In the USA...In Two Hours Obama Destroys the GOP’s Benghazi and IRS Scandals
By: Jason Easley
May. 15th, 2013
Just as Republicans and their media lackeys were getting their Obama scandal machine fired up, President Obama killed both the Benghazi and IRS “scandals” in a couple of hours.
The president put a stake through the heart of the GOP’s attempts to revive Benghazi by releasing 100 pages of emails. (Now, the world can see how badly Jon Karl and ABC News got played when they used the summaries of someone else’s notes.) The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent published an email from Tommy Vietor, who until recently was the spokesperson for the National Security Council. Vietor wrote, “Regarding the talking points, it’s not surprising that the entire government would want the chance to look at and edit that language. This was a dynamic situation and new information was constantly flowing in, and different agencies had important concerns that had to be addressed – the State Department had security concerns, the FBI was worried about its investigation, and the CIA had a major, yet still undisclosed, role.”
Republicans are putting out vague statements about contradictions, but Benghazi is pretty much finished as a scandal. It is difficult to accuse the White House of a cover up, when they’ve released all the emails.
The second part of the one-two punch was Obama speaking about the IRS scandal.
I’ve reviewed the Treasury Department watchdog’s report, and the misconduct that it uncovered is inexcusable. It’s inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives. And as I said earlier, it should not matter what political stripe you’re from — the fact of the matter is, is that the IRS has to operate with absolute integrity. The government generally has to conduct itself in a way that is true to the public trust. That’s especially true for the IRS.
So here’s what we’re going to do.
First, we’re going to hold the responsible parties accountable. Yesterday, I directed Secretary Lew to follow up on the IG audit to see how this happened and who is responsible, and to make sure that we understand all the facts. Today, Secretary Lew took the first step by requesting and accepting the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS, because given the controversy surrounding this audit, it’s important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward.
Second, we’re going to put in place new safeguards to make sure this kind of behavior cannot happen again. And I’ve directed Secretary Lew to ensure the IRS begins implementing the IG’s recommendations right away.
Third, we will work with Congress as it performs its oversight role. And our administration has to make sure that we are working hand in hand with Congress to get this thing fixed. Congress, Democrats and Republicans, owe it to the American people to treat that authority with the responsibility it deserves and in a way that doesn’t smack of politics or partisan agendas. Because I think one thing that you’ve seen is, across the board, everybody believes what happened in — as reported in the IG report is an outrage. The good news is it’s fixable, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to work together to fix it.
Republicans are going to hold more hearings about this IRS mess, but they are going to have a difficult time getting anyone to believe that this is an Obama scandal if the president himself is outraged by it, and is taking steps to fix the problem.
In roughly two hours, President Obama put on a textbook display of how a president should handle those who are trying to create scandals to use against him.
Where do Republicans go from here?
They’ll preach to the conservative choir that believes every negative statement and wild conspiracy about Obama, but for the vast majority of the country these two “scandals” are dead and dying.
Republicans are now reduced to trying to turn the investigation of the AP that they demanded into an Obama scandal. However, the AP flap is resonating much more with the media than it is with the country at large. It is interesting to note that the mainstream media is outraged over what happened to the AP, but they were mostly silent during the Bush administration’s abuses via the Patriot Act. They also said little when the Bush administration was paying journalists and columnists to push their agenda in the media. (I am not suggesting that what happened to the AP was justified, but that the media has been wildly inconsistent over the past decade when it comes to protecting the First Amendment.)
Before the media could even finish their stories about Obama’s scandal plagued second term, the president wiped out two attempts to create scandals in a few hours. Republicans will keep trying to create them, but Benghazi and the IRS have turned out to be Obama scandal duds.
*************Eric Holder Serves Darrell Issa A Huge Plate of STFU
By: Jason Easley
May. 15th, 2013
After listening to Rep. Darrell Issa go off on another one of his conspiracy laden witch hunts, Attorney General Eric Holder finally had enough and called the California Republican’s behavior unacceptable and shameful.
