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According to top US intelligence officials, al-Qa’ida is morphing so it can fight other fights:

“Is al Qaeda on the run and on the path to defeat?” Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-OK, asked in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper responded, “No, it is morphing and and franchising itself and not only here but other areas of the world.” Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, added, “They are not.”

Former President George W. Bush asserted that that al Qaeda network was “on the run” as early as October 2001. President Obama adopted the phrase and used it repeatedly on the campaign trail in 2012. Touting his foreign policy record, Mr. Obama often said, “al Qaeda is on the run and Osama bin Laden is dead.”

What’s troubling about this testimony is that it indicates this administration’s policies are flawed. While President Obama loves talking about taking out core al-Qa’ida, it doesn’t say what it’s doing to gather intelligence that’s capable of rolling up entire networks.

The Obama administration has trumpeted its successes in killing terrorists with drone strikes. They certainly trumpeted the killing of bin Laden. What they didn’t do is keep these victories quiet, giving terrorists information that helped them quickly adjust.

Further, this isn’t doing anything to adjust to al-Qa’ida’s changing identity, which is needed to thwart future attacks. Most importantly, though, is that this administration has stopped hunting al-Qa’ida where it lives. It’s frustrating knowing that America’s withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan is turning territory once taken from al-Qa’ida is now being given back to al-Qa’ida and the Taliban.

If al-Qa’ida sees that the US is exiting the Middle East and north Africa, they’ll know that they’ll soon be controlling large chunks of real estate that can quickly be turned into terrorist training camps. In short, President Obama is giving back the victories President Bush won.

President Obama won’t admit this but al-Qa’ida isn’t on the run. It’s growing its control of large parts of the developing world. Simply put, they’re achieving their goals. We’re failing at achieving our goals.

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The chief message from Greta van Susteren’s post is that FNC’s reporters just wanted the administration to tell us the truth about Benghazi. Greta put together quite a compelling case, starting with this:

So let’s take a little walk in history…just a sample of how the Obama Administration tried to shut Fox News Channel’s reporting down:

In the early days after Benghazi, the State Department omitted only Fox News Channel from its conference call to all the media when it claimed to be answering questions about Benghazi for the media. Our friends in other media outlets were scandalized that Fox was not included and told us all about it. They were suspicious of State Department forgetting us/Fox and courageous to tip us off. The State Department claimed it was accident and not intentional.

And then shortly thereafter, there was the CIA briefing about Benghazi at the CIA for all the networks except one: Fox News Channel. The CIA would not let Fox News Channel attend.

Leftist apologists for this administration insist that Fox News isn’t really a news organization, that they’re just a front for the RNC. While there’s no doubt that FNC has more conservative pundits on its staff, there’s equally no doubt that their straight news people are straight shooters.

Let’s start with Greta. I suspect, though it’s just a hunch, that she used to be a liberal. These days, again it’s just a hunch, I’d bet that she’s an independent. She questions Republicans just as Democrats. Nobody is let off the hook when they try slipping a question. Megyn Kelly is the same way.

FNC’s correspondents fit that same mold. It’s impossible to tell what James Rosen’s politics are. Ditto with Jennifer Griffin and Catherine Herridge, the chief Pentagon correspondent and chief Intelligence correspondent, respectively. These women have outclassed the other networks’ reporters about Benghazi for the most part. The exception to that has been CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson.

These 3 women have uncovered piles of government documents telling people in the government what happened the night 4 American patriots were assassinated. In short, if liberals want to discredit FNC’s reporters, they’d best be prepared to explain why a) emails within the administration verify what FNC’s reporters have reported and b) why the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report verifies FNC’s reporting. Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s treachery and threats against Fox don’t stop there:

And then as I was sitting at my desk thinking about the reporting since September 2012, I thought about the weirdest of all and the worst of all for me personally! I remembered a disturbing phone call from a good friend in the Obama Administration. I have known this friend for years. The call was a short time after 9/11 (maybe Oct. 2012?) In the call, my friend told me that my colleague Jennifer Griffin, who was reporting on Benghazi, was wrong and that, as a favor to me, my friend in the Administration was telling me so that I could tell Jennifer so that she did not ruin her career. My friend was telling me to tell Jennifer to stop her reporting. Ruin her career?

