As if the Obama administration needed another scandal, a new report suggests that the EPA has been mighty friendly to those with whom it agrees politically and not so much to those with whom it disagrees.
From the Washington Examiner:
Conservative groups seeking information from the Environmental Protection Agency have been routinely hindered by fees normally waived for media and watchdog groups, while fees for more than 90 percent of requests from green groups were waived, according to requests reviewed by the Conservative Enterprise Institute.
CEI reviewed Freedom of Information Act requests sent between January 2012 and this spring from several environmental groups friendly to the EPA’s mission, and several conservative groups, to see how equally the agency applies its fee waiver policy for media and watchdog groups. Government agencies are supposed to waive fees for groups disseminating information for public benefit.
“This is as clear an example of disparate treatment as the IRS’ hurdles selectively imposed upon groups with names ominously reflecting an interest in, say, a less intrusive or biased federal government,” said CEI fellow Chris Horner.
Of the requests that were denied, the EPA said the group either didn’t respond to requests for justification of a waiver, or didn’t express intent to disseminate the information to the general public, according to documents obtained by The Washington Examiner. CEI, on the other hand, had its requests denied 93 percent of the time. One request was denied because CEI failed to express its intent to disseminate the information to the general public. The rest were denied because the agency said CEI “failed to demonstrate that the release of the information requested significantly increases the public understanding of government operations or activities.” Similarly, requests from conservative groups Judicial Watch and National Center for Public Policy Research were approved half the time, and all requests from Franklin Center and the Institute for Energy Research were denied. “Their practice is to take care of their friends and impose ridiculous obstacles to deny problematic parties’ requests for information,” said Horner.
I’m no longer surprised by the actions of my government. In fact, I have come to expect things like this. And, honestly, that’s a shame. Actions by our federal government which would have once been unthinkable and outrageous, or even impossible due to the lack of power and resources to perform them, are now common place. It’s barely even newsworthy.
By now you’ve probably heard about the massive IRS scandal that came to light on Friday, where the IRS admitted to targeting conservative groups for intense scrutiny. At first, the agency blamed lower level employees who simply made a mistake. They claimed that no one in any administrative position at the IRS even knew about the targeting, much less made the decision to target the groups. Well, according to the Washington Post, that’s a lie.
From the WaPo:
Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington and at least two other offices were involved with investigating conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, making clear that the effort reached well beyond the branch in Cincinnati that was initially blamed, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.
IRS officials at the agency’s Washington headquarters sent queries to conservative groups asking about their donors and other aspects of their operations, while officials in the El Monte and Laguna Niguel offices in California sent similar questionnaires to tea-party-affiliated groups, the documents show.
IRS employees in Cincinnati told conservatives seeking the status of “social welfare” groups that a task force in Washington was overseeing their applications, according to interviews with the activists.
Lois G. Lerner, who oversees tax-exempt groups for the IRS, told reporters Friday that the “absolutely inappropriate” actions were undertaken by “front-line people” working in Cincinnati to target groups with “tea party,” “patriot” or “9/12” in their names.
In one instance, however, Ron Bell, an IRS employee, informed a lawyer representing a conservative group focused on voter fraud that the application was under review in Washington. On several other occasions, IRS officials in Washington and California sent conservative groups detailed questionnaires about their voter outreach and other activities, according to the documents.
“For the IRS to say it was some low-level group in Cincinnati is simply false,” said Cleta Mitchell, a partner in the law firm Foley & Lardner who sought to communicate with IRS headquarters about the delay in granting tax-exempt status to True the Vote.
Moreover, details of the IRS’s efforts to target conservative groups reached the highest levels of the agency in May 2012, far earlier than has been disclosed, according to Republican congressional aides briefed by the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) on the details of their reviews.
We recently reported to you the surprising story that the IRS scandal is actually getting some play in the mainstream press, even though it makes Obama and the left look bad, very bad. And here is yet another example of this phenomenon. Completely-in-the-tank-for-Obama Andrea Mitchell, who likes to edit audio of Republicans to make them sound stupid, even admitted that what that the IRS did was indefensible.
