|[||Tags|||||america, ap, barack hussein obama, benghazi, constitutional, criminal, eric holder, hillary clinton, irs, legal, libya, military, political, sarah hall ingram, steven miller, terrorist war, terrorists||]|
As those who have been following the news have probably noticed, the Obama Administration has recently been hit by three big scandals, coming all together. Of these, the oldest (and most severe in terms of his primary role as Commander-in-Chief) is the Benghazi Embassy terrorist attack, and his incredibly incompetent and dishonest reaction to this event. Two new ones have emerged, and they were entirely of the Administrations making.
The first of these is the revelation that Obama's IRS deliberately discriminated against conservative and insufficiently-liberal not-for-profits by demanding much more information about them than they did from moderate or liberal organizations. The second is that Obama's Justice Department seized the phone records of about 20 AP reporters, because the AP had leaked classified information regarding the foiling of a terrorist plot.
The first two scandals are the most worrisome in terms what they reveal about Obama's (lack of) strategic acumen and respect for the Constitution. The third may be the one which will sink him, because he's finally angered the Mainstream Media -- his most important supporters.
On September 11th, 2012, a company-strength (around 125-150 men) force of Al Qaeda guerillas attacked the American diplomatic mission in the city of Benghazi, Libya. Apparently, there had been days of warning that an attack was imminent. Ambassador Stevens had repeatedly asked for increased security, but the Obama Administration refused to deploy any additional forces to protect the mission.
In consequence, the guerilla force was able to overrun the mission, killing 4 and wounding 10. One of the dead was Ambassador Stevens. The attack took hours, during which Stevens and other local officials pleaded for military relief or support, and during which the Obama Administration apparently refused all such pleas. 2 of the dead were US Navy SEAL's who, against orders, attempted a rescue anyway. Because no US forces were dispatched, there was no effective pursuit of the guerillas -- none was captured and it is not clear if any were even killed or wounded (though with 2 US Navy SEAL's on the scene, one would imagine some were). To this day, none of the perpetrators have been captured by American authorities.
The Movie Flap
The immediate reaction of both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was to blame the attack on a trailer for a movie, called The Innocence of Muslims and made in America by an American citizen, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, which depicted the Prophet Muhammed (may suffering and violence be upon him) as a villainous war criminal. The Administration promptly had Nakoula arrested and imprisoned for parole violations, in an obviously-biased enforcement of parole which may be constructed as violating Nakoula's rights under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, the Federal Railways Minister of Pakistan, claimed to be offering a bounty for the murder of Nakouly. As far as I know, no effort is currently being undertaken by the United States government either to extradite or capture the Pakistani Minister for this clear threat to the security of an American citizen exercising his rights on American soil, nor have any actions been taken against the persons responsible for the judicial condemnations of Nakoula, Terry Jones and others in Egypt, despite the fact that these are also threats to American security, rising possibly to the level of an act of war.
Obama clearly either is afraid to defend the rights of Amercians against foreign oppression, or he does not really believe in the First Amendment. This becomes important with regard to one of the later scanadals, which is why I have digressed at length on this topic.
The Obama Administration has never been able to adequately explain just who refused the original requests for increased security, and who ordered US forces to stand down during and after the actual attack. President Obama never described his own decisions or gave reasons for them, and there are strong indications that this is because he made none: Obama simply chose to go to sleep during or immediately after the attack because he had a campaign stop the next day. As for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after the attack she verbally claimed "complete responsibility" (which was of course a lie, as she wasn't the Commander-in-Chief and had no authority to dispatch or hold back US forces) and then blatantly claimed that the details didn't matter.
The House and Senate have both established committees to investigate the attack and its handling by the Administration. Some of these committees have issued reports highly critical of the President and his officials. New committees are opening, and in consequence this scandal is far from dead.
This is a bad situation both for President Obama and for Hillary Clinton. While Obama succeeded in distracting the public with his yammering about Nakoula's movie and a friendly media suppressed public interest in the affair before the November 2012 elections (where it might well have cost Obama the election had the details been more widely known), these details are coming out now, and it makes both Obama and Clinton look very bad.
Clinton claimed responsibliity for the events. She said this of course to shield Obama, who was facing re-election when she wasn't; and she probably figured that the whole thing would have died down by 2016, when she herself hopes to run for President. But the scandal isn't dying down, it's rising, and for the following readons:
1) Obama showed extreme fecklessness and weakness before the attack (in turning down the request for reinforcements) during the attack (in refusing to relieve the mission or call in air or naval support) and after the attack (in persecuting film-makers rather than hunting down the perpetrators). This fecklessness reached the level of going to sleep and making a campaign stop the next day, rather than doing his duty as Commander-in-Chief and making strategic decisions.
