Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Notes on the Scandals, Its Not Just Republicans Talking Now

This is a Republican blog, but today let’s take some quotes from a Democrat and several liberals in the media (and one conservative) on the various scandals currently plaguing President Obama and his administration.

First on the AP scandal, the minority leader of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee:

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said the Justice Department’s secret subpoena of two months worth of phone records from the Associated Press was “chilling.”

 . . . “It’s very chilling when the government reaches its hand into the press like this. It concerns me,” said Cummings in a brief interview off the House floor on Tuesday evening.

Rep. Cummings wants more information.  As an aside, this is the second time in less than a week Cummings has been unhappy with the Obama Administration.  As we wrote here:

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee signed a letter Wednesday with panel Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) calling on [Labor Secretary Nominee Thomas] Perez to turn over by Friday unredacted copies of 1200 work-related emails he sent on a personal e-mail account.

It is not just Congressmen like Cummings that are now asking questions or upset about it.  Legendary liberal Watergate reporter:

Carl Bernstein said Tuesday the Justice Department’s decision to subpoena the phone records of dozens of Associated Press reporters in the name of stopping national security leaks was part of a broader campaign to “intimidate” reporters and their sources.

“It is outrageous, totally inexcusable,” the legendary investigative reporter said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe. “This administration has been terrible on this subject from the beginning. The object of it is to intimidate people who talk to reporters. This was an accident waiting to become a nuclear event and now it’s happened. There’s no excuse for it whatsoever. There’s no reason for this investigation, especially on this scale.”

Intimidation is a very serious charge, however that is exactly what the IRS was trying to do to conservative and tea party groups with their audits and inappropriate questions.  Some have pointed out that the Watergate investigation by Congress began 40 years ago this week.  Remember that President Richard Nixon also used the IRS against his enemies?  As George Will noted in his column Monday entitled “In IRS Scandal, echoes of Watergate”. 

“He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavored to . . . cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.”

— Article II, Section 1, Articles of Impeachment against Richard M. Nixon, adopted by the House Judiciary Committee, July 29, 1974

Of course the White House says the Administration knew nothing about it.  Speaking of White House knowledge, this brings us to the third scandal (actually there are more, but we will limit this to three), the deaths in Benghazi.  Many are focusing on President Obama’s whopper of a lie Monday that “The day after it happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism.”  Even the Washington Post gave that statement 4 Pinocchios. 

Here is the thing many are missing.  If what the President said is true, why did he have Ambassador Susan Rice say something different on the Sunday shows right after the terrorist attack?  Polifact earlier analyzed this on Friday before President Obama added his voice on Benghazi, but after White House Spokesman Jay Carney said President Obama called it an act of terrorism and defended Ambassador Susan Rice:

When Susan Rice spoke about Benghazi on Sunday news shows, she said "that al-Qaida might be involved, or other al-Qaida affiliates might be involved, or non-al-Qaida Libyan extremists, which I think demonstrates that there was no effort to play that down."  --Jay Carney on Friday, May 10th, 2013 in a White House press briefing

. . .

It’s true that Rice offered those three scenarios, but Carney is wrong to say she didn’t play them down. Rice barely mentioned the potential role of Al-Qaeda or one of its affiliates, and she urged caution about jumping to conclusions on the one occasion in which she did.
While she did point to a role for "extremists," Rice made clear that the extremists didn’t pre-plan the attack, but instead hijacked a demonstration that was already under way.
Both decisions played down, to one degree or another, each of the three scenarios she mentioned. We rate Carney’s claim Mostly False.

Of course, the calendar says it is May of 2013, about as far from an election as one can get.  Rep. Cummings and the mainstream media may not stay focused on these scandals long.  Do they really want to get to the truth of what is going on?  Only time will tell.  However, if statements like those from Rep. Issa and Senator McConnell are any indication Republicans will stay on these issues until we get answers. 

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