Democrats were thrilled when John Walsh of Montana was appointed to the United States Senate in February. A decorated veteran of the Iraq war and former adjutant general of his state’s National Guard, Mr. Walsh offered the Democratic Party something it frequently lacks: a seasoned military man.
On the campaign trail this year, Mr. Walsh, 53, has made his military service a main selling point. Still wearing his hair close-cropped, he notes he was targeted for killing by Iraqi militants and says his time in uniform informs his views on a range of issues.
But one of the highest-profile credentials of Mr. Walsh’s 33-year military career appears to have been improperly attained. An examination of the final paper required for Mr. Walsh’s master’s degree from the United States Army War College indicates the senator appropriated at least a quarter of his thesis on American Middle East policy from other authors’ works, with no attribution.
Senator John Walsh, Democrat of Montana, second from left, at a Senate National Guard Caucus breakfast in Washington. He was appointed last month to the seat vacated by Max Baucus and is running for election in November, hoping that his career in uniform remains an asset.
Mr. Walsh completed the paper, what the War College calls a “strategy research project,” to earn his degree in 2007, when he was 46. The sources of the material he presents as his own include academic papers, policy journal essays and books that are almost all available online.
Interactive Graphic: How Senator John Walsh Plagiarized a Final Paper
Most strikingly, each of the six recommendations Mr. Walsh laid out at the conclusion of his 14-page paper, titled “The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy,” is taken nearly word-for-word without attribution from a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace document on the same topic.
In his third recommendation, for example, Mr. Walsh writes: “Democracy promoters need to engage as much as possible in a dialogue with a wide cross section of influential elites: mainstream academics, journalists, moderate Islamists, and members of the professional associations who play a political role in some Arab countries, rather than only the narrow world of westernized democracy and human rights advocates.”
The same exact sentence appears on the sixth page of a 2002 Carnegie paper written by four scholars at the research institute. In all, Mr. Walsh’s recommendations section runs to more than 800 words, nearly all of it taken verbatim from the Carnegie paper, without any footnote or reference to it. In addition, significant portions of the language in Mr. Walsh’s paper can be found in a 1998 essay by a scholar at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, a research institute at Harvard.
For example, Mr. Walsh writes: “The United States will have an interest in promoting democracy because further democratization enhances the lives of citizens of other countries and contributes to a more peaceful international system. To the extent that Americans care about citizens of other countries and international peace, they will see benefits from the continued spread of democracy.”
The Harvard paper, written in 1998 by Sean M. Lynn-Jones, a scholar at the Belfer Center, includes the same two sentences.
Mr. Walsh does not footnote or cite Mr. Lynn-Jones’s essay, titled “Why the United States Should Spread Democracy,” anywhere in his paper.
Both the Carnegie and Harvard papers are easily accessible on the Internet.
In an interview outside his Capitol Hill office on Tuesday, after he was presented with multiple examples of identical passages from his paper and the Carnegie and Harvard essays, Mr. Walsh said he did not believe he had done anything wrong.
“I didn’t do anything intentional here,” he said, adding that he did not recall using the Carnegie and Harvard sources.
Asked directly if he had plagiarized, he responded: “I don’t believe I did, no.”
On Wednesday, a campaign aide for Mr. Walsh did not contest the plagiarism but suggested that it be viewed in the context of the senator’s long career. She said Mr. Walsh was going through a difficult period at the time he wrote the paper, noting that one of the members of his unit from Iraq had committed suicide in 2007, weeks before it was due.
The aide said Mr. Walsh, who served in Iraq from November 2004 to November 2005, “dealt with the experience of post-deployment,” but acknowledged he had not sought treatment.
The master’s degree in strategic studies from the War College has benefited Mr. Walsh’s career: In a military evaluation the year after Mr. Walsh received it, his commander praised him for it, writing that he “leads his peers and sets example in maintaining continuous military education and training subjects pertinent to today’s leadership challenges.”
In September 2008, Mr. Walsh, a recipient of the Bronze Star, was appointed adjutant general of Montana’s National Guard by the governor. A subsequent military evaluation said his prospects for the post had been “bolstered” in part by his degree from the War College.
Located in Carlisle, Pa., the Army War College is a coveted career stop for ambitious officers, and its graduates since its 1901 founding include Dwight D. Eisenhower, George Patton and Norman Schwarzkopf. As with most military institutes, the War College emphasizes honor and integrity: Its current student handbook states that plagiarism will result in disenrollment and that discoveries of academic violations have led to degrees being rescinded and names being scraped off the bronze plaques honoring graduates on campus.
“Sooner or later, academic dishonesty will be discovered,” the handbook, known as the Communicative Arts Directive, warns.In 2012, Mr. Walsh stepped down as the head of the state’s National Guard after winning his first bid for elected office to become Montana’s lieutenant governor. From that position, he was appointed to the Senate this year by Gov. Steve Bullock.
