Not that there was any doubt, but a Department of Justice lawyer has anonymously contacted Powerline Blog to say why the IRS claim about losing emails because of a computer crash is “laughable”:
I’m a DOJ lawyer, so you obviously cannot use my name or any identifying information. But the idea that a “hard drive crash” somehow destroyed all of Ms. Lerner’s intra-government email correspondence during the period in question [2009-2011] is laughable. Government email servers are backed up every night. So if she actually had a hard drive fail, her emails would be recoverable from the backup. If the backup was somehow also compromised, then we are talking about a conspiracy.
Keep up the good work.
He reiterates in a postscript:
I’m serious about your keeping any identifying information out of the media. Things are very, very bad.
When the story broke on Friday, I really believed this administration was insane to think the story wouldn’t hit the headlines. But if you look at the Sunday morning news shows, not one featured the outrageous stonewalling by the IRS. Let’s hope our political leaders have the courage to pursue this outrageous abuse of power.
Accusations of threats and intimidation against whistleblowers are a feature, not bug, of the scandal factory known as the Obama administration, and according to a columnist from Huffington Post, SwapGate is no different.
Huffpo columnist Bill Robinson joined Fox and Friends Monday morning with some exclusive info from a Pentagon official. Robinson said the official wanted the American people to know that there’s a bigger story about the Bergdahl swap that isn’t being told – including the claim that servicemen received threats and intimidation from the White House to keep quiet.
Robinson, who has written a series of columns called, “American hero stories” says the official thought he could be trusted with the information.
Robinson told Steve Doocy that “the White House, in concert with the State Department and Defense Department was orchestrating a campaign of threats and intimidation not only against infantrymen and the military men in Afghanistan at the time in 2009, but also against military officers and Pentagon officers to keep silent about what really happened, there.”
“He was more than just a deserter,” Robinson went on to say. “He was an out and out traitor.”
Bergdahl didn’t merely go AWOL, Robinson noted. After expressing his hatred for America and his officers, the private left the base, actively seeking out the enemy. Robinson’s sources contend he collaborated with the enemy during wartime.
Robinson maintains that many more than six soldiers were killed while searching for Bergdahl – who was taken captive on July 2, 2009. In June 2009, there were 24 US servicemen killed in Afghanistan. In the month of July, Robinson notes, “the number jumped to 44 killed – an increase of 83% in a month.” During the next month even more servicemen were killed.
Keep that in mind, while the Obama administration and its acolytes in the media continue their smear campaign to discredit the soldiers who served alongside Bergdahl.
After more than two years of stonewalling from the Obama administration, House Speaker John Boehner has confirmed he will appoint a Special Committee to investigate Benghazi with Congressman Trey Gowdy leading the way. The Weekly Standard was the first to report a possible announcement of a Select Committee earlier this morning.
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Here is the full statement from Boehner on the Select Committee:
“Americans learned this week that the Obama Administration is so intent on obstructing the truth about Benghazi that it is even willing to defy subpoenas issued by the standing committees of the People’s House. These revelations compel the House to take every possible action to ensure the American people have the truth about the terrorist attack on our consulate that killed four of our countrymen. In light of these new developments, the House will vote to establish a new select committee to investigate the attack, provide the necessary accountability, and ensure justice is finally served.
“The administration’s withholding of documents – emails showing greater White House involvement in misleading the American people – is a flagrant violation of trust and undermines the basic principles of oversight upon which our system of government is built. And it forces us to ask the question, what else about Benghazi is the Obama administration still hiding from the American people?
“The House committees that have been investigating this attack have done extraordinary work, using their subpoena power, holding dozens of hearings, and conducting hundreds of interviews. Without this work we would not know much that we do today. But it’s clear that questions remain, and the administration still does not respect the authority of Congress to provide proper oversight. This dismissiveness and evasion requires us to elevate the investigation to a new level. I intend for this select committee to have robust authority, and I will expect it to work quickly to get answers for the American people and the families of the victims.