Issa: Mr. Attorney General, our investigators have seen thirty four of the thirty five admitted emails that violate the Federal Records Act. They’ve only seen the to and from. They’ve not seen the deliberative contents, and they have not seen the remainder of the 1,200 emails. Mr. Cummings, my ranking member joined in a letter requesting that we have the full contents pursuant to our subpoena of all 1,200. Will make them available to the committee based on our bipartisan request?
Holder: I will certainly look at the request. It’s not something that I have been personally been involved in, but I’ll look at the request and try to be as responsive as we can. I’m sure there must have been a good reason why the to and from parts were….
Issa: Yes, you didn’t want us to see the details. Mr. Attorney General, knowing the to and from…
Holder: No, No. That’s what you do. I’m not going to stop talking now. You characterized as something those…of the people in the Justice Department. That is inappropriate and is too consistent with the way in which you conduct yourself as a member of Congress. It’s unacceptable, and it’s shameful.
Issa tried to interrupt Holder by asking the committee chairman to inform the witness of the rules.
There is no love lost between Issa and Attorney General Holder. Remember, Rep. Issa was behind the House vote to hold Eric Holder in contempt over 2012′s bogus Fast and Furious scandal.
Rep. Issa is the troll living under our collective political bridge whose only mission is wasting taxpayer money by investigating an endless series of conspiracy theories that are all designed to take down the Obama administration. Issa was trying to frame the DOJ’s refusal to reveal the content of the emails as some vast cover up, when it reality these emails are just part of the never ending struggle for power between the executive and the legislative branches.
Congress wants access to everything. Presidents have long been wary of giving Congress anything more than they have to, because the legislative branch leaks like a sieve. Issa has been using this natural tension between the two branches as an excuse to go on a non-stop Obama witch hunt.
The left has been waiting for someone to call out Issa’s sleazy behavior for years.
Today, Attorney General Holder finally had enough of Rep. Issa’s playing to Fox News, and served him a big heaping helping of shut the f**k up.
***************GOP Whips Up Scandals to Avoid Facing Obama’s ‘Most Rapid Deficit Reduction since WWII’
By: Sarah Jones
May. 15th, 2013
If you were wondering why Republicans can’t stop screaming hysterically about fictional persecutions and scandals, it’s because the deficit is no longer their Big Thing. The “emergency” of the deficit – so important that Republicans had to risk global fiscal confidence – took a backseat to constantly shifting, hysterical and unfounded scandals du jour recently. It turns out that ‘the President’s policies are contributing to the most rapid deficit reduction since World War II.’ Ouch. Change subject!
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported a continued decline in the federal budget deficit: “The CBO projects a $642 billion budget deficit for fiscal year 2013, down more than $200 billion from its February estimate and the smallest annual shortfall since 2008. It is the lowest level of deficit spending to date under President Obama, who faced $1 trillion or more in annual deficits during his first term.”
Here’s a real bitter irony for the GOP. At the same time as their ideology took an ugly beating in the reality department, the man they are determined to destroy has a better record at deficit reduction than any of their recent Presidents. In fact, government spending under President Obama has grown at a slower rate than it did under any president since Dwight D. Eisenhower, according to Bloomberg (that’s over 50 years ago, if you’re counting). Ironically, this fact is due in part to their own obstructionism and President Obama’s endless compromises with them.
The White House isn’t averse to rubbing it in. Office of Management and Budget spokesman Steve Posner summed it up in a way that must hurt, “The improvements in this CBO report are yet more evidence that the President’s policies are contributing to the most rapid deficit reduction since World War II.” Is that accurate? Why, yes, actually, it is.
Investors Business Daily reported in November of 2012, “(T)he federal deficit has fallen faster over the past three years than it has in any such stretch since demobilization from World War II.” Of course, IBD goes on to say that any more deficit reduction focus and we risk our economic recovery, “If U.S. history offers any guide, we are already testing the speed limits of a fiscal consolidation that doesn’t risk backfiring. That’s why the best way to address the fiscal cliff likely is to postpone it. While long-term deficit reduction is important and deficits remain very large by historical standards, the reality is that the government already has its foot on the brakes.”