In 20 plus years, I have never received a call to try and shut down a colleague, not that I even could; this was a first. Here is what I know: Jennifer is a class act, experienced and a very responsible journalist. One of the absolute best in the business, no axe to grind, she just wants the facts.

I told my friend before I go to Jennifer telling her she is wrong, I need proof she is wrong, strong proof and you need to be specific; what are you saying she is getting wrong? We went around and around, including the statement again that this was just a call as a favor to Jennifer and me to save Jennifer’s career from reporting incorrect information. I got no proof. Zero. I smelled a rat. Favor to me? Hardly. My friend was trying to use me. I feel bad that a friend did that to me, tried to use me for a dirty reason. I knew then, and it is now confirmed by BIPARTISAN Senate Intelligence Committee, Jennifer was getting her facts right. I think it is really low for the Administration to stoop this low.

That’s despicable. Then again, that’s what I’d expect from this administration. They’re more despicable than the Nixon administration when it comes to dealing with the press.

If the administration is interested in the truth, they shouldn’t have a trash-the-reporters strategy. Thankfully, they tried getting Greta to bite on their spin. That wasn’t just stupid. It was counterproductive.

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On Thursday, Sen. Feinstein tried selling the spin that Hillary wasn’t responsible for not preventing the Benghazi terrorist attack:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., noted that the bipartisan report released this week on the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks in Libya did not mention Clinton even once.

“I regret that the ‘Additional Views’ of the report adopted solely by six members of the Republican minority unfairly criticizes Secretary Clinton,” Feinstein said in a statement. “I want the record to be clear: I condemn any effort to use this report for political purposes.

Nothing in the bipartisan report, Feinstein said, assigned any blame for the attacks to Clinton, who was secretary of State at the time.

“Ultimately… the final responsibility for security at diplomatic facilities lies with the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton,” said the “Additional Views” approved only by Republicans. “We believe there should be a full examination of her role in these events, including on the night of the attacks.”

Technically, Sen. Feinstein is right. There’s nothing in the report that blames Hillary for not taking actions that might’ve prevented the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2012. There should be plenty in the report criticizing Hillary for not acting on urgent requests from Christopher Stevens, the assassinated US ambassador to Libya. As usual, the All-Star Panel didn’t pull punches:

Andrew Napolitano nailed it when he said that “This report raises more questions than it answers.” He later opined that “the people who were responsible for this were the ones who did the investigating.” Charles Krauthammer ridiculed Sen. Feinstein, saying “the weakness of the Senate report is that it blames buildings. It blames the State Department. It blames the CIA. It blames the military, these bureaucracies. In the end, it doesn’t blame anybody. No human is held accountable.”

Let’s turn this around on Sen. Feinstein. Let’s use her logic against her. If Hillary wasn’t responsible for protecting Christopher Stevens, then Rumsfeld wasn’t responsible for Abu Ghraib and President Bush wasn’t responsible for waterboarding KSM.

Using Sen. Feinstein’s logic, Langley (the building) caused KSM’s waterboarding and the Pentagon (the building itself) was responsible for Abu Ghraib.

This paragraph is exceptionally telling:

“Our responsibility throughout this review was to focus on the intelligence,” Feinstein said. “The report finds the attacks were preventable, based on extensive intelligence reporting on terrorist activity in Eastern Libya and given known security shortfalls at the U.S. Mission.”

That’s a different way of saying that their committee would do a rehash of the Accountability Review Board’s report. In the real world, where people attempt to connect the terrorists’ dots, people would ask a) who’s responsible for embassy and consulate security, b) what procedures were in place to make sure urgent requests got the Secretary of State’s attention, c) why military assets weren’t pre-positioned and placed on alert to respond to crises and d) why President Obama and Hillary Clinton were nowhere to be found during the terrorist attacks.

Sen. Feinstein accused Republicans of using the report to hurt Hillary Clinton politically. The reality is that Hillary Clinton’s decisions hurt Hillary politically. I’d further argue that political figures should take a political hit for making terrible decisions that got American patriots needlessly murdered.

Returning to reality, let’s admit that Hillary a) ran in 2008 on the claim that she was the only candidate prepared to properly handle a 3:00 am phone call, b) didn’t take action to prevent the needless assassinations of American patriots and c) took the Secretary of State’s job to check off the ‘national security box’ for when she runs for president in 2016.