“Four Americans died at the hands of terrorists nearly 20 months ago, and we are still missing answers, accountability, and justice. It’s time that change.”
ENTIRE HOUSE OVERSIGHT AND REFORM COMMITTEE HEARING ON THE BENGHAZI COVER-UP – 05/01/14
……………………….Click on image above to watch video.
COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN DARRELL ISSA
GENERAL ROBERT LOVELL (RETIRED)
COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN DARRELL ISSA (2)
CONGRESSMAN JASON CHAFFETZ
CONGRESSMAN JASON CHAFFETZ (2)
CONGRESSMAN JASON CHAFFETZ (3)
CONGRESSMAN RON DESANTIS
CONGRESSMAN JAMES LANKFORD
CONGRESSMAN TIM WALBERG
CONGRESSMAN JOHN MICA
CONGRESSMAN SCOTT DESJARLAIS
Here is the main point: The rioting at the American embassy in Cairo was not about the anti-Muslim video. As argued here repeatedly (see here and here), the Obama administration’s “Blame the Video” story was a fraudulent explanation for the September 11, 2012, rioting in Cairo every bit as much as it was a fraudulent explanation for the massacre in Benghazi several hours later.
We’ll come back to that because, once you grasp this well-hidden fact, the Obama administration’s derelictions of duty in connection with Benghazi become much easier to see. But let’s begin with Jay Carney’s performance in Wednesday’s exchange with the White House press corps, a new low in insulting the intelligence of the American people.
Mr. Carney was grilled about just-released e-mails that corroborate what many of us have been arguing all along: “Blame the Video” was an Obama-administration-crafted lie, through and through. It was intended, in the stretch run of the 2012 campaign, to obscure the facts that (a) the president’s foreign policy of empowering Islamic supremacists contributed directly and materially to the Benghazi massacre; (b) the president’s reckless stationing of American government personnel in Benghazi and his shocking failure to provide sufficient protection for them were driven by a political-campaign imperative to portray the Obama Libya policy as a success – and, again, they invited the jihadist violence that killed our ambassador and three other Americans; and (c) far from being “decimated,” as the president repeatedly claimed during the campaign (and continued to claim even after the September 11 violence in Egypt and Libya), al-Qaeda and its allied jihadists remained a driving force of anti-American violence in Muslim countries – indeed, they had been strengthened by the president’s pro-Islamist policies.
The explosive e-mails that have surfaced thanks to the perseverance of Judicial Watch make explicit what has long been obvious: Susan Rice, the president’s confidant and ambassador to the U.N., was strategically chosen to peddle the administration’s “Blame the Video” fairy tale to the American people in appearances on five different national television broadcasts the Sunday after the massacre. She was coached about what to say by other members of the president’s inner circle.
One of the e-mails refers expressly to a “prep call” that Ambassador Rice had with several administration officials on late Saturday afternoon right before her Sunday-show appearances. The tangled web of deception spun by the administration has previously included an effort to distance the White House (i.e., the president) from Rice’s mendacious TV performances. Thus, Carney was in the unenviable position Wednesday of trying to explain the “prep call” e-mail, as well as other messages that illuminate the Obama White House’s deep involvement in coaching Rice. The e-mails manifest that Rice’s performances were campaign appearances, not the good-faith effort of a public official to inform the American people about an act of war against our country. Her instructions were “To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy”; and “To reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges” (emphasis added).
Carney risibly claimed that the “prep call” was “not about Benghazi.” Instead, according to him, it was “about the protests around the Muslim world.”
Two points must be made about this.
The first involves the administration’s blatant lying. Benghazi was the only reason Rice was going on the Sunday shows. If the massacre had not happened, there would not have been an extraordinary administration offering of one top Obama official to five different national television networks to address a calamity that had happened a few days before.
Moreover, as is well known to anyone who has ever been involved in government presentations to the media, to Congress, to courts, and to other fact-finding bodies, the official who will be doing the presentation is put through a “murder board” preparation process. This is a freewheeling session in which the questions likely to be asked at the presentation are posed, and potential answers – especially to tough questions – are proposed, discussed, and massaged. The suggestion that Rice, less than 24 hours before being grilled by high-profile media figures, was being prepped on something totally separate and apart from the incident that was the sole reason for her appearance is so farfetched it is amazing that Carney thought he could make it fly.
