Archive for the ‘Obama’ Category
Michael Isikoff’s article is a big revelation:
Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on a controversial search warrant that identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “possible co-conspirator” in violations of the Espionage Act and authorized seizure of his private emails, a law enforcement official told NBC News on Thursday.
The disclosure of the attorney general’s role came as President Barack Obama, in a major speech on his counterterrorism policy, said Holder had agreed to review Justice Department guidelines governing investigations that involve journalists.
“I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable,” Obama said. “Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs.”
That’s major news with huge anti-Obama and anti-Holder implications. President Obama’s credibility on First Amendment issues is practically nonexistent because his attorney general signed off on search warrants on reporters. AG Holder’s credibility is shot now that it’s known that he signed off on a search warrant accusing a reporter of committing a crime he didn’t commit. This is the type of revelation that gets the attorney general terminated.
The US attorney general is the chief law enforcement office in the nation. He’s the chief protector of the Constitution, too. He’s useless when he’s wildly accusing reporters of breaking laws they didn’t break. He’s worthless if he isn’t fiercely defending the Bill of Rights.
Rosen, who has not been charged in the case, was nonetheless the target of a search warrant that enabled Justice Department investigators to secretly seized his private emails after an FBI agent said he had “asked, solicited and encouraged … (a source) to disclose sensitive United States internal documents and intelligence information.”
This is President Obama’s worst nightmare. On the day when he tried convincing the American people that he’s defending the nation and the Constitution, his attorney general is proven to have signed off on a search warrant that trampled a reporter’s First Amendment rights.
President Obama’s difficulties aren’t going away anytime soon.
According to this Newsmax article, Lois Lerner put herself in danger of being held in contempt of court:
Lois Lerner, the Internal Revenue Service’s embattled director of Exempt Organizations, could be held in contempt of court and jailed for refusing to testify before Congress, civil-rights lawyer Alan Dershowitz says. “She’s in trouble. She can be held in contempt,” Dershowitz told “the Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.
If Mr. Dershowitz says she’s vulnerable, I won’t disagree with him. He’s the expert.
“Congress…can actually hold you in contempt and put you in the Congressional jail.”
Lerner, grilled Wednesday on the IRS’ targeting of conservative organizations, invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, but not before insisting “I have done nothing wrong.” Her brief statement of innocence has opened a legal Pandora’s Box, according to Dershowitz.
“You can’t simply make statements about a subject and then plead the Fifth in response to questions about the very same subject,” the renowned Harvard Law professor said. “Once you open the door to an area of inquiry, you have waived your Fifth Amendment right…you’ve waived your self-incrimination right on that subject matter.”
Lerner doesn’t have much of an option at this point. She’ll either have to testify or risk being put in jail, albeit the Congressional jail. Dershowitz said that she isn’t the only person who’s potentially put themselves in hot water:
He said the fact that Lerner went ahead with her proclamation of could be considered malpractice on the part of her attorney, although it’s possible she overruled the advice she received.
At this point, Ms. Lerner’s options are limited to either answering the committee’s questions in full or being held in contempt of Congress. I can’t imagine either option is that appealing to Ms. Lerner.
The only other option for Ms. Lerner is to negotiate a deal with the committee. If she has proof that people higher in the food chain were behind this operation, now’s the time to play that chip.
Playing that chip won’t put her on the Obamas’ Christmas card list but that’s a luxury she can’t afford right now.
Peggy Noonan’s article about the IRS scandal is her best writing in some time. She nails it when she talks about how the IRS became a political instrument in the Obama administration’s hands:
The Journal’s Kim Strassel reported an Idaho businessman named Frank VanderSloot, who’d donated more than a million dollars to groups supporting Mitt Romney. He found himself last June, for the first time in 30 years, the target of IRS auditors. His wife and his business were also soon audited. Hal Scherz, a Georgia physician, also came to the government’s attention. He told ABC News: “It is odd that nothing changed on my tax return and I was never audited until I publicly criticized ObamaCare.” Franklin Graham, son of Billy, told Politico he believes his father was targeted. A conservative Catholic academic who has written for these pages faced questions about her meager freelance writing income. Many of these stories will come out, but not as many as there are. People are not only afraid of being audited, they’re afraid of saying they were audited.