The Senate vacancy arose after President Obama nominated Max Baucus, the veteran Democrat who planned to retire from Congress, to be ambassador to China. Democrats hoped that installing Mr. Walsh in February would strengthen the party’s position and efforts to retain the seat.
Mr. Walsh’s military record and centrist politics were seen as assets in the independent-minded state, and, as an incumbent senator, he would be better positioned to raise money for this fall’s election. Still, Mr. Walsh is trailing Representative Steve Daines, his Republican opponent, strategists on both sides say, and has trailed Mr. Daines in fund-raising.
Questions have previously been raised about Mr. Walsh’s résumé and conduct, though they were comparatively minor.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that he was reprimanded in 2010 for using his role as adjutant general to urge other guardsmen to join a private advocacy group, the National Guard Association of the United States, in which he was seeking a leadership role.
As a result he was denied a promotion from colonel to general, he acknowledged in January. In response to the matter, Mr. Walsh released about 400 pages of his military records, which detailed his service awards and was full of effusive praise from his commanding officers.
There has also been a discrepancy about where Mr. Walsh earned his undergraduate degree. He was listed in the biographical directory of Congress as having graduated in 1990 from the University at Albany, State University of New York, but actually earned his bachelor of science from what was then known as Regents College, an adult learning institute that issued degrees under the umbrella of the University of the State of New York.
Mr. Walsh changed the listing after the newspaper Roll Call ran an article about the matter, but did not offer an explanation publicly.The breadth of Mr. Walsh’s apparent plagiarism, however, is startling – and rivaled by few other examples in recent political history. Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, was found last year to have presented the work of others as his own in a newspaper opinion article, a book and speeches. And Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. dropped his 1988 presidential bid when it was revealed that in campaign speeches he had used language similar to that of the British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock without attributing the remarks.
Mr. Walsh appears to have gone considerably further.
About a third of his paper consists of material either identical to or extremely similar to passages in other sources, such as the Carnegie or Harvard papers, and is presented without attribution. Another third is attributed to sources through footnotes, but uses other authors’ exact – or almost exact – language without quotation marks.
The senator included 96 footnotes in his paper, but many of them only illustrate this troubling pattern. In repeated instances, Mr. Walsh uses the language of others with no quotation marks, but footnotes the source from which the material came. In other cases, the passages appear in his paper with a word or two changed, but are otherwise identical to the authors’ language.
For example, in the first paragraph of his paper, Mr. Walsh writes of President George W. Bush: “During the 2000 presidential campaign Bush and his advisors made it clear that they favored great-power realism over idealistic notions such as nation building or democracy promotion.”
At the end of this sentence, which Mr. Walsh included without quotation marks, he footnoted a reference to a 2003 article in Foreign Affairs by Thomas Carothers, a prominent and highly credentialed foreign policy expert. Mr. Carothers’ essay read: “During the 2000 presidential campaign Bush and his advisers had made it clear that they favored great-power realism over idealistic notions such as nation building or democracy promotion.”
The only difference is that Mr. Walsh wrote “advisors” rather than “advisers” and did not use “had,” as Mr. Carothers did in his article.
In other instances, Mr. Walsh swaps a synonym for a word in the original document, and condenses sentences.
He writes on his second page: “There are deep disagreements about the appropriate theoretical framework, about whether democracy is simply an institutional arrangement for choosing rulers or an end in itself, about how to measure and evaluate democracy, and about the importance of prerequisites for democracy.
The footnote at the end of this sentence, presented without quotation marks in Mr. Walsh’s paper, is to a chapter by Robert L. Rothstein in a 1995 book of essays, “Democracy, War, and Peace in the Middle East.”
Mr. Rothstein’s sentence is slightly longer and uses “profound” rather than “deep,” but is otherwise identical.
Such copying of a footnoted source without quotation marks is specifically prohibited in the War College’s handbook.
“Copying a segment of another’s work word for word, then conveniently ‘forgetting’ to include quotation marks, but ‘remembering’ to cite the source,” is described as the second example of academic fraud in the handbook.
The first is: “Directly quoting another author’s work without giving proper credit to the author.”
“Plagiarism,” the handbook notes, “is a serious form of cheating that carries serious consequences.”
For many, it is difficult to decide whether Barack Obama is intentionally trying to destroy the United States or that he is doing so as a consequence of some type of ideology-induced stupidity.
The damage wrought through the implementation of his absurd and impractical liberal “solutions” to national problems is readily evident.
When Barack Obama was inaugurated on January 20, 2009 the national debt of the United States was $10,626,877,048,913. As of Jun 26, 2014, the debt was $17,512,592,730,102.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2007 on the eve of the recession, there were 146.6 million Americans working. Today, after six years of the Obama Administration, there are 145.8 million Americans in jobs, 800,000 below the previous peak. Since Obama came into office in 2009, 7.2 million people have left the workforce, making the true unemployment rate 8.3 percent, not 6.1 percent. Median household income is down almost $2,300 from what it was when Obama took office. Real wages are lower than they were in 1999. Growth in the first quarter of this year was a negative 2.9%, the biggest downward revision from the agency’s second GDP estimate since records began in 1976.
