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Author Topic: Obama: Corruption, Deception, Dishonesty, Deceit and Promises Broken  (Read 86582 times)
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« Reply #1825 on: May 07, 2013, 07:54:13 AM »


 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-scheer/obama-penny-pritzker-commerce-secretary_b_3227356.html?utm_hp_ref=politics



The love fest between Barack Obama and his top fundraiser Penny Pritzker that has led to her being nominated as Commerce secretary would not be so unseemly if they both just confessed that they did it for the money. Her money, not his, financed his rise to the White House from less promising days back in Chicago.

"Without Penny Pritzker, it is unlikely that Barack Obama ever would have been elected to the United States Senate or the presidency," according to a gushing New York Times report last year that read like the soaring jacket copy of a steamy romance novel. "When she first backed him during his 2004 Senate run, she was No. 152 on the Forbes list of the wealthiest Americans. He was a long-shot candidate who needed her support and imprimatur. Mr. Obama and Ms. Pritzker grew close, sometimes spending weekends with their families at her summer home."

But don't sell the lady short; she wasn't swept along on some kind of celebrity joyride. Pritzker, the billionaire heir to part of the Hyatt Hotels fortune, has long been first off an avaricious capitalist, and if she backed Obama, it wasn't for his looks. Never one to rest on the laurels of her immense inherited wealth, Pritzker has always wanted more. That's what drove her to run Superior Bank into the subprime housing swamp that drowned the institution's homeowners and depositors alike before she emerged richer than before.

Pritzker and her family had acquired the savings and loan with the help of $600 million in tax credits. She became the new bank's chairwoman and ended up as a director of the holding company that owned it. Under her leadership, Superior specialized in subprime lending, hustling folks with meager means and poor credit into high interest loans that were bundled into the toxic securities that wrecked the U.S. economy.

As federal regulators began to move in on her bank after it had dangerously inflated the value of its toxic assets, Pritzker assured its employees: "Our commitment to subprime has never been stronger." Two months later, the bank was pronounced insolvent. At the time, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s inspector general report concluded, "The failure of Superior Bank was directly attributable to the board of directors and executive management ignoring sound risk diversification principles, as evidenced by excessive concentration in residual assets related to subprime lending. ..."

No biggie. In announcing her appointment, Obama joked, "For your birthday present, you get to go through confirmation. It's going to be great." It's the same sort of joke he could have cracked in appointing Citigroup alum Jack Lew to be Treasury secretary.

It is deeply revealing that in the midst of the continuing cycle of misery brought on by the chicanery of the financial community two key Cabinet positions dealing with business practices will likely be occupied by people who specialized in those financial rip-offs.

For Pritzker, as with the confirmation of Lew, the fix is in. The Republicans don't dare push back too hard on shady business practices that their deregulation legislation endorsed, and Democrats will go along with anything the president wants.

The same restraint will be exhibited in exploring the offshore tax havens that have protected the Pritzker family's immense wealth. Back in 2008, when she had been rumored for this same Cabinet post, Pritzker was queried about avoiding the sort of taxes most ordinary folks are obligated to pay, and she replied in writing: "I am a beneficiary of some non-U.S. situs trusts which were established about 50 years ago (when I was a child) and are administered by a non-U.S.-based financial institution as trustee. I do not control how those assets are administered." If the Republicans challenge that canard, the Democrats will smugly remind them of Mitt Romney's tax havens, as if that excuses tax avoidance within their own ranks.

Certainly the Republicans will not raise questions about the anti-union practices that helped create the Hyatt fortune in the first place and continue to this day. Nor will the Democrats, who embrace unions only at national convention time.

"There is a huge unresolved set of issues in the Democratic Party between people of wealth and people who work," noted Andy Stern, former president of the Service Employees International Union, which attempts to organize the miserably paid workers that produced Pritzker's wealth. "Penny is a living example of that issue."

But it's payback time, and even normally progressive Democrats like Pritzker's home state Sen. Dick Durbin are prepared to roll over. Treating the appointment of billionaire Pritzker as a victory for women everywhere, the senator said she'd "broken through the glass ceiling with her extraordinary intelligence and business acumen."

Right, Pritzker will be a fine role model for those women working at the Asian factories that she'll be touring as Commerce secretary extolling the virtues of the American business model.
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« Reply #1826 on: May 07, 2013, 12:43:35 PM »


There's no party like a White House party
 
By Emily Goodin - 05/07/13 05:00 AM ET






Bill and Hillary Clinton, actress Kerry Washington, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and producer Harvey Weinstein were among those who joined the Obamas at the White House’s secret post-inauguration bash.
 
President Obama and Michelle Obama held the hush-hush, swanky, ultra-A-list party to celebrate his second term the night he took the oath of office. The party was not announced or listed on his official schedule, but a few of the guests tweeted about the event, which is what publicly revealed its existence.
 








The guest list that reveals who attended was never released though the White House visitors log from January, which came out at the end of April and was examined by The Hill: a mix of rock stars, actors, top campaign donors, White House aides, Obama friends and leading Democratic politicians.
 
Some of the names include actor Jamie Foxx; Obama adviser David Axelrod; Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas) and his twin brother, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro; singer Kelly Clarkson; Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.); actress Eva Longoria; singer James Taylor; former NBA player Alonzo Mourning; Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D); and former White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. Clinton aide Huma Abedin was on the list, but her husband, former New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, was not.
 
Obama has a voluntary visitors records release policy, and more than 3.2 million entries have been made public. There is typically a three-month delay in the release of names.
 

 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The visitors log doesn’t give a detailed reason a guest is at the White House, but it does say who the person is there to see and where the meeting took place.
 
The names The Hill used to compile the guest list for the post-inaugural party were under a grouping of visitors who were at the White House to meet with “POTUS/FLOTUS” in the “residence” on Jan. 21.
 
Actress Ashley Judd and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) were among the list of names under that grouping, and both tweeted about the event.
 



RELATED ARTICLES
 •Who's who at the White House
 
Judd wrote, “How to arrive at the White House in style? Bum a ride from a kind citizen who happens to be off duty Secret Service!”
 

She later wrote, “It was elegant, warm, fun, & then an amazingly joyful house party. We had such a magical night.”
 
McCaskill tweeted, “Now we are rocking at the WH. Happy Inauguration. #2013inaug,” along with a blurry photo of a singer. The names of singers Usher and John Mayer were also on the list.
 
White House officials have previously said that visitors records have limitations and were never designed for public disclosure by the Secret Service. Names are listed without titles or additional identifying information.
 
There were some discrepancies in the most recent list of visitors released. The release date was labeled April 26, 2012, instead of 2013, though the records clearly state the appointments were in January 2013. A White House aide told The Hill the discrepancy was likely attributable to a typo.
 
Other names in the grouping include Commerce Secretary nominee Penny Pritzker; longtime Obama friends Eric and Cheryl Whitaker; Obama aides/advisers Ben Rhodes, Jim Messina, Julianna Smoot and Jeremy Bird; actress Whoopi Goldberg; Gayle King; actress Jennifer Hudson; and Attorney General Eric Holder.
 
And the list might not be complete.
 
