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Author Topic: Obama: Corruption, Deception, Dishonesty, Deceit and Promises Broken  (Read 77315 times)
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« Reply #1900 on: May 19, 2013, 10:35:38 AM »

Report: US apologizes to Israel for disclosing that Israel was behind Damscus strikes
 Israel Matzav ^ | 5/19/13 | Carl in Jerusalem

Posted on Sunday, May 19, 2013 1:07:07 PM

Israel Radio reported this morning (Sunday) that the United States has apologized to Israel for disclosing that Israel was behind the strikes on Damascus two weeks ago. According to the report, the decision to disclose that Israel was behind the strikes was made at a low level in the Pentagon, and the US Department of Defense is investigating how that happened. According to the report, Israel believes that it is now facing much stronger threats from Bashar al-Assad as a result of the disclosure.


(Excerpt) Read more at israelmatzav.blogspot.co m ...
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« Reply #1901 on: May 19, 2013, 06:34:41 PM »

Report: Obama Administration Apologizes for Another National Security Leak

May. 19, 2013



http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/05/19/report-obama-administration-apologizes-for-another-national-security-leak




Israel Channel 2 broadcast this satellite image showing a Damascus airport warehouse before and after the airstrike (Screenshot: Channel 2 News)
 
The Justice Department’s seizure of Associated Press reporters’ phone records was reportedly one element of a “sweeping” federal investigation to find out who leaked classified information about a failed Al-Qaeda plot to bomb an American airliner.
 
Now, the Obama administration has reportedly apologized to Israel for another leak of classified information to the media, one that occurred earlier this month and which Israeli officials are concerned could place Israeli lives at risk.
 
Israel Radio’s diplomatic correspondent Chico Menashe reported Sunday morning (via the Jerusalem Post):
 

American officials apologized to their Israeli counterparts for confirming that Israel was behind the airstrikes on the Damascus airport earlier this month, Israel Radio reported on Sunday.
 
The confirmation reportedly came from the lower ranks at the Pentagon, and the reasons for the leak are being investigated.
 
Menashe tweeted: “The U.S. has apologized to Israel for leaking details of the attack in Syria. Senior administration officials said to their [Israeli] counterparts that they are examining the issue and that low-level [officials] were responsible for the leak.”
 
Menashe also wrote, “US officials told that they [will] review the matter. The leak forced Assad to react harshly.”
 




U.S. apologized for leaking details of Israel. US officials told that they review the matter.The leak forced assad to react harshly.
 about 19 hours ago via TweetCaster for AndroidReplyRetweetFavor ite


The New York Times attributed its report about the bombing on May 3 to an Obama administration official: “Israel aircraft bombed a target in Syria overnight Thursday, an Obama administration official said Friday night, as United States officials said they were considering military options, including carrying out their own airstrikes.”
 
CNN, which broke the story first on May 3, quoted two unnamed U.S. officials:
 

The United States believes Israel has conducted an airstrike into Syria, two U.S. officials first told CNN.
 
U.S. and Western intelligence agencies are reviewing classified data showing Israel most likely conducted a strike in the Thursday-Friday time frame, according to both officials. This is the same time frame that the U.S. collected additional data showing Israel was flying a high number of warplanes over Lebanon.
 
One official said the United States had limited information so far and could not yet confirm those are the specific warplanes that conducted a strike. Based on initial indications, the U.S. does not believe Israeli warplanes entered Syrian airspace to conduct the strikes.
 
Two weeks later, Israel still has not officially taken responsibility for the bombings, which allegedly targeted Iranian Fateh-110 missiles intended to bolster Hezbollah’s arsenal.
 
Israeli security analysts suggest that confirmation of Israel Defense Forces involvement – even if leaked via American sources – not only could potentially endanger any agents still on the ground in Syria, but would also put pressure on embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad to retaliate against the Jewish state.
 
Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center, told TheBlaze, “It requires the Syrians to react officially rather than deny that it happened or that it was an accident. It forces Syria and Hezbollah and Iran to react officially and say they want to seek revenge, which makes things more dangerous for Israel.”
 
“Can you imagine if things were reversed and somebody did that to the U.S.?” he added.
 
Assad may already be responding. Britain’s Sunday Times reported that the Syrian military has placed advanced weapons on standby to strike Israel, in the event Israel strikes targets again in Syria.
 
The report said that reconnaissance satellite images show Syria has surface-to-surface Tishreen missiles ready for use and aimed at Tel Aviv. Each can carry a half ton payload, according to the paper.
 
In an interview with CNN shortly after the airstrikes, Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al Mekdad called the attack a “declaration of war,” adding that Syria would retaliate in its own time and way.
 
At the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to the tumult facing the Middle East, calling it “one of its most sensitive periods in decades with the escalating upheaval in Syria at its center.”
 
“We are closely monitoring the developments and changes there and we are prepared for any scenario. The government of Israel is working responsibly and with determination and sagacity, in order to ensure the supreme interest of the state of Israel – the security of Israeli citizens in keeping with the policy that we have set, to – as much as possible – prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah and to [other] terrorist elements,” he said.
 
“We will work to ensure Israelis’ security interest in the future as well,” Netanyahu added.
 
Last week, Russia said it would move forward with a sale of S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Syria, after Netanyahu made a visit to Moscow in person to try to convince the Russians to halt the deal. Once deployed, the advanced system will make future Israeli sorties over Syria more difficult, as well as rendering any notion of a U.S. or European-led no-fly zone much more complicated to implement.
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« Reply #1902 on: May 20, 2013, 05:13:27 AM »

A rare peek into a Justice Department leak probe
By Ann E. Marimow, Published: May 19
When the Justice Department began investigating possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009, investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material.

They used security badge access records to track the reporter’s comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit. They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for the reporter’s personal e-mails.

The case of Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, the government adviser, and James Rosen, the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News, bears striking similarities to a sweeping leaks investigation disclosed last week in which federal investigators obtained records over two months of more than 20 telephone lines assigned to the Associated Press.

At a time when President Obama’s administration is under renewed scrutiny for an unprecedented number of leak investigations, the Kim case provides a rare glimpse into the inner workings of one such probe.

Court documents in the Kim case reveal how deeply investigators explored the private communications of a working journalist — and raise the question of how often journalists have been investigated as closely as Rosen was in 2010. The case also raises new concerns among critics of government secrecy about the possible stifling effect of these investigations on a critical element of press freedom: the exchange of information between reporters and their sources.

“Search warrants like these have a severe chilling effect on the free flow of important information to the public,” said First Amendment lawyer Charles Tobin, who has represented the Associated Press, but not in the current case. “That’s a very dangerous road to go down.”

Obama last week defended the Justice Department’s handling of the investigation involving the AP, which is focused on who leaked information to the news organization about a foiled plot involving the al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen. AP executives and First Amendment watchdogs have criticized the Justice Department in part for the broad scope of the phone records it secretly subpoenaed from AP offices in Washington, Hartford, Conn., and New York.

“The latest events show an expansion of this law enforcement technique,” said attorney Abbe Lowell, who is defending Kim on federal charges filed in 2010 that he disclosed national defense information. A trial is possible as soon as 2014. “Individual reporters or small time periods have turned into 20 [telephone] lines and months of records with no obvious attempt to be targeted or narrow.”

The president said press freedoms must be balanced against the protection of U.S. personnel overseas. According to the office of Ronald Machen Jr., the U.S. attorney for the District, its prosecutors followed federal regulations by first seeking the information through other means before subpoenaing media phone records. Machen’s office is investigating both the Kim and AP cases. The Justice Department said in a statement that in both cases it had abided by “all applicable laws, regulations, and longstanding Department of Justice policies intended to safeguard the First Amendment interests of the press in reporting the news and the public in receiving it.”

The Obama administration has pursued more such cases than all previous administrations combined, including one against a former CIA official charged with leaking U.S. intelligence on Iran and another against a former FBI contract linguist who pleaded guilty to leaking to a blogger.

The Kim case began in June 2009, when Rosen reported that U.S. intelligence officials were warning that North Korea was likely to respond to United Nations sanctions with more nuclear tests. The CIA had learned the information, Rosen wrote, from sources inside North Korea.

The story was published online the same day that a top-secret report was made available to a small circle within the intelligence community — including Kim, who at the time was a State Department arms expert with security clearance.

FBI investigators used the security-badge data, phone records and e-mail exchanges to build a case that Kim shared the report with Rosen soon after receiving it, court records show.

In the documents, FBI agent Reginald Reyes described in detail how Kim and Rosen moved in and out of the State Department headquarters at 2201 C St. NW a few hours before the story was published on June 11, 2009.