All of these IRS actions took place in the years leading up to the 2012 election. They constitute the use of governmental power to intrude on the privacy and shackle the political freedom of American citizens. The purpose, obviously, was to overwhelm and intimidate—to kill the opposition, question by question and audit by audit.
It is not even remotely possible that all this was an accident, a mistake. Again, only conservative groups were targeted, not liberal. It is not even remotely possible that only one IRS office was involved. Lois Lerner, who oversees tax-exempt groups for the IRS, was the person who finally acknowledged, under pressure of a looming investigative report, some of what the IRS was doing. She told reporters the actions were the work of “frontline people” in Cincinnati. But other offices were involved, including Washington. It is not even remotely possible the actions were the work of just a few agents. This was more systemic. It was an operation. The word was out: Get the Democratic Party’s foes. It is not remotely possible nobody in the IRS knew what was going on until very recently. The Washington Post reported efforts to target the conservative groups reached the highest levels of the agency by May 2012—far earlier than the agency had acknowledged. Reuters reported high-level IRS officials, including its chief counsel, knew in August 2011 about the targeting.
President Obama’s high-profile ‘announcement’ that Jack Lew had asked for and accepted the resignation for the acting IRS commissioner was insulting. He’s leaving in 2 weeks anyway.
There’s too many instances of the IRS going after Republicans to ignore. There’ve been too many times where Republicans were targeted by multiple offices of the IRS to think this is the work of 2 rogue agents in Cincinnati. I wrote here about Michele Bachmann’s explanation of how the IRS bureaucracy works. She said it was apparent a week ago that the official White House statement was fiction.
The president speaks in the passive voice. He attempts to act out indignation, but he always seems indignant at only one thing: that he’s being questioned at all. That he has to address this. That fate put it on his plate.
This fits his pattern. When Jeremiah Wright first became news, Sen. Obama said that he couldn’t criticize his rants. Then Wright criticized Obama. Wright got shoved under the proverbial bus in a New York minute.
That’s the pattern. After 5 years of watching the Tyrant From Chicago, we shouldn’t be surprised that he’d use the IRS as a weapon against his political enemies.
Wednesday night, Michele Bachmann was interviewed by Greta van Susteren about the IRS scandal. What she said is quite pertinent to the scandal:
Here’s the first exchange between Greta and Michele:
GRETA: And, of course, we’re all chewing on the news that Bret Baier sent me that he was at the end of his term at the end of the month and President Obama making the announcement that he’d resigned just a month early.
BACHMANN: Well, he was the perfect scapegoat. He was exiting the stage anyway and so they might as well make it look like they’re chopping his head off on the way out because it wasn’t going to happen anyway.
By the time Jay Carney gives the daily press briefing, people will be criticizing President Obama for attempting to pull a fast one on people. This scandal will hurt the administration because the IRS has a history of intimidating people and because of the fear IRS audits have caused.
Later in the interview, Ms. Bachmann talked about a major TEA Party press conference:
BACHMANN: This is a major press conference where all of the major TEA Party organizations from across the United States are coming together. We are having a major press conference at the Capital. Joining us will be Sen. Mitch McConnell, Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Mike Lee. There’ll be many members of the House of Representatives. But it’s to give a voice to the TEA Party because they are livid as you can imagine and these leaders want to react and tell their story publicly.
People have asked where the TEA Party has been. Frankly, they’ve been hiding after the left successfully vilified them. Rest assured, though, that they’ll be fired up after they’ve been targeted by the IRS. Rest assured, people will sympathize with them because people hate and fear the IRS.
