Integrity Crumbles within the “Nixonian” Obama Administration

This past week brought forth a deluge of breaking news stories regarding scandalous behavior within various agencies and departments of the Obama Administration. They all seem to point to the same thing: government overreach. Furthermore, they all have been earning Obama a litany of Nixon comparisons.

In case you missed them, here’s my (link fest!) summary of events:

1) Last week’s Benghazi revelations were twofold:

  • First, testimony from State Department whistleblowers shed greater light on both the attack itself and the handling of the CIA’s talking points, which underwent 12 revisions from the State Department, scrubbing references to terrorism. Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa still has questions regarding both former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s actions before the attacks, and the State Department revisions. See the revisions here, and read about it at United Liberty here and here.
  • Press Secretary Jay Carney himself became ensnared in the controversy, as this account completely contradicts what he said in November 2012. Furthermore, Carney held a secret press briefing for select White House reporters on Friday, which – of course – ensconced other uninvited reporters.

2) On Friday, Lois Lerner, head of the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups, apologized for targeting conservative organizations, front-running news that would otherwise break in an upcoming IRS Audit. In 2010, the IRS began targeting groups with “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their names for harassment. After Lerner objected in 2011, the criterion was modified to flag suspect groups for, among other things, ”Educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.” Mrs. Lerner first blamed “low-level” employees in Cincinnati. But now it appears officials – including IRS Acting Chief Steven Miller - knew about it as early as 2011. See here, here, and here. What’s more, Senator Marco Rubio is calling on IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman to resign. More to follow on this, for sure. Read more about it at United Liberty here.

3) As the Washington Post reported last week, the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius went “hat in hand, to health industry officials, asking them to make large financial donations to help with the effort to implement President Obama’s landmark health-care law.” While this is not illegal, Peter Suderman sheds some light on what such a request might sound like: “‘Hey, we’re short on money here. It would be nice if you could help with whatever you can, hint-hint, nudge-nudge.’ Or maybe just: ‘Hey, insurers. We just passed a law mandating that everyone in the country buy your product. So how about a million bucks? Or even a couple million?’” I encourage you to read the whole story here, or read about it at United Liberty here.

4) In a lesser known scandal, the Department of Justice, as part of an ongoing FOIA, released a document to the American Civil Liberties Union on government’s warrantless snooping on text messages completely redacted. See the blacked-out file here. This story goes hand-in-hand with the DOJ’s claim last week that it can read email without warrant. As Plato said, Silence gives consent. Read about that at United Liberty here.

5) Finally, (pfew!) the AP snooping story. In what the AP itself calls a “massive and unprecedented intrusion,” the Department of Justice secretly obtained phone records in a probe on leaks that targeted over 100 journalists on a “wide array of stories about government and other matters.” The AP protested the data gathering in a scathing letter to AG Eric Holder, in which they demand a response. The DOJ insists their probe was a matter of “national security” as it investigated leaks surrounding a “CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.” Apparently, Obama’s Department of Justice only permits that advances the White House politically; see here. As both Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal and the Huffington Post have attested, this kind of thing has a “chilling effect” on media.

My thoughts:

While I think the IRS snooping case has the most potential to be found as unlawful, it’s quite possible none of these actions are technically illegal. Furthermore, I doubt any of the responsibility can be pinned specifically on President Obama himself. Nevertheless, the bubble of infallibility the White House has enjoyed for so long (especially with the media) seems to be bursting.

What we see here, over and over again, is this pervasive culture among these so-called “rogue agencies” of the Executive Branch, willing to sacrifice their integrity for political purposes. But where did these officials get the idea to engage in such unethical behavior, in order to “punish political enemies?” Perhaps from Obama himself?

Of course, President Obama would push back on such a claim, as he did yesterday regarding Benghazi at his press conference. Alexis Simendinger for Real Clear Politics reports:

“Sounding deeply frustrated with congressional investigations and GOP opponents, the president said, ‘We’ve had folks who have challenged Hillary Clinton’s integrity, [United Nations Ambassador] Susan Rice’s integrity, Mike Mullen and Tom Pickering’s integrity. It’s a given that mine gets challenged by these same folks.’”

What he doesn’t understand – because he’s so deep in it – is the culture of corruption that his expanded powers hath wrought. To end this, there are only two real solutions:

  1. Roll back the laws that have allowed this amount of government overreach, specifically in privacy matters; in other words, shrink government.
  2. Maintain these standards for officials regardless of party affiliation. Too often, political parties allow their representatives to get away with activities they would never allow of their opponents. This must end.

We must abandon the legalistic justification for government overreach in order to tackle this pervasive culture of corruption that has seized Washington for far too long now, and instead, embrace an integrity-based reciprocating political structure. Basically, we need to remember the Golden Rule.

“I think we always have to remember that people can be opponents, but not enemies. And there are enemies in the world. We just need the news media to help us delineate. And I think that’s where the failing is, that the culture of corruption in the media doesn’t allow us to delineate between enemies and opponents.” — Jon Stewart, 2010

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