The second point brings us full circle to Egypt.
Why would Carney claim, with a straight face, that Rice was being prepped “about protests around the Muslim world”? Because, other than Benghazi, the “protest around the Muslim world” that Americans know about is the rioting (not “protest,” rioting) at the U.S. embassy in Cairo a few hours before the Benghazi siege. When Benghazi comes up, the administration – President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Jay Carney, et al. – loves to talk about the Cairo “protests.” Why? Because the media, and thus the public, have bought hook, line, and sinker the fraudulent claim that those “protests” were over the anti-Muslim video. Obama & Co. shrewdly calculate that if you buy “Blame the Video” as the explanation for Cairo, it becomes much more plausible that you will accept “Blame the Video” as the explanation for Benghazi – or, at the very least, you will give Obama officials the benefit of the doubt that they could truly have believed the video triggered Benghazi, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary.
You see, the Benghazi fraud hinges on the success of the Cairo fraud. If you are hoodwinked by the latter, they have a much better chance of getting away with the former.
But “Blame the Video” is every bit as much a deception when it comes to Cairo.
Thanks to President Obama’s policy of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic supremacists in Egypt, post-Mubarak Cairo became a very hospitable place for jihadists. That included al-Qaeda leaders, such as Mohammed Zawahiri, brother of al-Qaeda emir Ayman Zawahiri; and leaders of Gama’at al-Islamia (the Islamic Group), the terrorist organization led by the Blind Sheikh – Omar Abdel Rahman, the terrorist I convicted in 1995 for running the jihadist cell that bombed the World Trade Center and plotted to bomb other New York City landmarks.
In the weeks before September 11, 2012, these jihadists plotted to attack the U.S. embassy in Cairo. In fact, the Blind Sheikh’s son threatened a 1979 Iran-style raid on the embassy: Americans would be taken hostage to ransom for the Blind Sheikh’s release from American prison (he is serving a life sentence). Other jihadists threatened to burn the embassy to the ground – a threat that was reported in the Egyptian press the day before the September 11 “protests.”
The State Department knew there was going to be trouble at the embassy on September 11, the eleventh anniversary of al-Qaeda’s mass-murder of nearly 3,000 Americans. It was well known that things could get very ugly. When they did, it would become very obvious to Americans that President Obama had not “decimated” al-Qaeda as he was claiming on the campaign trail. Even worse, it would be painfully evident that his pro–Muslim Brotherhood policies had actually enhanced al-Qaeda’s capacity to attack the United States in Egypt.
The State Department also knew about the obscure anti-Muslim video. Few Egyptians, if any, had seen or heard about it, but it had been denounced by the Grand Mufti in Cairo on September 9. Still, the stir it caused was minor, at best. As Tom Joscelyn has elaborated, the Cairo rioting was driven by the jihadists who were agitating for the Blind Sheikh’s release and who had been threatening for weeks to raid and torch our embassy. And indeed, they did storm it, replace the American flag with the jihadist black flag, and set fires around the embassy complex.
Nevertheless, before the rioting began but when they knew there was going to be trouble, State Department officials at the embassy began tweeting out condemnations of the video while ignoring the real sources of the threat: 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”).
The transparent purpose of the State Department’s shrieking over the video was to create the illusion that any security problems at the embassy (violent rioting minimized as mere “protests”) were attributable to the anti-Muslim video, not to President Obama’s policies and patent failure to quell al-Qaeda.
Because there was a kernel of truth to the video story, and because the American media have abdicated their responsibility to report the predominant causes of anti-Americanism in Egypt, journalists and the public have uncritically accepted the notion – a false notion – that the video caused the Cairo rioting. That acceptance is key to the administration’s “Blame the Video” farce in connection with the lethal attack in Benghazi.
At about 10 p.m. Washington time on the night of September 11 – after they knew our ambassador to Libya had been murdered and while the siege of Benghazi still raged – Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama spoke on the telephone. Shortly afterwards, the State Department issued a statement from Secretary Clinton blaming the video for the atrocity in Benghazi. That was the beginning of the fraud’s Benghazi phase – the phase Susan Rice was prepped to peddle on nationwide television. But it wasn’t the beginning of the fraud.
Secretary Clinton’s minions at the State Department had started spinning the video fraud hours earlier, in Egypt. The sooner Americans grasp that, the sooner they will comprehend the breathtaking depth of the president’s Benghazi cover-up.
H/T Weasel Zippers
Remember “Fast & Furious”? No, not that really bad but commercially successful Vin Diesel series. We’re talking about the Department of Justice’s involvement in running assault rifles to drug cartels and failing to track them, leading to the murder of hundreds of Mexican civilians and border patrol agent Brian Terry.
From Politico via Fox Nation:
A federal judge has rejected Attorney General Eric Holder’s attempt to keep the courts from wading into the “Fast and Furious” documents dispute that led to him being held in contempt by the House last year.
In a ruling Monday night, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson turned down the Justice Department’s request to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee after President Barack Obama asserted executive privilege to prevent some records about the administration’s response to the “Operation Fast and Furious” gunrunning scandal from being turned over to Congress.
“This case presents the sort of question that the courts are traditionally called upon to resolve,” Jackson said in her 44-page decision, issued more than five months after lawyers argued the issue in her packed courtroom and more than a year after the House committee filed suit. “Dismissing the case without hearing it would in effect place the court’s finger on the scale, designating the executive as the victor based solely on his untested assertion that the privilege applies,” she wrote.
A Justice Department spokesman said officials there were reviewing the decision.
Amazing that some Democratic partisans will either say, “but why would you want to care about Fast of Furious?” or will otherwise lie and say that “Fast & Furious was the exact same thing as George W. Bush’s gunwalking schemes!” – which didn’t wind up killing hundreds of people.
Fast fact: Even though Eric Holder was the only Attorney General to be held in contempt by the House of Representatives, he’s still the AG for the “post-partisan” Obama administration!
Let’s grow up and get some of that transparency the American people were promised.
Something even more sinister than the NSA spying program is floating on the fringes of the mainstream media.
For decades, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has been secretly assisting law enforcement across the country to launch criminal investigations against Americans.
In an exclusive report, Reuters has uncovered documents that show local law enforcement agents around the country are being directed to conceal information obtained directly from the DEA, instead creating an alternate story, called “Parallel Construction.” Often times, Reuters reports, the suspects, lawyers and even judges are not told where initial information came from.
For example, if a local police department was informed a drug deal might go down at a particular location, police might canvass the area and if they make a bust, will write in their official reports that there was another reason – busted tail light, running a stop sign, that caused the initial arrest.
According to Reuters:
“The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don’t know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence – information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.”
The organization within the DEA is called the Special Operations Division, and it encompasses dozens of other federal agencies, including the CIA, FBI, NSA and the IRS.
Lawyers who were told about the program were shocked.
“That’s outrageous,” Tampa attorney James Felman, a vice chairman of the criminal justice section of the American Bar Association, told Reuters. “It strikes me as indefensible.”
Law enforcement agencies can also access the program’s database and use the information to link clues together – to “connect the dots,” one official said.
Most agencies involved declined to respond to Reuters on the record, but under condition of anonymity, they defended the program as an important law enforcement tool.
A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.
Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.
The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don’t know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence – information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.
“I have never heard of anything like this at all,” said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor who served as a federal judge from 1994 to 2011. Gertner and other legal experts said the program sounds more troubling than recent disclosures that the National Security Agency has been collecting domestic phone records. The NSA effort is geared toward stopping terrorists; the DEA program targets common criminals, primarily drug dealers.
“It is one thing to create special rules for national security,” Gertner said. “Ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations.”
