and David to cry about anonymous posters (by saying the most offensive and personal ad hominem attacks alongside demanding sources names) while at the same time you keep sources anonymous. The intent there is to create a sense of hypocrisy - where you are trying to have it both ways.

Don't play their damn game!!!

On your comments AND THEIRS, apply the exact same standard -
It doesn't matter WHO says XYZ. What matters is whether it's true or false. WHO says something does not make substance true or false. WHAT is said either has merit or it doesn't!

So don't take the diversionary bait. Address CONTENT dismiss the By line.

Anonymous said...

Good for you, Mike. Don't give up names of your sources. The NRA is just looking for people they deem traitors to their own traitorous machinations.

A list of names of those in the NRA leadership and Congress who went along with this "deal" are what's needed.

Anonymous said...

I don't always agree with you, but you got my deepest respect.
Keep up the good work and continue to shame the NRA, the nations oldest and largest guncontrol org.

Anonymous said...

Well well Mike. All this expert advice on how to handle your sources from so many legal scholars and journalists. Its like you have never done this before, a few times, or something.