There were some prominent names missing, such as Obama adviser and longtime friend Valerie Jarrett. She may, however, have a clearance level that does not require her to be listed as visitor to the residence. White House aides Dan Pfeiffer and Jay Carney were listed, however.
 
Also, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was not listed, but her husband, Paul Pelosi, was. Pelosi was cleared for White House access earlier in the day when Obama met with congressional leaders.
 
Kevin Bogardus, Justin Sink, and Amie Parnes contributed.


Read more: http://thehill.com/capital-living/cover-stories/298069-theres-no-party-like-a-white-house-party#ixzz2SdbN5xmy


 Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook
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« Reply #1827 on: May 08, 2013, 08:24:39 AM »

http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2013/05/coast-guard-ordered-to-stay-in-port-and-allow-infiltration-2640320.html


Worst Admn EVER!

Fuck obama
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« Reply #1828 on: May 08, 2013, 01:31:09 PM »

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/08/enron-ceo-released_n_3238948.html


LOL!!!!!


HOPE AND CHANGE SUCKERS!
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« Reply #1829 on: May 08, 2013, 08:12:53 PM »

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/05/08/Report-Obama-Spent-11-45-Million-Per-Green-Job-Created


unreal 

F Obama
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« Reply #1830 on: May 08, 2013, 09:08:48 PM »

http://www.twincities.com/national/ci_23202009/us-discussing-giving-russia-missile-defense-data


WOW.
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« Reply #1831 on: May 09, 2013, 08:21:35 AM »

Watchdog says government has tried to silence him on Afghanistan
By: Stephanie Gaskell
May 8, 2013 09:17 PM EDT

http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=A9EC85F1-16F0-4FE7-8EE0-3EA68EB00F25


 
The watchdog who tracks the billions of taxpayer dollars spent to rebuild Afghanistan says government officials have tried to silence him because they think he's embarrassing the White House and Afghan President Hamid Karzai by pointing out the waste and fraud.

John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, used a speech at the New America Foundation on Wednesday to blast government “bureaucrats”' who have told him to stop publicizing damning audits that detail case after case of waste, corruption and mismanagement of rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan. Some government officials have even complained that they aren't allowed to pre-screen or edit his reports, he said.

“Since my appointment by the president last summer, I have been surprised to learn how many people both in and out of the government do not understand the role of an independent inspector general,” Sopko said.

(PHOTOS: Obama in Afghanistan)

The Pentagon did not address Sopko’s remarks about pre-screening, but it endorsed his role keeping watch over the Afghanistan effort.

“We value inputs from independent oversight, including from inspectors-general, who play a key role in advancing the missions of the Department of Defense,” said press secretary George Little.

Even so, Sopko slammed the government for what he called a hostile attitude toward his work.

“Over the last 10 months, I have been criticized by some bureaucrats for not pre-clearing my press releases with them, for not letting them edit the titles of my audits, for talking too much to Congress, for talking too much to the press … and, basically, for not being a 'team player' and undermining 'our country’s mission in Afghanistan,'” he said.

(PHOTOS: 10 quotes about Hillary Clinton and Benghazi)

“Many in our government, even some surprisingly senior officials you think would know better, seem to believe that an inspector general should be their partner — or, more correctly, their silent partner,” he said. “In their opinion, my reports should be slipped in a sealed envelope in the dead of night under the door — never to see the light of day — because those reports could embarrass the administration, embarrass President Karzai, embarrass Afghanistan.”

Sopko said he wanted to make it clear that he wants Afghanistan to succeed and his work isn't meant to embarrass anyone.

“I support the mission in Afghanistan,” he said. “That is why I accepted the appointment. We must defeat the terrorists hiding in Afghanistan and build up an Afghan government capable of ensuring that Afghanistan will never again become a safe haven for those who want to harm the United States.”

Since taking office last July, Sopko has increased the number of audits and investigations threefold. His office has made 73 recommendations to government agencies that he says would save at least $450 million if enacted.

(PHOTOS: Chuck Hagel in Afghanistan)

Sopko defended his aggressive oversight of billions of taxpayer dollars being spent in Afghanistan, saying he's just trying to do the right thing.

“I am not a cheerleader. I’m a watchdog — it is my job to point out what isn’t working, so it can be fixed. To do it any other way is to just muddle along and then nothing will change,” he said.

This article first appeared on POLITICO Pro at 6:41 p.m. on May 8, 2013.
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« Reply #1832 on: May 09, 2013, 01:49:32 PM »

Green energy triumph: $11,000,000.00 spent per job created

via Politico

By: John Hayward 
5/9/2013 10:14 AM



“Without much fanfare, the Department of Energy (DOE) recently updated the list of loan guarantee projects on its website,” the Institute for Energy Research noticed on Wednesday.  ”Unlike in 2008, when Barack Obama pledged to create 5 million jobs over 10 years by directing taxpayer funds toward renewable energy projects, there were no press conferences or stump speeches.”
 
Uh-oh.  Why weren’t there any celebrations?  President Obama loves a good celebration.  Why, we just found out about the super-secret star-studded bash he held after his inauguration.
 
Maybe it’s because the IER divided the $26 billion spent on “green jobs” by the Energy Department since 2009, divided it by the 2,298 permanent jobs created, and came up with a cost of $11.45 million per job.
 
Ah, the miracle of Obamanomics!  At those prices, we could easily restore the 5 million jobs blown out of the economy since 2009 by spending a mere $57 trillion.
 
The IER provides a list of projects, loan amounts, and jobs created.  Your calculator will melt if you try to compute the per-job cost of famed boondoggles like Solyndra or Abound Soler, where the DOE handed out $535 million and $400 million respectively to create zero permanent jobs, because it turned out the companies were temporary.  But don’t overlook still-functional triumphs like Granite Reliable, a wind-power company that took $168.9 million in Energy Department loan money to create 6 permanent jobs.
 
“As the astronomical cost of the DOE’s loan guarantee program indicates, subsidizing renewable energy is not a good deal for taxpayers,” the IER observes dryly.  And that’s not the only raw deal we’re getting:
 

But loan guarantees are just one of the ways the federal government bankrolls risky green energy projects. Energy-related tax preferences cost taxpayers about $13.5 billion in FY 2012, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. But solar and wind power, for which the majority of the tax preferences for renewable energy were directed,produced only 3.6 percent of the nation’s generation in 2012. In addition, the Treasury Department’s 1603 grant program, which offers cash payments to renewable energy companies, cost taxpayers $5.8 billion in 2012. Many states also subsidize green energy through tax preferences as well as requiring renewable electricity mandates that require a specified amount of electricity to be generated from qualified renewable sources like wind and solar.
 
Clearly, in terms of “bang for the buck,” government programs that coddle renewable energy are losers. In terms of jobs, the losers are the American workers who would otherwise be gainfully employed but for the tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars on the administration’s obsession with “green energy.” As the economy continues to suffer and dollars for federal programs get harder to come by, it is getting increasingly difficult to defend a program that costs so much and produces so little.
 