THE SPECIAL OPERATIONS DIVISION
The unit of the DEA that distributes the information is called the Special Operations Division, or SOD. Two dozen partner agencies comprise the unit, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. It was created in 1994 to combat Latin American drug cartels and has grown from several dozen employees to several hundred.
Today, much of the SOD’s work is classified, and officials asked that its precise location in Virginia not be revealed. The documents reviewed by Reuters are marked “Law Enforcement Sensitive,” a government categorization that is meant to keep them confidential.
“Remember that the utilization of SOD cannot be revealed or discussed in any investigative function,” a document presented to agents reads. The document specifically directs agents to omit the SOD’s involvement from investigative reports, affidavits, discussions with prosecutors and courtroom testimony. Agents are instructed to then use “normal investigative techniques to recreate the information provided by SOD.”
A spokesman with the Department of Justice, which oversees the DEA, declined to comment.
But two senior DEA officials defended the program, and said trying to “recreate” an investigative trail is not only legal but a technique that is used almost daily.
A former federal agent in the northeastern United States who received such tips from SOD described the process. “You’d be told only, ‘Be at a certain truck stop at a certain time and look for a certain vehicle.’ And so we’d alert the state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle, and then have a drug dog search it,” the agent said.
After an arrest was made, agents then pretended that their investigation began with the traffic stop, not with the SOD tip, the former agent said. The training document reviewed by Reuters refers to this process as “parallel construction.”
The two senior DEA officials, who spoke on behalf of the agency but only on condition of anonymity, said the process is kept secret to protect sources and investigative methods. “Parallel construction is a law enforcement technique we use every day,” one official said. “It’s decades old, a bedrock concept.”
A dozen current or former federal agents interviewed by Reuters confirmed they had used parallel construction during their careers. Most defended the practice; some said they understood why those outside law enforcement might be concerned.
“It’s just like laundering money – you work it backwards to make it clean,” said Finn Selander, a DEA agent from 1991 to 2008 and now a member of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which advocates legalizing and regulating narcotics.
Some defense lawyers and former prosecutors said that using “parallel construction” may be legal to establish probable cause for an arrest. But they said employing the practice as a means of disguising how an investigation began may violate pretrial discovery rules by burying evidence that could prove useful to criminal defendants.
A QUESTION OF CONSTITUTIONALITY
“That’s outrageous,” said Tampa attorney James Felman, a vice chairman of the criminal justice section of the American Bar Association. “It strikes me as indefensible.”
Lawrence Lustberg, a New Jersey defense lawyer, said any systematic government effort to conceal the circumstances under which cases begin “would not only be alarming but pretty blatantly unconstitutional.”
Lustberg and others said the government’s use of the SOD program skirts established court procedures by which judges privately examine sensitive information, such as an informant’s identity or classified evidence, to determine whether the information is relevant to the defense.
“You can’t game the system,” said former federal prosecutor Henry E. Hockeimer Jr. “You can’t create this subterfuge. These are drug crimes, not national security cases. If you don’t draw the line here, where do you draw it?”
Some lawyers say there can be legitimate reasons for not revealing sources. Robert Spelke, a former prosecutor who spent seven years as a senior DEA lawyer, said some sources are classified. But he also said there are few reasons why unclassified evidence should be concealed at trial.
“It’s a balancing act, and they’ve doing it this way for years,” Spelke said. “Do I think it’s a good way to do it? No, because now that I’m a defense lawyer, I see how difficult it is to challenge.”
CONCEALING A TIP
One current federal prosecutor learned how agents were using SOD tips after a drug agent misled him, the prosecutor told Reuters. In a Florida drug case he was handling, the prosecutor said, a DEA agent told him the investigation of a U.S. citizen began with a tip from an informant. When the prosecutor pressed for more information, he said, a DEA supervisor intervened and revealed that the tip had actually come through the SOD and from an NSA intercept.
“I was pissed,” the prosecutor said. “Lying about where the information came from is a bad start if you’re trying to comply with the law because it can lead to all kinds of problems with discovery and candor to the court.” The prosecutor never filed charges in the case because he lost confidence in the investigation, he said.