In April, prior to the present massive and growing surge in illegal minor immigration, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said Obama has created an “open borders” situation by failing to enforce U.S. immigration law. One could fairly conclude that the current crisis was a deliberate policy decision because the Obama indicated that he would expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that offers amnesty for illegal immigrant children and provides an incentive for exactly the type of mass illegal invasion we are witnessing on our southern border.
There should be little doubt that Obama’s open borders policy is meant to fundamentally transform the country’s demographics, produce millions of additional Democratic voters and welfare recipients and permanently undermine the national security of the United States.
The ATF “Fast and Furious” scheme, likely designed to erode Second Amendment rights, allowed weapons from the U.S. to “walk” across the border into the hands of Mexican drug dealers. The ATF lost track of hundreds of firearms, many of which were used in crimes, including the December 2010 killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Obama’s IRS targeted his perceived political enemies, conservative and pro-Israel groups, prior to the 2012 election. Questions are being raised about why this occurred, who ordered it, whether there was any White House involvement and whether there was an initial effort to hide who knew about the targeting and when. Obama apparently lied when he told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” in IRS activities.
The Obama administration knew about allegations of secret waiting lists at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as early as 2010, although, on May 19, 2014, White House spokesman claimed Obama learned about the scandal only recently through press reports.
The unfolding sectarian violence in Iraq is just the latest crisis where the Obama administration seemingly has been caught off guard. From the Veterans Affairs scandal to Russia’s swift annexation of Crimea, news of the world somehow keeps taking Obama and his team by surprise. Or are they just lying to camouflage flawed or failed policies, which have harmed the United States?
The attack on our “consulate” in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 was perhaps the most egregious of Obama’s many foreign policy failures because four Americans needlessly died due to a failure to provide adequate protection both before and during the attack.
Obama falsely blamed an internet video as the cause of the attack to hide the truth: the resurgence of jihadists in Muslim Brotherhood-governed Egypt, the continuing demand for the Blind Sheikh’s release (which underscored the jihadists’ influence), and the very real danger that jihadists would attack the embassy (which demonstrated that al-Qaeda was anything but “decimated”).
It is likely that a clandestine operation supplying weapons through Turkey to the Syrian rebels was being run out of Benghazi. Efforts were made not to draw attention to what was happening there. That could explain why local militias were paid to provide security, why requests for increased security were denied and why the US military was either unprepared to respond or told not to do so.
A Benghazi cover-up may have also prevented a thorough examination of the possible passivity or complicity of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood government in the attacks in Cairo and Benghazi and the potentially dangerous consequences of arming Islamic factions in Syria over which the US has little control, where the weapons we supplied may someday be used against us.
It should be obvious that Obama lied about Benghazi, he lied about Obamacare, the IRS, the VA scandal and in countless other instances.
Nevertheless, the liberal media remain willfully ignorant, will not report the truth and continue to protect Obama, regardless of the costs to the country.
Obama will survive in office until public awareness of his administration’s treachery matches its level of incompetence and exceeds the media’s capacity to tolerate corruption.
Jimmy Carter made mistakes. Barack Obama, a creator of crises, practices deceit and the willful betrayal of trust.
It does matter whether the damage inflicted upon our country results from ineptitude or premeditation.
It is ideology-induced treachery.
We’ve frequently addressed the mounting evidence showing the deep ties between the Obama administration and the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, just recently we reported on Mohammed Elibiary’s tweets about America being an Islamic country – he just happens to be an Obama administration advisor on Homeland Security with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
As par for the course, liberal progressives prefer to put their heads in the sand and dismiss the growing evidence – like this particular story, for instance.
According to the Gulf News, cooperation between the Obama administration and the Muslim Brotherhood has been going on for quite some time. In 2010 even before the “Arab Spring,” Obama personally issued Presidential Study Directive 11 (PSD-11) to assess the Muslim Brotherhood and other “political Islamist” movements, including the ruling AKP in Turkey. The report concluded the United States should shift from its longstanding policy of supporting “stability” in the Middle East and North Africa (in other words, supporting “stable regimes” even if they were authoritarian), to a policy of backing “moderate” Islamic political movements.”
Just go back and review the speeches Obama gave in 2009 to the Turkish General Assembly and at Cairo University in Egypt and you’ll get the sense that President Obama wasn’t taking the Islamist threat seriously – or at least didn’t think there was anything wrong with it.
Gulf News says, “to this day, PSD-11 remains classified, in part because it reveals an embarrassingly naïve and uninformed view of trends in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.”
If you need a little refresher about the Muslim Brotherhood’s ultimate goals – or still refuse to acknowledge it – take a quick read of their Explanatory Memorandum.