You might be asking yourself why Republicans are so good at cracking the whip on others while they are incapable of personifying even the most remote semblance of fiscal discipline when they are in charge. Good question. For that matter, why can’t Speaker John Boehner get anything done in the House without the help of Democrats? Boehner has only been able to pass Sandy relief and the VAWA (finally on both) because Democrats rescued him from his own party’s extremism. Modern day Republicans are keen on demonstrating repeatedly that they can’t govern and aren’t interested in legislating anything other than women’s bodies.
Republican lawmakers are very busy trying to bully the IRS into not looking into whether tea party groups are actively trying to influence elections. Also, Benghazi! And Republicans are very busy embracing a short-lived love for first amendment rights. Have no fear, they are still too busy to get any actual work done. But they do have that 37th vote on ObamaCare because they are the party of anti-discipline and fiscal recklessness.
They just keep wasting our money, as Obama tries to save us all from their childishness.
<b<Republicans Demanded an Investigation into AP Leaks; Now They’re Blaming Obama
By: Sarah Jones
May. 15th, 2013
In the lead up to the 2012 elections, Republicans were upset that the Obama administration was getting such great press on national security issues, so they pretended to be upset about the national security implications of the leaks to the AP.
In the spring of 2012, 31 Republicans called for AG Eric Holder to investigate the leaks after they accused the Obama administration of leaking stories about his toughness on terrorism to the press in order to win an election.
The Hill reported on the Republicans’ letter:
“The numerous national-security leaks reportedly originating out of the executive branch in recent months have been stunning,” they (Republicans) wrote to Holder.
“If true, they reveal details of some of our nation’s most highly classified and sensitive military and intelligence matters, thereby risking our national security, as well as the lives of American citizens and our allies. If there were ever a case requiring an outside special counsel with bipartisan acceptance and widespread public trust, this is it,” they wrote.
Republicans had really hoped the AP scandal would stick, especially with Benghazi Gate backfiring on them in numerous ways, not the least of which was the revelation on Tuesday that ABC had not actually read the emails the Republicans were using to indict the White House, and in fact the actual email said something quite different than was reported. It turned out that the email had been edited in the way it was reported so as to deliberately make Obama/Clinton look bad.
However, the AP scandal is also dying because there is no scandal. The phone records of the AP reporters were obtained legally (I’m not condoning what many see as the chilling of the press, I’m simply pointing out that it was done legally).
The Obama White House asked on Wednesday for the media shield law to be reinstated, “The Obama administration sought on Wednesday to revive legislation that would provide greater protections to reporters from penalties for refusing to identify confidential sources, and that would enable journalists to ask a federal judge to quash subpoenas for their phone records, a White House official said.”
Even worse for Republicans, AG Eric Holder recused himself from the decision to subpoena phone records of Associated Press journalists, so Republicans can’t even try to get him fired over their sudden interest in the rights of the press. (This isn’t stopping them from trying, of course. Logic and reality have no place in the never ending soap opera of hysterics.)
In June of 2012, the House and Senate Intelligence Committee leaders sought legislation to (emphasis mine) “strengthen authorities and procedures with respect to access to classified information and disclosure of it, as well as to ensure that criminal and administrative measures are taken each time sensitive information is improperly disclosed. We also intend to press for the executive branch to take tangible and demonstrable steps to detect and deter intelligence leaks, and to fully, fairly, and impartially investigate the disclosures that have already taken place.”
The investigation appears to be aimed at the leak rather than at the press, but the leak is a source and so it takes aim at the press regardless of its intent. But now Republicans are outraged that the DOJ is killing freedom.
Doug Heye, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, said in a statement to TIME, “Whether it is secretly targeting patriotic Americans participating in the electoral progress or reporters exercising their First Amendment rights, these new revelations suggest a pattern of intimidation by the Obama Administration.” Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, added, “The First Amendment is first for a reason. If the Obama Administration is going after reporters’ phone records, they better have a damned good explanation.”
Yes, well that explanation would be that Republicans demanded that the administration go after the leaks.