2) In the course of trying to distract the people with The Innocence of Muslims, he has directly violated the First Amendment rights of Nakoula by imprisoning him on charges of violating possibly-unconstitutional parole requirements; and he has refused to defend the First Amendment Rights of Nakoula, Jones and others by either neglecting or refusing to threaten or take action against Egypt and Pakistan for their direct attempts to kill or imprison Nakoula, Jones and others who are AMERICAN CITIZENS ON AMERICAN SOIL.
3) The MSM is mad at Obama and is starting to report these facts, which means that the American people are becoming aware of them.
This could possibly by itself be impeachable: if Obama really did shrug off an ongoing international military and diplomatic crisis to go nappies and then make a Las Vegas campaign stop, it's misfeasance -- possibly malfeasance taking into account that he did so to promote his personal political career.
Furthermore, the attention being paid to this crisis could torpedo Hillary Clinton's chances for the Presidency. Ironically, the "call at 2 am" that Hillary mentioned in her 2008 campaign ads did come -- and apparently both Obama and Hillary herself just slept through it!
I find it hard myself to comprehend Obama's motives for his handling of this affair. Arguments that he meant to do this because he wanted to humiliate America, endanger our national security, or transgress the Constitution, run up against the rock that he did this right before the 2016 Presidential elections, which would make him a political idiot even were he malicious (since he would be robbing himself of the opportunity to inflict Four More Years of himself on the nation). And, of course, he'd have to assume that he was so far above the law that he would never suffer any personal consequences for such malfeasance.
I can only assume that Obama's preconceptions about the benign nature of the victorious Libyan rebels, which he had actively supported in war, blinded him to the fact that they might contain anti-American factions; and that his general radical notion of rebels as inherently good led him to imagine that they would never attack his diplomatic mission -- and one led by an impeccably liberal diplomat, at that. He may have feared that sending in troops to secure the facilities, before there had been any attack or more than vague hints of trouble, would be seen by the Libyans as provocative and inflame anti-American sentiment. This fatuous hope would have been reinforced by "groupthink" within his circle of advisers.
Once the attack actually started, Obama would have of course been worried that American military intervention, either by way of rescue or retaliation, might have killed innocent Libyan citizens and would in any case have likely increased anti-American sentiment (yes, but it might also have saved AMERICAN lives and promoted fear and respect for American might, arguments which Obama would have been ideologically ill-equipped to examine). This would expalin the repeated refusal of military support and orders to forces in the region to stand down. Obama would indeed have imagined himself to be showing enlightened self-restraint here, and restraining our presumably ignorant and warlike military commanders in the region.
Once the attack was over -- and it became apparent what a disaster it had been for American diplomacy -- Obama would have been in full "Cover Your Ass" mode. Order Hillary to take responsibility for the bad decisions, presumably promising to shield her from any real consequences for such a confession. Blame The Innocence of Muslims -- and be seen to be punishing the film-maker, even if it involves twisting the law and possibly violating the US Constitution.
As for the attack, any attempts at pursuit or retaliation would just keep the issue alive, a possible millstone for the 2016 election. Better to just accept that it happened and move on to an electoral victory.
In all this, of course, Obama forgot -- if he ever knew or cared -- about his Constitutional responsibilities as President of the United States of America.
The IRS Scandal
In the United States of America, donations to issue-advocacy non-profit groups are tax-exempt, while donations to political campaigns are taxable. Consequently, the IRS has the mission to monitor wherer or not a not-for-profit corporation is engaging in issue versus campaign advocacy, when determining their tax status. This is normal, unexceptional and innocent.
What is abnormal, highly exceptional and downright tyrannical would be for the IRS to decide to "go easy" on not-for-profits supporting political positions with which they agreed, and come down hard with extra audits and requirements on those who supported political positions with which they disagreed. This is what has happened starting in 2010.
In March and April of 2010, the IRS decided to begin singling out 501(c) application containing the terms "Tea Party," Patriots" and "9/1" for special attention. In August they put up a Be On the Look Out (BOLO) listing telling agents to flag Tea Party case files. In consequence such organizations would receive extra scrutiny, be required to provide more information, and thus have more difficulty in gaining tax-exempt status. This policy was carried out by Sarah Hall Ingram, the commissioner of the Cincinnati office which oversaw claims of tax-exempt status nationwide. Remember her name -- you'll be hearing it again.