According to Gulf News, “through an ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, thousands of pages of documentation of the US State Department’s dealings with the Muslim Brotherhood are in the process of being declassified and released to the public. US State Department documents obtained under the FOIA confirm that the Obama administration maintained frequent contact and ties with the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood. At one point, in April 2012, US officials arranged for the public relations director of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammad Gaair, to come to Washington to speak at a conference on “Islamists in Power” hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.”
Don’t you find it interesting that the Obama administration unilaterally made the decision to engage in military operations in Libya? And don’t give me the NATO line because the U.S. is NATO. President Obama violated the War Powers Act – something where Dennis Kucinich and I stood together – and committed U.S. military resources in support of Islamist militia. It was also the same Obama who praised the rise of Mohammed Morsi – formerly an imprisoned Muslim Brotherhood member – as the President of Egypt but did not recognize the more than 30 million Egyptians who took to the streets for the ouster of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. And the Obama administration is still wound up about Egypt cracking down on the Brotherhood, as Kerry’s spokesman clarified.
Gulf News reveals the contents of a State Department Cable classified “Confidential” report saying in April 2012, Mission Benghazi met with a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood steering committee to discuss the Muslim Brotherhood’s decision to form a political party as both an opportunity and an obligation in post-revolution Libya after years of operating underground.”
“Another State Department paper marked “Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU)” contained talking points for Deputy Secretary of State William Burns’ scheduled July 14, 2012 meeting with Mohammad Sawan, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who was also head of the Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction Party. The document is heavily redacted, but nevertheless provides clear indication of Washington’s sympathies for the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood as a major political force in the post-Gaddafi Libya.”
And just for coincidental posterity, the July 14 meeting was attended by both Secretary Burns and Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Barely two months later, Ambassador Stevens and three other American diplomats were dead.
I know Speaker of the House, John Boehner, is pursuing a lawsuit against President Obama for constitutional power usurpation. I think we need to be looking under another rock – the one of aiding and abetting the enemy that leads to high crimes and misdemeanors. The Obama administration’s collusion with the Muslim Brotherhood is just that – and could easily be seen as treasonous.
What a raging, hypocritical douchebag this guy is.
President Obama asked Congress today for more than $2 billion in emergency funds to manage the surge of illegal Central American immigrants at the South Texas border, and to speed the deportation of those already here.
The president, in a letter sent to Congress, asks lawmakers to revise existing immigration law to give the Department of Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, new authority to quicken the screening and deportation of unaccompanied migrant children who are not from Mexico.
The White House will send a detailed request for the funds when Congress returns from its holiday recess July 7.
Under current U.S. law, Border Patrol agents are required to take child migrants who aren’t from Mexico into custody, screen them and transfer them to the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours.
HHS keeps the children at detention centers until it can unite the children with family or a sponsor in the United States, before they appear in immigration court to determine their status.
Yes, President Asshat wants Congress to give him billions of dollars to accomplish what he has been fighting tooth and nail for years to prevent.
Remember when the regime sued Arizona over its immigration enforcement law?
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Arizona aiming to block the state’s controversial new immigration law, which says local law enforcement authorities can detain people suspected of being in the country illegally. The lawsuit thrusts the Obama administration into a highly contentious domestic policy debate just months ahead of a critical mid-term political election.
The Obama administration argues that Arizona lacks the authority to enact immigration laws, a power reserved for the federal government. “Setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. “Seeking to address the issue through a patchwork of state laws will only create more problems than it solves.”
The federal government is asking for an injunction preventing the law from taking effect on July 29.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, the measure’s champion, says that because the federal government has failed to “secure the border” and stop illegal immigration, the state must take enforcement into its own hands. “We will be very aggressive in defending our law,” Brewer said in a Twitter post in which she asked for donations to the state’s legal defense fund.
Then they sued Alabama, too.
The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against Alabama’s new controversial immigration law, essentially fighting Alabama on grounds similar to its legal battle with Arizona over that state’s controversial law.
In both cases, the Justice Department argues that the states are overstepping their authority by wading into something that is a strictly federal responsibility: immigration enforcement.
Gov. Robert Bentley signed the Alabama law in June, but it’s not set to take effect until Sept. 1. The law makes it a crime to be an undocumented immigrant in Alabama and allows law enforcement to detain individuals they have a “reasonable suspicion” of being in the country illegally.
And then South Carolina…
The federal government filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to stop implementation of South Carolina’s tough new immigration law, arguing that the legislation that requires law officers to check suspects’ immigration status is unconstitutional.
Federal officials and state officials had met to discuss the issue a week ago.
The government wants a judge to stop enforcement of the legislation, which requires that officers call federal immigration officials if they suspect someone is in the country illegally following a stop for something else, U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles told The Associated Press.
Need I provide more examples?
Oh, and not only has Obama been fighting to stop the enforcement of our immigration laws since he first took office, but he has actually been encouraging illegals to swarm into the U.S. by the tens of thousands.
The current surge of unaccompanied minors coming into this country was a completely planned event by Obama and now we have the proof.