Why are Republicans putting on such a show? Because they insinuated repeatedly that the leak was deliberate and came from the White House. If that were true and if they were correct about Obama being a “tyrant”, why would Obama’s DOJ go after the records in order to find the leaker? Now that it’s come out that the DOJ is doing exactly what the GOP demanded, Republicans are going romantic about First Amendment rights. It’s too bad their legislation never reflects this newly claimed value.
The AP scandal represents the death of another Republican smear. How best to get out of the fact that you were wrong? Start another smear/distraction accusing the President of overreach after his DOJ did exactly what you demanded they do.
May 15, 2013North Dakota’s Sole Abortion Clinic Sues to Block New Law
By ERIK ECKHOLM
The running battle over the regulation of abortions entered a North Dakota courtroom on Wednesday, as the state’s sole abortion clinic sued to block a new law that it says could force it to shut down.
The law, requiring doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, was promoted by anti-abortion legislators, who argued that it would mean better care for women who suffer medical emergencies.
The Red River Women’s Clinic, in Fargo, relies on doctors who are licensed in North Dakota but fly in from out of state to perform abortions. Its director said that in the rare event of serious complications, women would be rushed to a hospital for appropriate care whether or not the clinic doctor had admitting privileges.
“Its purpose is to shut down the clinic, the sole abortion facility in the state,” the suit alleges of the law, which is scheduled to take effect on Aug. 1.
The suit, filed in a state district court on behalf of the clinic by the Center for Reproductive Rights, says the law would pose an unconstitutional infringement on the right to abortion.
A similar law in Mississippi, which could force that state’s only abortion clinic to close because it, too, relies on traveling doctors, has been blocked by a federal court pending a final ruling.
Arizona, Kansas and Tennessee also require that abortion providers have local admitting privileges, and at least one clinic, in Knoxville, Tenn., shut down as a result. But these states have multiple abortion providers that continue to operate.
The law on hospital privileges was one of several abortion measures adopted in North Dakota in April, including the country’s most stringent, which bars abortions at six weeks of pregnancy.
That ban, according to legal experts, violates Supreme Court rulings, which give a woman a right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually at around 24 weeks, and may be declared unconstitutional. The Center for Reproductive Rights, based in New York, said it planned to file a challenge before Aug. 1.
But even if the state’s early ban is thrown out, the requirement of hospital privileges could effectively end abortion rights in North Dakota, said Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Clinic.
The clinic performs abortions only up to the 16th week of pregnancy. The visiting doctors are unlikely to gain privileges at Fargo’s three hospitals, Ms. Kromenaker said, which include a veterans’ hospital, one with Roman Catholic affiliations and one that requires a doctor to admit at least five patients a year.
“A doctor who had to admit five abortion patients in a year would not be working at this clinic,” Ms. Kromenaker said. She said that since the clinic began operating in 1998, performing thousands of abortions, only one patient had required an ambulance ride to an emergency room and that there had been no deaths.
Denise M. Burke, vice president of legal affairs for Americans United for Life, which has promoted tighter abortion rules around the country, countered that admitting privileges could affect safety.
“The doctor with direct knowledge of the patient can ensure better care in the E.R. and can continue to be involved with her care in the hospital,” she said.
*************Pentagon vows to take action after latest sex assault scandal
By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 18:01 EDT
The US military vowed Wednesday to address a wave of sexual assault cases after a soldier who worked in a rape prevention program was accused of forcing a subordinate into prostitution.
The latest revelation marked the second time in a week that a member of the military assigned to work in its sexual assault prevention program had been placed under investigation for alleged sexual crimes.
Following the new allegation, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered those working as recruiters and in sex assault prevention efforts to undergo fresh screening and training, his spokesman George Little told reporters.
“There is frustration on the part of this secretary,” Little said. “It’s not just about talking about this issue. We have to take action and we have to take action swiftly.”
The Pentagon revealed on Tuesday that a US Army sergeant based at Fort Hood in Texas faces allegations of sexual assault, abusive sexual contact, mistreatment of subordinates and pandering — the legal term for pimping.
The sergeant, who was not named, was working as a “sexual harassment or assault response and prevention program coordinator” at the huge base and has since been suspended from his duties.