Finally, let’s admit that, based on what she’s done, Hillary was a mediocre Secretary of State.

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Catherine Herridge’s reporting in this video is the smoking gun that the Left’s apologists say doesn’t exist:

Here’s part of Herridge’s article:

Several Al Qaeda members emerged as “leaders of the pack” in last year’s Benghazi attack, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Fox News following release of a bipartisan report blowing apart claims the assault was the work of local extremists with no formal terrorist connections.

The former Guantanamo detainee Sufian bin Qumu, first identified by Fox’s Bret Baier as a suspect 16 months ago, at the very least helped lay the groundwork for the operation.

“Certainly Qumu was involved in planning in this…he is a member of a group that is affiliated with Al Qaeda so in my mind that makes him Al Qaeda,” said Chambliss, R-Ga.

According to the timeline that’s been put together from the House Armed Services Committee testimony, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama knew that Benghazi was a terrorist attack within fifteen minutes of the start of the attack. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report said that there were direct ties to a former Gitmo detainee who was part of al-Qa’ida’s network. That’s proof that President Obama and Hillary Clinton lied about the origin of the attack. We know this because Hillary accused an obscure filmmaker of triggering the terrorist attack in Benghazi.

This information from the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report doesn’t help the administration either:

It concludes that the Benghazi attackers came from two official Al Qaeda affiliates, bin Qumu’s Ansar al-Sharia, and a fourth group, the Jamal network, whose leader is connected to the Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan.

“Individuals affiliated with terrorist groups including AQIM, Ansar al-Sharia, AQAP and the Mohammad Jamal Network participated in the September 11, 2012 attacks,” the report said.

That doesn’t leave the administration any wiggle room on whether this was a professionally coordinated terrorist attack. This information mocks the State Department’s spin that “core al-Qa’ida” wasn’t involved in planning the Benghazi assassination of Ambassador Christopher Stevens. People in New York, at the Pentagon and across the country don’t care whether “core al-Qa’ida” planned Stevens’ assassination. They’re just worried that Detroit is bankrupt and al-Qa’ida is alive and well in north Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and southwest Asia.

People are worried that the terrorists are gaining more sanctuaries where they can plan and train for their next major terrorist attack. People don’t care whether the State Department’s narrative is spin. They care about whether their families are safe. Based on what we’ve seen happening during this administration’s time in office, people have a right to be worried that another terrorist attack is right around the corner.

The Obama/Hillary/Panetta national security team has been close to worthless. They killed bin Laden, the leader of a psychotic movement. Then they let that movement grow and flourish. Al-Qa’ida in Iraq had been demolished. Their training bases in Afghanistan had been demolished. Then President Obama and Secretary Clinton abandoned Iraq to appease their nutjob anti-war supporters. Now al-Qa’ida is alive and well in north Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and southwest Asia.

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Sunday afternoon, the Minnesota Vikings defeated the Detroit Lions in the final game in Metrodome history. In a game that only meant something in terms of draft positioning and, possibly, the head coaches’ fate, Cordarrelle Patterson stole the show, scoring a pair of touchdowns. Patterson’s first touchdown came after he chose not to throw a wide receiver option pass, instead finding his way through the Detroit Lions’ defense for a 50-yard TD run. Patterson’s other touchdown was the game winner in the fourth quarter. It came on a back shoulder throw from Matt Cassel with just under 10 minutes left in the game.

It was a fitting game for the Metrodome’s finale because the Metrodome wasn’t a great sporting venue. People have great memories of the Metrodome because of the events, not the facility.

What’s memorable about today’s game was that Cordarrelle Patterson’s play today told defensive coordinators across the NFL that they’d better know where he’s at on every play. Simply put, he’s the bigger-and-faster version of Percy Harvin. That and he doesn’t have Percy’s migraines.

Matt Asiata, who started in place of Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, rushed for 115 yards on just 14 carries. Should Gerhart leave after the season as a free agent, Asiata seems like a more-than-adequate back-up for Adrian Peterson.

Another bright spot for the Vikings was TE Chase Ford. Ford’s play might’ve pushed Litchfield’s John Carlson off the Vikings roster. Carlson has battled injuries throughout his career. He signed an expensive contract 2 years ago, coming from Seattle through free agency. The Vikings might just cut him and free up cap space to shore up other positions of need.

