So what did they do to deserve this?

Last December I got a call from a newspaper wanting to talk about illegal bomb building. I posted about it here. In August Michael Blattner, the college student that got caught with the pipe bomb materials, plead guilty to knowingly and unlawfully possessing firearms at the dorm and at his parents’ home. This Thursday Blattner will be sentenced.

From what I can determine about the facts in the case the most Blattner was guilty of was being stupid. Oh, he probably violated several laws here and there but they were all victimless crimes. The type that nearly all gun owners violate all the time without realizing it. Nothing new to report there. Some stupid kid gets his life messed up because the government is overstepping it’s constitutional authority–it happens all the time.

What surprised me is this:

Two agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will be honored in Pittsburgh today for their investigation into a former California University of Pennsylvania student accused of possessing pipe bombs.


ATF agents Matthew Regentin and Ben Cornali will join a handful of law enforcement officers from western Pennsylvania being honored at the 10th Annual Law Enforcement Agency Directors Awards Ceremony.

The men are credited with the arrest of Blattner, 19, who was charged last year in federal court with knowingly and unlawfully possessing firearms at the dorm and at his parents’ home following a 10-day investigation.

According to the criminal complaint filed in the case by Regentin, police approached Blattner regarding suspected bomb materials on Dec. 5, 2006, at his dorm room in Residence Hall A.

Regentin said that when police – led by ATF agents and the Allegheny County Bomb Squad – searched Blattner’s dorm room, they discovered six pipe bombs ranging from 2 to 4 inches long wrapped in black electrical tape.

Additionally, Regentin said police uncovered two journals detailing the making of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), including drawings of pipe bombs and two sketches specifically titled “medium pipe bomb” and “planted IED” (Improvised Explosive Device).

If you read the original newspaper article you will see the local hardware store turned the kid in. As near as I can tell the ATF agents merely did a little searching through the kid’s places of residence and concluded he broke some law. Yet they are being “honored” for this. Had they done some great detective work, disarmed a bomb about to blow up a school, or successfully taken down a criminal/terrorist gang that had thousands of pounds of explosives with plans to kill people or do extensive property damage I would be in line to congratulate them on a job well done. But to have some poor smuck handed to them on a silver platter then for them to be “honored” tarnishes the meaning of honored.

Maybe there is more to the story and I’m way off base. If so, someone let me know and I’ll update my post. But until then I’ll just have to conclude the agents were so stupid that this awards ceremony is like a Special Olympics contest where the contestants were so severely handicapped you are amazed they know which direction to run and everyone deserves an award for just showing up.