September 11, 2008

Smokey and the Bandit, redux: Kohl on the case

The email from Sen. Herb Kohl's office today carried this headline:


Tobacco Trafficking Funnels Money
to Terrorists, Short-Changes State Tax Coffers

Oh, no, I thought (after wincing at the golfing verb): more of the same kind of on-the-margin activity, like his opening salvo two days ago against the high cost of txt msgN! Lower the cost of a tank of gas, damnit! Fix the economy!

And then a second thought kicked in: Smokey and the Bandit! Remember the lyric from Jerry Reed's song (Confession: I had to look it up to get the words just right.)
East bound and down, loaded up and truckin',
we're gonna do what they say can't be done.
We've got a long way to go and a short time to get there.
I'm east bound, just watch ol' "Bandit" run.

Ol' Smokey's got them ears on and he's hot on your trail.

He aint gonna rest 'til you're in jail.

So you got to dodge 'im and you got to duck 'im,
you got to keep that diesel truckin'.
Just put that hammer down and give it hell.
Ol' Bandit -- in the song anyway -- was moving moonshine.

"The boys are thirsty in Atlanta
and there's beer in Texarcana.
And we'll bring it back no matter what it takes

But there were plenty of other midnight journeys with Bandit's trunk filled with untaxed cigarettes.

Who knew the profits were going to terrorists?

Sen. Kohl? "Smokey Kohl" is up in arms about it, callling for "immediate Senate consideration" of his Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act.

Kohl writes: "Large tobacco trafficking networks have been uncovered in several regions of the United States, and some of their members have been prosecuted for providing material support to Hezbollah. It is believed these individuals provided millions of dollars to this dangerous terrorist organization. Law enforcement and intelligence officials have fought hard to cut off the flow of funds from cigarette trafficking to terrorist groups such as al Qaeda, and they believe the connection between cigarette trafficking and terrorist organizations is much more widespread than the number of public cases suggest. It is also estimated that $3.8 billion of tax revenue were lost, at the federal and state level, in 2004 alone."

Who knew? This 2003 report from the World Health Organization, that's who.

The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved Kohl’s PACT Act in May, 2007, but efforts to get it through the Senate have been blocked "by a small number of Republican Senators on behalf of special interests, such as tobacco companies and large delivery services," Kohl says.

“Cigarette trafficking, including the illegal sale of tobacco products over the Internet, costs states billions of dollars in lost tax revenue each year,” Kohl said. “As lost tobacco tax revenue lines the pockets of criminals and terrorist groups, states are being forced to raise college tuition and restrict access to other public programs.”

Hezbollah, al Qaeda and Hamas have all generated significant revenue from the sale of counterfeit cigarettes. In 1998, the ATF had six active tobacco smuggling investigations. In 2005, that number swelled to 452, the government says.

Sen. Kohl says the Internet represents a new obstacle to enforcement. Illegal tobacco vendors around the world evade detection by conducting transactions over the Internet, and then shipping their illegal products around the country to consumers. Just a few years ago, there were less than 100 vendors selling cigarettes online. Today, approximately 500 vendors sell illegal tobacco products over the Internet.

That should keep Ol' Smokey busy for a long while.


  1. This guy is such a typical asanine liberal boob. Even the way the link is displayed on your page.

    Kohl wants to tax something....Ryan wants to get going on energy.

    So Kohl....keep taxing crap.

    Ryan....lets get something productivne done.

  2. Someone nees to wake up and tell Sen Kohl that Hamas likes and wants Barry I mean Obama to be president. Can't do anything to upset them no no.