The Obama Administration is under fire for similar behavior committed under the Bush regime
Scandal after scandal has arisen this week in Congress. Benghazi, which never seems to go away, the Internal Revenue Service profiling Republican tax exempt status of conservative groups and subpoenas from the Department of Justice for the Associated Press‘ phone records regarding a foiled terrorist attack in Yemen.
Benghazi, the months old investigation involving the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others in Libya last year has been brought up over and over on talk shows, investigations and congressional hearings. Some Republicans have been calling for President Barack Obama’s impeachment over the terrorist incident.
Lately, accusations of emails being scrubbed and altered were made with a whole host of other malicious attempts to prosecute President Obama and Hillary Clinton prior to the 2012 election.
However, in the past week CNN obtained the actual e-mail from then-Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes which appears to show that whomever leaked it did so in a way that made it appear that the White House was primarily concerned with the State Department’s desire to remove references and warnings.
Previously, ABC News and the Weekly Standard had asserted that the emails be “scrubbed of any mention of Al Qaeda” at Victoria Nulands’ request. Both news outlets paraphrased the email’s content to suggest a cover up was planned in order to not interfere with the investigating agencies.
In the end, contrary to Republican claims, the intelligence community did have the last say in what went into the talking points including that the attacks “were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo,” and immediately preceded a demonstration. Questions are still being raised that appear to be a malicious prosecution of any agency in the Obama Administration.
One might inquire about the lack of outrage by conservatives when more than 60 Americans were killed in attacks on American diplomats and compounds during the Bush administration. Where were the hearings and calls for investigations? How about the fact that nearly 3,000 Americans were killed on 9/11 under Bush’s watch, where was the call for impeachment?
The Associated Press subpoena situation involves the Department of Justice obtaining two months of phone records of all reporters directly from phone companies rather than a warrant on the media outlet directly.
The grand jury is investigating the leak of information concerning the C.I.A. foiling of an Al-Qaeda plot to bomb an airliner heading to the United States from Yemen. Tapping the phone companies prevented the Associated Press from going to court and fighting the warrant with a motion to quash.
Back in 2005 when CIA operative Valerie Plame was “outed”, both journalists Judith Miller and Matt Cooper were required to testify before a criminal grand jury that resulted in the indictment and conviction of Scooter Libby. Scooter was later pardoned by President George W. Bush. Exposing Plame was just fine for Republicans, but gathering information on terrorist activities under their own Patriot Act is somehow wrong.
It is hard to imagine how investigating a terrorist plot under the Patriot Act would violate any law. The Republicans and journalists believe that the DOJ should have let them known first before obtaining phone records and therein lies the problem.
It seems that criticism for similar procedures under different parties infect the political environment of America. When the Bush administration outs Plame, a scandal arises, but quickly dies as the Republicans immediately circle the wagons in defense of their president. In this case, Democrats are largely backing away and have no desire to fight.
In the IRS Scandal, agents apparently targeted conservative social organizations that filed for 501(1)(4) tax exempt status. Applications for these filings skyrocketed after the Citizens United ruling and with various tax loopholes the claims required more time to go over. Never the less, Republicans are calling this “profiling’ the latest scandal to hit Washington and it legitimizes the tea party’s anti-big government, anti-tax, anti-IRS crusade.
The IRS is part of the Treasury Department and therefore is considered an independent agency that operates within the Executive Branch and therefore, does not report everything they do to the White House. Tea Party groups and right wing media outlets are accusing the IRS of going after conservative organizations. However, the majority of the organizations that filed for the tax exempt status were Tea Party groups themselves.
Nobody has been mentioning how the Bush administration used the IRS and other government agencies to spy on and investigate liberal and left-leaning organizations. The Bush administration became notorious for auditing and investigating all groups critical of his policies and presidency. Bush even had the NAACP, Quakers and Vegan groups investigated.
Did any of these groups pose a threat to Bush? No, but they publicly criticized him (especially the Iraq War), which for him was enough to spy on them. One recent Fox News headline read “What if the IRS under President Bush investigated liberal groups?”
The Republican House Majority Leader called for IRS employees to be sent to prison on Wednesday. Of course, there is no such statute that would imprison an IRS employee for this kind of conduct, but Obama did fire the acting director of the Internal Revenue Service, Steven Miller.
The most detrimental problem that will arise from this scandal is that it will reunite the Tea Party and right wing Republicans before the 2014 midterm elections. The worst case scenario is that the IRS will back off from investigating these groups altogether and allow them to get away with illegally funding our politicians.
The main concern to be garnered from all these scandals is that the right-wing is on a war path to try and dishonor the Obama presidency anyway they can. They are right to try and hold government accountable, but in some of these cases they are only right for the wrong reasons.
It is not surprising that Republicans and conservatives are going this route. If you haven’t been paying attention to politics since January, 2009 you would know that Republicans are willing to do anything necessary to inflict damage to the Obama presidency.
The economy is rebounding and the national deficit is stabilizing. There aren’t many issues left for the Republicans to attack him on. Benghazi, the Associated Press subpoenas and the complaints about the IRS are just a few lesser important issues that allow them to stay on the attack and avoid the more important issues they wish to ignore.
Bush was guilty of similar policies, but Republicans never took issue him. Meanwhile some Democrats are as mad as their counter parts and at least Obama is taking what action he can. Whether or not Obama or his administration really initiated cover ups or broke protocol is not the intention of these recent scandals. In politics, if you can’t destroy the message, you destroy the man.
Additional material provided by Julian Drury