This politically prejudicial application of the IRS rules is highly illegal, and consequently every person I name here who knowingly participated in the policy has committed felonies. By this I refer to everyone from the lowest clerk who helped execute this act of oppression, to whoever it was, however high up, who ordered the policy or who -- in a position to end the policy and commence the prosecution of the guilty parties -- chose to shield them.
In June of 2011 the Director of the Exempt Organizations IRS group in Washington DC, Lois Lerner, was briefed that the criteria being used by employees include the phrases "Tea Party," "Patriots," "9/12 Project," "Government Spending," "Government Debt," "Taxes," "make America a better place to live," and cases with statements that criticize how the country is being run.
In January of 2012 the BOLO changed its search criteria to "limiting/expanding government," "Constitution and the Bill of rights," and "social economic reform/movement."
Note how incredibly broad the search criteria had become. Our Masters in Washington were now deeming that it was less than proper for ordinary people to organize around enforcement of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. And, since it was less than proper, such insolent commoners should find extralegal obstacles, put to them as if they were legal ones, strewn in their paths by the Master class.
To show how nakedly-biased were the applications of these illegal rules, in 2011 the conservative watchdog group Media Trackers filed for nonprofit status, and their application langished in limbo. In 2012, as a test they changed their name to "Greenhouse Solutions" and resubmitted their application. They received tax-exempt status in 3 weeks. (This also shows how incompetent were our would-be Stasi oppressors, as a simple name change was apparently sufficient to fool them).
And it went farther than merely making conservative organizations jump through more hoops in order to gain tax-exempt status while the applications of liberal ones sailed right through. The IRS asked the conservative organizations incredigbly intrusive questions, including regarding their detailed political positions, future planned activities, and demanding lists of donors.
(In one case a religious organization was asked to describe the contents of their prayers, meaning that the IRS had managed to leap back 460 years to pre-Elizabethan England: Queen Elizabeth the Great famously declared that she did not aim "to make a window into men's souls." No worries, Your Grace, Sarah Hall Ingram already put in the glass!)
What is worse is that this information was not even kept confidential. There is evidence that it was leaked to Democratic campaign organizers, which means that strategic political information obtained involuntarily from one side of a political controversy was made available to that side's political opponents, giving them an advantage in the elections.
And Richard Nixon's men tried a burglary to accomplish the same end. How unsophisticated. But then, Nixon was President in a time when Americans still took the US Constitution seriously -- Obama, closer in time to the Republic's final fall, can get away with a lot more than could poor old Tricky Dick.
In March of 2012 the poop first contacted the propellor. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), in a rare display of arrogance even for the US Senate, wrote IRS Commissioner Shulman along with six of his Democratic colleagues, calling for the agency to impose a strict cap on the amount of political spending by tax-exempt nonprofits. 12 Republican Senators then told the IRS not to let politics play a role in actions taken regarding the non-profit 501(c)(4) groups. IRS Commissioner then testified before the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee that there was "absolutely no targeting" of conservative groups.
If Shulman knew what was already going on, he had just committed perjury.
In late April of 2012, Steven Miller, the Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement sent a response to the Republican letter. In his response he did not acknowledge that the IRS had inappropriately targeted Tea Party Groups. On May 3rd, Miller was formally briefed that the IRS had indeed targeted conservative groups. Later that May, Commissioner Shulman was also formally briefed and on and became aware of this fact.
On August 9th 2012, 10 Republican Senators again wrote to Shulman again regarding the apparent harassment of conservative groups by the IRS. On September 11th, 2012, Miller sent his response which did not acknowledge any such targeting.
Miller had now just knowingly lied.
On November 9th, 2012, Shulman ended his term and Steven Miller was named Acting Commissioner of the IRS. On May 15th, 2013, Steven Miller resigned.
And what happened to Sarah Hall Ingram? She's been put in charge of the IRS enforcement of Obamacare.
This spring, we have seen admissions from the IRS that this targeting occurred, and even an apology. The IRS is claiming that it was formulated and carried out by low-level officials, which seems incredibly unlikely for a highly-illegal policy with such obvious political implications, which may have affected the outcome of two important elections (2010 and 2012).
Obama, of course, is claiming to have only just heard about the affair, which also seems extremely unlikely unless he has been paying absolutely no attention to anything going on around him, or all his aides have conspired to keep knowledge of this scandal from him. Keep in mind, as you watch Obama protest his innocence and ignorance, that the IRS is part of the Department of the Treasury, which is to say it is part of the Executive Branch. All these people who clearly believed that there was something wrong with Americans organizing around issues of the Constitution and Bill of Rights were Obama's subordinates under our triune system of government -- he had direct authority over them, and has direct hire-and-fire power over them right now.