Look, when far left Andrea Mitchell calls this “one of the most outrageous excesses” she’s ever seen, you know it’s bad. The federal government used the IRS as a weapon to punish the political enemies of the president. This is the kind of thing you’d expect to see from tyrannical dictators and communist regimes, not in free nations. It cannot be tolerated here.
This could be the moment where we see the press turn on Obama, who has proven himself the most corrupt American President in modern history. The Justice Department has been tapping the Associated Press’s phone records for months, monitoring the calls of their offices and reporters at home.
from Washington Post:
In a sweeping and unusual move, the Justice Department secretly obtained two months’ worth of telephone records of journalists working for the Associated Press as part of a year-long investigation into the disclosure of classified information about a failed al-Qaeda plot last year.
The AP’s president said Monday that federal authorities obtained cellular, office and home telephone records of individual reporters and an editor; AP general office numbers in Washington, New York and Hartford, Conn.; and the main number for AP reporters covering Congress. He called the Justice Department’s actions a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into newsgathering activities.
The aggressive investigation into the possible disclosure of classified information to the AP is part of a pattern in which the Obama administration has pursued current and former government officials suspected of releasing secret material. Six officials have been prosecuted, more than under all previous administrations combined.
In a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., the AP’s president and chief executive, Gary B. Pruitt, said that the Justice Department sought information beyond what could be justified by any specific probe and demanded that the government return the phone records and destroy all copies.
“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters,” Pruitt wrote to Holder. “These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.”
The inquiry is one of two leak investigations ordered last June by Holder. The second involves a New York Times report about the Stuxnet computer worm, which was developed jointly by the United States and Israel to damage nuclear centrifuges at Iran’s main uranium-enrichment plant.
The two leak inquiries were started after Republicans in Congress accused the Obama administration of orchestrating news stories intended to demonstrate the president’s toughness on terrorism and improve his chance for reelection. The Republicans sought a special prosecutor, but Holder instead named two veteran prosecutors to handle the inquiries.
This is both illegal and illogical. The leaks are coming from INSIDE the White House, and for the Justice Department to violate the 4th Amendment rights of dozens of reporters is completely beyond the pale. But the White House won’t investigate itself. Instead, it seeks to punish the press for daring to challenge Obama.
Kermit Gosnell is a murderer, and the jury in his trial has found him guilty in three of the four 1st degree muder charges.
from Life News:
The jury in the murder trial of abortion practitioner Kermit Gosnell returned a verdict and found him guilty on three of the four first-degree murder charges he faced.
Gosnell is charged with four counts of first-degree murder for killing babies following delivery in an abortion process that involved “snipping” their necks and spinal cords. He also faces a third-degree murder charge related to the death of a woman, Karnamaya Mongar, 41, of Virginia, from a botched legal abortion. Gosnell, who has been in jail since his January 2011 arrest.
The abortionist faces 258 counts total and other charges against him include one count of infanticide and one of racketeering, 24 counts of performing third-trimester abortions and 227 counts of failing to follow the 24-hour waiting period law before an abortion so women can consider its risks and alternatives.
Well this is from left field (pun intended). I recently wrote an article attempting to describe just how bad it was that the federal government would use the IRS as a weapon to punish those with whom it disagreed. It truly is tyrannical. In the article I encouraged those on the left side of the political spectrum to come out against this because the same thing might happen to them if ever an administration with different ideology is elected. But, to be honest, based on the left’s record of being less than principled and highly partisan, I didn’t expect it to happen. I was wrong.
Here’s Dennis Kucinich on Fox News railing against the IRS’s admitted practice of targeting people and groups based on ideology:
Good for him. This sort of thing cannot stand. But he wasn’t alone. Even MSNBC suggested that Obama come out strongly against the practice.
From the Washington Times:
It’s little surprise to see Republicans bashing the Obama administration over reports that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups during the 2012 election season.
