Okay, here's where we are now, based on my industry contacts.
By now, the upper echelons of the ATF have been made aware of the CNN violations. My contacts told me there was very little chance the agency would move against CNN because of "intent" — there was no intent to violate the law.
That might work with murder and manslaughter, but my reading of the gun law doesn't leave a lot of room for "intent" — of course, I'm not an attorney!
At the very least, there are HUGE ETHICAL QUESTIONS for CNN in these actions. Somewhere within the bowels of CNN, an editor instructed subordinates to violate federal law, not because the fate of the republic hung in the balance, but because CNN wanted to add their own $0.02 of disinformation in a debate already rife with lies, distorsions and, as my grandfather used to say, pure-D bullshit. Will a .50 penetrate an airplane's shell? Yep, and so will my 9mm Glock. Are .50 calibers accurate at long range? You betcha, and so is my Remington .300 Ultra Mag elk rifle. Are gun deals between between individuals allowed in the United States? Yes, as allowed by state laws...so what? Does anyone other than media dweebs like Paula Zahn think that terrorists fly to the United States to buy guns at RETAIL, for god's sake? C'mon Paula...even you aren't that dumb, are you?
More as the story develops...