Whoa, you are saying. What on earth is going on in Washington?
S is for scandal. C is for cover-up. A is for abominable misuse of government. N is for Nixonian behavior. D is for deception. A is for abuse of press freedom. L is for lies. That’s what many are saying.
Some would add I is for impeachment. House Speaker John Boehner says J is for jail.
Everybody agrees the Obama administration is having a terrible month. Let’s figure out what is going on.
Four Americans were killed when the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked by terrorists last Sept. 11. The next day, President Obama said such acts of terror would not be tolerated. But then the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations went on TV with “talking points” falsely suggesting the attacks were motivated by a stupid amateur video about Muhammad that sparked violence in Cairo.
Republicans insist the administration downplayed an al-Qaida attack so Obama would be re-elected. But there’s no evidence; emails show the CIA wasn’t certain al-Qaida was involved. Republicans in Congress call this the worst scandal since Watergate.
Next came the disclosure that the Internal Revenue Services was giving extra scrutiny to dozens of new groups applying for 501(c) (4) tax-exempt status that also permits the right not to list donors. The IRS was mainly targeting groups with Tea Party or Patriot in their titles. The GOP rightly said this was scandalous.
The IRS has been accused a number of times of political audits. In 2004, the IRS gave intense scrutiny to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People after the group’s director criticized then-President George W. Bush for the war in Iraq. Any political abuse of the IRS is wrong and must not be tolerated.
Ironically, the IRS commissioner at the time of the latest political abuse was appointed by a Republican. Also, some new 501(c)(4) organizations are not engaged in “social welfare” as the law requires. Former top Bush aide Karl Rove’s group Crossroads America has that status, although it has raised hundreds of millions of dollars solely to defeat Obama and other Democrats.
The third shoe to drop was the revelation that the Justice Department secretly got phone records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to Associated Press journalists after the AP disclosed that a double agent in al-Qaida foiled a plot hatched in Yemen to blow up an airliner.
Attorney General Eric Holder defends examining AP phone records as legal. He called the leak about Yemen to the AP “very, very serious,” one of the worst he’s ever seen.
Obama said the first he heard about this was in the news media a few days ago. Really? A “very, very serious” leak and he didn’t know any details about the investigation until he read the newspaper?
Democrats and Republicans say this abuse of AP’s press freedom is shocking. Oddly, a year ago Democrats and Republicans alike admonished the administration to get tough on leakers, to heck with the media.
Really, folks, there is a lot of hypocrisy going on here.
Benghazi was tragic. The scandal is not what the administration said at the time but that Congress cut money for embassy security.
After firing the current acting IRS commissioner, Obama promised to institute safeguards to depoliticize the agency to restore citizens’ trust. Next, Congress should define what “social welfare” means.
The Justice Department should have given the Associated Press the opportunity to go to court to try to block the government from examining AP’s sources. The actions against AP will discourage whistleblowers, who help keep government clean. And we need a shield law to protect journalists; that’s opposed by many Republicans claiming outrage on AP’s behalf.
Obama should know more about what his administration is doing and fire the dim bulbs.
Sadly, it’s we the people who’ll suffer. Congress will get itself so tied up in all this that nothing will be done about immigration reform, job creation, guns, the economy or any of the truly serious problems we face.
Scripps Howard columnist Ann McFeatters has covered the White House and national politics since 1986. E-mail email@example.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.shns.com.