After weeks being crashed, BAM is finally back up today so here are my posts from there with some minor edits for clarity and sorry for having taken so long.
I'm sorry, to say Gibson had no choice but to move to laminate boards is wrong. The correct observation is Gibson had the same choice as all other wood importers in any of the many manufacturing sectors that use imported wood: put a system in place to ensure legal compliance for the imports; or stop using them. Such a system would be simpler, quicker, & cheaper to put in place than certification under International Standards Organization (ISO) 9001, 14001, or any of the other such certification protocols. Or Gibson could have chosen to engage one of the many available 3rd party certification organizations to accomplish this. Instead, Gibson apparently chose 1st, after their 1st brush with law, to paper their way around the issue and, now, to try to sell us a load of s- on laminate fingerboards. We all have our own underlying political leanings that each of us brings to every issue and discussion and that's cool but we should not allow this to overwhelm our assessments of the realities and merits of specific situations.
As just a quick example, here is one of the many independent 3rd party organizations currently available to provide Lacey Act verification/certification services. I have no personal or professional relationship to this particular group - I highlight it only to exemplify how easy it would have been for Gibson to have chosen to avail themselves of this route rather than move to lam's.http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/forestry/verification/legal
Or Gibson could have chosen to self-verify and certify. There are many self-certification protocols on the market for this purpose. E.g. (again, I have no relationship with this firm, I provide them as but one of many possible examples):http://www.laceyactresources.com/order.html
P.S. The Justice Department can be between a rock and a hard place with investigations of this nature. When they're quick, they're accused of rushing to justice, when they're slow, they're accused of dragging their feet. I have no inside info. on this one (nor would I share it had I any) but one would expect the Dept. to move methodically even while proceeding with confidential negotiations with the other party.
Last point I'll make is, as some of you may recall, this is not the first time Gibson got itself into trouble for importing illegal wood. After the first time, Gibson had 3 choices: quit importing wood period; set up a legit self or 3rd-party certification system like those I describe above; or configure a middleman importer scheme whereby Gibson continues with business as usual but now its corporate name isn't expressly on the bills of lading for the wood (the middleman's is). I don't know any more than you do if the latter is what Gibson actually did here as some in the internet rumor mill have suggested. I suppose we'll find it all out in the end when the investigation concludes. I can tell you that the Justice Dept. would be unlikely to react positively to such a situation.
Disclaimers: I'm happy to share whatever relevant gear knowledge or experience I have. Genuflection/payment/proof of worthiness neither sought nor accepted. I don't design, build, market, sell or endorse for pay any new music product or service. I occasionally sell personal used gear. I am an unpaid endorser of SoundScaper Productions and Godfrey Daniels Guitarworks.