Just imagine what the actual market – not the imaginary green one dreamed up by Obama and his billionaire cronies, who very much appreciate your support, even if they never seem to get around to thanking you for it – could have done with all those billions!  Let’s see, $26 billion in loan guarantees, plus $13.5 billion in tax preferences, plus $5.8 billion in cash grants for “renewable energy”… that’s $45.3 billion that could have been returned to the people who earned it, through pro-growth tax cuts. Would anyone like to wager that the private sector couldn’t create more than 2,298 permanent jobs with that kind of dough?
 
Not to mention all the marketplace confusion that could have been avoided by allowing the people who earned all that money to spend it, creating healthy and sustainable demand.  Quite a few suppliers and local service companies made the mistake of thinking Solyndra was a real company, and designed long-term business plans accordingly.  It’s hard to see real opportunities through all that taxpayer-subsidized static.
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« Reply #1833 on: May 09, 2013, 05:10:18 PM »

McDonald's cuts Angus burgers from menu          obamaaaaaaaaaaaaa  Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy
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« Reply #1834 on: May 09, 2013, 05:34:08 PM »

McDonald's cuts Angus burgers from menu          obamaaaaaaaaaaaaa  Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy




Don't worry, your shift manager will keep a couple on the side just for you.  And I've got some Skip juice you can fry 'em in.
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« Reply #1835 on: May 09, 2013, 05:41:56 PM »




Don't worry, your shift manager will keep a couple on the side just for you.  And I've got some Skip juice you can fry 'em in.

you will, thanks  Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy
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« Reply #1836 on: May 11, 2013, 10:35:49 AM »

Stephanie Cutter, Former Obama Adviser, To Help Bank Of America Elude Regulation
 

Posted: 05/10/2013 5:53 pm EDT  |  Updated: 05/10/2013 6:11 pm EDT


"Big Banks Push Against Tighter Rules," says the headline in this piece from the Wall Street Journal. 'Twas ever thus, but now, "big banks" are doing so more overtly, and with more gusto, and with all kinds of interesting people helping them out. Per the WSJ:

The banks have hired longtime, influential Washington hands to deflect regulatory and political pressure to strengthen their finances and to sell assets. Regulators and some lawmakers have raised concern that large banks remain "too big to fail" and could require another government bailout in the event of a new financial meltdown.
 The effort by banks marks a lobbying turning point for the industry, which adopted a mostly low-profile stance to new regulations in the wake of the financial crisis.


Of course, most of us are nominally invested in the idea that the Obama administration is working to keep the excesses of these banks in check. I mean, just today, Bloomberg reminded everyone that President Barack Obama greeted the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act thusly: “Because of this reform, the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes...There will be no more taxpayer-funded bailouts -- period.”

So, it would be quite reasonable to extract the notion, from that statement, that the Obama White House is fully on board with keeping tight rules on banks in place. Interestingly enough, however, someone who worked very hard to ensure Obama would be reelected to a second term does not appear to agree. Let's go back to that Wall Street Journal piece:

Regulators and lawmakers increasingly are signaling that more work is needed to lessen the risk posed by large, complex banks, including bigger capital cushions and minimum amounts of expensive long-term debt.
 The moves by banks include pushing back against bipartisan legislation sponsored by Sens. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, and Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, that would sharply increase capital cushions at large banks to the point where most analysts expect firms would be forced to shrink.

Stephanie Cutter, a former adviser to President Barack Obama, and Ed Gillespie, a former Bush administration official, are providing strategic advice to Bank of America on several issues, including efforts to break up the banks. Morgan Stanley recently hired Michele Davis, a top aide to former Bush administration Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, to help bolster the firm's credibility in Washington.


So, Stephanie Cutter (who I guess may also soon be repping Bank Of America's point of view on a rebooted "Crossfire" for CNN?) is working to undermine "tight rules" on banks? That seems like an odd thing for someone who supported Obama's reelection to do. Or does it? Is the implication here that Obama would not sign Brown-Vitter? Or that he contends that "bigger capital cushions" are not required?

It could mean that the White House isn't all that sincere about reining in the banks, maybe. It could also mean that the Obama White House will be battling its own adviser in the parking lot with tridents. I've not heard back from Cutter since I emailed her to ask, "HUH WHAT NOW?" But the day is young.

By the way, here is a fun fact that pertains to why tighter rules on banks, specifically those designed to prevent "Too Big To Fail" failures, might be of pertinent interest to normal human Americans. Per Bloomberg, today:

The firms that rate the creditworthiness of banks say the likelihood of a government rescue hasn’t gone away. Because of the implicit promise of bailouts, Moody’s Investors Service, the second-largest U.S. ratings company, has boosted the scores for the six banks. Each increase in credit grade makes borrowing less expensive.
 In a March 27 report, Moody’s displays a bar chart of its credit ratings for the banks in blue. In green bars, it shows Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo would be rated two grades lower if the taxpayer backstop didn’t exist. Moody’s boosted Morgan Stanley’s score by two grades for the same reason, even though it had downgraded that bank in June 2012.

The scores for Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan (JPM) are three grades lower in the green bars.

Debt sold by the holding companies of Bank of America and Citigroup (C), the second- and third-biggest U.S. banks by assets, would fall to junk status without the implicit government guarantee, Moody’s Senior Vice President David Fanger says.

“They have a high probability of government support,” Fanger says.


"Government guarantee" means "taxpayer guarantee," in the above construction. Taxpayer wealth is, to the banks' perspective, an implied asset on their balance sheet. So it's no wonder they don't worry about being overleveraged, and want to resist further regulations.

[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not?]


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/10/stephanie-cutter-bank-of-america_n_3255326.html?ref=topbar

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« Reply #1837 on: May 11, 2013, 11:33:32 AM »

Obama Pushes Funds for Islamists —- Trashes Their Christian Victims

Posted By Faith J. H. McDonnell On May 10, 2013 @ 12:39 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 10 Comments


The “Islamist apologist choir” described in Cinnamon Stillwell’s recent story “Profs on Boston Bombing” doesn’t sing solely on behalf of Chechnya and Cambridge. Some of that choir’s most dreadful caterwauling today is in support of Nigeria’s yet-undesignated terrorists, Boko Haram. The choir stalls are located in the U.S. State Department, which not only refuses to designate the jihadists as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), but maligns and defames Boko Haram’s Christian victims, as well.
 
Boko Haram’s latest attack, killing at least 42, took place on Tuesday, May 7, in the already battle-worn town of Bama, in Nigeria’s northeast Borno State. Borno, one of 12 states under Sharia, has suffered heavy losses under the Islamists. Some believe that Boko Haram has taken over northern Borno State much as Islamists took over northern Mali. At least 277 had been killed by Boko Haram in Borno State in 2013 before this attack.  According to an AP story the Tuesday event involved “coordinated attacks by Islamic extremists armed with heavy machine guns” in multiple locations around Bama. The jihadists also raided a federal prison, freeing 105 inmates.
 
Military spokesman Lt. Colonel Sagir Musa told AP that “some 200 fighters in buses and pickup trucks mounted with machine guns attacked the barracks of the 202 Battalion of Nigeria’s beleaguered army.” Musa, who said two soldiers and 10 insurgents died in the attack, revealed that the attackers “came in army uniform pretending to be soldiers.” The Islamists killed 14 prison guards. They also attacked and razed a police station, a police barracks, a magistrate’s court, and local government offices, according to Lt. Col. Musa. Bama police commander Sagir Abubakar reported that at least 22 police officers, three children and a woman were killed in the attacks.
 