Today was likely the last games in a Vikings uniform for Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Erin Henderson, Charlie Johnson, Chris Cook, Toby Gerhart and possibly Eversen Griffin.

Jay Glazer is reporting that Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier will be fired Monday morning:

Frazier will be fired as the Vikings’ head coach Monday, according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports. Frazier is in his fourth year as the head man in Minnesota, after taking over on an interim basis in Week 11 in 2010. He led the Vikings to a 3-3 finish that season before receiving the job full time.

That’s bittersweet news. In his 3 full seasons, Frazier’s records have been 5-10-1, 10-6 and 3-13. Winning 18 of 48 games means winning less than 40% of the games he coached. That said, though, razier’s players played hard most of the time. Unfortunately, NFL head coaches aren’t judged by whether they’re men of integrity or whether their players play hard. NFL head coaches are judged on wins and losses.

That’s why the Metrodome’s finale was likely Leslie Frazier’s Vikings finale.

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If this article is accurate, and I think it is, then HHS Secretary Sebelius is latest in a growing list of high-ranking Obama administration officials who don’t think this nation’s laws apply to them:

Ever wonder what Kathleen Sebelius does when she isn’t sentencing children to death, shaking down health care providers, or violating campaign finance laws? Well, it seems she spends her spare time, and a lot of taxpayer money, dabbling in illegal lobbying. The Anti-Lobbying Act forbids federal bureaucrats from using money appropriated by Congress to influence “an official of any government, to favor, adopt, or oppose… any legislation, law, ratification, policy, or appropriation.” Sebelius evidently didn’t get the memo.

Specifically, it looks like Madam Commissar and her HHS minions have been using federal money to lobby state and local officials to “favor, adopt or oppose” countless initiatives involving everything from local zoning rules to ordinances concerning tobacco use to the imposition of new taxes on soft drinks. The cash they are thus spreading around comes from an obscure Obamacare trove called the “Prevention and Public Health Fund,” which provides Sebelius with what amounts to $12.5 billion in pin money.

It’s pretty clear that Sebelius is spending money in a way that violates the Anti-Lobbying Act. Even if spending money this way wasn’t illegal, which it is, there’s no question that cabinet officials shouldn’t be spending the taxpayers’ money to lobby Congress, legislatures, city councils and county commissioners to make laws the administration favors.

Democrats have consistently whined about how Big Business has too much influence in the political process. Why aren’t these same Democrats complaining that Big Government has too much political influence? After all, Congress, legislatures, city councils and county commissioners represent the people. Actually, US senators represent their state whereas representatives represent the people of their district.

Therefore, Secretary Sebelius’ acts are how she’s using the taxpayers’ money to drown out the taxpayers’ influence. Think about this a bit:

For any reader too young to recognize the term “pin money,” this refers to a regular allowance your grandfather might have given to your grandmother for various incidental household purchases that she wasn’t expected to report to him or account for later. And this, despite the truly gigantic amounts of money involved, is pretty much how the “Prevention and Public Health Fund” works. As Stuart Taylor reports in Forbes, “[HHS] can spend the money as it sees fit and without going through the congressional appropriations process.”

And if you have become so jaded by the government’s fiscal profligacy that you’re not impressed by the $12.5 billion figure, consider that this is only for the first decade. After that money is gone, this fund will be replenished to the tune of $2 billion per year — forever. Yes, forever. The statute doesn’t actually say “as long as the wind blows and the grass grows,” but it does clearly stipulate that the fund never expires. Yet, as the law is written, HHS doesn’t have to account for its outlays in any meaningful way.

Think of all the different ways this money might be used. It might be used to lobby Minnesota cities to enact soft drink size limits. It might be used to lobby for laws that enable cities to harass fast food restaurants. That fund might be used to enact, at a city level, all kinds of statutes that the Obama administration can’t get through Congress.

The Anti-Lobbying Act probably didn’t ponder the possibility of an administration using the taxpayers’ money to get around Congress. Still, it’s pretty clear the Anti-Lobbying Act might be a valuable tool to prevent this administration’s attempt to ignore Congress.

If we had a real attorney general, Secretary Sebelius might join a lengthy list of potential criminals. Jim Geraghty identified some others in his morning newsletter:

LIE ONE: White House press secretary Jay Carney’s November 28 explanation about changes made to talking points about the Benghazi attack:

The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two — of these two institutions were changing the word “consulate” to “diplomatic facility,” because “consulate” was inaccurate. Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect the IC’s best assessments of what they thought had happened.