“Mr. Kim departed DoS at or around 12:02 p.m. followed shortly thereafter by the reporter at or around 12:03 p.m.,” Reyes wrote. Next, the agent said, “Mr. Kim returned to DoS at or around 12:26 p.m. followed shortly thereafter by the reporter at or around 12:30 p.m.”

The activity, Reyes wrote in an affidavit, suggested a “face-to-face” meeting between the two men. “Within a few hours after those nearly simultaneous exits and entries at DoS, the June 2009 article was published on the Internet,” he wrote.

The court documents don’t name Rosen, but his identity was confirmed by several officials, and he is the author of the article at the center of the investigation. Rosen and a spokeswoman for Fox News did not return phone and e-mail messages seeking comment.

Reyes wrote that there was evidence Rosen had broken the law, “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator.” That fact distinguishes his case from the probe of the AP, in which the news organization is not the likely target.

Using italics for emphasis, Reyes explained how Rosen allegedly used a “covert communications plan” and quoted from an e-mail exchange between Rosen and Kim that seems to describe a secret system for passing along information.

In the exchange, Rosen used the alias “Leo” to address Kim and called himself “Alex,” an apparent reference to Alexander Butterfield, the man best known for running the secret recording system in the Nixon White House, according to the affidavit.

Rosen instructed Kim to send him coded signals on his Google account, according to a quote from his e-mail in the affidavit: “One asterisk means to contact them, or that previously suggested plans for communication are to proceed as agreed; two asterisks means the opposite.”

He also wrote, according to the affidavit: “What I am interested in, as you might expect, is breaking news ahead of my competitors” including “what intelligence is picking up.” And: “I’d love to see some internal State Department analyses.”

Court documents show abundant evidence gathered from Kim’s office computer and phone records, but investigators said they needed to go a step further to build their case, seizing two days’ worth of Rosen’s personal e-mails — and all of his e-mail exchanges with Kim.

Privacy protections limit searching or seizing a reporter’s work, but not when there is evidence that the journalist broke the law against unauthorized leaks. A federal judge signed off on the search warrant — agreeing that there was probable cause that Rosen was a co-conspirator.

Machen’s office said in a statement that it is limited in commenting on an open case, but that the government “exhausted all reasonable non-media alternatives for collecting the evidence” before seeking a search warrant.

However, it remains an open question whether it’s ever illegal, given the First Amendment’s protection of press freedom, for a reporter to solicit information. No reporter, including Rosen, has been prosecuted for doing so.

In the hours before Rosen’s story was published, Kim was one of more than 95 people who saw the intelligence report through a classified database, according to court documents.

Kim’s phone records showed that seven calls lasting from 18 seconds to more than 11 minutes were placed between Kim’s desk telephone and Rosen’s cellphone and desk phone at the State Department, according to the court documents. Investigators pulled at least two months of phone records from Kim’s desk and found 36 calls with numbers associated with Rosen.

Investigators also scrutinized computer records and found that someone who had logged in with Kim’s user profile viewed the classified report “at or around” the same time two calls were placed from his desk phone to Rosen, according to the documents.

Two months later on an August evening, diplomatic security secretly entered Kim’s office and found a copy of Rosen’s article next to his computer. Kim, who worked in a secure facility, was subject to daily office inspections. The Fox News article was also in “plain view” during follow-up visits in late September.

Kim initially told the FBI in an interview that month that he had met the reporter in March but had not had contact since. Later, Kim admitted to additional contacts, according to the affidavit.



© The Washington Post Company
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« Reply #1903 on: May 20, 2013, 07:56:00 AM »

Chief IRS Counsel Got Jeremiah Wright's Church out of IRS Probe Before Joining Agency



http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/05/19/Chief-IRS-counsel-bailed-Jeremiah-Wright-s-church-out-of-IRS-probe-in-2008


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

by Matthew Boyle

20 May 2013

 


News reports from the time indicate the now-chief counsel of the IRS, William Wilkins, helped a church connected to President Barack Obama’s friend Rev. Jeremiah Wright get out of an IRS probe in 2008 while working as a private attorney.
 
“Lawyers from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr have won the dismissal of an IRS case against United Church of Christ, Sen. Barack Obama's denomination,” The American Lawyer’s Zach Lowe wrote on May 22, 2008.
 
The IRS initiated an investigation early this year after a speech by Obama at a 50th anniversary celebration of the church last June. It was a reference by Obama to his presidential candidacy in a talk otherwise focused on faith that caught the agency's attention. Tax laws prohibit non-profits--including churches--from engaging in political speech or promoting candidates. The IRS can withdraw an organization's tax-free status if the organization is found to violate the rule.
 
Lowe noted that Obama had been a “member of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago--a UCC congregation--for more than 20 years. The church has been in the headlines for several months now as the congregation lead by the controversial Reverend Jeremiah Wright.”
 
William Wilkins, then a WilmerHale law firm partner, said, “We were so interested in the case we offered to do it pro bono."
 
Lowe wrote that Wilkins and other firm lawyers worked with the church’s national counsel, Donald Clark, and proved they had invited Obama to the event before he announced his candidacy for president. “Evidence presented in a letter sent to the IRS in late March pointed to ground rules the organization had established for Obama's visit; the church even cautioned churchgoers against engaging in any political activity,” Lowe wrote. “Had the IRS pursued the matter, it would have raised serious questions about the First Amendment's application to church activities, Wilkins says.”
 
When President Obama nominated Wilkins to be the IRS’s chief counsel on April 17, 2009, his White House cited Wilkins’ experience as an attorney on issues relating to tax-exempt status organization. “He has a broad tax practice that includes counseling nonprofit organizations, business entities, and investment funds on tax compliance, business transactions, and government investigations,” according to the White House release announcing Wilkins' nomination.
 
Prior to joining WilmerHale, Wilkins was Staff Director and Chief Counsel of the United States Senate Committee on Finance. Wilkins joined the Democratic staff of the Committee in 1981 and served as tax counsel before becoming Staff Director and Chief Counsel in 1987.
 
In the release, which included the announcement of a second Treasury Department nominee, President Obama himself said he was "confident in the abilities of these two fine public servants as we work to turn our economy around and give American families the relief they need during these difficult times. Under the leadership of Secretary Geithner, they will work to serve the American people and bring their unique areas of expertise to the job as we work to put America on the path to prosperity."

Upon the resignation of Steven Miller, several news outlets have pointed out that Wilkins will likely become a public target of congressional investigators digging into the scandal surrounding the IRS’s targeting of conservative and Tea Party organizations.
 
Reuters wrote that GOP lawmakers’ aides said their bosses will soon “focus” on Wilkins as they “seek to determine whether the White House acted improperly.”
 
“Wilkins' office was made aware of the targeting of conservative groups as early as August 2011, according to the inspector general report,” Reuters wrote. “The report does not make clear whether Wilkins - who reports to the Treasury Department's general counsel - himself knew of the targeting in 2011, or when he first learned of it.”
 
“Another question is whether Wilkins, whose office employs about 1,600 lawyers, might have taken the matter elsewhere within the Obama administration,” Reuters added. “The IRS issued a statement saying Wilkins did not participate in the August 2011 meeting, which the agency said involved ‘staff attorneys several layers below Wilkins.’”
 
As Town Hall magazine highlighted recently, White House spokesman Jay Carney has already been pressured by reporters on Wilkins' role in this scandal. 
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« Reply #1904 on: May 23, 2013, 08:36:36 AM »

Too-Big-To-Jail Dogs Obama's Justice Department As Government Documents Raise Questions


Posted: 05/22/2013 10:04 pm EDT  |  Updated: 05/23/2013 9:15 am EDT




The U.S. Department of Justice appears to have neither conducted nor received any analyses that would show whether criminal charges against large financial institutions would harm the economy, potentially undermining a key DOJ argument for why the world’s biggest banks have escaped indictment.

Testimony by a top Justice official and fresh documents made public on Wednesday during a House financial services committee hearing revealed that financial regulators and the Treasury Department did not provide warnings to prosecutors weighing the economic consequences or fallout in the financial system of criminal indictments against large financial groups. DOJ also could find no records that would substantiate its previous claims that it weighed potentially negative economic or financial impacts when considering criminal charges, said Mythili Raman, acting assistant attorney general for the criminal division.

Wednesday’s revelations are likely to increase criticism of the Obama administration, which has been accused of a lackluster enforcement record against big banks in the financial crisis and other matters.

It also may put further pressure on the Justice Department to strengthen future prosecutions. Recently, instead of filing criminal charges against large financial groups, federal prosecutors have begun to file criminal cases against subsidiaries. Observers including lawyers at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, a top defense firm, have warned that Justice may expand its limited use of criminal indictments in part due to public pressure.