DHS posted an advertisement for bids from vendors to handle 65,000 “Unaccompanied Alien Children“ on their fbo.gov website on January 29th of this year.
How could the government know back in January that there would be 65,000 unaccompanied children coming in when the most any previous year ever saw 5,000?
Just look some of the specifics:
[...] The Contractor shall provide unarmed escort staff, including management, supervision, manpower, training, certifications, licenses, drug testing, equipment, and supplies necessary to provide on-demand escort services for non-criminal/non-delinquent unaccompanied alien children ages infant to 17 years of age, seven (7) days a week, 365 days a year. Transport will be required for either category of UAC or individual juveniles, to include both male and female juveniles. There will be approximately 65,000 UAC in total: 25% local ground transport, 25% via ICE charter and 50% via commercial air.
[...] In addition, the Contractor shall have personnel who are able to communicate with juveniles in their own designated language(s).
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa suggested that this is part of what is called a Cloward-Piven strategy, which is overwhelming gov’t systems to bring about a collapse and usher in more control.
Of course, this blatant inducement to commit illegal immigration is nothing new, either.
The Mexican government has been working with the United States Department of Agriculture to increase participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps.
USDA has an agreement with Mexico to promote American food assistance programs, including food stamps, among Mexican Americans, Mexican nationals and migrant communities in America.
“USDA and the government of Mexico have entered into a partnership to help educate eligible Mexican nationals living in the United States about available nutrition assistance,” the USDA explains in a brief paragraph on their “Reaching Low-Income Hispanics With Nutrition Assistance” web page. “Mexico will help disseminate this information through its embassy and network of approximately 50 consular offices.”
So, now we’re to believe that bombastic Barry intends to start securing the border and deporting the very illegal aliens that he and his cronies have not only been treating like a protected class of people for decades, but have more recently been encouraging to illegally enter the U.S. with federally-sanctioned, taxpayer-funded ad campaigns?
The IRS admitted this week to leaking the National Organization for Marriage‘s confidential information to far left groups.
The IRS will pay the National Organization for Marriage $50,000.
The conservative group National Organization of Marriage accused the IRS of leaking documents to the Obama Campaign in 2012. A top Obama campaign official Joe Solomese used the information to attack Mitt Romney during the 2012 election. The Huffington Post used the leaked documents in a story questioning former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s support for traditional marriage. The document showed Romney donated $10,000 to NOM.
The IRS agreed this week to pay only $50,000 in damages to the National Organization for Marriage after leaking confidential information to a leading gay marriage group.
Two years after activists for same-sex marriage obtained the confidential tax return and donor list of a national group opposed to redefining marriage, the Internal Revenue Service has admitted wrongdoing and agreed to settle the resulting lawsuit.
The Daily Signal has learned that, under a consent judgment today, the IRS agreed to pay $50,000 in damages to the National Organization for Marriage as a result of the unlawful release of the confidential information to a gay rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, that is NOM’s chief political rival.
“Congress made the disclosure of confidential tax return information a serious matter for a reason,” NOM Chairman John D. Eastman told The Daily Signal. “We’re delighted that the IRS has now been held accountable for the illegal disclosure of our list of major donors from our tax return.”
The Daily Signal is seeking comment on the settlement from the IRS and Justice Department.
In his order entered this morning, District Judge James C. Cacheris granted the settlement of NOM’s suit against the IRS, which was represented by the Department of Justice.
In February 2012, the Human Rights Campaign posted on its web site NOM’s 2008 tax return and the names and contact information of the marriage group’s major donors, including soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. That information then was published by the Huffington Post and other liberal-leaning news sites.
HRC’s president at the time, Joe Solmonese, was tapped that same month as a national co-chairman of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.
NOM released this statement today.
“It has been a long and arduous process to hold the IRS accountable for their illegal release of our confidential tax return and donor list, which was ultimately given to our chief political rival by the recipient,” said John Eastman, NOM’s chairman and a member of the ActRight legal Foundation team that brought the lawsuit against the IRS on NOM’s behalf in October, 2013. “In the beginning, the government claimed that the IRS had done nothing wrong and that NOM itself must have released our confidential information. Thanks to a lot of hard work, we’ve forced the IRS to admit that they in fact were the ones to break the law and wrongfully released this confidential information.”
NOM said that an investigation revealed that its 2008 tax return and list of major donors was released to Matthew Meisel, a gay activist in Boston, MA. Email correspondence from Meisel revealed that he told a colleague that he had “a conduit” to obtain NOM’s confidential information. While testifying under oath in a deposition in the litigation, Meisel invoked the 5th Amendment against self-incrimination and refused to disclose the identity of his conduit. Documents obtained during the litigation prove that Meisel then provided NOM’s tax data to the Human Rights Campaign (whose president was a national Co-Chair of the Obama Reelection Campaign). The information was also published by the Huffington Post.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is in the spotlight as he is set to further testify to Congress regarding the IRS targeting of conservative groups. It is important to remember that Koskinen has shelled out nearly $100,000 to Democratic candidates and groups.