Last week, an Air Force officer in charge of his service’s sexual assault prevention office was arrested near the Pentagon for allegedly assaulting a woman in a parking lot, grabbing her breasts and buttocks.
According to Little, Hagel discussed the sexual assault problem in his weekly meeting with President Barack Obama on Tuesday.
Both agreed that urgent steps were needed and that anyone guilty of sexual assault had to be held accountable, he said, adding: “The president has made very clear his expectations on this issue.”
The embarrassing allegations have put the Pentagon under growing pressure and provided ammunition to lawmakers and activists, who are pushing for major changes to military procedures to stem the problem.
There are growing calls in Congress to change the military’s legal code, which allows commanders to weigh in on criminal cases and even to overturn verdicts or sentences.
Hagel has proposed stripping commanders of the authority to toss out a verdict after a trial but had initially opposed more sweeping changes, which could remove sexual assault cases from the chain of command.
Little said the Pentagon chief is now ready to consider “all options.”
Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, chair of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, has blasted the Pentagon over the issue and demanded an overhaul of its justice system.
“It is time to get serious and get to work reforming the military justice system that clearly isn’t working,” the New York lawmaker said in a statement Tuesday.
“I believe strongly that to create the kind of real reform that will make a difference we must remove the chain of command from the decision making process for these types of serious offenses.”
The Pentagon also faced questions about how it was vetting and training those selected to work in its sexual assault prevention program.
***************Sen. Warren demands to know why criminal bankers aren’t being locked up
By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 14:18 EDT
In a letter (PDF) sent to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Attorney General Eric Holder and SEC Chair Mary Jo White on Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) demanded to know why the government keeps accepting financial settlements from criminal bankers when they could instead be taken to trial, convicted and locked up.
In six short paragraphs, Warren requested that each institution turn over copies of any internal research “on the trade-offs to the public” between letting big financial firms pay a fine and walk “without admission of guilt” versus moving forward with full-scale prosecutions.
The letter was sent as a follow-up to a similar question she asked of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) on Feb. 14. Warren noted that the OCC replied last week denying the existence of any such research. In her letter sent Tuesday, she went on to add:
…I believe very strongly that if a regulator reveals itself to be unwilling to take large financial institutions all the way to trial — either because it is too timid or because it lacks resources — the regulator has a lot less leverage in settlement negotiations and will be forced to settle on terms that are much more favorable to the wrongdoer.
The consequence can be insufficient compensation to those who are harmed by illegal activity and inadequate deterrence of future violations. If large financial institutions can break the law and accumulate millions in profits and, if they get caught, settle by paying out of those profits, they do not have much incentive to follow the law.
There’s been a rash of mega-settlements between the government and the nation’s largest banks in recent years over allegations of foreclosing on people without just cause, knowingly making bad loans and reselling the debt, making false statements to rob from retired pensioners, laundering money for drug cartels, repressive regimes and terrorists, and agreeing to settlements and then ignoring them, to name a few.
“The problem is the banks have overwhelming confidence that law enforcement is not taking this seriously,” New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said last Monday, appearing on MSNBC. “They have overwhelming confidence that whatever the rules are, they won’t be followed up on.”
Five years on from a financial crisis that nearly froze the flow of credit in the United States and sparked a multi-trillion dollar bailing-out of the global financial industry, few American bankers and big finance executives have faced criminal charges.
There is, however, one notable exception: Ponzi-schemer Bernard Madoff, who defrauded mainly wealthy clients to the tune of $64.8 billion. He said from jail in 2011 that many of his former colleagues on Wall Street engage in criminal insider trading on a regular basis, much like he did.
“It’s unbelievable, Goldman … no one has any criminal convictions,” Madoff told New York Magazine earlier that year. “The whole new regulatory reform is a joke. The whole government is a Ponzi scheme.”
**************Liberal House Democrats slam ‘cruel and harmful’ cuts to school meals for poor children
By Eric W. Dolan
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 18:49 EDT
Several Democrats took to the House floor on Wednesday to denounce large cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) described the proposed cuts as “cruel and harmful” because it would “increase hunger in America.” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said the “morally wrong” $21 billion cut would hurt the U.S. economy along with low-income families.
The cuts to SNAP would remove about 2 million people from the program, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Additionally, roughly 210,000 children would lose access to free school meals.
“We cannot allow the budget to be balanced on the backs of the poor and most vulnerable in our country,” Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX) said on the House floor.
“We should not be cutting the safety net for our most vulnerable while maintaining costly government subsidies for the well-off junk food, oil and gas industries,” Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) added. “A Nevada child in my district who receives a $1.48 per meal is not the problem with the federal budget. The problem is corporate welfare and the special interest giveaways that litter our tax code.”
The House Agriculture Committee approved the proposed cuts on Wednesday as part of a larger farm bill. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) offered an amendment to reverse the cuts, but three Democrats joined with Republicans to defeat it.
Republicans have claimed the program has grown out of control and needs to be reigned in. About 1 in 7 Americans receive food stamps from the program.
“The FARRM Act reforms the SNAP program for the first time since the welfare reforms of 1996,” House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank D. Lucas (R-OK) said Wednesday. “Our reforms rein in the cost of the program by enforcing the asset and income tests, ending recruitment activities that increase enrollment, and preventing states from circumventing the law to receive greater federal funding. We tighten restrictions to prevent lottery winners and traditional college students from participating in the program.”
**************ScandalFest 2013: The Beltway Media’s Self-Interested Obama Pile On
By: Crissie Brown
May. 16th, 2013
Last week the Beltway media kicked off ScandalFest 2013, their periodic celebration of talking point transcription and self-righteousness disguised as investigative journalism.
Salon‘s Joan Walsh saw it coming on Monday:
The National Journal‘s Ron Fournier tweeted “Welcome to the 90s,” with no apparent irony or self-awareness about the role of the media in ginning up that decade of phony scandals that paralyzed our last popular second-term Democratic president, Bill Clinton.
In fact, Fournier contends Benghazi will hurt Clinton and President Obama, even though he acknowledges the GOP’s claims are overblown. “If nothing else, Benghazi is a blow to the credibility of the president and his potential successor, then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. This could be big … Credibility is Clinton’s vulnerability, dating to the unjustified financial accusations that triggered the Whitewater investigation. Doubts persisted about her veracity and authenticity throughout the 2008 presidential campaign.”
As Walsh notes, Fournier claiming that “Credibility is Clinton’s vulnerability” and citing as proof “the unjustified financial accusations that triggered the Whitewater investigation” is a jaw-dropping case of media irresponsibility. If the charges were “unjustified,” then Hillary Clinton’s credibility should not be a “vulnerability” … unless you buy into the Beltway media meme of Where There’s Republican Smoke, There’s Democratic Fire.
And the Beltway media have bought into that hook, line, and sinker, as POLITICO‘s Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei gleefully admitted yesterday:
The town is turning on President Obama – and this is very bad news for this White House.
Republicans have waited five years for the moment to put the screws to Obama – and they have one-third of all congressional committees on the case now. Establishment Democrats, never big fans of this president to begin with, are starting to speak out. And reporters are tripping over themselves to condemn lies, bullying and shadiness in the Obama administration.
Buy-in from all three D.C. stakeholders is an essential ingredient for a good old-fashioned Washington pile-on – so get ready for bad stories and public scolding to pile up.
The Washington Monthly‘s Ed Kilgore does an admirable job of puncturing this self-interest and self-righteousness masquerading as investigative journalism, concluding:
On this particular occasion, Harris and VandeHei come so close to self-parody that every sentence is like a pinata you could hit from any direction. But make no mistake: this is a declaration of war by elements of the Beltway Media who are determined to show us all they still have the power to “bring down a president,” as they arrogantly used to say about Watergate, and that not only the GOP but the Breitbartian wingnuts have a new ally in the “Vetting” of Barack Obama.
Perhaps you think Washington D.C. is our nation’s capital, a city dedicated to We the People, the living expression of “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” But the Beltway elite disagree, as Digby pointedly writes:
But this particular community happens to be in the nation’s capital. And the people in it are the so-called Beltway Insiders – the high-level members of Congress, policymakers, lawyers, military brass, diplomats and journalists who have a proprietary interest in Washington and identify with it.