A senior DEA official said he was not aware of the case but said the agent should not have misled the prosecutor. How often such misdirection occurs is unknown, even to the government; the DEA official said the agency does not track what happens with tips after the SOD sends them to agents in the field.
The SOD’s role providing information to agents isn’t itself a secret. It is briefly mentioned by the DEA in budget documents, albeit without any reference to how that information is used or represented when cases go to court.
The DEA has long publicly touted the SOD’s role in multi-jurisdictional and international investigations, connecting agents in separate cities who may be unwittingly investigating the same target and making sure undercover agents don’t accidentally try to arrest each other.
SOD’S BIG SUCCESSES
The unit also played a major role in a 2008 DEA sting in Thailand against Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout; he was sentenced in 2011 to 25 years in prison on charges of conspiring to sell weapons to the Colombian rebel group FARC. The SOD also recently coordinated Project Synergy, a crackdown against manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers of synthetic designer drugs that spanned 35 states and resulted in 227 arrests.
Since its inception, the SOD’s mandate has expanded to include narco-terrorism, organized crime and gangs. A DEA spokesman declined to comment on the unit’s annual budget. A recent LinkedIn posting on the personal page of a senior SOD official estimated it to be $125 million.
Today, the SOD offers at least three services to federal, state and local law enforcement agents: coordinating international investigations such as the Bout case; distributing tips from overseas NSA intercepts, informants, foreign law enforcement partners and domestic wiretaps; and circulating tips from a massive database known as DICE.
The DICE database contains about 1 billion records, the senior DEA officials said. The majority of the records consist of phone log and Internet data gathered legally by the DEA through subpoenas, arrests and search warrants nationwide. Records are kept for about a year and then purged, the DEA officials said.
About 10,000 federal, state and local law enforcement agents have access to the DICE database, records show. They can query it to try to link otherwise disparate clues. Recently, one of the DEA officials said, DICE linked a man who tried to smuggle $100,000 over the U.S. southwest border to a major drug case on the East Coast.
“We use it to connect the dots,” the official said.
“AN AMAZING TOOL”
Wiretap tips forwarded by the SOD usually come from foreign governments, U.S. intelligence agencies or court-authorized domestic phone recordings. Because warrantless eavesdropping on Americans is illegal, tips from intelligence agencies are generally not forwarded to the SOD until a caller’s citizenship can be verified, according to one senior law enforcement official and one former U.S. military intelligence analyst.
“They do a pretty good job of screening, but it can be a struggle to know for sure whether the person on a wiretap is American,” the senior law enforcement official said.
Tips from domestic wiretaps typically occur when agents use information gleaned from a court-ordered wiretap in one case to start a second investigation.
As a practical matter, law enforcement agents said they usually don’t worry that SOD’s involvement will be exposed in court. That’s because most drug-trafficking defendants plead guilty before trial and therefore never request to see the evidence against them. If cases did go to trial, current and former agents said, charges were sometimes dropped to avoid the risk of exposing SOD involvement.
Current and former federal agents said SOD tips aren’t always helpful – one estimated their accuracy at 60 percent. But current and former agents said tips have enabled them to catch drug smugglers who might have gotten away.
“It was an amazing tool,” said one recently retired federal agent. “Our big fear was that it wouldn’t stay secret.”
DEA officials said that the SOD process has been reviewed internally. They declined to provide Reuters with a copy of their most recent review.
CNN has uncovered exclusive new information about what is allegedly happening at the CIA, in the wake of the deadly Benghazi terror attack.
Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in the assault by armed militants last September 11 in eastern Libya.
Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret.
CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency’s Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.
Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency’s missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency’s workings.
The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress.
It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career.
In exclusive communications obtained by CNN, one insider writes, “You don’t jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well.”
Another says, “You have no idea the amount of pressure being brought to bear on anyone with knowledge of this operation.”
“Agency employees typically are polygraphed every three to four years. Never more than that,” said former CIA operative and CNN analyst Robert Baer.