Koskinen has been contributing to Democrats for four decades, starting with a $1000 contribution to Democratic candidate for Colorado Senate candidate Gary Hart in 1979.
Koskinen has been a reliable donor over the years, contributing a total of $19,000 to the Democratic National Committee from 1988 to 2008. He has made a contribution to the Democratic candidate for president in each election since 1980, including $2,300 to Obama in 2008, and $5000 to Obama in 2012.
Koskinen’s most recent contribution was $2,500 to Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.) in February of 2013.
Koskinen was appointed IRS commissioner later that year, and was tasked with revamping the tax agency in the wake of criticism that it was allowing partisanship dictate which groups applying for tax-exempt status would receive extra scrutiny.
“John is an expert at turning around institutions in need of reform,” Obama said in the statement announcing Koskinen’s appointment. “With decades of experience, in both the private and public sectors, John knows how to lead in difficult times, whether that means ensuring new management or implementing new checks and balances.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) said at the time that he was “more than a little mystified” at the partisan appointment in a time that the agency was under fire for just that.
At a House Ways and Means Committee hearing last week, Koskinen was berated by Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) over his claim that IRS email records have been permanently lost.
“I’m sitting here, listening to this testimony, I don’t believe it,” Ryan told Koskinen. “That’s your problem. Nobody believes you.”
Koskinen will face congressional hearings again this week. He will testify Monday evening for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and then face the same committee for a follow-up hearing on Tuesday.
There’s always Tunisia. Amid the smoking ruins of the Middle East, there is that one encouraging success story. But unfortunately for the Obama narratives, the president had about as much as to do with Tunisia’s turn toward democracy as he did with the World Cup rankings. Where administration policy has had an impact, the story is one of failure and danger.
The Middle East that Obama inherited in 2009 was largely at peace, for the surge in Iraq had beaten down the al Qaeda-linked groups. U.S. relations with traditional allies in the Gulf, Jordan, Israel and Egypt were very good. Iran was contained, its Revolutionary Guard forces at home. Today, terrorism has metastasized in Syria and Iraq, Jordan is at risk, the humanitarian toll is staggering, terrorist groups are growing fast and relations with U.S. allies are strained.
How did it happen? Begin with hubris: The new president told the world, in his Cairo speech in June 2009, that he had special expertise in understanding the entire world of Islam – knowledge “rooted in my own experience” because “I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed.” But President Obama wasn’t speaking that day in an imaginary location called “the world of Islam;” he was in Cairo, in the Arab Middle East, in a place where nothing counted more than power. “As a boy,” Obama told his listeners, “I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk.” Nice touch, but Arab rulers were more interested in knowing whether as a man he heard the approaching sound of gunfire, saw the growing threat of al Qaeda from the Maghreb to the Arabian Peninsula, and understood the ambitions of the ayatollahs as Iran moved closer and closer to a bomb.
Obama began with the view that there was no issue in the Middle East more central than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Five years later he has lost the confidence of both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and watched his second secretary of state squander endless efforts in a doomed quest for a comprehensive peace. Obama embittered relations with America’s closest ally in the region and achieved nothing whatsoever in the “peace process.” The end result in the summer of 2014 is to see the Palestinian Authority turn to a deal with Hamas for new elections that – if they are held, which admittedly is unlikely – would usher the terrorist group into a power-sharing deal. This is not progress.
The most populous Arab country is Egypt, where Obama stuck too long with Hosni Mubarak as the Arab Spring arrived, and then with the Army, and then the Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi, and now is embracing the Army again. Minor failings like the persecution of newspaper editors and leaders of American-backed NGOs, or the jailing of anyone critical of the powers-that-be at a given moment, were glossed over. When the Army removed an elected president, that was not really a “coup” – remember? And as the worm turned, we managed to offend every actor on Egypt’s political stage, from the military to the Islamists to the secular democratic activists. Who trusts us now on the Egyptian political scene? No one.
But these errors are minor when compared to those in Iraq and Syria. When the peaceful uprising against President Bashar al-Assad was brutally crushed, Obama said Assad must go; when Assad used sarin gas, Obama said this was intolerable and crossed a red line. But behind these words there was no American power, and speeches are cheap in the Middle East. Despite the urgings of all his top advisers (using the term loosely; he seems to ignore their advice) – Panetta at CIA and then Defense, Clinton at State, Petraeus at CIA, even Dempsey at the Pentagon – the president refused to give meaningful assistance to the Syrian nationalist rebels. Assistance was announced in June 2013 and then again in June 2014 (in the president’s West Point speech) but it is a minimal effort, far too small to match the presence of Hezbollah and Iranian Quds Force fighters in Syria. Arabs see this as a proxy war with Iran, but in the White House the key desire is to put all those nasty Middle Eastern wars behind us. So in the Middle East American power became a mirage, something no one could find – something enemies did not fear and allies could not count on.