Later, Rep. Bachmann dispatched with the notion that a couple agents went rogue:
GRETA: So I’m curious with the IRS, doing this, what is the usual time period for people to get their tax exempt status from the IRS?
BACHMANN: Well, within a reasonable amount of time. Certainly within 2 years. It certainly doesn’t take the IRS to do it. But I knew this was a phony story last Friday, when the story came out because when I was a federal tax attorney and did this work, we had very strict jurisdictional limits within the IRS because we were handling people’s tax data. We had to act within that tax zone. We had very strict procedures where we check a lot of boxes. Our supervisors up the food chain check them. It’s impossible for them to go rogue.
In short, President Obama and his handlers are attempting to sell a BS story to the American people. The thing that’s going to trip them up are little details like this. If people “up the food chain” are checking these applications off, then this must be a cultural systemic problem, not a couple rogue agents acting irresponsibly. If you read the type of intrusive questions that the IRS asked some conservative applicants, you’ll realize that it’s ideological and possibly systemic.
President Obama and his apologists have insisted that the changes in the CIA’s intelligence community’s report on the Benghazi terrorist attack were the result of bureaucratic infighting. We’ve been told that that’s typical. This morning, Jim Geraghty wrote this in his morning e-letter:
If there was evidence that everyone within the State Department, military, and White House were doing everything they could to rescue our guys on that awful night, we would have heard about it long ago. If there was a good reason for the “talking points” to get edited down from a false premise (a demonstration) but at least serious information (previous CIA warnings about terrorist activity) to false pabulum, we would have heard it by now; the latest lame excuse is that the 14 edits merely reflect “bureaucratic infighting between the CIA and State.”
It’s time to return to Realityville, people. Bureaucratic infighting is typical when people are putting a plan together or figuring out a long-term strategy. Bureaucratic infighting isn’t supposed to happen when people are trying to determine the truth about events.
Bureaucratic infighting might happen when deciding whether to beef us security for diplomats. Bureaucratic infighting might happen when deciding whether to attempt a rescue of diplomats during a terrorist attack. Bureaucratic infighting might happen when people try to determine the proper response to repeated terrorist attacks on foreign missions.
Once the attacks have happened, however, the infighting stops. To determine the truth, the experts on the ground must be talked to. At that point, the only exercise left is determining whether the CIA’s report was accurate. If it was, then their report should be given to the proper people.
The BS that this administration has been spreading since the caskets returned to the United States has been insulting. It’s time this administration puts to rest their ‘the video made them do it’ storyline.
Finally, it’s time to utterly discredit James Clapper’s statement that he felt sorry for Susan Rice for telling the truth. Nothing she said on those Sunday morning talk shows was the truth. Clapper’s insistence that the talking points are accurate indicates that he’s a political appointee, not an intelligence officer.
Last week, Benghazi erupted when Gregory Hicks testified that a) Hillary Clinton called him during the terrorist attack and b) he told her that they were in the midst of a terrorist attack. Later that week, the IRS admitted that they had targeted TEA Party organizations in an investigation. This afternoon, this headline will rock the White House to its core:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.
The records obtained by the Justice Department listed incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, CT, and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP.
In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.
Benghazi is about this administration’s decision not to protect its diplomats. The IRS scandal is about this administration’s use of the IRS’ investigative authority to target political opponents. This AP scandal is about having a chilling effect on the gathering of news.
If a government knows who the AP or any other media organization is talking to, that’s certain to have a chilling effect on people who might otherwise become whistleblowers. This is a good summarization:
In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.
“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know,” Pruitt said.
That’s chilling. This is worse:
The government would not say why it sought the records. U.S. officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have leaked information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qa’ida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.
This isn’t a conspiracy theory. An integral part of a conspiracy theory is a theory. It stops being a conspiracy when facts and proof are added into the equation.
Apparently, when it comes to Obama administration scandals, when it rains, it pours.