In other words, the rate of the kind of polygraphs alleged by sources is rare.
“If somebody is being polygraphed every month, or every two months it’s called an issue polygraph, and that means that the polygraph division suspects something, or they’re looking for something, or they’re on a fishing expedition. But it’s absolutely not routine at all to be polygraphed monthly, or bi-monthly,” said Baer.
CIA spokesman Dean Boyd asserted in a statement that the agency has been open with Congress.
“The CIA has worked closely with its oversight committees to provide them with an extraordinary amount of information related to the attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi,” the statement said.
“CIA employees are always free to speak to Congress if they want,” the statement continued. “The CIA enabled all officers involved in Benghazi the opportunity to meet with Congress. We are not aware of any CIA employee who has experienced retaliation, including any non-routine security procedures, or who has been prevented from sharing a concern with Congress about the Benghazi incident.”
Among the many secrets still yet to be told about the Benghazi mission, is just how many Americans were there the night of the attack.
A source now tells CNN that number was 35, with as many as seven wounded, some seriously.
While it is still not known how many of them were CIA, a source tells CNN that 21 Americans were working in the building known as the annex, believed to be run by the agency.
The lack of information and pressure to silence CIA operatives is disturbing to U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, whose district includes CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
“I think it is a form of a cover-up, and I think it’s an attempt to push it under the rug, and I think the American people are feeling the same way,” said the Republican.
“We should have the people who were on the scene come in, testify under oath, do it publicly, and lay it out. And there really isn’t any national security issue involved with regards to that,” he said.
Wolf has repeatedly gone to the House floor, asking for a select committee to be set-up, a Watergate-style probe involving several intelligence committee investigators assigned to get to the bottom of the failures that took place in Benghazi, and find out just what the State Department and CIA were doing there.
More than 150 fellow Republican members of Congress have signed his request, and just this week eight Republicans sent a letter to the new head of the FBI, James Comey, asking that he brief Congress within 30 days.
In the aftermath of the attack, Wolf said he was contacted by people closely tied with CIA operatives and contractors who wanted to talk.
Then suddenly, there was silence.
“Initially they were not afraid to come forward. They wanted the opportunity, and they wanted to be subpoenaed, because if you’re subpoenaed, it sort of protects you, you’re forced to come before Congress. Now that’s all changed,” said Wolf.
Lawmakers also want to about know the weapons in Libya, and what happened to them.
Speculation on Capitol Hill has included the possibility the U.S. agencies operating in Benghazi were secretly helping to move surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels.
It is clear that two U.S. agencies were operating in Benghazi, one was the State Department, and the other was the CIA.
The State Department told CNN in an e-mail that it was only helping the new Libyan government destroy weapons deemed “damaged, aged or too unsafe retain,” and that it was not involved in any transfer of weapons to other countries.
But the State Department also clearly told CNN, they “can’t speak for any other agencies.”
The CIA would not comment on whether it was involved in the transfer of any weapons.
FLASHBACK: CIA, State Department And Other Benghazi Survivors Forced To Sign Nondisclosure Agreements By Obama Regime
One of the closest members of the Hillary Clinton team and a long-time aid of both Hilary and Bill Clinton , Cheryl Mills is named in the internal memo from State Department Office of Inspector General about the coverup of Ambassador wrong-doing.
The memo, believed to have been based on anonymous complaints from rank-and-file agents in the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security that arose during a 2012 inspector general’s review of the bureau, has sent shock waves through Foggy Bottom since becoming public Monday.
At its core, the document outlines a variety of cases in which high-ranking department officials quashed internal investigations into accusations of sexual assault, drug dealing, solicitation of sexual favors from prostitutes and minors, and other improper activity against American diplomatic personnel overseas.
The State Department has vigorously criticized the memo. Spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki told reporters repeatedly this week that the accusations are “unsubstantiated.”
A spokesman for the inspector general’s office has called the memo a “preliminary” document that triggered investigations into suspected criminal activity and claims that earlier probes were blocked by State Department higher-ups. Outside law enforcement specialists have been called in to conduct the investigations.
