Not only is the Obama Administration dealing with the Benghazi and the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of Tea Party groups, they now have another scandal emerging. The Associated Press (AP) reported yesterday that the Justice Department (DOJ) had obtained phone records of journalists who work for the news organization:
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 outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of the calls.
In all, the government seized the 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 where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.
The Obama Administration has been trying to crackdown on whistleblowers and leaks to the press, and it appears that this exactly what’s going on here. The DOJ is investigating a leak to the AP that stems from a story dealing with a terrorist plot in Yemen that the new organization ran last May.
The targeting of Tea Party groups just got a lot worse. While an IRS official admitted on Fridy to what we already knew — that it had singled out groups with “Tea Party,” “patriot,” and “9/12” for additional scrutiny — the Washington Post reports that the concerted effort to target these groups reached the highest levels of the agency:
Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington and at least two other offices were involved with investigating conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, making clear that the effort reached well beyond the branch in Cincinnati that was initially blamed, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.
IRS officials at the agency’s Washington headquarters sent queries to conservative groups asking about their donors and other aspects of their operations, while officials in the El Monte and Laguna Niguel offices in California sent similar questionnaires to tea-party-affiliated groups, the documents show.
details of the IRS’s efforts to target conservative groups reached the highest levels of the agency in May 2012, far earlier than has been disclosed, according to Republican congressional aides briefed by the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) on the details of their reviews.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) infamously stated in 2010 that “we have to pass the bill [ObamaCare] so that you can find out what is in it.” It was a curious comment, one that could have any number of meanings. Here’s what I understood it to mean: This bill is so damn big, has so many moving parts, and will radically remodel the relationship between the civil society and government to such a degree that there is no way for Americans to conceptualize what life will be like under the ObamaCare utopia until we implement it.
Well, the time is nigh. And for employers, guess what? You’re really about to find out what’s in it. The employer mandate and its associated excise tax penalties are a cornerstone of the fundamental transformation President Obama has so long desired. In the ObamaCare solar system, everything revolves around the exchanges. Employer mandate excise taxes, enforced by the same IRS that recently admitted to targeting Tea Party groups, will provide crucial funding for the massive exchange subsidies.
One of the ObamaCare requirements associated with the employer mandate that has been largely under the radar until this week is requirement to provide employees with a notice informing them about the ObamaCare exchanges. From Section 1512 of PPACA:
PART II—EMPLOYER RESPONSIBILITIES
SEC. 1512. EMPLOYER REQUIREMENT TO INFORM EMPLOYEES OF COVERAGE OPTIONS.
What we now know about the post-Benghazi narrative that the Obama Administration tried to create is nothing short of stunning. On Friday, ABC News reported that the talking points produced by the CIA underwent 12 different revisions with significant input coming from the State Department, which was run by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
White House emails reviewed by ABC News suggest the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department. The edits included requests from the State Department that references to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.
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 …”
The paragraph was entirely deleted.
Like the final version used by Ambassador Rice on the Sunday shows, the CIA’s first drafts said the attack appeared to have been “spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo” but the CIA version went on to say, “That being said, we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.” The draft went on to specifically name the al Qaeda-affiliated group named Ansar al-Sharia.
The Food and Drug Administration may be setting its sights on caffeine. The regulatory agency has announced a plan that could limit the sale of beverages containing caffeine — including coffee and energy drinks — to consumers who are 21-years-old and up:
A few European countries have moved toward regulation — in Sweden, for example, many grocery stores do not sell energy drinks to people under 15. The United States is not likely to lead the charge into federal regulation tomorrow or next year, but when Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at the Food and Drug Administration, was asked last week, “Is it possible that FDA would set age restrictions for purchase?” he responded:
We have to be practical; enforcing age restrictions would be challenging. For me, the more fundamental questions are whether it is appropriate to use foods that may be inherently attractive and accessible to children as the vehicles to deliver the stimulant caffeine, and whether we should place limits on the amount of caffeine in certain products.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is perhaps the most hated bureaucratic institution in the country, admitted that it had targeted organizations for extra scrutiny last year simply because they had the terms “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their names:
The Internal Revenue Service apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was “inappropriate” targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status.
