Barack Obama

White House official’s brother a day after Benghazi: Our government thinks this was a coordinated attack

David Rhodes

On September 12, 2012, the day after the deadly Benghazi attack, CBS News President David Rhodes offered some insight into Obama administration’s thinking at the time.

“Our government thinks that, you know, there’s a really good chance this was not just a spontaneous mob reaction to what some thought was an offensive film,” Rhodes said, “but actually a coordinated effort timed to the 9/11 anniversary.”

Rhodes was speaking to the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, filling in for a report who was covering the Benghazi attack. Parsing his words here, it tells us that the administration taking everything into account — the YouTube video, which had sparked protests in Egypt and other countries, and the involvement of Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamic militant organization with ties to al-Qaeda.

What makes these comments so relevant is that David Rhodes is the brother of Ben Rhodes, the then-White House Deputy Strategic Communications Director and author of an email directing then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to spin the attack as a reaction to an anti-Muslim YouTube video. The Rhodes email was authored on September 14, three days after the attack.

Arrogant Obama to court: Dismiss Rand Paul’s lawsuit against my unconstitutional surveillance

The Obama administration has just filed a motion to ensure that Sen. Rand Paul and FreedomWorks’ NSA lawsuit is dismissed.

Justice Department lawyers urged a federal judge to dismiss the class-action lawsuit filed against the National Security Agency by claiming that the lawmaker is not able to name the plaintiffs, in spite of the fact that it has been already widely reported that the NSA’s surveillance programs have targeted all Americans.

The lawsuit urges the court to keep the federal government from obtaining and controlling Americans’ telephone metadata.

According to FreedomWorks’ President Matt Kibbe, “Obama’s motion to dismiss our lawsuit is an insulting display of political arrogance coming out of the executive branch.” The same court that ruled that the government should destroy data obtained through Verizon on the Klayman case back in December would be in charge of dismissing the lawsuit.

Kibbe claimed that the move is a motion to censor civilians. “It wasn’t enough that the Obama administration authorized the single largest warrantless gathering of citizens’ private information in the history of the United States,” he said. “They don’t even believe citizens deserve an opportunity to plead their case after their rights have been violated.”

Today in Liberty: Americans reject Obama’s “change,” Supreme Court passes on gun rights case

“The phone records of innocent Americans do not relate to terrorism, whatsoever; and they are not reasonably likely to lead to information that relates to terrorism. Put simply, the phone calls we make to our friends, our families, and business associates are private and have nothing to do with terrorism or the government’s efforts to stop it.” — Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI)

— Primary day in North Carolina: Voters in the Tar Heel State will head to the polls today to cast their votes in their respective party primaries. Among the most watched races is the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, where Greg Brannon is hoping to pull state House Speaker Thom Tillis into a runoff. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) visited the state yesterday to stump for Brannon. “As we stand here, the debt clock is spiraling out of control,” Paul told a crowd gathered in Charlotte. “Send us a champion. Send us a hero. Send us a dragon slayer,” he added, referring to Brannon. Public Policy Polling’s final survey, released yesterday, shows that Brannon has picked up steam, but Tillis is hovering at the 40 percent mark needed to avoid the runoff.

Today in Liberty: Rand Paul targets nominee over drones memo, young Millennials offer hope for GOP

— Busy week on Capitol Hill: Republicans will hold a vote on a contempt resolution against disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner as well as hold a vote to call for a special prosecutor to investigate the tax agency’s targeting of conservative groups. The lower-chamber may also vote on a measure to establish a select committee on Benghazi. The Senate, however, is likely to vote on some sort of measure to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, the only question of which is whether it’ll be binding or a nonbinding “Sense of the Senate” resolution.

Hillary’s biggest foe in 2016: The Press?

POLITICO published two pieces focused on President Obama and prospective 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s relationships with the press.

In “The White House Beat, Uncovered,” POLITCO asked members of the White House press corps to describe their experience dealing with the Obama Administration and charted their responses on a massive infographic. My description here won’t do the image justice, so I encourage you to check it out.

Highlights:

Sorry, McCain and Graham, Americans have become foreign policy skeptics

There are plenty of reasons to criticize President Barack Obama on foreign policy. He and his administration have made a number of missteps over the course of five-plus years, often coming across incoherent or badly prioritized.

President Obama, for all of his missteps, has largely put forward the same foreign policy as his predecessor, George W. Bush. He’s either intervened or tried to intervene in countries that present no threat to the United States. Even though the U.S. is (finally) withdrawing from Afghanistan, this administration has continued the war on terrorism through targeted drone strikes that violate the sovereignty of other countries.