In a stunning statement this morning, President Obama insisted that the Benghazi investigation is much ado about nothing:
“And suddenly three days ago this gets spun up as if there’s something new to the story,” Obama said in response to a question about Benghazi. “There’s no there there.”
The president continued, “Keep in mind, by the way, these so-called talking points that were prepared for Susan Rice, five, six days after the event occurred, pretty much matched the assessments that I was receiving at that time in my presidential daily briefing.”
There’s plenty that’s new here. Prior to Wednesday, I didn’t know that Hillary Clinton talked with Gregory Hicks while the Benghazi attacks were happening. Prior to Hicks’ testimony, I didn’t know that Hicks told Hillary that there was an attack going on.
In addition to new information from the testimony, there’s also tons of new questions to get answers to. First, who eliminated the FEST option? Next, why was the FEST option eliminated? Third, who gave the orders to Lt. Col. Gibson to not rescue Glenn Doherty and Tyrone Woods? Fourth, why was this order given? Fifth, why did the State Department’s objections to the CIA’s report take precedence over the truth? After all, the CIA got it right the first time. Sixth, why did Beth Jones send out an email calling the Benghazi attack a terrorist attack? Seventh, why was the truth the final casualty of the terrorists’ attack?
As for President Obama saying that the “talking points that were prepared for Susan Rice” “pretty much the assessments” he was receiving during his PDBs, that’s BS. It’s insulting. The CIA’s initial report talked about a terrorist attack, with members of Ansar al-Shariah participating in the attack. The CIA’s initial report also talked multiple warnings from the CIA of mounting terrorist threats to foreign interests in Benghazi. That was deleted from the State Department’s talking points. Make no mistake, either, about the talking points. What started as a CIA intelligence report was eventually turned into a State Department CYA talking points memo.
This op-ed exposes a disturbing thought process:
For a long time, it seemed like the idea of a coverup was just a Republican obsession. But now there is something to it.
On Friday, ABC News’s Jonathan Karl revealed the details of the editing process for the C.I.A.’s talking points about the attack, including the edits themselves and some of the reasons a State Department spokeswoman gave for requesting those edits. It’s striking to see the twelve different iterations that the talking points went through before they were released to Congress and to United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, who used them in Sunday show appearances that became a central focus of Republicans’ criticism of the Administration’s public response to the attacks. Over the course of about twenty-four hours, the remarks evolved from something specific and fairly detailed into a bland, vague mush.
Why the media thought that the Republicans’ investigation into Benghazi is a matter of the media’s bias. Common sense always said that the administration wasn’t telling the truth on what happened in Benghazi. That and Libyan president Mugariaf telling Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer that it was a planned terrorist attack that took the lives of Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glenn Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
The hearings have identified who ordered the rewriting of the State Department’s CYA document. What the hearings haven’t done yet is identify who told Lt. Col. Gibson not to attempt to rescue the diplomats stationed in Benghazi. The hearings haven’t identified who eliminated the FEST option. YET.
When President Mugariaf told Schieffer that terrorists had killed Christopher Stevens, most thinking people bought into that because presidents of countries know what’s happening in their countries. When Susan Rice started with the administration’s ‘the video made them do it’ lie, most people knew that was BS. A video that’d been seen by 100 people worldwide didn’t start the uprising.
We now know that the Petraeus-led CIA got it right the first time with their report on what happened that night. Similarly, we know that the State Department, with help from the NSC’s Ben Rhodes, turned the CIA intelligence report into a political talking points document.
What’s most disturbing, though, is the media’s intellectual curiosity was essentially nonexistent. The notable exception to that is Sharyl Attkisson. She dug into the administration’s spin and uncovered important facts. The good news is that the media finally appears to be getting curious. Jonathan Karl’s article is a step in that direction, though Steve Hayes’ article opened the floodgates on the subject.
The initial draft revealed by Karl mentions “at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi” before the one in which four Americans were killed. That’s not in the final version. Nor is this: “we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.”
