Gibson Guitar Raid Turns Political

Feds investigate possible imports of endangered wood

By Guvner,  Newser User

Posted Aug 31, 2011 11:56 PM CDT | Promoted on Newser Sep 1, 2011 12:39 PM CDT

(User Submitted) – Allegations of illegal wood imports prompted the Justice Department to raid Gibson Guitar facilities in Tennessee last week. NPR aired the complicated story involving the 100-year old Lacey Act, which prohibits imports of endangered species, including plants, into the US. No formal charges have been pressed, but it appears the issue lies with Gibson possibly importing banned Madagascar ebony. Gibson insists the wood confiscated by marshals was legally acquired rosewood from India.

Adding some gusto to the story, right-leaning sites assert that Gibson rival CF Martin uses the same wood in some of its guitars, but the company was never investigated. The Landmark Report thinks that's fishy, given that Martin's CEO is a Democratic donor and Gibson's CEO is a GOP backer. Raising the octave even higher, it is possible Michelle Obama ran afoul of the Lacey Act when she presented France's Carla Bruni with a Gibson guitar that may have contained banned wood. However the story plays out, many are frustrated with the retroactive aspect of the law. "It's a nightmare," says a dealer. "I can't help it if they used Brazilian rosewood on almost every guitar made prior to 1970."

In this 2010 photo, one of the 70 all-white Imagine model John Lennon guitars and one of the 500 replicas of an earlier model played by Lennon are on display at Gibson Acoustic in Bozeman, Mont.
In this 2010 photo, one of the 70 all-white "Imagine" model John Lennon guitars and one of the 500 replicas of an earlier model played by Lennon are on display at Gibson Acoustic in Bozeman, Mont.   (AP)
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