Boko Haram frequently attacks Nigeria’s police and military forces. In 2012 as documented by the Facts on Nigeria Violence website, there were at least 67 attacks, almost exclusively by Boko Haram, against military barracks, police stations, prisons, and other government facilities, as well as against individual soldiers, policemen, and civil servants. But Boko Haram’s main targets are northern Nigeria’s Christians and churches.
 
The official name of Boko Haram, Jamā’a Ahl al-sunnah li-da’wa wa al-jihād, can be translated “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad.” Its goal is to establish a pure Islamic state in northern Nigeria, removing the Christian presence – either by conversion, expulsion, or extermination. Boko Haram appears to prefer the third option. According to the World Watch Monitor (WWM) report on global Christian persecution, Nigeria had a higher death toll from anti-Christian persecution and violence than the rest of the world combined. WWM concluded that Nigeria is “the most violent place on earth for Christians.”
 
In a recent Front Page Magazine article, Daniel Greenfield exposed the unfortunate moral equivalence found in the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s (USCIRF) 2013 report on Nigeria. While much of the report is very good and condemns Boko Haram, impunity, and the forced imposition of Sharia, USCIRF appears to have developed the same pathological impulse that afflicts the rest of the federal government, to never blame Islam. As a result, portions of the report mischaracterize certain acts of violence by both Boko Haram and other Islamists targeting Christians, and criticize northern Nigerian Christian leaders for calling the situation what it is: persecution.
 
USCIRF’s egregious observations and recommendations are actually State Department policy. For instance, USCIRF parrots former Asst. Sec. of State for Africa, Johnnie Carson, who declared in a congressional hearing, “It is important to note that religion is not the primary driver behind extremist violence in Nigeria” and that “the Nigerian government must effectively engage communities vulnerable to extremist violence by addressing the underlying political and socio-economic problems in the North.” USCIRF reports that “The U.S. government consistently has urged the Nigerian government to expand its strategy against Boko Haram from solely a military solution to addressing problems of economic and political marginalization in the north,” says USCIRF, “arguing that Boko Haram’s motivations are not religious but socio-economic.”
 
Responding to Carson’s testimony at a House Subcommittee on Africa hearing in July 2012, Subcommittee Chairman, U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), remonstrated that poverty alone does not drive people to violence. And in any case, Boko Haram is well funded by outside Islamists. “Heavy machine guns” and “buses and pickup trucks mounted with machine guns” are just the latest examples to show that Boko Haram is not just a motley crew of impoverished, marginalized local Muslims. In February 2013 it was revealed that hundreds of Boko Haram members had trained for months in terrorist camps in northern Mali with the local “Ansar Dine” al Qaeda of Mali. Their former chef, explained that he cooked for over 200 Nigerians who had “arrived in Timbuktu in April 2012 in about 300 cars, after al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) swept into the city.”
 
In its 2013 Nigeria briefing, human rights group Justice for Jos +, a project of Jubilee Campaign USA, remarked, “Ironically, in northern Nigeria, it is Christians who are totally disenfranchised politically, economically, and socially in their own states and by their own ethnic groups due to their religious identity.” This is worse than just “political marginalization,” Mr. Carson! Justice for Jos + continues, “Christians are regarded as inferior to Muslims and suffer ongoing, systematic and comprehensive discrimination even by local and (Sharia) state governments.”
 
As in many Islam-dominated regions, the northern Nigerian Sharia state governments require permits to construct new churches or repair old ones. But churches are disappearing from the northern Nigerian landscape because the permits are not granted and the existing churches are being demolished or burned in anti-Christian riots and Boko Haram attacks. “The Muslim community is so determined to prevent Christians from having churches to meet in, that when selling land to Christians they commonly include the proviso ‘Not to be used for a bar, a brothel, or a church’ on official deeds,” Justice for Jos + reveals.
 
Thanks to pressure from the U.S. State Department, Nigeria’s Christian President appears more concerned with demonstrating that he is not biased in favor of his fellow Christians than seeing justice done for those who have suffered (even to the point of considering offering amnesty to Boko Haram). The State Department has pressured President Jonathan to give more federal resources and create a special ministry for “northern affairs.” Justice for Jos+ reports that at the same time that federal resources have provided the northern states with “millions in public funds on forced mass weddings for widows, pilgrimages to Mecca, rams for sacrifice at Islamic celebrations, and payments to terrorists’ families,” there has been no compensation to the families of Christian victims.
 
In their many publicly released statements and videos, Boko Haram has never declared poverty and marginalization to be a motive for their actions. On the contrary, they state clearly that their actions are a “jihad (Holy War).” They said that “Christians in Nigeria should accept Islam, that is true religion, or they will never have peace,” and that they “do not have any agenda” other than working to establish an Islamic Kingdom like during the time of Prophet Mohammed.”
 
Could this be the reason why, in the disapproving words of the USCIRF report, “a number of prominent Nigerian Christian leaders . . . believe that Boko Haram has a significant sectarian dimension, and in particular, seeks to eradicate Christian communities in central and northern Nigeria”? USCIRF, again echoing the State Department policy worries, “This chasm in perspective is a serious concern. If Nigeria’s most prominent Christian leaders view the ongoing violence as sectarian, the faithful communities who follow their lead may also embrace this view, adversely affecting tolerance and respect across religions.” This is offensive not just in casting the Christian community as the villain of the piece, but in its lack of acknowledgement of the unbelievable restraint that Christians have shown in the face of the slaughter of their family, friends, and co-religionists.
 
In April 2012, former Asst. Secretary Carson told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that the US would soon open a consulate in Kano, one of the full-Sharia northern states, to join the U.S. Embassy in Abuja and the existing consulate in Lagos. Three months earlier, Boko Haram had carried out numerous simultaneous attacks on the security agencies in Kano – police stations, army barracks, intelligence headquarters – leaving some 200 dead. What a great place to build a new U.S. consulate. Kano is about 200 miles from Abuja. About half as far as Benghazi is from Tripoli.
 
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Article printed from FrontPage Magazine: http://frontpagemag.com

URL to article: http://frontpagemag.com/2013/faith-j-h-mcdonnell/obama-pushes-funds-for-islamists-trashes-their-christian-victims/
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« Reply #1838 on: May 11, 2013, 01:20:11 PM »

IRS Knew Tea Party Was Being Targeted In 2011: Report


By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER 05/11/13 03:18 PM ET EDT




WASHINGTON — A federal watchdog's upcoming report says senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups in 2011.

The disclosure contradicts public statements by former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, who repeatedly assured Congress that conservative groups were not targeted.

On Friday, the IRS apologized for what it acknowledged was "inappropriate" targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if those groups were violating their tax-exempt status.

The Treasury's inspector general for tax administration is expected to release the results of a nearly yearlong investigation in the coming week.

The Associated Press obtained part of the draft report.