But even the president’s most vocal supporters — the talking heads of liberal cable news channel MSNBC — are unloading on the White House and the Democratic Party as a whole.
“Look at the reaction of the entire Democratic Party. Of course the Republican Party is jumping on this … beating up the IRS is always good politics. But why aren’t more Democrats jumping on this?” asked MSNBC host and White House correspondent Chuck Todd. “This is outrageous, no matter what political party you are.”
Former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw also skewered the administration’s response to the scandal, which broke Friday afternoon.
“There’s only spin for the president to make, which is to come out and say that ‘this is outrageous. I have asked the people responsible for this to be removed from their jobs.’” Mr. Brokaw said on “Morning Joe” on Monday morning.
I truly am surprised that the left is being vocal about this. Sure, Chuck Todd admits that there hasn’t been enough Democrats joining Republicans in vocal outrage. But it is nice to see that there might be a few on the left who are honest and see the danger in what the IRS did..
If I may be skeptical for a moment, I think that the only reason the left might be jumping on board somewhat is because the IRS admitted doing it. Had Fox News and conservative bloggers simply found it out via old-school journalistic practices, the media probably would have covered it up.
In any case, it’s nice to see something we all can agree on. This sort of thing cannot be tolerated.
Much broader than first admitted, the IRS’s targets during the 2012 election season included Tea Party groups, Jewish organizations, and (ironically) groups whose purpose it was to teach the Constitution.
from Fox News:
An IRS campaign to apply additional scrutiny to conservative groups went beyond targeting “Tea Party” and “patriot” groups to include those focused on government spending, the Constitution and several other broad areas.
The additional guidelines created by the agency were part of a timeline, obtained by Fox News, from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which is looking into the controversial IRS practice. IRS officials apologized Friday for the scrutiny, but new information suggests senior leaders were apprised of the effort as early as 2011 despite public denials from the top.
Republican lawmakers have vowed to investigate and hold hearings, calling the revelations deeply troubling.
“The conclusion that the IRS came to is that they did have agents who were engaged in intimidation of political groups,” Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers told “Fox News Sunday.” “I don’t care if you’re a conservative, a liberal, a Democrat or a Republican, this should send a chill up your spine. It needs to have a full investigation.”
The internal IG timeline shows a unit in the agency was looking at Tea Party and “patriot” groups dating back to early 2010. But it shows that list of criteria drastically expanding by the time a June 2011 briefing was held. It then included groups focused on government spending, government debt, taxes, and education on ways to “make America a better place to live.” It even flagged groups whose file included criticism of “how the country is being run.”
By early 2012, the criteria were updated to include organizations involved in “limiting/expanding government,” education on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and social economic reform.
It’s beyond the pale, and there’s no way I believe the Obama administration’s official line that these were simply “low level employees.” Like every other White House scandal, I expect there to be White House stonewalling when it comes to document releases. That’ll let you know fairly quickly how high this scandal goes.
Today we celebrate motherhood, something that has been under assault in this country. We thank our mothers for their sacrifices, and we thank mothers everywhere for their decision to give life and love to us.
Motherhood comes in all different shapes and sizes. It is my own mother who worked tirelessly to take care of my family. It is the adoptive mother who gives unconditional love to a total stranger. It is the young mom who hasn’t the means to raise her own child but selflessly decides to choose life and give the little one up for adoption. It is the young mother, the empty nester, the grandmother, the new mom whose child hasn’t been born yet.
RICHARD GRENELL: I think the media’s becoming the story, let’s face it. CBS News President David Rhodes and ABC News President Ben Sherwood, both of them have siblings that not only work at the White House, that not only work for President Obama, but they work at the NSC on foreign policy issues directly related to Benghazi. Let’s call a spade a spade.
Let’s also show you why CNN did not go very far in covering these hearings because the CNN deputy bureau chief, Virginia Moseley, is married to Hillary Clinton’s deputy, Tom Nides. It is time for the media to start asking questions why are they not covering this. It’s a family matter for some of them.