They call the capital city their “town.”
The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent echoes the point:
The claim that the press now has “every incentive” to be “ruthless” is fascinating, and worth unpacking. Why, exactly, is it more in reporters’ interests to be more aggressive in its coverage of Obama right now than it was before? Easy. Now that “the town” has turned on Obama, being as aggressive as possible in going after him will lead to accolades among media colleagues and ingratiate you with sources, including even Congressional Democrats who will presumably now distance themselves from the White House, in the knowledge that “the town” has decided the President is in political trouble.
So if you’re wondering why children being kicked out of Head Start, seniors losing Meals on Wheels, cancer patients seeing treatment delayed, and the myriad other hardships inflicted by the sequester can’t get fixed, while Congress jumped to eliminate airline flight delays before flying home for their spring recess and the media ignore our falling deficit to salivate over ScandalFest … the answer is simple.
Washington D.C. is “their town.” Not ours.
That’s also why the Beltway media are frothing over the discovery that the Department of Justice subpoenaed telephone records for 20 lines at the Associated Press, who last June published a story based on leaked information that forced Britain’s MI-5 to sneak their Al Qaeda double-agent out of Yemen. Attorney General Eric Holder recused himself from the leak investigation because the FBI had called him as a witness, but yesterday he defended the investigation:
But Holder did not hesitate to defend a decision he said he did not make: to subpoena two months’ worth of telephone records from more than 20 Associated Press telephone lines. He said American lives had been endangered by the disclosure.
It was “a very, very serious leak,” Holder said. “It put American lives at risk, and that is not hyperbole. It put the American people at risk.”
But who cares about an Al Qaeda double-agent, or whether other sources were compromised. Certainly not Ron Fournier, who warned Attorney General Holder not to upset AP reporters:
Mr AG: I used to work with@mattapuzzo, @adamgoldmanap, @esullivanap, @tbridis. Trust me, these are not folks you piss off. #BULLETIN
— Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) May 13, 2013
As the Beltway media see it, government exists not to protect and serve We the People, but as a place where inside sources provide them with juicy gossip. This, they claim, is “investigative journalism.” The same Beltway media who blithely reported doctored Benghazi emails without fact-checking them. The same Beltway media who say – with no apparent sense of irony or self-awareness – that “unjustified accusations” prove “credibility is Clinton’s vulnerability.”
Our nation’s capital is “their town” … and they’re determined to celebrate ScandalFest, no matter what we think.
**************No Smoking Gun: 100 Emails Are The Best Defense for Benghazi and the President
By: Dennis S
May. 16th, 2013
The Benghazi boil continues to infect the news cycle 24/7. Curmudgeon carbuncle Chris Matthews just won’t let it go. For the second straight MSNBC broadcast, Matthews has worked himself into a frenzy over the initial Obama administration public reaction to the loss of 4 lives in Benghazi, Libya, September 11 and 12 of last year. As it turned out the reaction was a measured, intelligent and informative response to a tragic and deadly terrorist attack.
Now there’s the release of the first 100 emails on the subject. Coming from the White House and various affected agencies, the first talking point emails indicated that the attacks on the U.S. Mission and a CIA facility in Benghazi were inspired by a protest at the U.S Embassy in Cairo (not untrue). Then the explanations were co-joined with the revelation that a cross-section of Libyan society was involved noting that assessments could change with additional information and analysis. After some debate, it was decided that indeed, extremists had participated in the attack.
For some reason, the Republicans are bitching about the whole process. These are the very same bloodsuckers who couldn’t wait for the U.S. to kill our soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Middle East men, women and children in Iraq when they knew damn well the WMD cover story was a Matterhorn-sized mound of pure BS.
I’m searching Congress to see how many former journalists or reporters are in residence in the House and Senate. If there are any, they worked for the Skunk Hollow Gazette.