That report says the head of the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups learned that groups were being targeted in June 2011. It does not say whether Shulman was notified.
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« Reply #1839 on: May 12, 2013, 07:59:19 PM »

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/11/irs-tea-party_n_3260286.html

Nixon was impeached for far less
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« Reply #1840 on: May 12, 2013, 08:55:23 PM »

http://frontpagemag.com/2013/dgreenfield/iraqi-mp-obama-has-handed-iraq-over-to-iran-and-said-do-what-you-like


F obama and those who voted for him 
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« Reply #1841 on: May 13, 2013, 03:36:45 AM »

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/obama-attend-3-democratic-fundraisers-monday_722435.html


Unreal.   He needs to resign.
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« Reply #1842 on: May 13, 2013, 03:50:47 AM »

President Obama refuses to fire IRS employees who illegally targeted conservative groups

In May 2013, the Washington Post reported that the IRS had illegally targeted conservative groups for additional reviews. Organizations with the words “tea party” or “patriot” were singled out for harassment, such as requiring them to provide a list of donors, details about their internet postings on social networking websites, and information about their family members.

When this was first reported by the media in May 2013, Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that had conducted these illegal activities, claimed that only low level employees had known about it, and that no high level IRS officials had known about it. However, soon afterward, NPR reported that an Inspector General report showed that Lerner had been lying, and that she herself had actually been aware of it since June 29, 2011.

During Congressional testimony that had taken place in March 2012, IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman falsely said that the IRS had not targeted conservative groups.

Michael Macleod-Ball, chief of staff at the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, said of this:

“Even the appearance of playing partisan politics with the tax code is about as constitutionally troubling as it gets. With the recent push to grant federal agencies broad new powers to mandate donor disclosure for advocacy groups on both the left and the right, there must be clear checks in place to prevent this from ever happening again.”

The Washington Post reported that President Obama had not done anything to investigate or fire the IRS employees who had engaged in this illegal harassment.
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« Reply #1843 on: May 13, 2013, 09:47:32 AM »

Spinning Benghazi
Posted by Alex Koppelman8031Print More
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It’s a cliché, of course, but it really is true: in Washington, every scandal has a crime and a coverup. The ongoing debate about the attack on the United States facility in Benghazi where four Americans were killed, and the Obama Administration’s response to it, is no exception. For a long time, it seemed like the idea of a coverup was just a Republican obsession. But now there is something to it.

On Friday, ABC News’s Jonathan Karl revealed the details of the editing process for the C.I.A.’s talking points about the attack, including the edits themselves and some of the reasons a State Department spokeswoman gave for requesting those edits. It’s striking to see the twelve different iterations that the talking points went through before they were released to Congress and to United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, who used them in Sunday show appearances that became a central focus of Republicans’ criticism of the Administration’s public response to the attacks. Over the course of about twenty-four hours, the remarks evolved from something specific and fairly detailed into a bland, vague mush.

From the very beginning of the editing process, the talking points contained the erroneous assertion that the attack was “spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved.” That’s an important fact, because the right has always criticized the Administration based on the suggestion that the C.I.A. and the State Department, contrary to what they said, knew that the attack was not spontaneous and not an outgrowth of a demonstration. But everything else about the changes that were made is problematic. The initial draft revealed by Karl mentions “at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi” before the one in which four Americans were killed. That’s not in the final version. Nor is this: “[W]e do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.” That was replaced by the more tepid “There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.” (Even if we accept the argument that State wanted to be sure that extremists were involved, and that they could be linked to Al Qaeda, before saying so with any level of certainty—which is reasonable and supported by evidence from Karl’s reporting—that doesn’t fully explain these changes away.)

Democrats will argue that the editing process wasn’t motivated by a desire to protect Obama’s record on fighting Al Qaeda in the run-up to the 2012 election. They have a point; based on what we’ve seen from Karl’s report, the process that went into creating and then changing the talking points seems to have been driven in large measure by two parts of the government—C.I.A. and State—trying to make sure the blame for the attacks and the failure to protect American personnel in Benghazi fell on the other guy.

But the mere existence of the edits—whatever the motivation for them—seriously undermines the White House’s credibility on this issue. This past November (after Election Day), White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate.”

Remarkably, Carney is sticking with that line even now. In his regular press briefing on Friday afternoon (a briefing that was delayed several times, presumably in part so the White House could get its spin in order, but also so that it could hold a secretive pre-briefing briefing with select members of the White House press corps), he said:

The only edit made by the White House or the State Department to those talking points generated by the C.I.A. was a change from referring to the facility that was attacked in Benghazi from “consulate,” because it was not a consulate, to “diplomatic post”… it was a matter of non-substantive factual correction. But there was a process leading up to that that involved inputs from a lot of agencies, as is always the case in a situation like this and is always appropriate.
This is an incredible thing for Carney to be saying. He’s playing semantic games, telling a roomful of journalists that the definition of editing we’ve all been using is wrong, that the only thing that matters is who’s actually working the keyboard. It’s not quite re-defining the word “is,” or the phrase “sexual relations,” but it’s not all that far off, either.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2013/05/benghazi-cia-talking-point-edits-white-house.html?mobify=0

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« Reply #1844 on: May 13, 2013, 03:21:32 PM »

Benghazi is no ‘sideshow’
By: David Harsanyi 
5/13/2013

Notwithstanding the passionate protestations of President Barack Obama, it is possible that an issue can be both “politicized” and have merit.

And as we now know, it was the White House and State Department that had politics on their mind during the initial attacks. Why else would they edit CIA Benghazi talking points 12 times – eliminating all references to terrorism – before allowing the American people to hear them? And why else would White House spokesperson Jay Carney claim that there was only a single “stylistic” edit to the document? We know this is untrue.  An untrue statement  triggered by political considerations.

And here is what President Barack Obama had to say on that Benghazi talking-point issue this afternoon in a joint press conference with UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

The whole issue of talking point, frankly, throughout this process, has been a sideshow. We have been very clear about throughout that immediately after this event happened we were not clear who exactly had carried it out, how it had occurred, what the motivations were. It happened at the same time as we had seen attacks on U.S. embassies in Cairo as a consequence of this film and nobody understood exactly what was taking place during the course of those first few days. And the e-mails that you allude to were provided by us to congressional committees. They reviewed them several months ago, concluded that in fact there was nothing awful in terms of the process that we had used. And suddenly, three days ago, this gets spun up as if there is something new to the story. There is no there there.

Almost all of this is untrue or misleading.

Perhaps there is no “there there,” as the president asserts, but there are a few things for certain: The administration, and Obama, took forever to make it “very clear” that the murders in Benghazi were the work of terrorists. Both implicitly and explicitly, they spent most of their media time trying to pin the blame on that preposterous Islam-bashing YouTube video. The administration asked YouTube to take the offending video down.

Despite knowing full well that the Arab Street hadn’t had one of its routine “spontaneous eruptions” of rage, but rather that a concerted terror attack had been to blame, Hillary stood in front of the families of the deceased and said: “We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing to do with. It is hard for the American people to make sense of that, because it is senseless and totally unacceptable.”

Katie Pavelich has an excellent timeline here of various administration officials cynically blaming the video for the death of Americans. An attack on reality (not unusual) and the First Amendment (becoming less unusual). As you know, Hillary doesn’t think it matters very much why the carnage went down.