JON SCOTT, HOST: So they don’t want to bring embarrassment upon folks who, who they’re close to?
GRENELL: Who directly are related to this story. Absolutely. They’re covering for them. There’s no question about it.
For the record, Ben Sherwood’s sister, Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, is the Special Assistant to Barack Obama.
Virginia Moseley’s husband, Tom Nides, is the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources.
As for David Rhodes’ brother Ben, he is Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communication.
As ABCNews.com reported Friday, Rhodes was a key player in revising the White House’s Benghazi talking points last September:
Did you know that the President of CBS News was the brother of the deputy national security adviser for communication for President Obama? Because I sure didn’t. What could possibly be wrong with that? Keep that in mind as you read this…
You may have heard of Sharyl Attkisson, she’s the only reporter at CBS that seemed to want to get to the bottom of the Benghazi scandal. Without her persistence in finding and reporting the truth, it’s very likely that this story would have been buried by the media. Keep that in mind as you read this…
From the DC:
The brother of a top Obama administration official is also the president of CBS News, and the network may be days away from dropping one of its top investigative reporters for covering the administration’s scandals too aggressively.
CBS News executives have reportedly expressed frustration with their own reporter, Sharyl Attkisson, who has steadily covered the Obama administration’s handling of the Benghazi terrorist attack in Libya since late last year.
“Network sources” told Politico Wednesday that CBS executives feel Attkisson’s Benghazi coverage is bordering on advocacy, and Attkisson “can’t get some of her stories on the air.”
Attkisson, who is in talks to leave the network before her contract expires, has been attempting to figure out who changed the Benghazi talking points for more than five months.
“We still don’t know who changed talking points but have had at least 4 diff explanations so far,” Attkisson tweeted on November 27, 2012.
But on Friday, ABC News reported that the Benghazi talking points went through 12 revisions before they were used on the public. The White House was intimately involved in that process, ABC reported, and the talking points were scrubbed free of their original references to a terror attack.
That reporting revealed that President Obama’s deputy national security advisor, Ben Rhodes — brother of CBS News president David Rhodes — was instrumental in changing the talking points in September 2012.
ABC’s reporting revealed that Ben Rhodes, who has a masters in fiction from NYU, called a meeting to discuss the talking points at the White House on September 15, 2012.
Let me sum this up. The brother of the president of CBS news works in the Obama administration and is reported to have been hands-on in helping the administration change the CIA talking points. Reports by Sharyl Attkisson, a reporter for CBS who was determined to find out who changed the CIA documents, suddenly went away. Just think about this for a second, had CBS been the only news agency, the story of what happened in Benghazi would have been purposely and successfully covered up. Thank goodness for ABC and Sharyl Attkisson.
Does anyone else think it’s ironic that Ben Rhodes has a masters degree in fiction?
In all the hullabaloo surrounding the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, we’ve forgotten one of the obvious questions: Why were we in Benghazi in the first place? Geraldo’s sources say that it’s because we were secretly supplying weapons to Syrian rebels.
Here’s the clip:
He isn’t the first person to say this. Back in October, Glenn Beck and Fox News both speculated that this was the case.
Fox News report from October 2012:
Here’s Glenn Beck also in the weeks after the attack:
What’s interesting about this entire story is that the only reason the media cared enough to report it at all was because they were angry that the administration had lied to them. He made them look like fools and Glenn Beck look like a genius. And that’s something the media just isn’t going to tolerate. In any case, if Geraldo’s sources are correct, then we might actually see talks of an impeachment hearing.
This story keeps getting worse and worse. First we learn that the IRS has been illegally and unethically flagging conservative groups, targeting them for audits and extreme scrutiny. Then we find out that the IRS has been targeting Jewish groups as well. Now we find out that top IRS officials have known about the illegal flagging since 2011.
