Of the plethora of scandals in which the Obama administration is embroiled, the media is focused mainly on the NSA surveillance and the hunt for Edward Snowden who leaked classified information in revealing what is essentially a non-event.
The list of Obama administration scandals includes Benghazi, the IRS targeting of conservative groups, the IRS release of confidential tax information of conservatives to their progressive political opponents, the EPA targeting of conservative groups by charging them for FOIA requests while waiving charges for progressive groups making similar requests, DoJ spying on the Associated Press, DoJ targeting Fox News reporter James Rosen as an unindicted co-conspirator to plug a leak, and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius shaking down medical companies for funds to implement the Affordable Care Act.
This list doesn’t include past ongoing scandals such as Attorney General Eric Holder’s numerous perjuries to Congress, the Fast & Furious scandal, the Pigford scandal, the GSA’s lavish conference spending, Solyndra and multiple other green energy company bankruptcies after receiving massive government loans, and the use of private email accounts such as EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s Richard Windsor account to conduct official government business that shielded information from FOIA requests.
The most recent crop of scandals came on the heels of the Benghazi scandal and effectively moved that scandal off of the front page and out of the minds of Americans. Suddenly, as the Benghazi scandal was heating up, Americans were flooded with numerous other scandals in an orchestrated effort to divert attention away from Benghazi. Lois Lerner planted a question in a Friday appearance to get out in front of the IRS Inspector General’s report detailing IRS targeting of conservative groups for extra scrutiny on tax exempt requests and foot-dragging to effectively remove them as political opposition during the 2012 election cycle. The IRS scandal then exploded onto the scene to join the AP spying scandal and the James Rosen scandal as the center of media attention. There was no need for Lerner to plant this question, and she only did this on the direction of someone higher up.
Of the current crop of scandals, the only two with serious consequences are Benghazi and the IRS targeting of conservative groups. The targeting of James Rosen as an unindicted co-conspirator was an end run around the practice of hauling reporters before a judge and holding them in contempt for refusing to name their sources as the media congregated to demand respect for freedom of the press. The reporter never ends up naming his source, and so the entire exercise is one of futility that allows the reporter to bask in the glow of martyrdom for spending time in jail fighting the good fight of press freedom. Holder sought to avoid this by obtaining a warrant to tap Rosen’s phones in the hopes of surreptitiously obtaining the name of the leaker through the Espionage Act.
This move backfired spectacularly as an incensed press turned on the administration to remind it of exactly how much the press has done for it and to send the message that they would burn this administration to the ground if anything like this was ever attempted again. For about two weeks, the DC press corps did some actual investigating and reporting of scandals until Holder held an off-the-record meeting to apologize on behalf of the administration and promise that this would never happen again.
Benghazi is important because 1) the Obama administration was using the CIA to smuggle Libyan weapons to the Syrian rebels in a covert operation to avoid congressional scrutiny; 2) Ambassador Chris Stevens was managing this covert operation and was killed by someone incensed at this operation using al-Qaeda to attack the Benghazi consulate; 3) someone in the White House ordered the military to stand down that night to prevent Stevens and the other Americans to be rescued resulting in four deaths; 4) talking points were fabricated by someone high up in the administration for Susan Rice to lie to the American people; 5) and the Obama administration continues to cover up the entire episode while lying to us with a flimsy story and the attitude that it’s over and no longer makes a difference.
The IRS scandal is important because the Obama administration used the unlimited resources of the federal government to target their political opponents and silence them during the 2012 election cycle in direct violation of the constitutional protection of free speech. IRS officials reviewing the tax exempt requests of groups used a list to specifically target conservative groups containing certain key words such as Tea Party to purposely slow walk and effectively deny their applications with specious requests for additional intrusive information, while allowing progressive groups to sail through the process in a speedy manner. To put this in perspective, recall that the first article of impeachment against President Richard Nixon was his attempted use of the IRS to target and harass his political opponents.
Much speculation was made in the last election cycle as to why TEA Party groups appeared to be less effective than they had been in the 2010 elections. The press speculated that the TEA Party movement was losing steam and gave the impression that its passion for change was dissipating. We now know the Obama administration effectively silenced much of their political opposition using the unlimited resources of the federal government to harass TEA Party groups in their successful reelection effort. Obama’s reelection is now more suspect than ever with the revelation of these political dirty tricks. The TEA Party movement didn’t run out of steam, rather it was effectively silenced attempting to obtain the necessary tax exempt status for its groups to engage in political activity. Their progressive political opponents faced no such headwinds in their efforts to influence the election.