Leading Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), have pilloried the administration for its approach, which they allege has been focused on settlements at the expense of justice.

The lawmakers, and others, may be encouraged to apply even more public pressure on efforts to crack down on big banks. Past missteps by the Obama administration and by big banks have added momentum to efforts to forcibly break up large financial groups.

The hearing comes as DOJ, Treasury and financial regulators battle perceptions that they consider some large financial institutions are either too big or too important to the economy to fail. Congressional Republicans and some leading current and former regulators have claimed that the 2010 law overhauling financial regulation known as Dodd-Frank failed to end “too-big-to-fail.” The Obama administration and most regulators insist that if the problem has not yet been solved, it soon will be.




Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress in March that some banks were “too large,” impeding attempts to bring criminal prosecutions. Holder's comment is perhaps the most explicit public admission of concern by a senior Obama administration official regarding big banks.

Though Holder has since attempted to walk back those comments, at the time he said that the size of large financial institutions “has an inhibiting influence -- impact on our ability to bring resolutions that I think would be more appropriate.” He further told lawmakers: “And I think that is something that we -- you all -- need to consider.”

DOJ officials have previously defended the lack of criminal charges against banks suspected of wrongdoing in large part by pointing to the so-called “collateral consequences” associated with filing a criminal indictment against a leading financial institution.

Two examples occurred in December, when HSBC, the U.K. banking giant, settled allegations that it violated U.S. sanctions and facilitated the movement across the U.S. financial system of tainted money by Mexican drug cartels, and UBS, the Swiss bank, settled claims it manipulated world interest rates.

At the Justice Department’s news conference to announce the HSBC settlement, Lanny Breuer, then-assistant attorney general for the criminal division, was asked why the agency did not pursue a criminal indictment.

“If you think that by doing a certain thing you risk either a charter being revoked, you think that counterparties in a massive financial institution may go away, you think that there is a risk that many, many innocent people will be harmed from a resolution,” Breuer said, “and by another resolution you think you can mitigate the risk of innocent people suffering, the economy being affected, and you can hone in on those and the institutions and address the issues underlying. To the Department of Justice, that's a very real factor, and so it is a factor you consider.”

Asked whether jobs were a factor in DOJ’s decision, Breuer replied: “Collateral consequences were absolutely a factor.”

Criminal charges in the financial services industry can be the equivalent of a corporate death sentence. The failure of Arthur Andersen, one of the five largest accounting firms in the U.S., was due to a criminal indictment related to accounting fraud at Enron.

During a separate news conference to announce the UBS settlement, Breuer said: “In the world today of large institutions where much of the financial world is based on confidence, one of the things we want to ensure as we come forward to a right resolution is to ensure that counterparties don't flee an institution, that jobs are not lost, that there is not some world economic event that is disproportionate to the resolution we want.”

Holder then stepped in and quickly added: "The impact on the stability of the financial markets around the world is something we take into consideration. We reach out to experts outside of the Justice Department to talk about what are the consequences of actions that we might take, what would be the impact of those actions if we want to make particular prosecutive decisions or determinations with regards to a particular institution."

In letters to Congress from the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, made public by McHenry, top financial policymakers said they could find no records of such analyses that had been shared with DOJ.

In one letter, Tom Curry, OCC chief, said that Breuer had contacted him prior to the agency’s settlement with HSBC, but all he did was explain to Breuer during a single phone call how the agency revoked banks’ charters, or their legal license to operate.

In another, Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman, said that in the HSBC case, all that the Fed and DOJ discussed was how to “better coordinate information sharing”.

“This meeting did not include discussion of the views of the Federal Reserve on collateral consequences of prosecuting any institution, either specifically or as a general matter,” Bernanke added.

Alastair Fitzpayne, Treasury assistant secretary for legislative affairs, told Congress: “We have not identified any analyses prepared by the Department of the Treasury for the DOJ regarding the potential prosecution of large, complex financial institutions.”

During a March hearing, David Cohen, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said that DOJ had asked Treasury for “guidance” on the potential impact a criminal charge against HSBC could have on the financial system.

Cohen said Treasury told DOJ it was “not in a position to offer any meaningful guidance.”

Treasury documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by Public Citizen, an advocacy group, appear to show that the agency made no attempt to conduct any such examination internally.

The letters, testimony and documents obtained by Public Citizen and shared with The Huffington Post, appear to undermine a separate May letter to McHenry from Peter Kadzik, Justice principal deputy assistant attorney general, in which he told McHenry that DOJ has “contacted relevant government agencies to discuss such issues.”

“Those government agencies include domestic regulators, as well as foreign regulators where the financial institution is multi-national or is otherwise based,” Kadzik wrote.

DOJ's Raman said Wednesday that the agency had not found any internal records concerning threats to the economy or the financial system when weighing criminal indictments against big banks in past cases. She also said the agency could not locate any such documents from U.S. or foreign regulators.

Breuer did not return a call seeking comment.

DOJ representatives declined to comment beyond Raman’s testimony.
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« Reply #1905 on: May 23, 2013, 08:40:07 AM »

sooooo....whats up with that bet you laid out a couple of days ago?

is thats thing a go?
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« Reply #1906 on: May 24, 2013, 07:03:18 PM »

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/05/24/Obama-s-Commerce-Secretary-Didn-t-Report-80-Million-In-Income



lmfao!!!!    Obama for the little guy!   Roll Eyes
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« Reply #1907 on: May 26, 2013, 04:58:59 AM »

http://shoebat.com/2013/05/24/obamas-brother-works-with-man-who-attacked-us-embassy


Nice.   Obamas brother works with radical muslims.
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« Reply #1908 on: May 28, 2013, 03:23:12 AM »

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/political-intelligence-firms-set-up-investor-meetings-at-white-house/2013/05/26/73b06528-bccb-11e2-9b09-1638acc3942e_story.html


Corruption the Obama way
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« Reply #1909 on: May 29, 2013, 09:04:47 AM »

Lisa Jackson To Join Apple After Serving As EPA Chief


The Huffington Post  |  By James Gerken Posted: 05/29/2013 10:56 am EDT  |  Updated: 05/29/2013 11:03 am EDT

Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)


Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson will be joining Apple, CEO Tim Cook announced Tuesday. The news came at All Things Digital's D11 conference in Southern Calif.

Jackson will coordinate environmental practices for the company, All Things D reported. “Apple has shown how innovation can drive real progress by removing toxics from its products, incorporating renewable energy in its data center plans, and continually raising the bar for energy efficiency in the electronics industry,” she told Politico in an email.

Apple's 2012 environmental report showed all of the company's data centers, and 75 percent of all facilities, were powered by renewable energy. Yet Apple's overall estimated greenhouse gas emissions rose 34 percent between 2011 and 2012. Apple explains 98 percent of its carbon footprint comes from "the manufacturing, transportation, use and recycling," of its products.

Politico notes the company left the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2009 after comments from the group "opposing the EPA's effort to limit greenhouse gases," according to Apple's resignation letter.

Jackson stepped down from her role as EPA chief in February, after serving for four years. Her replacement at the EPA, Gina McCarthy, is currently awaiting confirmation from the full Senate. McCarthy's nomination was approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on May 16 after an initial boycott from Republicans.
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« Reply #1910 on: May 30, 2013, 08:45:16 AM »



Capital Flows, Contributor

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 5/30/2013 @ 6:00AM |16,392 views

Obamacare's Slush Fund Fuels A Broader Lobbying Controversy















Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Stuart Taylor

A little-noticed part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act channels some $12.5 billion into a vaguely defined “Prevention and Public Health Fund” over the next decade–and some of that money is going for everything from massage therapists who offer “calming techniques,” to groups advocating higher state and local taxes on tobacco and soda, and stricter zoning restrictions on fast-food restaurants.

The program, which is run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has raised alarms among congressional critics, who call it a “slush fund,” because the department can spend the money as it sees fit and without going through the congressional appropriations process. The sums involved are vast. By 2022, the department will be able to spend $2 billion per year at its sole discretion. In perpetuity.

What makes the Prevention and Public Health Fund controversial is its multibillion-dollar size, its unending nature (the fund never expires), and its vague spending mandate: any program designed “to improve health and help restrain the rate of, growth” of health-care costs.  That can include anything from “pickleball” (a racquet sport) in Carteret County, N.C. to Zumba (a dance fitness program), kayaking and kickboxing in Waco, TX.

