Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Obama's Weaponized IRS and Dept. of Justice

May 14, 2013 - The Obama Administration scandals just keep coming. The bungling of the Benghazi tragedy, and events leading up to it, was enough to make the administration scramble for cover and excuses. Within the past week, however, we've learned that the Department of Justice used a secret subpoena to snag Associated Press phone records of reporters and editors, and that the IRS improperly targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny in 2011 and 2012. These abuses of power have a lot of people upset, including quite a few Democrats.

One of those Democrats is former Clinton Administration attorney Howard Fineman had harsh criticism for the Obama Administration. He was a guest today on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show (video, left).

Fineman spoke about the AP phone records. "Every possible thing that DoJ could have done wrong, they did wrong in this case. Widely overbroad, in terms of the people whose records they got, no notice whatsoever, before or til long after the fact. No evidence that they exhausted other ways to find the information. One of the key things you have to do is look for other ways to find the information before you do this, and they apparently slapped it on quickly, did it very broadly, and the DoJ guidelines say at the top 'our goal here is to be as unintrusive to the press, as protective of the press as we possibly can be.' So, they violated both the letter and the spirit of their own guidelines in doing this. The question is 'Why?'"

Why? Willful abuse of power for political gain might well be the answer, and Fineman himself has said in the past that the Obama Administration is not above using government agencies as weapons. He said that Sheriff Joe Arpaio is a good example of such abuse.

Obama as dictator, by Tom Mannis
Obama, the Little Dictator
A year ago, Fineman said that the Obama Administration used DoJ as a political weapon agains Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona. In a HuffPo article on May 13, 2012, titled "Barack Obama 2012 Takes Multiple Pages From GOP Playbook,"

Fineman wrote that the Obama Administration "filed suit against Arizona's controversial and, to many, egregiously anti-immigrant Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The goal is not just to bring him in line, but to make Republicans defend him."

Fineman wrote about the IRS abuse of power in his column at Huffington Post yesterday. "The real questions about the IRS are: Who ordered that targeted scrutiny of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status? Who knew about those actions at the time? Who has learned about them in the meantime?"

POTUS Operandus
In other words, what did Obama know and when did he know it?

"You don't have to be a Republican conservative or a tea party member or a hardened cynic," wrote Fineman, "to wonder who in the Obama campaign or the Obama White House might have known about inquiries into the tax status of Obama's foes."

Obama used DoJ as a political weapon, then, in an effort to distract Republicans and the Romney campaign. So why would Obama not also use the IRS as a weapon?

He's done it before, after all.  A May, 2011 article in Forbes examined Obama's "use of federal programs and regulations to favor allies and punish or intimidate opponents."
"The Internal Revenue Service announced an investigation into five, unnamed donors to nonprofit advocacy groups organized as 501(c)(4)s," wrote Forbes contributor Charles Kadlec, "to determine if they owe millions of dollars in gift taxes going back to 2008. By so doing, the IRS has over-turned a three decades old policy and appears to be reacting to pressure from Democratic Senators and the President to use its power to limit the contributions to 501(c)(4) groups and thereby their influence in the political process." (Emphasis added.)
"Thus, it is fair to be more than a little concerned," added Kadlec, "that the President has decided to use the formidable power of the IRS to threaten some of the biggest contributors to Republican candidates. Such a threat will hobble the opposition’s efforts to match his own, all out effort to achieve a money advantage by raising $1 billion to finance his re-election campaign." (Emphasis added.)
The irony in all of this is that the Obama Administration's abuse of power has provided "Obama's foes" with the most powerful weapon of all: The hammer of public opinion, which seems to be rapidly turning against them. (Watch NBC's Lisa Myers talk about Obama's history of intimidating reporters and their sources in the video below.)

"There’s no way in the world I’m going to defend that," U.S. Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D-Somerville) said about the IRS scandal. "Hell, I spent my youth vilifying the Nixon administration for doing the same thing. If they did that, there should be hell to pay."

"Not only is it bad government and bad to society," Capuano said, "it is horrendous politics. The worst thing you can do is give your opponent an easy hammer with which to hit you."

The scandals are not just infuriating Obama's opponents. Those on the Left, who supported and elected and covered for him, are pissed of as well. The ACLU issued a statement yesterday that condemned the DoJ seizure of AP phone records. "Obtaining a broad range of telephone records in order to ferret out a government leaker is an unacceptable abuse of power," wrote Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.

"The sweeping seizure of journalists’ phone records," writes John Glaser at antiwar.com, "was a witch hunt to enforce the Obama administration’s demands for total secrecy. And after the leaking of internal White House and State Department emails revealing an effort to cover-up terrorist involvement in the Benghazi attacks as well as the just-released information on IRS policy of giving 'special attention' to taxpayers who 'criticize how the country is being run,' Obama’s second terms looks like its the biggest scandal of all."

Perhaps the best thing to come from these scandals is this: The left-leaning Mainstream Media has finally awakened to Obama's imperfections. The violation of AP's rights hits very close to home for them, and the media is now willing -- even eager -- to ask the hard questions that journalist should ask of those in power.

The hammers are falling, and falling hard.

Also See: