Meet my new parents: the U.S. Government. The parallels are astonishing when you think about it. (Forgive my generalities… they are for illustration!)
1. Parents want their kids to be the best: Just like proud moms and dads show up at little league games and fight with other parents, help (or take over) fundraising activities so their kids will “win” by raising the most money, or argue with teachers about grades… we see the U.S. Government assert its authority all over the world - both economically and militarily - so that we can be the “greatest nation on earth”.
It seems that the wholesale libertarian message doesn’t resonate with the American people. Many liberal Democrats love civil liberties and liberal groups such as the ACLU have been powerful forces for advancing same-sex marriage rights, prisoner rights, free speech and religious freedom. Conservative Republicans don’t so much like the whole civil liberties thing, and, given their blatant corporate advocacy, are no longer legitimate advocates of economic freedom.
Looking back on his four-plus years as President Barack Obama’s Attorney General, one has to wonder if Eric Holder regrets taking the job. The job has its trials and and hardships, as does any political appointment or office, but Holder’s actions have frequently been the source of controversy.
The first significant controversy that Holder faced was over Operation Fast and Furious, the ATF’s now-infamous gunrunning scandal that led to the deaths of 200 innocent people, and the subsequent congressional investigation. The Justice Department was less than cooperative in the investigation and President Obama invoked executive privilege to block investigators access to documents relating to the scandal, an action that Americans opposed. Holder was eventually found in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the investigation.
It’s not just the Obama Administration that wants to go after journalists. During an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said that the the government should prosecute reporters when they publish sensitive information from leakers and whistleblowers.
Cooper and King were discussing the recent leak about the National Security Agency’s broad collection of Americans’ phone records, even if they aren’t suspected of terrorist activity. Glenn Greenwald, a journalist at The Guardian, published information he received from a whistleblower about the secret program. The story renewed debate on the PATRIOT Act and government surveillance.
“[I]f they willing knew that this was classified information, I think action should be taken something of this magnitude. I know the issue of leaks, I think something on this magnitude, there is an obligation both legal, I believe, against a reporter disclosing something, which would so severely compromise national security,” King told Cooper. “As a practical matter, I guess there have been in the past several years, a number of reporters who have been prosecuted. So the answer is yes to your question.”
Tea Party and conservative groups had a chance yesterday to discuss being targeted by the Internal Revenue Service yesterday before the House Ways and Means Committee. What they told members during the hearing indicates a broader scandal than the IRS and the White House want to admit:
Internal Revenue Service targeting of political groups was not limited to front-line employees in the agency’s Cincinnati, Ohio, office, according to testimony before a House committee on Tuesday.
One group that testified at a Tuesday hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee told members that the 29-month delay in its yet-unapproved tax-exempt status application was the result of orders from higher-ups at the agency.
“Contrary to the statements of [IRS tax exempt division head] Lois Lerner, the targeting of Linchpins of Liberty was not merely the independent act of a few agents in Cincinnati,” testified Kevin Kookogey, the group’s founder and president.
When Kookogey asked a Cincinnati IRS agent about the delays in his application, he was told, “We have been waiting on guidance from our superiors as to your organization and similar organizations.”
Kookogey says he did not know “from where this ‘guidance’ was coming, [but] it was clearly implied that it was not from down the hall.”
Attorney General Eric Holder met with a handful of Washington bureau chiefs last week to try to allay concerns about the Justice Department’s chilling assault on the First Amendment after it has seized phone records from the Associated Press and named Fox News correspondent James Rosen as a “co-conspirator” in a subpoena.
During the off-the-record meeting, Holder apparently told the bureau chiefs that his office was reviewing its policies for dealing with the media when national security issues arise and expressed support for a “media shield law.” However, it wasn’t made clear how the Justice Department would change its policies in the aftermath of this scandal.
While he has enjoyed continuing support from President Barack Obama and prominent congressional Democrats, even as he conducts damage control, some White House advisers told The New York Times that White House’s patience with Holder may be wearing thin (emphasis mine):
Under intense scrutiny over the Justice Department’s targeting of the Associated Press and James Rosen, Attorney General Eric Holder wants to meet with Washington bureau chiefs from major media outlets to discuss his department’s guidelines for dealing with journalists during leak investigations. The only catch, however, is that the meeting is off-the-record, meaning that the substance of the discussion can’t be made public.
That is a problem for many news agencies. The Associated Press, CNN, The Huffington Post, and The New York Times have all said that they will not attend the meeting unless it is on-the-record. The sentiment is that a discussion about the freedom of the press, which is protected by the First Amendment, should be open and transparent:
The Associated Press issued a statement Wednesday objecting to plans for the meetings to be off the record. “If it is not on the record, AP will not attend and instead will offer our views on how the regulations should be updated in an open letter,” said Erin Madigan White, the AP’s media relations manager.
The New York Times is taking the same position. “It isn’t appropriate for us to attend an off-the-record meeting with the attorney general,” executive editor Jill Abramson said in a statement.
Like the New York Times and the Associated Press, CNN will decline the invitation for an off-the-record meeting. A CNN spokesperson says if the meeting with the attorney general is on the record, CNN would plan to participate.
The Justice Department’s already troubling assault on the media just got weirder. Days after it was reported that the DOJ seized phone records from the Associated Press in an attempt to discover a leak from the administration, it was discovered that James Rosen, a Fox News correspondent, was the target of an investigation into a separate leak.
But the story has taken another turn for the worse. It appears that the DOJ also seized phone records from two White House staffers and five additional Fox News reporters:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” — First Amendment
Those words are straightforward. The right to free speech was respected so fervently that the framers of the Constitution saw fit to ensure that it was a constitutionally guaranteed right.
Sadly, that fundamental civil liberty was threatened last week when it was revealed that the Justice Department had subpoenaed phone records of reporters at the Associated Press (AP), an action that the news agency’s president said was “unconstitutional.”
It appears that this scandal is worse than was previously feared. The Washington Post reported on Sunday that James Rosen, Washington correspondent at Fox News, was the target of a Justice Department investigation in 2010.
This is pretty creepy:
When the Justice Department began investigating possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009, investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material.
The Department of Justice came under fire this past week for its subpoena of Associated Press phone records without any notice to the news agency or targeted reporters. While Attorney General Eric Holder claims that the action was a response to a national security threat, it was actually part of the Obama Administration’s continuing war on whistleblowers and, as many see it, a shot directly at the free press, which is protected by the First Amendment.
The controversy has brought new attention on the need to protect Americans from this sort of government overreach. on Thursday, Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), and Jared Polis (D-CO) joined together to introduce H.R. 2014, the Telephone Records Protection Act, which would protect all Americans from this sort of government overreach: