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Sen. Leland Yee out on bail, despite weapons trafficking charges

Known as the “California Senate’s Top Gun Control Advocate.” Democratic State Sen. Leland Yee was indicted Friday by a federal Grand Jury on seven federal felonies including bribery, and arms trafficking in illegal firearms and weapons. Yee wasn’t just trafficking in tiny pearl handle pea shooters – he was indicted for being involved in trafficking shoulder-mounted rocket launchers.

Now, in addition to being known as one of California’s leading proponents of gun control, Yee is accused of working with Chinatown gangsters and brokering arms deals with a Muslim rebel group based in the Philippines.

Politics makes strange bedfellows

After a stinging loss in his 2011 race for San Francisco Mayor, and coming in fifth place, Yee apparently was strapped for cash — $70,000 in campaign debt needed to be wiped out before he could begin a new campaign for California Secretary of State.

Looking for a quick way to retire his campaign debt is how Yee apparently got involved with arms dealers, the FBI, and the $2 million arms deal, including the shoulder-mounted rocket launchers, from Pilipino Muslim rebels, according to the FBI affidavit.

“Do I think we can make some money? I think we can make some money,” Yee said to an FBI the agent, according to the 137-page arrest affidavit. “Do I think we can get the goods? I think we can get the goods.”

Though some say Yee lacked the political clout to fulfill any of the promises he made to the gansters and arms dealers, he stands accused of putting his public office up for sale, and promising to push donors’ agendas in Sacramento and in his district in exchange for contributions.

It’s good to be a Senator

With the United States Department of Justice actively trying to cut arms trafficking, particularly into Mexico, by monitoring the sale of assault rifles in border states, the news of Sen. Leland Yee trafficking in rocket launchers and other illegal firearms and weapons with well-known Muslim rebel groups, is astonishing.

The Obama administration, and many states have been cracking down on gun and weapon purchases, including the legal purchases of assault weapons — all while Yee was allegedly making illegal weapons deals of his own.

The FBI affidavit also described Yee as involved with gang members, laundering drug money, dealing in cocaine, marijuana, illegal cigarettes, fraudulent credit cards, murder for hire, in addition to the deals with known arms dealers.

Despite these very serious charges, Yee, is free on $500,000 bail. He was in court Tuesday, where he entered a “not guilty” plea.

The FBI revoked the bail of Yee campaign manager and co-conspirator Keith Jackson on Friday. But not Yee – he’s still out on bail.

The edges of the indictment of Sen. Leland Yee appear to be softening, likely in anticipation of the inevitable political pressure sure to come.

And as Yee appears to be receiving different treatment than other citizens caught dealing in illegal arms, many are asking how and why?

Treason, terrorism, gun running

Recently, a Lodi man was charged with a single count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

A Nevada man was arrested in 2011 and accused of providing support to terrorism groups in India and Pakistan.

These citizens, and others like them accused of terrorism, were held indefinitely without bail under the Homeland Security Act.

The FBI defines the term “federal crime of terrorism” as an offense that:

* Is calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct; and

* Is a violation of one of several listed statutes, including § 930(c) (relating to killing or attempted killing during an attack on a federal facility with a dangerous weapon); and § 1114 (relating to killing or attempted killing of officers and employees of the U.S.).

Until the federal government knows the intent and purpose of Yee’s alleged crimes and involvement with rebel Muslim terrorists in the Philippines, apparently he won’t be charged with terrorism.

But remember he was running for California Secretary of State, and According to the FBI affidavit, planned to use  the office to cut deals.

In the FBI affidavit, Sen. Yee understood money given to his campaign was for the purpose of an introduction to an arms dealer. Yee even told one of the gang members he would be appointed to a Russian delegation when Yee won the election as Secretary of State.

Oran’s Dictionary of the Law (1983) defines treason as “…[a]…citizen‘s actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation].” In many nations, it is also often considered treason to attempt or conspire to overthrow the government, even if no foreign country is aiding or involved by such an endeavor.

If the federal government wants to make a terrorism or treason charge stand, they can. If they don’t, guys like Sen. Leland Yee cut deals and get $500,000 bail.

In the only news story addressing Yee’s connection to terrorism, and asking why he isn’t being tried for terrorism, a Contra Costa Times story reported a Pepperdine law professor Gregory McNeal said, “there’s really no chance of a terrorism-related charge.” McNeal is an associate law professor at Pepperdine University School of Law and expert in national security law, according to the Times’ story.

Because of politics, because the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Philippine Muslim terrorist group Yee was involved with, remains off the U.S. terror list, Yee won’t be charged with terrorism.

It’s not enough that prosecutors prove Yee knew his support would benefit terrorism; they would need to prove Yee intended for the gun money to further the terrorists’ goals, he said.

But under the Homeland Security Act, American citizens who allegedly threaten American security are detained indefinitely, without even Miranda Rights being read.

While Yee is accused of putting his public office up for sale, and promising to push campaign contributors’ agendas in the state Capitol in exchange for contributions, and arms trafficking with known Muslim rebels, Yee remains out on bail.

If this was you, would you be out on bail?

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