But Hawkish Republicans have used these blunders to criticize his leadership on foreign affairs, frequently saying that he projects weakness and emboldens the United States’ enemies. There is some truth to that, but for different reasons.

Take Syria, for example. President Obama did project weakness in this situation, but only because he made a bold declaration by drawing a “red line” on the use of chemical weapons, which, if crossed, would bring a military response against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

It provided a convenient opening for the GOP to criticize President Obama’s foreign policy, much like the situation in Ukraine and tension relations with Russia do today. But the hawkish rhetoric that many Republicans doesn’t represent the way most Americans view foreign policy.

Coalition Urges White House to Reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act

Central to the NSA spying debate is the discussion revolving around the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).

Currently, the statute doesn’t give Americans the right to protection of any private communications or documents stored in the cloud. The ECPA passed as an amendment to the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Street Act and it does not protect emails, photos or even text messages from government’s access through the requirement of a search warrant approved by a judge.

The amendment passed in 1986 when current technology was just taking its first steps.

Multiple organizations have come together to persuade the White House to reform the outdated legislation designed to prevent government outreach. The coalition — which includes the R Street Institute, American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and FreedomWorks — wrote a letter to highlight the Obama administration’s lack of dedication to this matter.

According to the group, the Securities and Exchange Commission is behind the administration’s unresponsiveness.

Many efforts have been put forward to ensure that the administration addresses this issue such as the Email Privacy Act, a bill that is co-sponsored by 205 members of the House and that was introduced by Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Jared Polis (D-CO).

The bill is currently under congressional review. If the proposed legislation passes, electronic communication information stored in the cloud by third-party service providers should be protected from government access without a warrant.

Report: Just 67 percent of federal Obamacare exchange signups have actually paid

A report released yesterday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee finds that just 67 percent of people who signed up for health insurance coverage on the federal Obamacare exchange have actually paid their first month’s premium.

The committee, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), requested specific enrollment data in March from each of the health insurance companies participating in the federal exchange, including age demographic breakdowns and the number of paid enrollments. The data show that out of the 3.65 signups through the exchange, just 2.45 million (67 percent of all signups) had paid their first month’s premium through April 15.

“In a sad reversal away from its vows of transparency, the Obama administration, from inside the Oval Office on down, has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep basic details of the health law from the public,” Upton said in a press release. “Tired of receiving incomplete pictures of enrollment in the health care law, we went right to the source and found that the administration’s recent declarations of success may be unfounded.”

President Barack Obama declared last month that 8 million people had signed up for coverage through the state and federal Obamacare exchanges in the extended open enrollment period. The administration has not yet released figures to show how many of these purported enrollments have actually been paid.

CNN: ABC/WaPo Poll A “Low Point For Obama, For His Entire Presidency”

See Video

In a panel discussion this morning on CNN’s New Day, John King brought up the new Washington Post/ABC News poll which found President Barack Obama’s approval rating falling across the board.

“The one constant if you look at history to track, to get a sense of where we’re going is the president’s approval rating. [The] ABC News/Washington Post poll out just this morning, the President’s job approval rating [is] at 41 percent,” said King. “In the ABC/Washington Post poll, that is the lowest of the Obama presidency.”

The Atlantic’s Molly Ball agreed, telling King that the poll “is absolutely a low-point for Obama, for his entire presidency.”

Voters to Democrats: It’s Obama, stupid!

Try as they may to reshape the narrative about the national political landscape to keep control of the Senate, the new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that one of Democrats’ biggest that problems is the majority of voters who want a Congress that will challenge President Barack Obama’s agenda:

The new Washington Post-ABC News survey showed that Obama’s approval marks had fallen 5 percent since the first three months of 2014 and that a majority of respondents wanted a Republican Congress to counter the White House.

Furthermore, just 42 percent of those surveyed approved of the president’s handling of the economy, 37 percent supported his implementation of Obamacare and just one-third of respondents backed his approach to the standoff with Russia over Ukraine.
[…]
Of those surveyed, 53 percent said it was most important to have a Republican Congress to challenge the president’s agenda while just 39 percent said they favored Democratic control on Capitol Hill.

Whatever bump Democrats thought they would get out of the supposed “good news” about Obamacare is gone. It turned out to be a blip on the radar. While Democratic leaders continue to defend the law, vulnerable members from red and/or purple states can’t do that on the campaign trail.

 


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