My goal today is to attempt a summary of the three controversies swirling around the presidency right now. I can’t promise to include everything that ought to be included, but I do hope to make sense of it all. If you’ve been too busy to follow all the details, perhaps this can help pull it together. In the spirit of Watergate, I’ve decided to put a “gate” on each one. As far as I’m concerned, they more than deserve that “honor”; each one is far worse than the original.
- The killing of four Americans, including our ambassador, on 9/11/12 is the only one of these controversies that cost lives. That, in itself, makes it the worst of the three. There are three stages of this controversy:
- Prior to the attack: Security measures were far below standards in a country on the verge of chaos and infiltrated with radical Muslim groups. Repeated requests for added security were either ignored or rejected by the State Dept. Some reports also indicate that we may have been using Libya as a center for a gun-running operation to Syrian rebels, many of whom are also radical Islamists.
- During the attack: On-the-ground communications gave us a blow-by-blow description of what was happening in real time. Those whose lives were in danger asked for help. Two former Navy Seals rushed to the scene and again sought help from the military. There was help available, and as a team was assembled and ready to go their aid, they got a “stand down” order that, according to Gregory Hicks, the top diplomat in Libya still alive, greatly angered the colonel in charge of the troops. Due to that order, no aid came and the Seals were killed after a stalwart defense. Who gave the “stand down” order? No one is claiming responsibility.
- After the attack: Now we know that the decisionmakers, from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama, had information right from the start that implicated radical Islamists. They chose to edit all mention of terrorism out of the infamous talking points that UN ambassador Susan Rice used to go on Sunday news programs. They uniformly blamed some obscure anti-Islam video on the Internet for causing this attack. None of the documentation that has been revealed thus far provides any rationale for blaming that video, yet even President Obama, two weeks later, was using it as the cause in a speech to the UN. Despite assurances that those responsible would be dealt with, no one in Libya has ever been charged; yet the man who produced the video was rounded up and jailed, and he remains there to this day.
- It’s hard not to believe the accusations that this has been a coverup from day one. Added to the despicable nature of this coverup is that it occurred during the campaign as a way of ensuring another Obama term.
- More whistleblowers may be forthcoming. Not one person who was in Benghazi who survived this attack has ever said a word about what occurred. Are they under a gag order from this administration? Are they being intimidated in some way?
- Last Friday, in anticipation of the release of an inspector general’s report, the IRS official in charge of the Exempt Organization Division, Lois Lerner, issued an apology for how the agency had targeted conservative groups for at least two years, holding them to near-impossible standards before allowing them to be considered tax exempt.
- Ever since that admission, there have been daily reports of how these organizations were subjected to harassment. Any group seeking tax exemption that included “Tea Party,” “patriot,” limited government,” or any similar wording in their names became a target. This was a scorched-earth attempt to defund these organizations and to limit their effectiveness as the 2012 presidential election neared.
- It also has come to light that donors to Republicans, particularly donors to Mitt Romney, were singled out for audits. This went beyond donors to other tax-exempt organizations that exhibited support for Romney. The most egregious example was the auditing of the Billy Graham Association after Rev. Graham vocally supported a defense-of-marriage law in North Carolina and then had favorable things to say about candidate Romney.
- President Obama claims he knew nothing about this until he read the news accounts. Right. As if the president of the United States relies on the media for his information. Then he asked for the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS, who, it turns out, was planning on retiring in a couple of months anyway. He further says the IRS is an independent agency over which he has no direct control. Really? It is under the Treasury Department, which is run by Obama’s secretary of the treasury. He has direct oversight. Any claim to the contrary is invalid.
- In a particularly strange and tone-deaf move, Sarah Hall Ingram, who served as commissioner of the office overseeing tax-exempt organizations, has now been tabbed to lead the IRS enforcement of Obamacare. What could possibly go wrong?
- Then, yesterday, Obama announced his appointment of Daniel Werfel to take over the IRS. Who is Werfel? A current White House budget official. In other words, let’s hire the fox to guard the hen house.
- The Justice Department secretly got access to two months’ worth of telephone conversations between reporters for the AP and whomever they might have contacted for their stories. Ostensibly, this was done for national security reasons—that the AP endangered national security by releasing a story about a successful effort to thwart a terrorist attack in Yemen.
- Now we know that there was no longer a threat by the time the AP released its story. It had worked with the administration to sit on it for five days prior to release. Reports now indicate that the offense, if that be the right word, was in releasing it before the administration had the opportunity to boast about its successful operation. There was no national security threat at all at the time AP made the decision.
- This is a clear First Amendment issue (as is the IRS controversy), and the media, which has always sided with Obama, is showing signs of alienation from him for the first time in five years.
- Both Obama and Attorney General Holder say they have no knowledge of what occurred. Obama says, rather implausibly, that the White House doesn’t know what its own Justice Department is doing; Holder says he earlier recused himself from the operation, although he doesn’t recall just when he did so and has nothing in writing to prove it.
In every case, Obama has tried to have it both ways: he knew nothing, yet don’t worry, he’s fully in charge and everything’s going to be fine.
Let’s just say I’m not all that assured. When George Bush was president, you may have disagreed with some of his decisions, but at least you knew what he had decided and that he took responsibility for his actions. The Obama presidency has been a study in opposites:
These controversies have only begun. They have not played out, and won’t very soon in spite of the administration’s desire to put them to rest. Don’t be surprised, either, if a few more get added on to these three. The arrogance of this president and his minions practically guarantees it.