The humanitarian result has been tragic: At least 160,000 killed in Syria, perhaps eight million displaced. More than a million Syrian refugees in Lebanon (a country of four million people, before Obama added those Syrians), about a million and a quarter Syrian refugees in Jordan (population six million before Obama). Poison gas back on the world scene as a tolerated weapon, with Assad using chlorine gas systematically in “barrel bombs” this year and paying no price whatsoever for this and for his repeated attacks on civilian targets. Both of the key officials handling Syria for Obama – State Department special envoy Fred Hof and Ambassador Robert Ford – resigned in disgust when they could no longer defend Obama’s hands-off policy. Can Samantha Power be far behind, watching the mass killings and seeing her president respond to them with rhetoric?
The result in security terms is even worse: the largest gathering of jihadis we have ever seen, 12,000 now and expanding. They come from all over the world, a jihadi Arab League, a jihadi EU, a jihadi U.N. Two or three thousand are from Europe, and an estimated 70 from the United States. When they go home, some no doubt disillusioned but many committed, experienced and well trained, “home” will be Milwaukee and Manchester and Marseille – and, as we see now on the front pages, to Mosul. When Obama took office there was no such phenomenon; it is his creation, the result of his passivity in Syria while Sunnis were being slaughtered by the Assad regime.
And now they have spread back into Iraq in sufficient numbers to threaten the survival of its government. Obama has reacted, sending 300 advisers, a number that may presage further expansion of American military efforts. Perhaps they will find good targets, and be the basis for American air strikes and additional diplomatic pressure. But we had won this game, at great expense, before Obama walked away. The fiery rage of Iraqi Sunnis at the government in Baghdad had been banked by 2009. American diplomatic efforts, whose power was based in the American military role, disappeared under Obama, who just wanted out. It was his main campaign pledge. So we got out, fully, completely, cleanly – unless you ask about the real world of Iraq instead of the imaginary world of campaign speeches. We could no longer play the role we had played in greasing relations between Kurds, Shia and Sunnis, and in constraining Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s sectarian excesses. The result was an Iraq spinning downward into the kind of Sunni-Shia confrontation we had paid so dearly to stop in 2007 and 2008, and ISIS – the newest moniker for al Qaeda in Iraq – saw its chance, and took it.
So now we’re back in Iraq – or maybe not. Three hundred isn’t a very large number; it is instead reminiscent of the 600 soldiers Obama sent to Central and Eastern Europe after the Russians grabbed Crimea and started a war in Ukraine. Who is reassured by that number, 600, and who is scared by it? Same question for Iraq: Are the Gulf allies reassured by “up to 300” advisers? Is Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the dark mastermind of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, quaking now?
If there is one achievement of Obama policy in the Middle East (because Tunisia’s genuine success isn’t America’s to claim) it is to advance reconciliation between Israel and the Gulf states. This will not be celebrated by the White House, however, because they are joined mostly in fear and contempt for American policy, but it is an interesting development nonetheless. If there is one thing the Gulf Sunni kingdoms understand, it is power-in this case, the Iranian power they fear (as they once feared Saddam’s power, and were saved from it by America). The king of Jordan incautiously spoke several years ago about a “Shia crescent,” but even he must have thought it would take far longer to develop. A map that starts with Hezbollah in Beirut’s southern suburbs and traces lines through Syria and Iraq into Iran would now not be just a nightmare vision, but an actual accounting of where Iran’s forces and allies and sphere of influence lie.That’s what the Saudis, Emiratis, Kuwaitis and others see around them, growing year by year while their former protector dithers. They see one other country that “gets it,” sees the dangers the same way, understands Iran’s grasp at hegemony just as they do: Israel. Oh to be a fly on the wall at the secret chats among Sunni Gulf security officials and their Israeli counterparts, which must be taking place in London and Zurich and other safe European capitals. In the world they all inhabit the weak disappear, and the strong survive and rule. They are the ultimate realists, and they do not call what they see in Washington “realpolitik.”
From World War II, or at least from the day the British left Aden, the United States has been the dominant power in the Middle East. Harry Truman backed the Zionists and Israel came into being; we opposed Suez so the British, French and Israelis backed off; we became the key arms supplier for all our friends and kept the Soviets out; we reversed Saddam’s grabbing of Kuwait; we drove him from power; we drew a red line against chemical warfare; we said an Iranian bomb was unacceptable.
But that red line then disappeared in a last-minute reversal by the president that to this day is mentioned in every conversation about security in the Middle East, and no Arab or Israeli leader now trusts that the United States will stop the Iranian bomb. After all, we have passively watched al Qaeda become a major force in the heart of the region, and watched Iran creep closer to a nuclear weapon, and watched Iran send expeditionary forces to Syria – unopposed by any serious American pushback. Today no one in the Middle East knows what the rulebook is and whether the Americans will enforce any rules at all. No one can safely tell you what the borders of Iraq or Syria will be a few years hence. No one can tell you whether American power is to be feared, or can safely be derided.