As a political matter, the administration has done its best to conflate two distinct issues: The attack and the cover-up.

Yes, we should do all we can to find ways to protect foreign service members abroad. Did we do all we could to save them? It seems that’s a legitimate question that hasn’t been fully answered.

Then there is the accusation of a “politicization” of the event. To this charge, Democrats argue: ‘Why would we do it? There is no reason to cover up anything.’ Which is demonstrable false. There are two very good reasons.

1 –  There is the political implication of appearing weak during an election. Obama has told is that the ‘Man-Caused Disaster’ problem is almost licked. To have to pop up, and to make Obama engage in a defense of the Libya  adventure and revisit the War on Terror. This, weeks preceding an election, would have been bad politics. There was every reason to deflect attention from the root cause.

2 –  Then, to a lesser extent  perhaps, is the  ideological need to blame Islamic terror on our own “hateful” speech, or supposed Islamaphobia. For weeks, the Obama and friends fed that very perception.

http://www.humanevents.com/2013/05/13/the-benghazi-sideshow/
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« Reply #1845 on: May 13, 2013, 03:26:38 PM »







DOJ Secretly Obtains Months Of AP Phone Records; AP Condemns 'Unprecedented Intrusion'


AP  |  By By MARK SHERMAN Posted: 05/13/2013 4:20 pm EDT  |  Updated: 05/13/2013 6:00 pm EDT










 
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news.

The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of calls.

In all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.

In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.

"There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. 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," Pruitt said.

The government would not say why it sought the records. U.S. officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have provided information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.

In testimony in February, CIA Director John Brennan noted that the FBI had questioned him about whether he was AP's source, which he denied. He called the release of the information to the media about the terror plot an "unauthorized and dangerous disclosure of classified information."

Prosecutors have sought phone records from reporters before, but the seizure of records from such a wide array of AP offices, including general AP switchboards numbers and an office-wide shared fax line, is unusual.

In the letter notifying the AP received Friday, the Justice Department offered no explanation for the seizure, according to Pruitt's letter and attorneys for the AP. The records were presumably obtained from phone companies earlier this year although the government letter did not explain that. None of the information provided by the government to the AP suggested the actual phone conversations were monitored.

Among those whose phone numbers were obtained were five reporters and an editor who were involved in the May 7, 2012 story.

The Obama administration has aggressively investigated disclosures of classified information to the media and has brought six cases against people suspected of providing classified information, more than under all previous presidents combined.

Justice Department published rules require that subpoenas of records from news organizations must be personally approved by the attorney general but it was not known if that happened in this case. The letter notifying AP that its phone records had been obtained though subpoenas was sent Friday by Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney in Washington.

William Miller, a spokesman for Machen, said Monday that in general the U.S. attorney follows "all applicable laws, federal regulations, and Department of Justice policies when issuing subpoenas for phone records of media organizations" but he would not address questions about the specifics of the AP records. "We do not comment on ongoing criminal investigations," Miller said in an e-mail.

The Justice Department lays out strict rules for efforts to get phone records from news organizations. A subpoena can only be considered after "all reasonable attempts" have been made to get the same information from other sources, the rules say. It was unclear what other steps, in total, the Justice Department has taken to get information in the case.

A subpoena to the media must be "as narrowly drawn as possible" and "should be directed at relevant information regarding a limited subject matter and should cover a reasonably limited time period," according to the rules.

The reason for these constraints, the department says, is to avoid actions that "might impair the news gathering function" because the government recognizes that "freedom of the press can be no broader than the freedom of reporters to investigate and report the news."

News organizations normally are notified in advance that the government wants phone records and enter into negotiations over the desired information. In this case, however, the government, in its letter to the AP, cited an exemption to those rules that holds that prior notification can be waived if such notice, in the exemption's wording, might "pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation."

It is unknown whether a judge or a grand jury signed off on the subpoenas.

The May 7, 2012, AP story that disclosed details of the CIA operation in Yemen to stop an airliner bomb plot occurred around the one-year anniversary of the May 2, 2011, killing of Osama bin Laden.

The plot was significant both because of its seriousness and also because the White House previously had told the public it had "no credible information that terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida, are plotting attacks in the U.S. to coincide with the (May 2) anniversary of bin Laden's death."

The AP delayed reporting the story at the request of government officials who said it would jeopardize national security. Once government officials said those concerns were allayed, the AP disclosed the plot because officials said it no longer endangered national security. The Obama administration, however, continued to request that the story be held until the administration could make an official announcement.

The May 7 story was written by reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman with contributions from reporters Kimberly Dozier, Eileen Sullivan and Alan Fram. They and their editor, Ted Bridis, were among the journalists whose April-May 2012 phone records were seized by the government.

Brennan talked about the AP story and investigation in written testimony to the Senate. "The irresponsible and damaging leak of classified information was made ... when someone informed the Associated Press that the U.S. Government had intercepted an IED (improvised explosive device) that was supposed to be used in an attack and that the U.S. Government currently had that IED in its possession and was analyzing it," he said.

He also defended the White House's plan to discuss the plot immediately afterward. "Once someone leaked information about interdiction of the IED and that the IED was actually in our possession, it was imperative to inform the American people consistent with Government policy that there was never any danger to the American people associated with this al-Qa'ida plot," Brennan told senators.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/13/ap-phone-records-government-intrusion-unprecedented_n_3268569.html

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« Reply #1846 on: May 13, 2013, 04:20:20 PM »

http://www.businessinsider.com/aclu-fbi-warrantless-foia-redacted-2013-5


Unbelievable.   Time to jail holder too
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« Reply #1847 on: May 13, 2013, 06:12:54 PM »

Scandal politics sweep Capitol Hill
By: Jake Sherman and Lauren French
May 13, 2013 07:15 PM EDT
 
Scandal politics are sweeping Capitol Hill.

Just days after news broke that the IRS targeted conservative nonprofits, Speaker John Boehner’s House committees will morph into mock courtrooms where the White House will be the defendant in what amounts to a number of high-stakes political trials.

The most recent scandal to grip the Obama administration came Monday evening, when The Associated Press disclosed that the Justice Department sought its reporters’ phone records — including those of correspondents who sit in the Capitol. Within hours, House Republicans vowed to investigate. To make things worse for President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder is scheduled to be on Capitol Hill Wednesday for a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

(Also on POLITICO: Journalists fume over DOJ raid on AP)

That’s hardly the president’s only problem.

Two separate committees — Oversight and Government Reform, and Ways and Means — will probe whether the IRS was treating right-leaning groups unfairly. Republicans moved swiftly to secure the IRS acting director for a Friday hearing, just a week after the news broke. GOP aides hinted Monday afternoon that widespread calls for the director’s resignation could come shortly.

The panels will probe whether the targeting of right-leaning groups is systematic, or isolated. Ways and Means Republicans say they are interested in when top IRS officials, specifically former Commissioner Douglas Shulman was told about search terms used to single out conservative groups. Shulman told Ways and Means members in March 2012 that the IRS was not engaged in any manner of political targeting.

(Also on POLITICO: 5 key players in IRS mess)

Top GOP sources acknowledge that it’s highly unlikely the White House was directly involved in the IRS mess, but the probe is sure to add to the Republican-spun narrative of Democratic, Big Government overreach.

The IRS probes might be new to the public, but they’re not to House Republicans, who have long worried about politicization at the agency. The hot-button topic has come up in several committee hearings since the GOP took the majority.

The inquest into the IRS is just the latest in a string of GOP-led investigations suddenly gaining steam on Capitol Hill. Instead of negotiating with the White House, GOP lawmakers are now investigating it.

(Also on POLITICO: Obama fires back against Benghazi attacks)

There are currently five separate committee investigations into the attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, and a probe into Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius raising millions of dollars to promote Obamacare. Ways and Means is demanding answers to seven questions on this matter, as well.

All together, roughly one-third of House committees are engaged in investigating some aspect of the Obama administration.

“The speaker and other House leaders have been clear: Effective, responsible oversight is a key constitutional responsibility of Congress,” said Michael Steel, Boehner’s spokesman. “Whether the topic is the truth about Benghazi, thuggish political attacks from the IRS or the ‘train wreck’ of the president’s health care law, we will keeping fighting to make sure the American people know the truth.”

As Obama tries to jump-start immigration reform and a deficit deal and raise the debt ceiling, it’s becoming clear it could be a long, hot summer for the White House.

Republicans are having an “I told you so” moment, as well. For months, the party’s lawmakers have breathlessly proclaimed the IRS was unfairly targeting conservative outside groups, and swore the Obama administration was covering something up in the wake of the attack in Benghazi. Now, others seem to agree.

The uptick in oversight opens a new chapter in Boehner’s tumultuous relationship with Obama, and ensures that the president and House GOP’s political fortunes will be determined in the unpredictable committee hearing process.

 


Focusing on scandals that play well with its base ahead of the 2014 midterms is great politics for the House GOP leadership. Republicans have little to do legislatively, as this week it will pass for the 37th time a repeal of Obama’s health care law. It’s commonplace these days to see bills that could be completed in one day take most of the week.

The decision to engage in a multipronged attack against the Obama administration poses both risks and rewards for the Republican leadership. The party has yet to fully coalesce around a legislative agenda, a plan to raise the debt ceiling or a broad-based governing strategy. Republicans, who have tried to soften their image, now risk being defined by shouting matches. Their job-creating message is in danger of being overshadowed by scandal.

Perhaps the best thing about this spate of investigations is that it has unity without having to scrounge 218 votes for any legislation.

But the risks for Obama could not be greater. He has just 3½ years to cement a legacy, hardly an easy task when Congress is at war with him. Imagine cutting an immigration deal with Issa — who is involved in that debate — when he’s dragging administration officials in front of his committee all summer. Same goes for Camp, who is yearning to rewrite the Tax Code in his last year as chairman.

“Our frustration with the broken Tax Code will remain our focus, but it’s just troubling what this IRS targeting means in a larger sense in the way the IRS operates and the Treasury operates,” Ways and Means Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) told POLITICO.

A top Boehner aide reminded Capitol Hill staff in a meeting that they must keep their message tightly focused on economic recovery, despite the spate of TV-friendly investigations. Senior GOP aides acknowledge they are keeping a close eye on Issa’s oversight panel, which is filled with rock-ribbed conservatives. It was less than a year and a half ago when the same committee held a hearing on contraception without a single female witness. GOP leadership aides say they’ve been impressed with Issa in recent weeks.


Still, Republicans plan to work to keep scandal front and center over the next few weeks.

On Benghazi, GOP sources expect that former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Adm. Mike Mullen will testify before Issa’s committee about the State Department’s decision making after terrorists attacked a diplomatic post there.

The Energy and Commerce Committee — chaired by veteran Michigan Rep. Fred Upton — announced a hearing into reports that Sebelius was raising millions of dollars in corporate and foundation money to promote the Affordable Care Act.

The IRS ground is the most fertile, Republicans say. Prior to news of the report leaked, the House Republican Conference had already relayed complaints to leadership about the IRS targeting conservative groups. Louisiana Rep. Charles Boustany and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan have been involved in probing the topic. Senior IRS officials have already testified to both Appropriations and Ways and Means that the agency never targeted conservative groups.

Details of when Shulman was told are expected to be included in a Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration report expected to be released this week. That report — which senior members of the House Ways and Means Committee have yet to see in full — has been in the works for nearly a year. Early reports obtained by POLITICO show that senior IRS official Lois Lerner knew about the program in June 2011.

Brady said it was “troubling” that the report has been leaked before lawmakers had the chance to review it.

Florida Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan, a member of the Ways and Means Committee, said he expects the investigation into what happened at the IRS to take months.

“This is serious enough that it needs go to the full committee. There is nothing that is more important than this issue. I know we’re talking about Benghazi and a number of other issues that are out there, but this is an issue that goes to the heart of who we are — our Constitution and our Founding Fathers,” Buchanan told POLITICO.
 
© 2013 POLITICO LLC
 
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« Reply #1848 on: May 13, 2013, 07:11:40 PM »

..

After Benghazi, IRS tea party probe: Govt seized AP phone records


..By Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News | The Ticket – 3 hrs ago.. .

.

 
President Barack Obama welcomes British Prime Minister David Cameron in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, …Exactly ten days ago, President Barack Obama was piously telling reporters who cover him that free speech and an independent press are “essential pillars of our democracy.” On Monday, the Associated Press accused his administration of undermining that very pillar by secretly obtaining two months’ worth of telephone records of AP reporters and editors.
 
“We regard this action by the Department of Justice as a serious interference with AP’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news,” AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.
 
The latest revelations are sure to pour fuel on the fire of Republican-driven Richard Nixon comparisons. They come in the wake of revelations that the IRS may have improperly scrutinized the tax-exempt status of conservative, tea party-linked groups. This might, in order words, not be a great time to announce a groundbreaking trip to China.
 
And the news threatens to pile fresh political woes on a second term already burdened by a painful gun-control defeat, a seemingly stalled economic agenda, and Republican rage at the botched response to the Sept. 12, 2012 terrorist attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
 
The revelations that the Justice Department may have sought AP phone records drew an angry response from Republican House Speaker John Boehner's office. “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," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.
 
And Laura Murphy, a top American Civil Liberties Union official in Washington, D.C., condemned "unwarranted surveillance" of the press and urged Holder to explain what transpired "so that we can make sure this kind of press intimidation does not happen again.”
 
Holder was expected to face questions on the issue when he appears Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee.
 
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia did not answer a question from Yahoo News on whether other news outlets had been targeted. The spokesman, Bill Miller, did not confirm the AP allegations, but insisted in a statement that "we take seriously our obligations to follow all applicable laws, federal regulations, and Department of Justice policies when issuing subpoenas for phone records of media organizations."
 
Pruitt, in his letter to Holder, fiercely disagreed.
 


He said that the Justice Department had obtained telephone records for more than 20 separate phone lines assigned to the AP -- the world's largest wire service -- and its journalists. The records cover a two-month span in early 2012 and cover phones lines for AP in New York City, Washington D.C., Hartford, Conn., and one line at the AP workspace in the House of Representatives.
 