Omitting the “five other attacks” and the “we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack” is like omitting the hijackers names from the initial 9/11 report. The ARB’s ‘investigation’ is filled with the same omissions.
Question: Are people in DC incapable of asking straightforward questions?
From the start, the Obama administration insisted that the Benghazi talking points that UN Ambassador Susan Rice relied on were written almost exclusively by the CIA. According to this article, that story was pure fiction. What’s more is that the White House and the State Department knew it was fiction:
State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland raised specific objections to this paragraph drafted by the CIA in its earlier versions of the talking points:
“The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.”
In an email to officials at the White House and the intelligence agencies, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland took issue with including that information because it “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either? Concerned …”
In other words, Victoria Nuland knew that the initial talking points from the “IC” included references to al-Qa’ida and the “five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi.” Ms. Nuland knew that those references were damaging to the State Department and this administration. That’s why she insisted that that information be deleted from the talking points.
Ms. Nuland was right. Members of Congress likely would’ve used the information to expose President Obama and Hillary Clinton for being inattentive about terrorism in general and Benghazi in specific.
It’s difficult to say that President Obama and Hillary Clinton paid attention to terrorism when they’re defending their decision to cut security forces in the aftermath of the previous terrorist attacks in Benghazi. It’s especially difficult to defend their decisions in light of the multiple frantic requests for more security troops.
These paragraphs are particularly disturbing:
In an email dated 9/14/12 at 9:34 p.m. — three days after the attack and two days before Ambassador Rice appeared on the Sunday shows, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes wrote an email saying the State Department’s concerns needed to be addressed.
“We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation. We thus will work through the talking points tomorrow morning at the Deputies Committee meeting.”
“The State Department’s concerns need to be addressed” is just a fancy way of saying the talking points must be rewritten to eliminate the information that makes this administration look bad.
Finally, this speaks for itself:
ABC News has obtained 12 different versions of the talking points that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows the Sunday after that attack.
It isn’t accurate to say that the talking points weren’t “the best analysis of the IC” as Jay Carney and Hillary Clinton insisted. The talking points were the product of a massive State Department rewrite.
This morning, I wrote that Wednesday’s hearing on Benghazi will be explosive. This article assures us that President Obama, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice will be feeling the heat. Here’s some information that’s certain to increase the heat on the administration:
The account from Gregory Hicks is in stark contrast to assertions from the Obama administration, which insisted that nobody was ever told to stand down and that all available resources were utilized. Hicks gave private testimony to congressional investigators last month in advance of his upcoming appearance at a congressional hearing Wednesday.
According to excerpts released Monday, Hicks told investigators that SOCAFRICA commander Lt. Col. Gibson and his team were on their way to board a C-130 from Tripoli for Benghazi prior to an attack on a second U.S. compound “when [Col. Gibson] got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, ‘you can’t go now, you don’t have the authority to go now.’ And so they missed the flight … They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it.”
The Obama administration has insisted that there weren’t military assets that could’ve reached Benghazi. Gregory Hicks’ testimony contradicts the administration’s spin. Hicks’ testimony also demolishes the credibility of the ARB’s report on Benghazi. That report didn’t point the finger at anyone. Instead, it spoke of the systemic failures that happened that day.
If Hicks’ testimony is that Lt. Col. Gibson was prevented from putting together a rescue operation, then someone had to have given that order. We know that because a special operator told Fox News’ Adam Housley that special operators were prepared to respond quickly.
It’s impossible to predict with any certainty whether other networks will start covering this scandal. What’s totally predictable, though, is that Hicks’ testimony will put a big hit on the Obama administration’s credibility on Benghazi. It will also hurt the ARB’s report, which cited “systemic failures” for the poor response for Benghazi.
This wasn’t a systemic failure. This was about Hillary Clinton failing to do her job. It’s about Leon Panetta failing in his responsibility to have troops prepared for the anniversary of 9/11. It’s about President Obama ignoring the needs of the diplomats in Benghazi.
In short, it was a human failure.