“It’s totally crazy to give the executive branch $2 billion a year ad infinitum to spend as they wish,” said budget expert Jim Capretta of the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center. “Congress has the power of the purse, the purpose of which is to insure that the Executive branch is using taxpayer resources as Congress specified.”

The concerns are as diverse as the critics. The HHS Inspector General, in a 2012 “alert,” was concerned that the payments to third-party groups came dangerously close to taxpayer-funded lobbying. While current law bars lobbying with federal money, Obama administration officials and Republican lawmakers differ on where lawful “education” ends and illicit “lobbying” begins.  Nor have federal courts defined “lobbying” for the purposes of this fund. A health and Human Services (HHS) department spokesman denies that any laws were broken and the inspector general is continuing to investigate.

Republicans in both the House of Representatives and Senate have complained that much of the spending seems politically motivated and are alarmed that some of the federal money went to groups who described their own activities as contacting state, city and county lawmakers to urge higher taxes on high-calorie sodas and tobacco, or to call for bans on fast-food restaurants within 1,000-feet of a school, or total bans on smoking in outdoor venues, such as beaches or parks. In a May 9 letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius, Rep. Fred Upton (R,Mich) wrote that HHS grants “appear to fund lobbying activities contrary to the laws, regulations, and guidance governing the use of federal funds.” His letter included the latest in a series of requests for more documents and complaints about responses to previous requests.

Some Democrats, including Obamacare champion Sen. Tom Harkin (D, Iowa), are extremely unhappy with another use of Prevention Fund money. The Obama Administration plans to divert $453.8 million this year from that fund to use for administrative and promotional efforts to enroll millions of people in health insurance exchanges that are said to be vital to Obamacare’s success. Harkin calls this shift, which has not been authorized by Congress, “an outrageous attack on an investment fund that is saving lives.”

This extraordinary fund transfer coincides with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s much-criticized solicitation of health industry officials for large “voluntary” corporate donations — on top of hefty tax increases — to help implement Obamacare. Together, they give the appearance of a desperate Administration effort to avoid the kind of “train wreck” that Senator Max Baucus (D, Montana), a principal architect of Obamacare, recently said he fears. That’s also one reason why Republicans who want to kill Obamacare refuse to provide additional funding for the exchanges.

An HHS spokesperson responded to an inquiry about the “lobbying” complaints by saying that “HHS is committed to proper oversight and monitoring of appropriated funds, and to awardees’ compliance with all applicable regulations and statutes related to lobbying activities.” As to the shifting of the $453.8 million, the spokesman said that it was necessary “because Congress did not provide the resources requested” and it would help individuals “sign up for affordable health coverage by supporting . . . call centers that provide customer service, consumer education and outreach.”

The lobbying controversy is akin to conservative complaints about the 2009 “stimulus” legislation, in which HHS directed some $373 million to a “Communities Putting Prevention to Work” fund to states, counties and cities and then onto to health advocacy organizations described in a Wall Street Journal editorial as “liberal pressure groups lobbying for fast-food taxes.”

With those stimulus grants largely spent, the Administration has used Prevention Fund money — dispensing more than $290 million in fiscal 2012 and 2013 combined — for very similar “Community Transformation Grants.”  As in the case of the earlier grants, HHS made the grants through the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Public documents, including CDC descriptions of grants’ goals as well as the reports that grantees must file, are honeycombed with references to seeking state and local policy changes, such as tax hikes on sugary beverages and tobacco and zoning restrictions on fast-food establishments.

Congressional investigators point to documents and federal websites, which detail the spending that critics call “illegal lobbying.” A few of the more than 100 examples cited by critics:
•In Washington state, the Prevention Alliance, a coalition of health-focused groups, reported in notes of a June 22, 2012 meeting that the funding for its initial work came from a $3.3 million Obamacare grant to the state Department of Health. It listed a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), “tobacco taxes,” and increasing “types of outdoor venues where tobacco use is prohibited” as among “the areas of greatest interest and potential for progress.”
•The Sierra Health Foundation, in Sacramento, which received a $500,000 grant. in March 2013, described its plans to “seek local zoning changes to disallow fast food establishments within 1,000 feet of a school and to limit the number of fast food outlets,” along with restrictions on fast food advertising. A $3 million grant to New York City was used to “educate leaders and decision makers about, and promote the effective implementation of. . . a tax to substantially increase the price of beverages containing caloric sweetener.”
•A Cook County, Ill. report says that part of a $16 million grant “educated policymakers on link between SSBs [sugar-sweetened beverages] and obesity, economic impact of an SSB tax, and importance of investing revenue into prevention.” More than $12 million in similar grants went to groups in King County, Wash. to push for changes in “zoning policies to locate fast-food retailers farther from . . . schools.” And Jefferson County, Ala., spent part of a $7 million federal grant promoting the passage of a tobacco excise tax by the state legislature.

Among those who have expressed concern about questionable and possibly illegal use of Obamacare Prevention Fund money to lobby — an ambiguous term that the Administration interprets narrowly and its critics broadly — are HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson; Sen. Susan Collins (R, Maine); and Chairmen Darrell Issa (R, CA) of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and Fred Upton (R, MI) of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Inspector General Levinson, a respected and veteran independent investigator, was first appointed to his position overseeing the vast HHS bureaucracy by President George W. Bush. He was retained in that job by President Obama, who also named him to the Government Accountability and Transparency Board. Last June 29, Levinson sent CDC Director Thomas Frieden an “EARLY ALERT.”

 It warned that reports posted by CDC grantees “contain numerous examples of activities that, on their face, may violate anti-lobbying provisions,” and that “some of the CDC information, as well as the non-CDC resource materials posted to the CDC web site, appear to authorize, or even encourage grantees to use grant funds for impermissible lobbying.” The “alert” said that the IG would continue to “evaluate more broadly” compliance with lobbying restrictions. A Levinson spokesman declined recently to elaborate.

Collins, a leading Senate moderate, cited copious evidence in a May 1, 2012 letter to Sebelius that CDC has provided “official guidance to grantees that appears to include an expectation that federal funds are to be used for strategies that result in changes to state and local policies and laws.”

While stressing strong support for “the wellness and prevention mission of the CDC,” Collins cited examples including a report to the agency by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which received a $1.5 million CPPW anti-tobacco grant in 2010. Thanks to the federal money, the Health Department reported, “210 policy makers were contacted . . . 31 ordinances were passed . . . there were 26 community presentations made to local governments .. . and 16 additional ordinances were passed this quarter, for a cumulative total of 47.”

HHS and CDC say that not only have they heeded these complaints, but as HHS stressed in an April 1 letter to Upton, they have been committed all along to “proper oversight and management of appropriated funds, and to awardees’ compliance with all applicable regulations and statutes related to lobbying activities.”

Spending to influence state and local legislation, critics claim, violates a web of overlapping federal laws, beginning with the federal Anti-Lobbying Act of 1919, as amended in 2002, which says: “No part of the money appropriated by . . . Congress shall . . . be used directly or indirectly to pay for any personal service, . . . telephone, letter, printed or written matter, or other device, intended . . . to influence in any manner a member of Congress, a jurisdiction, or an official of any government, to favor, adopt, or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation, law, ratification, policy, or appropriation.”

This language is clear, unambiguous, and much broader than the HHS regulations on lobbying. To be sure, these restrictions have long been interpreted narrowly by the executive branch, a bipartisan tradition that goes back at least to the administration of President George H.W. Bush. And the Justice Department has never enforced the law against anyone.

Still, the Sebelius interpretation of the Anti-Lobbying Act takes narrow interpretation to extremes, flying in the face of the statute’s very specific language. Sebelius testified on March 1, 2012 that the statute’s lobbying provisions don’t apply to “local lobbying” or lobbying by grantees, while acknowledging that a 2012 appropriation provision — which unlike the Anti-Lobbying Act provides no penalties for violators — barred such forms of lobbying.

HHS Assistant Secretary for Legislation Jim Esquea made a more detailed argument to the same effect in an April 1, 2013 letter to Rep. Upton, asserting that the statute prohibits “only large-scale, high-expenditure, ‘grass roots’ lobbying campaigns conducted by federal agencies that expressly encourage members of the public to contact their elected representatives with respect to legislative matters.”  But Esquea relied on strained interpretations of obsolete precedents predating major amendments that, in 2002, explicitly broadened the Anti-Lobbying Act to cover for the first time lobbying of state and local officials.

CDC guidelines permit the state and city agencies that it funds “to work directly on policy-related matters across their equivalent branches of state or local government.” That sounds reasonable enough. But to critics it sounds like the guidelines would allow, if not encourage, a city health department to spend federal money on lobbying (in the fullest sense of that word) state and local lawmakers to raise taxes on tobacco and sugary beverages.

Some grants seem to fit this interpretation. A $7.6 million CPPW grant to the County of St. Louis to fund an anti-smoking “Community Action Plan” for local activists. Under that plan, “the Leadership Team will meet with the Governor and state legislators to advocate for the repeal of [the state law] that prohibits municipalities from levying their own cigarette excise taxes.” In quarterly reports to CDC for late 2010 through mid-2012 on how it had spent the federal grant, St. Louis County said: “Leadership Team members . . . met with officials from two municipalities about adopting a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance. . . . Coalition members met with two County Council members and the County Executive about strengthening the County’s new smoke-free ordinance. . .. Several people, including restaurant owners, testified at three consecutive County Council meetings in support of removing exemptions from the County’s smoke-free ordinance.”

Finally, St. Louis County used almost $2 million of its federal grant to pay the public relations-lobbying firm Fleischman Hillard for a media campaign to strengthen an anti-smoking ordinance  and push related agendas.

Many grantees and the federal bureaucrats who finance them maintain that they can legally engage in efforts to “educate” both the public and officials about, say, the public health benefits of taxing tobacco and sugary beverages so as to reduce consumption. Chairman Upton, on the other hand, rejected in an August 2012 letter what he called “the improper distinction made by CDC between lobbying and ‘education campaigns.’ ”


 Enlisting other levels of government to do things [the federal government] can’t do openly on its own is the latest example of propaganda and politicizing efforts that only pretend to represent policy reform,” said Tom Miller, an expert in health policy and law at the American Enterprise Institute.

Other conservative health care policy advocates, such as Dr. Eric Novack, an orthopedic surgeon in Phoenix, complain that using federal dollars to lobby for more taxes and other liberal causes at the state and local levels is an abuse of power that skews the natural balance of state and local political forces. “With the hundreds of millions of state and federal dollars annually flowing their way, [health care advocates] are engaging in the lobbying equivalent of  ‘shock and awe’ to get ever more money for themselves and to thwart efforts at real reform”, said Dr. Novack.

Critics have also suggested that Sebelius (and Obama) “lack the legal authority,” as Rep. Issa put it in his April 19 letter to Sebelius, to divert $453.8 million in Prevention Fund dollars to help pay for the establishment and operation of health insurance exchanges. Argues Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, an Alexandria, Virginia-based health-care think tank:


“The Obama administration is being very creative in devising programs it says fit within the definitions of ‘prevention’ and ‘public health.’ The reality is that this is a slush fund.  The administration is using taxpayer dollars to further its political goals, without any congressional input.  That is an open invitation to misuse and abuse of taxpayer dollars.”
 
But short of an unlikely bipartisan agreement, there’s not much that anyone in Congress can do about such complaints.

Strikingly, the most passionate denunciations of the $453.8 million diversion have come from a senior Democrat, Sen. Tom Harkin, self-described author of the Prevention and Public Health title of the Affordable Care Act. Harkin succeeded the late Ted Kennedy, (D, MA) as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and has vowed to carry on Kennedy’s legacy of seeking universal access to health care and, especially, full funding of prevention programs.

 “It is ill-advised and short-sighted to raid the Prevention Fund, which is making absolutely critical investments in preventing disease, saving lives, and keeping women and their families healthy,” Harkin said in his May 7 floor speech. “When it comes to Prevention, this Administration just doesn’t get it. . . . To slash money from this fund . . . is to cannibalize the Affordable Care Act in ways that will cost both money and lives. It is a violation of both the letter and spirit of this landmark law.”

In other words, the Democratic Chairman of the Health Committee is calling the Democratic President’s “raid” on the Prevention Fund illegal. But an HHS spokesperson counters that “this short term investment will result in a long-term public health gain by helping millions of people get access to care and improve our nation’s health.” Other officials stress that with an October 1 Obamacare deadline to start enrolling millions of individuals online, finding the money to create and implement the insurance exchanges is a major challenge to the success of Obamacare.

And money for setting up the exchanges is very, very short, despite an overall Obamacare price tag of trillions over coming years. One reason is that the Administration underestimated the cost, in part because contrary to its expectation, only 17 states have chosen to operate their own insurance exchanges. Another reason is Congress’s refusal to appropriate more money for such administrative expenses.

Meanwhile, it may not be easy to convince young or healthy people without employer-based insurance — especially men, and especially with incomes too high to qualify for Obamacare subsidies — that it would be a rational economic choice to buy a government-approved insurance policy costing (the Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2010) over $4,500 a year for an individual. By contrast, the Obamacare fine will be far smaller for some individuals.

The alternative choice of paying a relatively inexpensive Obamacare penalty for refusing to buy insurance may seem more attractive to many, especially after the Supreme Court stressed last June that such a choice carries no stigma of law-breaking. The Affordable Care Act set the penalty (which varies depending on income and the year) at only a fraction of what the insurance would cost people who don’t qualify for subsidies. At the same time, it guarantees a healthy person who chooses the penalty rather than the insurance the right to reverse course and buy the insurance at no extra cost not too long after he gets sick or injured.

So, as the Administration sets out to recruit enough young, healthy people to keep premiums from soaring, it may need every dollar it can find for advertising and outreach.

What some critics call a “slush fund,” may well turn out to be Obamacare’s own insurance policy.

Stuart Taylor, Jr. is a Nonresident Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution.  The American Media Institute, a non-profit that promotes investigative journalism, contributed to this report.


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

 This article is available online at:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/05/30/obamacares-slush-fund-fuels-a-broader-lobbying-controversy/
 


 

 
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« Reply #1911 on: June 03, 2013, 09:12:54 PM »

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/06/03/192895/us-publishes-details-of-missile.html#.Ua1p-qN5mSN


Nice.   Obama loves to leak info when it benefits him personally.
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« Reply #1912 on: June 04, 2013, 04:37:10 AM »

Emails of top Obama appointees remain a mystery


Jun 4, 3:31 AM (ET)

By JACK GILLUM

 

WASHINGTON (AP) - Some of President Barack Obama's political appointees, including the Cabinet secretary for the Health and Human Services Department, are using secret government email accounts they say are necessary to prevent their inboxes from being overwhelmed with unwanted messages, according to a review by The Associated Press.

The scope of using the secret accounts across government remains a mystery: Most U.S. agencies have failed to turn over lists of political appointees' email addresses, which the AP sought under the Freedom of Information Act more than three months ago. The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay more than $1 million for its email addresses.

The AP asked for the addresses following last year's disclosures that the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency had used separate email accounts at work. The practice is separate from officials who use personal, non-government email accounts for work, which generally is discouraged - but often happens anyway - due to laws requiring that most federal records be preserved.

The secret email accounts complicate an agency's legal responsibilities to find and turn over emails in response to congressional or internal investigations, civil lawsuits or public records requests because employees assigned to compile such responses would necessarily need to know about the accounts to search them. Secret accounts also drive perceptions that government officials are trying to hide actions or decisions.

"What happens when that person doesn't work there anymore? He leaves and someone makes a request (to review emails) in two years," said Kel McClanahan, executive director of National Security Counselors, an open government group. "Who's going to know to search the other accounts? You would hope that agencies doing this would keep a list of aliases in a desk drawer, but you know that isn't happening."

Agencies where the AP so far has identified secret addresses, including the Labor Department and HHS, said maintaining non-public email accounts allows senior officials to keep separate their internal messages with agency employees from emails they exchange with the public. They also said public and non-public accounts are always searched in response to official requests and the records are provided as necessary.

The AP couldn't independently verify the practice. It searched hundreds of pages of government emails previously released under the open records law and found only one instance of a published email with a secret address: an email from Labor Department spokesman Carl Fillichio to 34 coworkers in 2010 was turned over to an advocacy group, Americans for Limited Government. It included as one recipient the non-public address for Seth D. Harris, currently the acting labor secretary, who maintains at least three separate email accounts.

Google can't find any reference on the Internet to the secret address for HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Congressional oversight committees told the AP they were unfamiliar with the non-public government addresses identified so far by the AP.

Ten agencies have not yet turned over lists of email addresses, including the Environmental Protection Agency; the Pentagon; and the departments of Veterans Affairs, Transportation, Treasury, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Homeland Security, Commerce and Agriculture. All have said they are working on a response to the AP.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz declined to comment.

A Treasury Department spokeswoman, Marissa Hopkins Secreto, referred inquiries to the agency's FOIA office, which said its technology department was still searching for the email addresses. Other departments, including Homeland Security, did not respond to questions from the AP about the delays of nearly three months. The Pentagon said it may have an answer by later this summer.

The Health and Human Services Department initially turned over to the AP the email addresses for roughly 240 appointees - except none of the email accounts for Sebelius, even one for her already published on its website. After the AP objected, it turned over three of Sebelius' email addresses, including a secret one. It asked the AP not to publish the address, which it said she used to conduct day-to-day business at the department. Most of the 240 political appointees at HHS appeared to be using only public government accounts.

The AP decided to publish the secret address for Sebelius - KGS2(at)hhs.gov - over the government's objections because the secretary is a high-ranking civil servant who oversees not only major agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services but also the implementation of Obama's signature health care law. Her public email address is Kathleen.Sebelius(at)hhs.gov.

At least two other senior HHS officials - including Donald Berwick, former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Gary Cohen, a deputy administrator in charge of implementing health insurance reform - also have secret government email addresses, according to the records obtained by the AP.

The Interior Department gave the AP a list of about 100 government email addresses for political appointees who work there but none for the interior secretary at the time, Ken Salazar, who has since resigned. Spokeswoman Jessica Kershaw said Salazar maintained only one email address while serving as secretary but she would not disclose it. She said the AP should ask for it under the Freedom of Information Act, which would take months longer.

The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay just over $1.03 million when the AP asked for email addresses of political appointees there. It said it needed pull 2,236 computer backup tapes from its archives and pay 50 people to pore over old records. Those costs included three weeks to identify tapes and ship them to a vendor, and pay each person $2,500 for nearly a month's work. But under the department's own FOIA rules - which it cited in its letter to the AP - it is prohibited from charging news organizations any costs except for photocopies after the first 100 pages. The department said it would take 14 weeks to find the emails if the AP had paid the money.

Fillichio later acknowledged that the $1.03 million bill was a mistake and provided the AP with email addresses for the agency's Senate-confirmed appointees, including three addresses for Harris, the acting secretary. His secret address was harris.sd(at)dol.gov. His other accounts were one for use with labor employees and the public, and another to send mass emails to the entire Labor Department, outside groups and the public. The Labor Department said it did not object to the AP publishing any of Harris' email addresses.

In addition to the email addresses, the AP also sought records government-wide about decisions to create separate email accounts. But the FOIA director at HHS, Robert Eckert, said the agency couldn't provide such emails without undergoing "an extensive and elongated department-wide search." He also said there were "no mechanisms in place to determine if such requests for the creation of secondary email accounts were submitted by the approximately 242 political appointees within HHS."

Late last year, the EPA's critics - including Republicans in Congress - accused former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson of using an email account under the name "Richard Windsor" to sidestep disclosure rules. The EPA said emails Jackson sent using her Windsor alias were turned over under open records requests. The agency's inspector general is investigating the use of such accounts, after being asked to do so by Congress.

An EPA spokeswoman described Jackson's alternate email address as "an everyday, working email account of the administrator to communicate with staff and other government officials." It was later determined that Jackson also used the email address to correspond sometimes with environmentalists outside government and at least in some cases did not correct a misperception among outsiders they were corresponding with a government employee named Richard Windsor.

Although the EPA's inspector general is investigating the agency's use of secret email accounts, it is not reviewing whether emails from Jackson's secret account were released as required under the Freedom of Information Act.

The EPA's secret email accounts were revealed last fall by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank that was tipped off about Jackson's alias by an insider and later noticed it in documents it obtained the FOIA. The EPA said its policy was to disclose in such documents that "Richard Windsor" was actually the EPA administrator.

Courts have consistently set a high bar for the government to withhold public officials' records under the federal privacy rules. A federal judge, Marilyn Hall Patel of California, said in August 2010 that "persons who have placed themselves in the public light" - such as through politics or voluntarily participation in the public arena - have a "significantly diminished privacy interest than others." Her ruling was part of a case in which a journalist sought FBI records, but was denied.

"We're talking about an email address, and an email address given to an individual by the government to conduct official business is not private," said Aaron Mackey, a FOIA attorney with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. He said that's different than, for example, confidential information, such as a Social Security number.

Under the law, citizens and foreigners may use the FOIA to compel the government to turn over copies of federal records for zero or little cost. Anyone who seeks information through the law is generally supposed to get it unless disclosure would hurt national security, violate personal privacy or expose business secrets or confidential decision-making in certain areas.

Obama pledged during his first week in office to make government more transparent and open. The nation's signature open-records law, he said in a memo to his Cabinet, would be "administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails."

---

Contact the Washington investigative team at DCinvestigations(at)ap.org. Follow Jack Gillum on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jackgillum


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« Reply #1913 on: June 04, 2013, 05:37:27 AM »

So much for transparency.

And before any of you libtards claims that Bush or other cabinets did the same thing, let me cut you off by telling you that none of the previous presidents constantly claimed that they would have the most transparent administration ever. Obama stated as much. So is he living up to his own standard?

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw04chdCVXQ" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw04chdCVXQ</a>
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« Reply #1914 on: June 04, 2013, 06:44:20 AM »

So much for transparency.

And before any of you libtards claims that Bush or other cabinets did the same thing, let me cut you off by telling you that none of the previous presidents constantly claimed that they would have the most transparent administration ever. Obama stated as much. So is he living up to his own standard?

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw04chdCVXQ" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw04chdCVXQ</a>

Nope.

Obama is full of shit on this issue.
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« Reply #1915 on: June 04, 2013, 06:48:23 AM »

Obama Political Appointees Using Secret Email Accounts


By JACK GILLUM 06/04/13 08:03 AM ET EDT AP



 

WASHINGTON -- Some of President Barack Obama's political appointees, including the secretary for Health and Human Services, are using secret government email accounts they say are necessary to prevent their inboxes from being overwhelmed with unwanted messages, according to a review by The Associated Press.

The scope of using the secret accounts across government remains a mystery: Most U.S. agencies have failed to turn over lists of political appointees' email addresses, which the AP sought under the Freedom of Information Act more than three months ago. The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay more than $1 million for its email addresses.

The AP asked for the addresses following last year's disclosures that the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency had used separate email accounts at work. The practice is separate from officials who use personal, non-government email accounts for work, which generally is discouraged – but often happens anyway – due to laws requiring that most federal records be preserved.

The secret email accounts complicate an agency's legal responsibilities to find and turn over emails in response to congressional or internal investigations, civil lawsuits or public records requests because employees assigned to compile such responses would necessarily need to know about the accounts to search them. Secret accounts also drive perceptions that government officials are trying to hide actions or decisions.

"What happens when that person doesn't work there anymore? He leaves and someone makes a request (to review emails) in two years," said Kel McClanahan, executive director of National Security Counselors, an open government group. "Who's going to know to search the other accounts? You would hope that agencies doing this would keep a list of aliases in a desk drawer, but you know that isn't happening."

Agencies where the AP so far has identified secret addresses, including the Labor Department and HHS, said maintaining non-public email accounts allows senior officials to keep separate their internal messages with agency employees from emails they exchange with the public. They also said public and non-public accounts are always searched in response to official requests and the records are provided as necessary.

The AP couldn't independently verify the practice. It searched hundreds of pages of government emails previously released under the open records law and found only one instance of a published email with a secret address: an email from Labor Department spokesman Carl Fillichio to 34 coworkers in 2010 was turned over to an advocacy group, Americans for Limited Government. It included as one recipient the non-public address for Seth D. Harris, currently the acting labor secretary, who maintains at least three separate email accounts.

Google can't find any reference on the Internet to the secret address for HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Congressional oversight committees told the AP they were unfamiliar with the non-public government addresses identified so far by the AP.

Ten agencies have not yet turned over lists of email addresses, including the Environmental Protection Agency; the Pentagon; and the departments of Veterans Affairs, Transportation, Treasury, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Homeland Security, Commerce and Agriculture. All have said they are working on a response to the AP.


White House spokesman Eric Schultz declined to comment.

A Treasury Department spokeswoman, Marissa Hopkins Secreto, referred inquiries to the agency's FOIA office, which said its technology department was still searching for the email addresses. Other departments, including Homeland Security, did not respond to questions from the AP about the delays of nearly three months. The Pentagon said it may have an answer by later this summer.

The Health and Human Services Department initially turned over to the AP the email addresses for roughly 240 appointees – except none of the email accounts for Sebelius, even one for her already published on its website. After the AP objected, it turned over three of Sebelius' email addresses, including a secret one. It asked the AP not to publish the address, which it said she used to conduct day-to-day business at the department. Most of the 240 political appointees at HHS appeared to be using only public government accounts.

The AP decided to publish the secret address for Sebelius – KGS2(at)hhs.gov – over the government's objections because the secretary is a high-ranking civil servant who oversees not only major agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services but also the implementation of Obama's signature health care law. Her public email address is Kathleen.Sebelius(at)hhs.gov.

At least two other senior HHS officials – including Donald Berwick, former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Gary Cohen, a deputy administrator in charge of implementing health insurance reform – also have secret government email addresses, according to the records obtained by the AP.

The Interior Department gave the AP a list of about 100 government email addresses for political appointees who work there but none for the interior secretary at the time, Ken Salazar, who has since resigned. Spokeswoman Jessica Kershaw said Salazar maintained only one email address while serving as secretary but she would not disclose it. She said the AP should ask for it under the Freedom of Information Act, which would take months longer.

The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay just over $1.03 million when the AP asked for email addresses of political appointees there. It said it needed pull 2,236 computer backup tapes from its archives and pay 50 people to pore over old records. Those costs included three weeks to identify tapes and ship them to a vendor, and pay each person $2,500 for nearly a month's work. But under the department's own FOIA rules – which it cited in its letter to the AP – it is prohibited from charging news organizations any costs except for photocopies after the first 100 pages. The department said it would take 14 weeks to find the emails if the AP had paid the money.

Fillichio later acknowledged that the $1.03 million bill was a mistake and provided the AP with email addresses for the agency's Senate-confirmed appointees, including three addresses for Harris, the acting secretary. His secret address was harris.sd(at)dol.gov. His other accounts were one for use with labor employees and the public, and another to send mass emails to the entire Labor Department, outside groups and the public. The Labor Department said it did not object to the AP publishing any of Harris' email addresses.

In addition to the email addresses, the AP also sought records government-wide about decisions to create separate email accounts. But the FOIA director at HHS, Robert Eckert, said the agency couldn't provide such emails without undergoing "an extensive and elongated department-wide search." He also said there were "no mechanisms in place to determine if such requests for the creation of secondary email accounts were submitted by the approximately 242 political appointees within HHS."

Late last year, the EPA's critics – including Republicans in Congress – accused former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson of using an email account under the name "Richard Windsor" to sidestep disclosure rules. The EPA said emails Jackson sent using her Windsor alias were turned over under open records requests. The agency's inspector general is investigating the use of such accounts, after being asked to do so by Congress.

An EPA spokeswoman described Jackson's alternate email address as "an everyday, working email account of the administrator to communicate with staff and other government officials." It was later determined that Jackson also used the email address to correspond sometimes with environmentalists outside government and at least in some cases did not correct a misperception among outsiders they were corresponding with a government employee named Richard Windsor.

Although the EPA's inspector general is investigating the agency's use of secret email accounts, it is not reviewing whether emails from Jackson's secret account were released as required under the Freedom of Information Act.

The EPA's secret email accounts were revealed last fall by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank that was tipped off about Jackson's alias by an insider and later noticed it in documents it obtained the FOIA. The EPA said its policy was to disclose in such documents that "Richard Windsor" was actually the EPA administrator.

Courts have consistently set a high bar for the government to withhold public officials' records under the federal privacy rules. A federal judge, Marilyn Hall Patel of California, said in August 2010 that "persons who have placed themselves in the public light" – such as through politics or voluntarily participation in the public arena – have a "significantly diminished privacy interest than others." Her ruling was part of a case in which a journalist sought FBI records, but was denied.

"We're talking about an email address, and an email address given to an individual by the government to conduct official business is not private," said Aaron Mackey, a FOIA attorney with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. He said that's different than, for example, confidential information, such as a Social Security number.

Under the law, citizens and foreigners may use the FOIA to compel the government to turn over copies of federal records for zero or little cost. Anyone who seeks information through the law is generally supposed to get it unless disclosure would hurt national security, violate personal privacy or expose business secrets or confidential decision-making in certain areas.

Obama pledged during his first week in office to make government more transparent and open. The nation's signature open-records law, he said in a memo to his Cabinet, would be "administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails."

___

Contact the Washington investigative team at DCinvestigations(at)ap.org. Follow Jack Gillum on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jackgillum
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« Reply #1916 on: June 04, 2013, 06:54:06 AM »

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/04/obama-email_n_3382900.html

LOL - Most transparent ever. 
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« Reply #1917 on: June 04, 2013, 08:23:14 AM »

The Obama Administration’s secret email network

Via Human Events   


By: John Hayward   
6/4/2013 09:03 AM


We had a few laughs yesterday when it was discovered that the phony Environmental Protection Agency employee created by disgraced administrator Lisa Jackson to conceal some of her email correspondence was treated like a real person by the bureaucracy, winning awards for his job performance and ethical conduct.  But today we have an Associated Press report that is no laughing matter, because it turns out the use of secret email addresses to skirt federal records law is a widespread practice among the Most Transparent Administration In History:


Some of President Barack Obama’s political appointees, including the Cabinet secretary for the Health and Human Services Department, are using secret government email accounts they say are necessary to prevent their inboxes from being overwhelmed with unwanted messages, according to a review by The Associated Press.

The scope of using the secret accounts across government remains a mystery: Most U.S. agencies have failed to turn over lists of political appointees’ email addresses, which the AP sought under the Freedom of Information Act more than three months ago. The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay more than $1 million for its email addresses.

Oh, they just want to keep their inboxes clean, do they?  These tech-savvy disciples of our hip Internet-era President – beloved by a generation of young people who grew up in a sea of social media – have never heard of spam filters, labeling, priority inboxes, etc?  Their huge armies of assistants can’t help them set those things up?

If only Ambassador Chris Stevens had known one of Hillary Clinton’s special regime email addresses!  Then he could have bypassed her overflowing State Department inbox to tell her about the dangerous security situation in Benghazi and request more protection!

The true purpose of these secret email addresses is blatantly obvious, coming as it does from a scandal-plagued Administration where top figures – including the President himself – routinely claim they’re out of the loop:


The secret email accounts complicate an agency’s legal responsibilities to find and turn over emails in response to congressional or internal investigations, civil lawsuits or public records requests because employees assigned to compile such responses would necessarily need to know about the accounts to search them. Secret accounts also drive perceptions that government officials are trying to hide actions or decisions.

“What happens when that person doesn’t work there anymore? He leaves and someone makes a request (to review emails) in two years,” said Kel McClanahan, executive director of National Security Counselors, an open government group. “Who’s going to know to search the other accounts? You would hope that agencies doing this would keep a list of aliases in a desk drawer, but you know that isn’t happening.”

Remember, the only reason Attorney General Eric Holder wasn’t convicted of perjury in the Fast and Furious outrage is that he claimed he never reads his email, and has no idea what his subordinates are doing.  A network of secret, untraceable email addresses is just the thing for preserving that kind of deniability.  And of course, this secret correspondence is flying around an Administration that has proven very eager to snoop on the emails of people like reporter James Rosen of Fox News.

Another scandal defense commonly offered by top Obama Administration officials is that nobody talks to anyone else – there’s no coordination between various agencies, even when they’re supposed to be working under an operation like the Department of Homeland Security, which was specifically created to foster efficient inter-agency communication.  Well, maybe one reason for that poor communication is that nobody’s reading their official, public email.  They think everything important will be coming into those special concealed inboxes, but they have so many alternate addresses that they can’t keep them all straight.

The Administration claimed these secret email accounts “are always searched in response to official requests and the records are provided as necessary,” but the AP knocked that lie down immediately:


The AP couldn’t independently verify the practice. It searched hundreds of pages of government emails previously released under the open records law and found only one instance of a published email with a secret address: an email from Labor Department spokesman Carl Fillichio to 34 coworkers in 2010 was turned over to an advocacy group, Americans for Limited Government. It included as one recipient the non-public address for Seth D. Harris, currently the acting labor secretary, who maintains at least three separate email accounts.

Google can’t find any reference on the Internet to the secret address for HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Congressional oversight committees told the AP they were unfamiliar with the non-public government addresses identified so far by the AP.

The Obama regime handled the Associated Press inquiry with its customary level of honesty and efficiency:


Ten agencies have not yet turned over lists of email addresses, including the Environmental Protection Agency; the Pentagon; and the departments of Veterans Affairs, Transportation, Treasury, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Homeland Security, Commerce and Agriculture. All have said they are working on a response to the AP.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz declined to comment.

A Treasury Department spokeswoman, Marissa Hopkins Secreto, referred inquiries to the agency’s FOIA office, which said its technology department was still searching for the email addresses. Other departments, including Homeland Security, did not respond to questions from the AP about the delays of nearly three months. The Pentagon said it may have an answer by later this summer.