That’s the net effect of five and a half years of Obama policy. And, to repeat, it is Obama policy: not the collective wisdom of Kerry and Clinton and Panetta and Petraeus and other “advisers,” but the very personal set of decisions by the one true policymaker, the man who came to office thinking he had a special insight into the entire world of Islam. In the Middle East today, the “call of the azaan” is as widely heard as Obama remembered from Indonesia. But when leaders look around they see clever, well-resourced challenges from Shia and Sunni extremists armed to the teeth, with endless ambitions, willing to kill and kill to grasp power – and far more powerful today than the day this president came into office. They do not see an American leader who fully understands those challenges and who realizes that power, not speeches, must be used to defend our friends and allies and interests. So there’s one other thing a lot of Israeli and Arab leaders share, as they shake their heads and compare notes in those secret meetings: an urgent wish that Jan. 20, 2017, were a lot closer.
I’m going to tell you a true story, and then tell you how the news media is covering it.
This is a true story: in 2012, Democratic district attorneys in Wisconsin launched a secret probe known as a John Doe investigation with the goal of proving that conservative groups illegally coordinated activities during Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election. They issued more than 100 subpoenas, demanded the private information of conservatives and conservative groups, and actually conducted secret raids. And under state law, individuals who were targeted or witness to the investigation were forbidden from making knowledge of it public.
Fortunately, judges saw right through this partisan abuse of power. Early this year, a state judge, ruling in a secret proceeding, quashed the subpoenas and all but ended the investigation. According to the judge, “the subpoenas do not show probable cause that the moving parties committed any violations of the campaign finance laws.” This started the unraveling of the John Doe investigation that had many conservatives fearing they would be targeted for subpoenas and raids next.
In February, a conservative activist and group filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the partisan district attorneys who had pursued the John Doe probe. In short order, a federal district court judge held that the plaintiffs “are likely to succeed on their claim that the defendants‘ investigation violates their rights under the First Amendment, such that the investigation was commenced and conducted – without a reasonable expectation of obtaining a valid conviction.” In other words, at this early stage of the civil rights litigation, it looks to the judge as if the Democratic district attorneys abused their power and chilled conservatives’ free speech rights. Accordingly, the federal judge ordered that the John Doe probe must cease, all the seized property be returned, and all copies of materials be destroyed.
After a short trip to a federal appeals court, the federal judge reissued his order that the John Doe probe cease. Most recently, that appeals court has ordered some of the previously secret probe documents disclosed to the public, including an unsuccessful defense that the John Doe investigators made to one of their secret subpoenas. In their attempt to get a subpoena, which was rejected by a judge for lacking probable cause, the partisan investigators claimed that Walker was involved in the so-called conservative conspiracy.
And that is where the litigation stands as of today. Having launched a secret probe that has now been shut down by both the state and federal courts, the Democratic district attorneys find themselves the subject of an ongoing civil rights lawsuit for infringing the First Amendment rights of conservatives. But that is not how the media have reported the case.
Upon the unsealing of some of the probe documents by the federal appeals court, the media worked itself into a frenzy claiming that Walker was part of a criminal conspiracy. The media claim was based entirely on the subpoena document that was denied by the state judge as failing utterly to demonstrate probable cause to believe a crime occurred. In short: the judge, looking at all the evidence, found no reason to believe that a crime had occurred. That has not stopped the media from falsely implying otherwise.
This is largely accomplished by playing with verb tense. For example, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel kicked off this infuriating libel with a piece that claimed, “John Doe prosecutors allege Scott Walker at center of ‘criminal scheme.’” The more accurate word, of course, would have been “alleged,” past-tense with the addition of the words “in denied subpoena request” or perhaps “in failed partisan investigation” or even “in politically-motivated secret investigation rejected by the state and federal courts.”
The New York Times, trumpeting the story on today’s front page, also uses the present tense to give the wrong impression. The piece begins “Prosecutors in Wisconsin assert that Gov. Scott Walker was part of an elaborate effort to illegally coordinate fund-raising and spending.” Again, the true story is that this took place last year and was ended by the courts. You’d have to read all the way down to the tenth paragraph to learn that the subpoenas weren’t granted because there was no probable cause to believe that a crime had occurred. Oddly, the Times piece muses on the electoral consequences for Walker in the third paragraph.
The media obsession with Walker is no coincidence. Liberals are still stinging from their failure to recall him in 2012 after he successfully curtailed union abuses. And they sense that he could be a formidable contender for the White House in 2016. That the John Doe probe simultaneously harms him, suggests widespread wrongdoing by conservatives, and raises the campaign finance bugaboo makes this story the almost-perfect storm. The inconvenient fact that the investigation was cooked up for partisan purposes, has now ceased, and has impelled a federal civil rights lawsuit will go unmentioned in the papers.