You can see the twelve rounds of revisions here, well more than a single adjustment, and mostly in response to State Department objections.

After it became clear that Carney had put forth false information, he dug in deeper. Carney paid for his lie with two days of hostile questions from the White House Press Corps . . . and then the storm seemed to have blown over.

LIE TWO: Attorney General Eric Holder, testifying under oath before the House Judiciary Committee, May 15:

Well, I would say this. With regard to the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material, that is not something that I’ve ever been involved in, heard of or would think would be a wise policy.

Michael Isikoff later reported the precise opposite:

The Justice Department pledged Friday to review its policies relating to the seizure of information from journalists after acknowledging that a controversial search warrant for a Fox News reporter’s private emails was approved “at the highest levels” of the Justice Department, including “discussions” with Attorney General Eric Holder.

There is a claim from the usual, Media Matters, that Holder is in the clear because he was asked about prosecutions for publishing classified information, not solicitation for classified information; they assert that the two actions are totally different. A pretty thin reed for a perjury defense, and one that utterly fails the standard of the chief law-enforcement officer of the United States informing the public of his department’s operations.

For us to believe that, it would mean that during the entire Justice Department discussion of prosecuting Fox News’ James Rosen for soliciting the information, no one suggested or mentioned prosecuting Rosen for publishing it. Remember, Holder didn’t just say he didn’t agree with that idea; he said he never heard of the idea.

LIE THREE: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, testifying under oath before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on March 12, responding to questions from Wyden:

Wyden: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

Clapper: “No, sir.”

Wyden: “It does not?”

Clapper: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect—but not wittingly.”

The subsequent explanation from Clapper, to National Journal: “What I said was, the NSA does not voyeuristically pore through U.S. citizens’ e-mails. I stand by that.”

Lying to Congress is a crime. This isn’t just a scandal. It’s a criminal act. When Eric Holder told Congress that he’d never even heard of digging into a reporter’s private emails, that was a criminal act. That’s why we shouldn’t trust Secretary Sebelius when she says this:

HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson raised concerns a year ago about some grants, warning Sebelius that they may violate anti-lobbying statutes. The response was a general assurance that her department was taking care to remain in compliance with all such laws.

When an administration is involved in multiple criminal acts, which were committed in plain sight, they forfeit the right to be trusted.

Prior to this article, I thought that the IRS and DOJ scandals were the nastiest of government-sponsored fishing expeditions. That’s timid by comparison with this:

The Obama administration has been collecting the phone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon under a top secret court order, according to a British newspaper report which raised new and troubling privacy questions.

That information is the definition of a fishing expedition. Here’s why it’s that frightening:

The newspaper claims the document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of U.S. citizens were being collected indiscriminately and in bulk, regardless of whether they were suspected of any wrongdoing.

Several words jump off the page at me. Millions of U.S. citizens is one of the sets of words that should frighten people. What’s the logic behind that? It’s one thing to collect a narrow group of records on a suspect. That isn’t what’s happening here.

Here’s another group of words that frighten me:

collected indiscriminately and in bulk

Again, what’s the justification for that? I’ll bet the administration can’t honestly tell the American people the logic justifying their actions. Finally, this phrase is troubling:

regardless of whether they were suspected of any wrongdoing.

Whatever happened to requiring probable cause? Did this administration throw that out? That sounds suspiciously like President Nixon telling the FBI that they didn’t need warrants to wiretap people.

Considering the fact that this administration is already catching fire for the DoJ looking at James Rosen’s personal emails and the indiscriminate searching of AP’s phone records, this potential scandal fits a specific narrative. Add the IRS targeting religious organizations, conservatives and TEA Party organizations and you get the impression this administration wants to collect intimiate information on everyone.

A year ago, had someone told me that this administration was spying on news organizations, indiscriminately collecting phone records and using the IRS as a weapon, I would’ve written them off as lunatic fringers. Today, I’d call them well-informed and justifiably suspicious.