The funny part of this scandal is that in 2010, when the IRS began to target the Tea Party organizations, the Republican establishment at first approved of the action. After all, the Tea Party organizations were running candidates in the primaries against particularly RINO (Republican In Name Only) politicians, some of whom were at the core of that very establishment. It was only when the Republican Congresscritters began to realize that the harassment was being targeted so widely as to also aim at many of the PAC's supporting themselves that they suddenly realized that this was a highly immoral and illegal action!
An interesting though not much reported aspect of the scanadal is that the IRS seems to have also specifically targeted Jewish organizations. One of the events which helped first bring the IRS crimes to light was when the Jewish pro-Israel group Z Street filed a lawsuit in 2010, alleging that the IRS was directing unusual degrees of scrutiny at Z Street and other pro-Israel lobbying organizations. This shows just how anti-Semitic has become the modern Left, even in America.
Oh, and Sarah Hall Ingram, whom we know has committed serious felonies with the intent of restraining legitimate political discourse? She's not only not been fired or even demoted, she's been put in charge of IRS enforcement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- aka "Obamacare."
That's right. This corrupt, felonious ruthless enemy of the Constitution of the United States of America has now been put in a position where she can deny people she doesn't like medical coverage.
How long will we be safe, if she -- and her masters -- remain free and holding high office.
Think about it.
This is a very serious scandal because it strikes at the heart of representative democracy -- the IRS was clearly hoping to squelch the debate on one side of a variety of issues. The persons who carried out this polciy were knowingly engaging in felonious actions, and any and all of them could be prosecuted and imprisoned under exsiting laws. Not that I expect the openly-biased, bigoted and corrupt Eric Holder to enforce the law in this manner, but we should keep in mind as we see these little tin Stalins go prancing away with nothing worse than forced resignations (if so much!) that this is another consequence of having failed to vote Obama out of office in 2012.
If this is allowed to stand, our democracy is in serious danger. The Executive Branch would now have a very powerful weapon which, weilded with even moderate political competence, could block the organization of any loyal opposition through legitimate means. The IRS high officials, emboldened by their escape from prosecution or even administrative reprimand, would gladly continue to serve their political masters. This would block the normal safety-valve effect of being able to "vote the rascals out" and could lead to coups and civil wars down the road.
If Obama ordered or even knew about this harassment, this was highly-illegal on his part and is a clearly-impeachable offense. This is of course why Obama is taking such pains to claim that he only just heard about it last week. Keep in mind that the composition of the Congress will likely change after the 2014 elections, and the new Congress will sit in 2015, less than two years from now. It is quite possible that this scandal could lead to impeachment hearings which would conclude under the new Congress, a Congress which due in part to this and the other two scandals discussed herein could be significantly more conservative and Republican. Obama, in short, may be facing the same dilemna that Nixon faced in 1974 -- and for one of the same reasons.
Obama of course claims complete ignorance of these IRS crimes-- the ones which have been going on for three years as standard policy in an agency of which he is the ultimate boss. The ones which have been openly debated in the US Congress for a year. It seems highly improbable that Obama is telling the truth -- but if he is, he must be, bar none, the most lazy and incompetent President in American history. Note that this is exactly what Obama himself is implicitly claiming.
Hopefully, this is the beginning of the end for the Obama Administration: if the scandals catch hold and lead to serious Congressional action, the rest of Obama's second term will be completely occupied with the Obamessiah desperately flailing around to avoid becoming the first President of the United States to wind up in prison. He might be impeached or resign in 2014 or 2015, and President Biden then lose the 2016 election to a Republican challenger (Hillary Clinton's reputation having been toasted by the other major scandal -- Benghazi.
If not, our Republic is heading toward an "extraconstitutional excursion."
Oh, there will still be a Presidential election in 2016. And Obama won't be one of the candidates -- he would anger too many people, including hopefuls in his own party, if he tried to just ignore the 22nd Amendment, and I don't think he has time to organize that Amendment's repeal, with all the other problems he'll have. But sometime after 2016 -- perhaps around 2020 or 2024, it will really register on the opposition that it's now impossible to lawfully organize against and defeat the incumbents, and that this means that the incumbents aren't really the legitimate government any more under the US Constitution.
And from that point you will begin to see serious attempts at coups and revolutions, and quite possibly assassinations and civil wars, until (at best) some Man on Horseback "restores" the Republic. Scare-quotes because the restoration is unlikely to last for very long, since the secret will be out that one can make a President by primarily unlawful means. From the end of Sulla's first dictatorship to Actium was but 50 years -- on that timescale, we'd see the American Empire by the 2070's or 2080's.