The NSA surveillance story is not the scandal it is being made out to be by the press. The NSA has conducted wide spread surveillance for decades and this fact is well known. James Bamford published The Puzzle Palace in 1982 in which he detailed the history of NSA surveillance in America on a massive scale. Every foiled terrorist plot has included officials describing how they tracked the terrorist plot through their communications. It is only logical that the NSA would have to employ an automated and methodical process for sorting through the billions of daily communications to find those of terrorists plotting an attack on America.
Edward Snowden released classified information in direct violation of the documents he signed to obtain his clearances which granted his access to that information as a contractor for the NSA. Snowden claims to have been motivated by a desire to expose the truth, yet the truth was either known to those who have familiarity with surveillance operations or implied in the endless discussions of the Patriot Act and foiled terrorist plots. If the wide spread surveillance undertaken by the NSA to discover terrorist plots was such a big deal, then the evidence was there for any journalist to uncover and reveal. It wasn’t followed up because Americans had decided after 9/11 that extraordinary steps were necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. We approved of the Patriot Act and the surveillance to stop terrorist attacks then, but are suddenly aghast to discover they exist today.
Snowden’s motives become even more suspect with the revelation that he has multiple laptops in his possession reputed to contain classified information which he has taken to China and Russia. Snowden also reveled in an interview given to a Hong Kong newspaper that he specifically took the NSA job so he would have access to the list of classified servers routinely targeted by the NSA. There are disturbing details emerging concerning Snowden’s motives that cast doubt on his claim for releasing classified information to reveal the scope of NSA surveillance operations.
Much has been revealed concerning the media’s lack of objectivity and fondness for the liberal progressive cause, and their tacit support of the Democrat Party. It has gotten to the point where the press corps doesn’t even bother to seriously deny these allegations and even occasionally jokes about their association with progressives. Any time the media is trumpeting a story and filling the 24/7 news cycle with its every salacious detail, you can be fairly certain that there is an even more important story that we are not seeing as the media diverts our attention to protect the interests of the progressive cause which happens to control the Democrat Party and occupy the White House. Yes, we hear details of the IRS scandal and Benghazi, but only because they are huge details and they are then quickly buried under coverage of the NSA surveillance and the search for Edward Snowden. We get a glimpse of the truly important items, then our attention is quickly diverted to something far less important but dressed up to grab our attention and appear to be of greater importance. After a while, we begin to ignore the important items in anticipation of the highlighted fluff.
The Benghazi scandal is moving further away from the public’s attention, which is unfortunate since it involves serious administration crimes which directly resulted in American deaths. Congressman Darrell Issa continues to call witnesses and investigate the Benghazi scandal, and we should continue to demand answers from the administration in the search for those who perpetrated this shameful episode that left Americans on their own in the face of hostile crowds on a foreign shore. Real criminal acts were committed and require punishment.
The IRS scandal is still gaining traction as evidenced by recent developments. Lois Lerner’s attempt to take the Fifth and avoid congressional testimony has been voided by her statement of innocence prior to invoking her Fifth Amendment rights before the committee. She has since been joined by Deputy IRS Director Greg Roseman as the second senior IRS official invoking the Fifth Amendment to avoid implicating himself in criminal activity. Roseman has been discovered steering consulting contracts worth a half million dollars to a friend who faked injuries to gain disabled veteran status for his firm. Attempts to blame the targeting on low level IRS employees in the Cincinnati office have backfired as these employees have testified that they were overseen by officials in the DC office such as IRS attorney Carter Hull, and that their every move was tightly coordinated by higher ups in the IRS. All fingers point to the top in allegations of wrongdoing in a bureaucracy as bureaucrats rarely act without orders from above.
The point here is to keep your eye on the events not being covered in depth by the media. Those will turn out to be the more important stories in the long run. Cynicism toward the media is justified by their past actions on behalf of the Obama administration, and it pays to be skeptical of their motives. Look past the smoke and pyrotechnics to see the man behind the curtain operating the levers before deciding you are seeing the truth. The NSA surveillance story is getting all of the attention, but Benghazi and the IRS are the more serious of this current crop of scandals.