"This action was taken without advance notice to AP or to any of the affected journalists, and even after the fact no notice has been sent to individual journalists whose home phones and cell phone records were seized by the Department," Pruitt wrote.
 
"There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters," Pruitt wrote. "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."
 
Pruitt called it "particularly troubling" that the Justice Department "undertook this unprecedented step without providing any notice to the AP, and without taking any steps to narrow the scope of its subpoenas to matters actually relevant to an ongoing investigation."
 
In his statement, Miller said DoJ regulations "require us to make every reasonable effort to obtain information through alternative means before even considering a subpoena for the phone records of a member of the media."
 
And "we must notify the media organization in advance unless doing so would pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation," he said. "Because we value the freedom of the press, we are always careful and deliberative in seeking to strike the right balance between the public interest in the free flow of information and the public interest in the fair and effective administration of our criminal laws."
 
An Associated Press news story on the Justice Department's actions noted:
 

The government would not say why it sought the records. U.S. officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have leaked information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.
 
A former spokesman for Holder's Justice Department, Matthew Miller, took to Twitter to rebuke journalists and underlined that Republicans called for investigations into the leaks.
 


Ever since the days of his history-making 2008 presidential campaign, Obama has repeatedly cast himself as a champion of open government and reform. Aides are fond of praising "the most transparent administration in history" -- a moniker that might be accurate, but mostly because of poor standards set by his predecessors. It's like being the most powerful cricket team in Alaska.
 
And the Obama administration has not been shy about taking steps to deny Freedom of Information Act requests on national security grounds.
 
Just ten days ago, on May 3, Obama noted during a visit to Costa Rica that it was "World Press Freedom Day."
 
"So everybody from the American press corps, you should thank the people of Costa Rica for celebrating free speech and an independent press as essential pillars of our democracy," he said.
 
On Monday, Obama was scooping up cash for Democrats in New York City. His spokesman, Jay Carney, referred questions about the AP letter to the Justice Department.
 
"We are not involved in decisions made in connection with criminal investigations, as those matters are handled independently by the Justice Department," Carney said.
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IRS officials in Washington were involved in investigation of conservative groups
By Juliet Eilperin and Zachary A. Goldfarb, Updated: Monday, May 13, 8:09 PM
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.

IRS employees in Cincinnati also 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 on 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 an attorney 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 LLP 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.

Then commissioner, Douglas Shulman, a George W. Bush appointee who stepped down in November, received a briefing from the TIGTA about what was happening in the Cincinnati office in May 2012, the aides said. His deputy and the agency’s current acting commissioner, Steven T. Miller, also learned about the matter that month, the aides said.

The officials did not share details with Republican lawmakers who had been demanding to know whether the IRS was targeting conservative groups, Republicans said.

“I wrote to the IRS three times last year after hearing concerns that conservative groups were being targeted,” Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement Monday. “In response to the first letter I sent with some of my colleagues, Steven Miller, the current Acting IRS Commissioner, responded that these groups weren’t being targeted.”

“Knowing what we know now,” he added, “the IRS was at best being far from forth coming, or at worst, being deliberately dishonest with Congress.”

As new details emerged Monday, Democrats and Republicans alike decried the agency’s actions as an unacceptable abuse of power.

In a news conference on Monday, Obama said he learned of it in media reports on Friday and has “no patience with it.”

“If in fact IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on, and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that’s outrageous,” Obama said. “And there’s no place for it. And they have to be held fully accountable.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday that the White House counsel’s office learned of an upcoming IRS inspector’s general report on April 22 as part of a routine notification, but had not received access to the report.

On Capitol Hill, two Senate panels — the Finance Committee and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations — announced Monday that they will investigate. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Ways and Means Committee have been looking into IRS attempts to single out organizations on the right for heightened scrutiny. Ways and Means has called IRS officials to testify Friday.

“These actions by the IRS are an outrageous abuse of power and a breach of the public’s trust,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.). “The IRS will now be the ones put under additional scrutiny.”

Separately, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) introduced companion bills Monday that would require the IRS to fire any employee found “willfully” violating “the constitutional rights of a taxpayer,” according to statements by both lawmakers. The bills also would make them criminally liable for their actions.

Even as Obama vowed that his administration “will make sure that we find out exactly what happened on this,” however, the IRS offered no new information on how it selected which groups to single out for scrutiny.

The White House is legally prohibited from contacting the IRS about a tax matter, under a prohibition adopted after the Watergate scandal. And although it can contact the Treasury Department about tax issues, neither Treasury nor the IRS can disclose specific taxpayer information. The IRS can release information only about a petition for tax-exempt status once it has been approved.

Obama is not in a position to remove Lerner, a career official who can be terminated for cause only under normal civil service proceedings. The IRS has two political appointees: the commissioner, who serves a five-year term, and the chief counsel.

As the IRS came under broader political attack Monday, more details surfaced on how the tax-exempt organizations division struggled to determine which nonprofits should receive “social welfare” status after the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling. That decision, which allowed corporations and unions to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on elections, opened the door for groups to accept undisclosed contributions as long as their “primary purpose” was not politics.

In a Jan. 9, 2012, letter to the Richmond Tea Party, IRS specialist Stephen Seok asked questions including “the names of the donors, contributors and grantors,” as well as the size of the contributions and grants, and when they were given.


Richmond Tea Party President Larry Nordvig, whose group applied for tax-exempt status in December 2009 and received it in July 2012, said the extended inquiry had “a very chilling effect” on how much money the group could raise because its donors preferred anonymity.

The Wetumpka Tea Party of Alabama experienced a two-year delay after submitting its initial application.

Becky Gerritson, a 44-year-old stay-at-home mother and the group’s president, said the IRS sent a questionnaire asking for the names of all volunteers, donor identification and contribution amounts, the names of any legislators its members had communicated with directly or indirectly, and the contents of all speeches its members had made, among a long list of other details.

“I was outraged,” Gerritson said. “Being an election year, I felt like it was intimidation.”

The group did not provide the information. Approval came only after the group sought help from the American Center for Law and Justice, which threatened a lawsuit against the IRS, Gerritson said.

Although some of the groups were explicitly labeled “tea party” or “patriot,” others that came under intense scrutiny were focused on challenging the Affordable Care Act — known by many as Obamacare — or the integrity of federal elections.

In a June 3, 2011, letter to the IRS, Mitchell questioned the agency’s motivations for delaying recognition of one of her clients who had filed nearly two years earlier, writing, “Is the [group’s] opposition to Obamacare and the takeover of America’s healthcare system by the government the reason that this application has been held up and not approved?”

Catherine Engelbrecht, president of the Houston-based True the Vote, first filed for tax-exempt status in July 2010. At one point, Engelbrecht — who is still awaiting a determination from the IRS regarding her voting rights organization and a separate tea party group, King Street Patriots — said an IRS employee informed her: “I’m just doing what Washington is telling me to do. I’m just asking what they want me to ask.”

The IRS did not respond to requests for comment Monday.



Josh Hicks and Julie Tate contributed to this report.

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