Let's hope this doesn't happen. Let's hope that Obama's fall comes before he can complete his second term -- and that it happens lawfully.
The AP Phone Records
In April and May of 2012, the Justice Department secretly seized by warrant the telephone records for some 20 Associated Press phone lines serving some 100 Associated Press staff. The apparent reason was that some AP reporters were involved in leaking infortmation about the American investigation of a foiled terrorist plot. The unusual thing is that the Justice Department didn't first try negotiating with the AP for the desired files, as is more normal when dealing with influential media organizations. Instead, they moved secretly, and didn't even inform the AP after the fact.
This got the Administration in trouble, because this time the victims were members in good standing of the liberal mainstream media establishment, whom the Justice Department had treated with utter contempt. Gary Pruitt, the President and CEO of the Associated Press, sent a strongly-worded letter of protest on May 13th 2013, demanding the return of the phone records and the destruction of all copies.
This scandal has just begun. Already, we've seen Attorney-General Eric Holder trip all over himself in an open hearing explaining that he recused himself from the leak probe in April 2012, but didn't know to whom he had delegated the authority. When he was informed that, by definition, he would have to know to whom he delegated the authority, he named the Deputy Attorney General, James M. Cole. I don't know yet how thrilled James M. Cole is about having become the designated scapegoat for this affair.
Ironically, this third scandal involved the least actual wrongdoing on the part of the Administration, but it may be the one to bring that Administration down.
Why do I say that involved the least actual wrongdoing? Because the Justice Department, as far as I can see, acted lawfully. The AP leaked classified information regarding the foiling of a genuine terrorist plot which, had the plot succeeded, would have cost American lives. They leaked this in advance of the government's planned revelation of the foiled plot, and in doing so may have put the lives of American agents and their contacts in jeopardy -- and made it more difficult to foil the next attack.. The US Government, in consequence, had a legitimate national security interest in learning just whom had leaked the information to the reporters.
And the Justice Department went about obtaining permission to seize the phone records in a lawful manner. Not the traditional manner, to be sure, which would have involved first asking the AP for the records, then negotiating with the AP if the AP didn't immediately comply, but that traditional manner is itself only a concession to the political influence of the press. There is no requirement, neither Constitutional nor statutory, that the Justice Department behave in such a deeply respectful manner. Pruitt's assumption that there is such a requirement stems purely from his own arrogant assumption that the media constitute some sort of fourth or fifth governmental branch.
Pruitt just got a taste -- a very mild and relatively harmless taste -- of how the Obama Administration's been treating everyone else who gets in their way.
And Pruitt didn't like it.
However, because of the poltiical influence of the mainstream media, this may have been Obama's most fatal error. Since the AP phone records scandal broke, a lot of information about the Benghazi and IRS scandals, which was previously only being reported by the conservative bloggers, and sometimes by Fox News, is now being seen all over both national and local news stations and papers.This is because the AP is one of the main newsgathering agencies in the United States of America -- most of the MSM gets their news right off the AP feed.
Obama has just made an enemy of an organization which can plaster every one of his acts of oppression and petty tyranny all over the country.
What's worse (for Obama), I don't know if Pruitt can take it back, even if Obama moves to mollify him.
Because the stories are out there now. It's not just being run on Fox or rumored by bloggers like me any more. The vast bulk of the American people -- including those who don't pay all that much attention to politics or get their news from alternative sources, now know that Obama put politics before American lives and put his own political ambitions before the US Constitution.
The myth of the Obamessiah is broken -- the myth of Obama as even a well-meaning normal President may soon be broken -- and once a myth is broken, it's hard to make whole again.
So the Republic may wind up saved, not by the reaction to the worst of Obama's villainies, but by a reaction to one of the rare cases in which Obama was actually trying to do something good (though he handled it badly). This looks like a hairsbreadth-lucky coincidence, though actually it's not all that coincidental. Obama, after all, is an arrogant man who does not consider himself to be fettered by the same legal and moral limits that bind others -- he tries to rule like a King rather than administer like a President. In a Republic, this attitude was bound to cause him to come to some grief. The only real wonder is that it's taken so long.
I emphasize that the Republic may wind up saved. It's hardly over yet, and Obama could still manage to wiggle out of trouble, the more so because Pruitt will probably relent when Obama makes even an attempt at apology to him, or when it looks as if the liberal dream that Pruitt presumably shares is now in trouble. And even if Obama does go down, there is the problem of just how far he got. Obama has done many things which in a healthy Republic would have have legally and politically-doomed him long ago -- the fact that he got re-elected after repeated and contemptuous breaches of the Constitution is a worrisome sign.
For the next time, the Man Who Would Be King may not be such a fool.