From the AP:
Senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups as early as 2011, according to a draft of an inspector general’s report obtained by The Associated Press that seemingly contradicts public statements by the IRS commissioner.
The IRS apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was “inappropriate” targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status. The agency blamed low-level employees, saying no high-level officials were aware.
But on June 29, 2011, Lois G. Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, learned at a meeting that groups were being targeted, according to the watchdog’s report. At the meeting, she was told that groups with “Tea Party,” ”Patriot” or “9/12 Project” in their names were being flagged for additional and often burdensome scrutiny, the report says.
This is bad. I mean really bad. The federal government has admitted to using one of it’s major arms to punish political enemies. This is the textbook definition of tyranny. And the timing of the story couldn’t be more incredible. It comes just days after Obama himself rejected the notion that tyranny can even exist anymore. It’s truly amazing.
What makes matters worse is that they lied about it. The official excuse given by the AP was that some unnamed, low-level employees had simply made a mistake. But now we know that to be a lie.
I would love to see liberals come out loudly against this. Even they must see how terrible this is and what a frightening precedent it sets. For those on the left who don’t see what the big deal is, I’d like you to ask you this question: Would you feel this way if a federal government which was controlled Republican administration had targeted liberal groups? The only honest answer is “no.” I encourage you to denounce this practice as loudly as you would if the roles were reversed but I won’t hold my breath.
This is an abuse of power that everyone, regardless of political affiliation, should be firmly against.
After this week’s stunning Benghazi revelations, I was under the impression that Hillary Clinton had perjured herself in her testimony before Congress. Well, maybe not…it seems that she was never sworn in the day she gave her account.
Wednesday’s testimony on the Benghazi terror attacks by State Department whistleblowers before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform contradicted several statements by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in testimony before House and Senate committees in January.
However, while Clinton may have misled Congress in her testimony, she likely did not commit perjury because she never actually testified under oath.
Video recordings of Clinton’s Jan. 23 testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee suggest that she was never sworn in. Breitbart News subsequently confirmed with staff on both committees that she did not take an oath to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” as the three witnesses, all career civil servants, did Wednesday before the House Oversight Committee.
A Senate aide confirmed to Breitbart News Thursday: “We checked with the committee and she wasn’t sworn in.” A House aide indicated that Clinton had not been sworn in, but added that “all witnesses testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, including Secretary Clinton, are under a legal obligation to tell the truth. Any misrepresentation to the Committee in the context of a review or investigation is a violation of law.”
Ok, Marco Rubio, you’ve got some explaining to do on this one. The Gang of 8’s immigration reform bill contains language that would create a national biometric ID database of all Americans.
The immigration reform measure the Senate began debating yesterday would create a national biometric database of virtually every adult in the U.S., in what privacy groups fear could be the first step to a ubiquitous national identification system.
Buried in the more than 800 pages of the bipartisan legislation (.pdf) is language mandating the creation of the innocuously-named “photo tool,” a massive federal database administered by the Department of Homeland Security and containing names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID.
Employers would be obliged to look up every new hire in the database to verify that they match their photo.
This piece of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act is aimed at curbing employment of undocumented immigrants. But privacy advocates fear the inevitable mission creep, ending with the proof of self being required at polling places, to rent a house, buy a gun, open a bank account, acquire credit, board a plane or even attend a sporting event or log on the internet. Think of it as a government version of Foursquare, with Big Brother cataloging every check-in.
“It starts to change the relationship between the citizen and state, you do have to get permission to do things,” said Chris Calabrese, a congressional lobbyist with the American Civil Liberties Union. “More fundamentally, it could be the start of keeping a record of all things.”
For now, the legislation allows the database to be used solely for employment purposes. But historically such limitations don’t last. The Social Security card, for example, was created to track your government retirement benefits. Now you need it to purchase health insurance.
This would be the final nail in the coffin of the 4th Amendment, the end of all privacy in the United States. A system like this would give the feds the ability to track every location you visit without you even knowing it. This is bad news, and it must not become the law.