This article shows that congressional Democrats aren’t interested in getting to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi. They’re more interested in protecting their political flanks than finding out why this administration was caught flat-footed with Benghazi:

Retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering has agreed to be deposed by Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) Oversight panel on June 3 after being threatened with a subpoena. Democrats say they’re wary of a trap, and want to be able to counter what they say is Issa’s habit of leaking “cherry-picked” portions of witnesses’ testimonies to the press.

“If it’s true to form, if it’s a closed deposition, his staff [will] cherry pick content and leak it once again to the press that’s only too willing to print it,” panel member Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) told The Hill. “It might be grossly inaccurate. In fact, it may be the opposite of what’s being asserted. But by the time somebody gets around to reporting that, if they ever do, the damage is done.”

That’s rich. The Democrats are complaining that the press isn’t giving them a fair shake. That isn’t the full extent of the Democrats’ PR tactics:

Democrats say Pickering and his co-author, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen, should be able to defend their report in a public hearing. Pickering could not be reached for comment.

“House Republicans have politicized this investigation from the beginning, and they have recklessly accused Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen of being complicit in a cover-up,” said the panel’s ranking member, Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). “It is time for the Chairman to honor his commitment to hold a hearing to allow these officials to respond to these reckless accusations, instead of imposing new conditions to keep them from testifying. Members of Congress and the American people should hear directly from these officials, in public, and the Chairman’s efforts to keep them behind closed doors undermines the Committee’s credibility and does a disservice to the truth.”

Trey Gowdy explains why the committee is deposing witnesses:

The goal of a deposition, oversight panel member Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) told The Hill, is to get “the full facts.”

“It’s hard to unlock the mysteries in five-minute increments in a committee hearing,” Gowdy said. “So if you want to find out what happened and who he interviewed, what questions he asked, why he didn’t interview certain people, you need to do it in a deposition.”

These investigations aren’t a witch hunt. They’re part of a real investigation, complete with initial questions that establish a base of facts, followed by the rarest of things in Washington, DC: thoughtful followup questions. That’s what happened during a bygone era when investigations went where the facts took them. That’s what happened when investigations found the truth and let the political chips fall where they may.

Speaking of political chips falling where they may, this speaks directly to that:

Democrats say Issa’s real target is Clinton, the presumptive Democratic front-runner for the 2016 presidential election.

It’s possible Hillary will suffer political consequences as a result of her mismanagement. Had she made the right decisions, she wouldn’t be getting criticized for making a string of stunningly foolish decisions about the security forces in Benghazi.

It’s time to detonate the ‘Republicans are politicizing Benghazi’ storyline. Foolish decisions were made. American patriots died as a direct result of Hillary Clinton’s shoddy decisionmaking. Hillary lied when she told the diplomats’ families that a video caused the terrorist attack was done to protect a president during a political campaign.

If Hillary gets tarnished because Republicans ask intelligent questions about what happened in Benghazi, then it’ll be because Hillary made foolish decisions. It isn’t because Republicans politicized the Benghazi terrorist attack.

Finally, there’s this:

Democrats say they should have been given a chance to interview Mark Thompson, the State Department’s acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism, ahead of the May 8 hearing. They say his Republican attorney, Joseph diGenova, shielded him from Democrats.

Issa strongly denied interfering during the hearing.

“Mr. Thompson, is it your decision who you talk to?” he asked. “And did any of my people ever tell you not to talk to the Democratic minority?”

“No,” Thompson answered.

The Democrats’ accusations are essentially empty. They’ve had the right to access witnesses and ask questions. It isn’t Chairman Issa’s fault that these whistleblowers’ testimony is making the administration look bad.

This past week, lots of pundits from across the political spectrum have warned Republicans not to overreach on the AP story. They’re warning that this is a national security issue. That isn’t exactly accurate. It’s time to unravel the DOJ’s disgusting behavior.

At the heart of the scandal is this statement from Attorney General Holder:

Here’s what Attorney General Holder said that isn’t accurate:

HOLDER: This was a serious leak, a very, very serious leak. I’ve been a prosecutor since 1976 and I have to say that this is among, if it isn’t the most serious leak, it is among the top 2 or 3 leaks I’ve ever seen. It put the American people at risk. And that is not hyperbole. It put the American people at risk and trying to determine who was responsible for that required very agressive action.

First, this wasn’t a leak. Here’s the real story:

Although the Justice Department has not explained why it sought phone records from the AP, Pruitt pointed to a May 7, 2012, story that disclosed details of a successful CIA operation in Yemen to stop an airliner bomb plot around the one-year anniversary of the May 2, 2011, killing of Usama bin Laden.