The Health and Human Services Department initially turned over to the AP the email addresses for roughly 240 appointees – except none of the email accounts for Sebelius, even one for her already published on its website. After the AP objected, it turned over three of Sebelius’ email addresses, including a secret one. It asked the AP not to publish the address, which it said she used to conduct day-to-day business at the department. Most of the 240 political appointees at HHS appeared to be using only public government accounts.

OK, let me see if I have this right: the Administration says all this secret email correspondence is routinely searched in response to FOIA requests… but their IT nerds can’t even cough up a list of alternate email addresses after three months of effort?  The reason Labor tried to charge the AP a million bucks for that list of email addresses – even though its FOIA rules prevent it from charging such fees – is that it would have to “pull 2,236 computer backup tapes from its archives and pay 50 people to pore over old records.  Labor said it would take three weeks just to find these tapes, and 14 weeks to find all the emails.  But these same bureaucrats claim they scan all the secret email correspondence every time anyone files a FOIA request for anything.

I have an idea: instead of paying a huge team of technicians to pull thousands of backup tapes, why don’t we just compel the President and his top people to hand over their digital address books?  A lot of them know each other’s secret email addresses, right?

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius – currently under investigation for leaning on the health insurance companies she regulates for extra ObamaCare cash – turns out to have at least three email addresses, including a secret one.  Her department comically tried to hide one of the other addresses from the AP inquiry, even though it was published on the HHS website.  Then they asked the AP not to publish the secret address, but they did it anyway.

We know former EPA Administration Lisa Jackson was using her secret email address to communicate with special interests – namely the environmentalist groups that hate being referred to as “special interests,” a term they believe should be reserved for their political adversaries.  Was Sebelius also using secret channels to make corrupt arrangements with special interests?  How about the rest of Obama’s team at the agency that became the most powerful bureaucracy on the planet, thanks to ObamaCare?  We may never know, because the FOIA director for the agency claims there are “no mechanisms in place to determine if such requests for the creation of secondary email accounts were submitted by the approximately 242 political appointees within HHS.”

Say, does everyone remember liberals have a nuclear meltdown over Sarah Palin’s emails?  Remember how the media crowd-sourced a gigantic fishing expedition through her correspondence when she released it?  What do you think about the Obama Administration’s huge network of secret email addresses and untraceable correspondence, guys?  I’ll understand if you want to avoid the question.  Maybe you could change the subject by running another series of White House-coordinated stories about how the Republicans are “overreaching” by making a big deal about all these scandals.
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« Reply #1918 on: June 12, 2013, 01:10:10 PM »

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-12/tougher-regulations-seen-from-obama-change-in-carbon-cost.html


 Sad  Sad  Sad
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« Reply #1919 on: June 18, 2013, 09:44:50 AM »

Alan Grayson On Trans-Pacific Partnership: Obama Secrecy Is 'Assault On Democratic Government'


 Posted: 06/18/2013 11:24 am EDT  |  Updated: 06/18/2013 11:32 am EDT 

Via HP
 

WASHINGTON -- Progressive Democrats in Congress are ramping up pressure on the Obama administration to release the text of Trans-Pacific Partnership, a secretive free trade agreement with 10 other nations, amid intensifying controversy over the administration's transparency record and its treatment of classified information.

The only publicly available information on the terms of the deal has come from leaks, some of which have alarmed public health experts, environmentalist groups and consumer advocates. According to a document leaked in the summer of 2012, the deal would allow corporations to directly challenge government laws and regulations in international courts.

Members of Congress have been provided with only limited access to the negotiation documents. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) told HuffPost on Monday that he viewed an edited version of the negotiation texts last week, but that secrecy policies at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative created scheduling difficulties that delayed his access for nearly six weeks. The Obama administration has barred any Congressional staffers from reviewing the text and prohibited members of Congress from discussing the specific terms of the text with trade experts and reporters.


"This, more than anything, shows the abuse of the classified information system," Grayson told HuffPost. "They maintain that the text is classified information. And I get clearance because I'm a member of Congress, but now they tell me that they don't want me to talk to anybody about it because if I did, I'd be releasing classified information."

How and why the administration decides to make information classified has come under intense scrutiny in recent months, after the Associated Press learned that the Department of Justice had been monitoring the records of more than 20 phone numbers -- including the personal phones of reporters and editors -- as part of a government leak investigation. Edward Snowden's recent disclosures of two broad National Security Agency surveillance programs to The Guardian and The Washington Post have sparked a heated debate over what kinds of leaks should be prosecuted as criminal.

"What I saw was nothing that could possibly justify the secrecy that surrounds it," Grayson said, referring to the draft Trans-Pacific deal. "It is ironic in a way that the government thinks it's alright to have a record of every single call that an American makes, but not alright for an American citizen to know what sovereign powers the government is negotiating away."

The Trans-Pacific deal would be one of the largest trade deals in U.S. history, with 11 nations including Japan, Mexico, Vietnam and Australia involved in the talks. The Obama administration has been leading negotiations on the deal for roughly three years.

When the intellectual property chapter of the deal leaked online more than a year ago, internet freedom advocates criticized the provisions as problematic for tech companies and free speech, while public health experts said it would dramatically restrict access to lifesaving medicines in poor countries. It is not clear if those terms have changed over time.

"Having seen what I've seen, I would characterize this as a gross abrogation of American sovereignty," Grayson told HuffPost. "And I would further characterize it as a punch in the face to the middle class of America. I think that's fair to say from what I've seen so far. But I'm not allowed to tell you why!"

Unelected corporate officials are given access to negotiation documents by virtue of their positions on U.S. Trade Representative advisory panels. On Thursday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Michael Froman, Obama's nominee to head USTR, asking the agency to release negotiation documents to the public.

USTR spokeswoman Carol Guthrie told The Huffington Post that her office is discussing Warren's request with the senator.

Guthrie said that the text reviewed by such members of Congress, "does not indicate which countries have proposed which text" a process that is "consistent with negotiating practice."

"When Members view text, USTR officials, often negotiators themselves, have always been provided to discuss the details and to answer their questions," she said in a statement to The Huffington Post. "Our bottom line is to negotiate the best deal for American workers and businesses. As with virtually any negotiation, a certain degree of confidentiality is necessary in order to allow frank, substantive, and productive conversations with other countries on sensitive issues and to work strategically to advance U.S. interests."

Grayson told HuffPost that the agreement would be very appealing to multinational corporations, but had very negative implications for the public interest on a variety of fronts.

"It's all about tying the hands of democratically elected governments, and shunting authority over to the nonelected for the benefit of multinational corporations," Grayson said. "It's an assault on democratic government."
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« Reply #1920 on: June 20, 2013, 07:51:05 AM »

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/06/19/ap-boss-blasts-justice-over-records-grab-says-move-gives-cover-to-dictatorships/?test=latestnews


no kidding - Obama sees himself as a mini-Mugabe so this is not surprising in the least bit 
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« Reply #1921 on: June 20, 2013, 10:24:20 AM »

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/06/20/Obama-catholic-AMericans-religious-freedom

Unreal.  Wonder if this assface would say this to muuuuuusssslims
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« Reply #1922 on: June 22, 2013, 03:26:12 PM »

Obama Administration Sues Dollar General for Using Background Checks on Job Applicants
Gateway Pundit ^  | June 22, 2013 | Jim Hoft

Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 5:35:08 PM by Hojczyk

The Obama Administration sued Dollar General for using background checks on job applications because it’s racist. It’s now unlawful to discriminate against applicants who have committed a crime.

The Obama administration is suing Dollar General and a BMW facility in South Carolina for the alleged unfair use of criminal background checks for job applicants, months after warning companies about how such screenings can discriminate against African Americas.

The suits were filed June 11 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which last year issued new guidelines that cautioned against rejecting minority applicants who have committed a crime and recommended businesses eliminate policies that “exclude people from employment based on a criminal record.”

The suits have re-ignited concerns over such issues as potential federal overreach, the overlap of state and federal law and companies losing their rights to protect customers, workers and assets while trying to adhere to fair hiring practices.


(Excerpt) Read more at thegatewaypundit.com ...
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« Reply #1923 on: July 07, 2013, 10:57:07 AM »

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2013/07/06/the-insiders-whos-in-charge-at-the-white-house-the-clear-eyed-realists-or-the-delusional-obamaphiles


 Grin
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« Reply #1924 on: July 08, 2013, 11:20:07 AM »

http://dailycaller.com/2013/07/07/u-s-embassy-official-in-guyana-removed-in-alleged-sex-for-visas-swindle/#ixzz2YTK5ExiL


WTF!!!!

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