IRS agents singled out dozens of organizations for additional reviews because they included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their exemption applications, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups. In some cases, groups were asked for lists of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said.
White House spokesman Jay Carney declared it was indeed inappropriate for the IRS to target tea party groups. But he brushed aside questions about whether the White House itself would investigate.
Instead, Carney said the administration expects a thorough investigation by the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration. The inspector general has been looking into the issue since last summer, and his report is expected to come out next week, the IG’s office said Friday.
MSNBC’s bias against conservatives is well-known. A study released in March by Pew Research showed that the MSNBC relies more on opinion — rather than actual reporting —more than any other network, even more than Fox News.
At this point, there not even trying to hide their bias. Dick Harpootlian, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, recently knocked Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC), telling a crowd that he hoped voters would send her “back to wherever the hell she came from.” Mika Brzezinski, co-host of the MSNBC’s Morning Joe, conceded that the network would have led with the story had a Republican made those classless comments.
Earlier this week, Lawrence O’Donnell, host of the MSNBC’s The Last Word and a self-described socialist, had Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on his show to discuss her terrible student loan proposal, which is also the first bill she has sponsored. At the end of the segment, O’Donnell, who was already a complete hack, turned into a fan boy asked Warren to sign his copy of her legislation:
Washington is determined not to kick its spending habit. During his press conference yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner told reporters that “[w]e can’t cut our way to prosperity,” a line that has been used frequently by President Barack Obama. The comment prompted this tweet from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)
I agree with @speakerboehner: We can’t cut our way to prosperity.
— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) May 9, 2013
After four years of $1+ trillion budget deficits, Washington needs to begin taking steps to dam the river of red ink. And if there is question as to the severity of the fiscal mess President Obama and Congress has left us, here’s some perspective from Bankrupting America:
Just last week, the whistleblowers claimed that they had been threatened by Obama Administration officials as they were cooperating with congressional investigators who trying to piece together the events that led up to the terrorist attack on the American compound in Benghazi, Libya. And now there is yet another instance of Obama Administration officials trying to silence a whistleblower.
John Sopko, the independent inspector general in Afghanistan, alleges that administration officials and bureaucreats are criticizing him privately or trying to silence him as he documents waste and fraud in the rebuilding effort in the country that the United States has occupied for nearly 12 years:
“Since my appointment by the president last summer, I have been surprised to learn how many people both in and out of the government do not understand the role of an independent inspector general,” Sopko said.
The Pentagon did not address Sopko’s remarks about pre-screening, but it endorsed his role keeping watch over the Afghanistan effort.
“We value inputs from independent oversight, including from inspectors-general, who play a key role in advancing the missions of the Department of Defense,” said press secretary George Little.
Even so, Sopko slammed the government for what he called a hostile attitude toward his work.
During the debate in the House of Representatives over cyber-security, the White House issued veto threat over CISPA due to Internet privacy concerns. Despite that strong stance on a controversial piece of legislation, there have been a number of news stories recently showing various government agencies willingness to ignore constitutional protections to gain access to e-mail and other forms of electronic communication and files.
In fact, it’s the official policy of President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that agents do not need a warrant when they want to gain access to e-mail and Facebook accounts:
The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI believe they don’t need a search warrant to review Americans’ e-mails, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and other private files, internal documents reveal.
Government documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and provided to CNET show a split over electronic privacy rights within the Obama administration, with Justice Department prosecutors and investigators privately insisting they’re not legally required to obtain search warrants for e-mail. The IRS, on the other hand, publicly said last month that it would abandon a controversial policy that claimed it could get warrantless access to e-mail correspondence.