The AP delayed publication of that story at the request of government officials who said it would jeopardize national security.

“We respected that, we acted responsibly, we held the story,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt said the AP published the story only after officials from two government entities said the threat had passed. He said the administration still asked that the story be held until an official announcement the next day, a request the AP rejected.

This wasn’t a leak. The AP apparently got word that the CIA asset wasn’t in danger. The CIA said they wanted another day to issue a press release on spoiling this terrorist plot. At that point, the AP decided that they didn’t need to hold their story any longer.

It’s believable that the CIA was upset that they didn’t get to issue their press release first. Based on the fact that the DOJ hasn’t disputed the AP’s statements, it’s fair to assume that the AP acted appropriately in terms of taking the national security and intelligence gathering needs of the nation into serious, sober consideration.

That’s the front end of this scandal. The next part is what makes this one of the most disturbing scandals in recent history. Based on what we know from the first part of the scandal, we know that there wasn’t a need for urgency in stopping a leak that might’ve compromised a CIA asset in the Middle East. That means the DOJ wasn’t entitled to grab the records it did without telling the AP about this massive grab of AP phone records. That means the DOJ was obligated to going to court to apply for a search warrant and for the AP to contest the scope of DOJ’s phone records grab.

The federal government’s need to protect intelligence-gathering assets in harms way isn’t disputed. In fact, the AP apparently acted responsibly in this respect.

Now that we’ve determined these basic, undisputed facts, it’s time to question DOJ’s actions. Did the DOJ need to sieze 2 months of the AP’s phone records? Did DOJ need 2 months of phone records of over 100 AP reporters and editors? If it didn’t, why did DOJ sieze these sensitive records, especially without giving the AP the chance to contest the DOJ’s actions?

Unless new facts emerge that support DOJ’s actions, Americans of all political stripes should question DOJ’s ham-handed behavior in this matter.

UPDATE: Follow this link to read more on the DOJ-AP scandal.

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When Sen. Boxer talks, I start looking for my waders because the BS is about to fly. This op-ed is proof that the BS flies when Sen. Boxer speaks:

The facts are clear: The day after the attack, President Obama appeared in the White House Rose Garden and called the events in Benghazi an “act of terror.” And within eight days of the attack, Matthew Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, appeared before the Senate Homeland Security Committee and said that the “attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi” is “proof” that “acts of terror and violence continue to threaten our citizens and our interests around the world.”

It’s true that Matthew Olsen said that during the hearing. It’s equally true that he said it in response to a question. It’s equally true that Olsen got chewed out for admitting that in committee. Most importantly, President Obama repeatedly talked about an offensive video being the thing that triggered the terrorists’ attack. President Obama either referred to the offensive video or said it was too early to say anything, that his administration was still investigating.

The administration sought to relay the best information it had at the time. When Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on Face the Nation, sharing information that was prepared and signed off on by multiple government agencies, she made clear that the information was preliminary and warned that “we’ll want to see the results of that investigation to draw any definitive conclusions.”

That’s a bald-faced lie. This administration, specifically Victoria Nuland, insisted that most of the CIA’s initial intelligence report be deleted because she worried that “members of Congress would use the talking points to criticize the State Department for ‘not paying attention to Agency warnings.’”

Furthermore, Gregory Hicks testified that there was never a mention of a protest by Christopher Stevens or any other diplomats in Benghazi. Finally, the CIA, the US diplomats and the Libyan president all knew within hours that this was a terrorist attack. The intelligence didn’t “evolve.” The only thing that evolved is the Obama administration’s story.

As a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I well remember Secretary Clinton’s testimony following the Benghazi attack. She took responsibility and pledged to do everything in her power to put corrective measures in place. And she didn’t gloss over the profound pain and suffering this tragedy caused for the families of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

Pat Smith, the mother of slain diplomat Sean Smith, said Sec. Clinton talked to her and promised to stay in touch. Last week, Pat Smith said that Hillary never called her after the ceremony on Sept. 14. Hillary’s faux empathy apparently only lasted a couple hours.

Finally, Sen. Boxer glosses over the fact that Hillary’s State Department turned down Ambassador Stevens’ request for more security. In fact, the State Department cut the security team instead.