Reporters and journalists know that nothing is more chaotic than an accidental or man-made calamity; terrorist or otherwise. Remember the guy fleeing the Boston Marathon explosion when his pants had been blown off? The TV announcers kept inferring that he might be one of the bombers. How about the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta back in ’96? It was Richard Jewell for sure. He sure looked the part and forget that he saved numerous lives, he did it! Except he didn’t do it. Olympic Park was one of Eric Rudolph stopovers along the way to bombing all things gay and abortion.
And for numbskulls like Matthews out there, it’s not just about the event itself. As I already indicated in my previous submission on the subject, the entire area of Benghazi was a tinderbox. A little holding back to keep the peace, however tenuous, is part of the job of running a country. What did you want from Obama? “Yeah, it was those terrorist bastards!” If the blowhard Tea Party crowd had their way, we’d be making preparations for a world war. Again, repeating myself., the Benghazi compound was a gathering spot to meet with Middle East allies and figure out how to get Bashar al-Assad out of power. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens knew as well as anybody that he was flirting with death every time he ventured into Benghazi from his assigned duty-station of Tripoli.
A lot has been made of security, but, according to CBS News, estimates of the number of attackers have run as high as 150. There would have never been enough security to overcome those odds in and around the tiny, spy outpost. While an offending video produced in California ridiculing Muhammad drew few protestors, it was credited by local sources as being a major contributor to the attacks. It had been showing locally on YouTube throughout the summer. Sam Bacile who was responsible for the film is supposedly in hiding.
As for the emails, my friend and colleague Sarah Jones discovered that one in particular had been tampered with to match Republican character assassination and ABC swallowed the final results whole. Sadly, the network reporter said he had reviewed the contents when, in fact, he hadn’t. Early emails followed the lines I indicated earlier in this story, plus the fact that Ansar al-Sharia did not order the attacks according to a spokesman for the admittedly terrorist organization. It was thought some members did later join participate in the mayhem. The attacks were deemed more lethal because of the ready availability of weapons and the U.S. is working with the Libyan authorities and “intelligence partners” to bring the guilty parties to justice.
Those email contents seem to be what anybody with good sense would initially send out for public (or Congressional) consumption. There appears in a later email some hesitation about some of the points due to compromising possible criminal investigations, given the fact that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qaeda were involved. There are subsequent emails talking of further edits. One edit actually added a September 10 warning that demonstrations would take place in front of the Cairo Embassy and that Jihadists were threatening to break into the Embassy.
Later added was that Ansar al-Sharia’s Facebook page aimed to spread sharia in Libya and emphasizes the need for jihad to counter what it views as false interpretations of Islam, according to an open source study. There’s also a mention of attacks on other foreign interests in Benghazi. That was subsequently taken out, then put back in apparently by the White House. There is then a request to send the talking points to the State Department.
As it turns out the State Department did have concerns, resulting in several changes. The major deletion was the role of Ansar al-Sharia because the State Department was afraid that certain legislators would take off after the organization when their exact participation would not be known pending an investigation and the group would be used to “beat” the State Department (read Hillary). Ansar al-Sharia was left out of the talking points altogether. In spite of the changes, the state department still had concerns.
A further series of edits was carried out. An inter-agency squabble breaks out; one concern is that the changes are overdone; another is that they’re just fine. The final release was reduced to: the demonstrations in Benghazi being spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo which evolved into the Benghazi diplomatic post assault. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations. David ‘Casanova’ Patraeus, then CIA Director disagreed with the deletion of al-Qaida and extremists participation and the warnings of the Cairo attacks.
Also included was; this assessment may change as additional information is collected and as currently available information continues to be analyzed.
Finally, the investigation is ongoing and the U.S. government is working with Libyan authorities to bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of U.S. citizens.
The last correction was made when some agency finally suggested that Consulate be deleted and replaced with U.S. diplomatic post. Others recommended U.S. Mission. Diplomatic post apparently won out.
So there are those horrible, misleading emails and the process by which the final product was made available to Congress and the media.
For right-wing Republicans to use the tragedy of Benghazi as a political vehicle to discredit the president, his administration and Hillary Clinton is an affront to the memories of our brave diplomats and marines.