With bipartisan pressure mounting from lawmakers on Capitol Hill to ensure such claims are investigated and resolved, Secretary of State John F. Kerry weighed in Wednesday, saying he takes the investigative process “very seriously” and that “all employees of this department are held to the highest standards, now and always.”
Mills, who served as chief of staff to Mrs. Clinton as secretary of state, was accused in a recent congressional hearing of attempting to stifle congressional access to Gregory Hicks, who held a senior post in Libya at the time of the attack. At least she is consistent. Ms Mills was the State Dept. Staffer who Hicks said ordered him not to talk to Rep. Jason Chaffetz alone.
She has worked as a Clinton loyalist for more than two decades, first as a lawyer who helped facilitate Mr. Clinton’s transition into the White House after the 1992 election. She was named White House counsel in the Clinton administration and became a key litigator and public face of the defense team during his 1999 impeachment and trial on perjury and obstruction of justice charges related to a sexual-harassment lawsuit.
The IG memo does not only talk about Howard Gutman, the U.S. ambassador to Belgium, and the charge “that the ambassador routinely ditched his protective security detail in order to solicit sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children.” It talks about how Mrs. Mills may have attempted to block an investigation last year into suspected misconduct by Brett McGurk, whom President Obama had nominated to become ambassador to Iraq.
The memo outlines how agents from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s special investigations division had opened an probe into Mr. McGurk, who was working at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad at the time, on suspicion that had been improperly emailing government information with his girlfriend, a Wall Street Journal reporter.
“Some of the information may have been cleared for release, but other information reportedly was not,” states the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times after it was first reported by CBS News.
Investigators “never interviewed McGurk, allegedly because Cheryl Mills from the Secretary’s office interceded,” the memo states. “Email from Mills reportedly shows her agreeing to a particular course of action for the case, but then reneging and advising McGurk to withdraw his name from consideration for the ambassadorship.”
Mr. McGurk withdrew his name from consideration for the post last June.
Initial bad behavior by an Ambassador, potential Ambassador or any federal official is usually not the fault of that person’s supervisor or the head of the department, office, agency, etc. It only becomes the fault of the supervisor when that bad behavior is not corrected and/or is covered up from the American people.
Both in the case of these State Department scandals and Benghazi the evidence seems to show that Cheryl Mills, one of Ms. Clinton’s key aids was in charge of cover-up and clean-up for her boss Hilary Clinton.
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President met with anti-Tea Party IRS union chief the day before agency targeted Tea Party.
“For me, it’s about collaboration.” – National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley on the relationship between the anti-Tea Party IRS union and the Obama White House
Is President Obama directly implicated in the IRS scandal?
Is the White House Visitors Log the trail to the smoking gun?
The stunning questions are raised by the following set of new facts.
March 31, 2010.
According to the White House Visitors Log, provided here in searchable form by U.S. News and World Report, the president of the anti-Tea Party National Treasury Employees Union, Colleen Kelley, visited the White House at 12:30pm that Wednesday noon time of March 31st.
The White House lists the IRS union leader’s visit this way:
Kelley, Colleen Potus 03/31/2010 12:30
In White House language, “POTUS” stands for “President of the United States.”
The very next day after her White House meeting with the President, according to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General’s Report, IRS employees – the same employees who belong to the NTEU – set to work in earnest targeting the Tea Party and conservative groups around America. The IG report wrote it up this way:
April 1-2, 2010: The new Acting Manager, Technical Unit, suggested the need for a Sensitive Case Report on the Tea Party cases. The Determinations Unit Program Manager Agreed.
In short: the very day after the president of the quite publicly anti-Tea Party labor union – the union for IRS employees – met with President Obama, the manager of the IRS “Determinations Unit Program agreed” to open a “Sensitive Case report on the Tea party cases.” As stated by the IG report.
The NTEU is the 150,000 member union that represents IRS employees along with 30 other separate government agencies. Kelley herself is a 14-year IRS veteran agent. The union’s PAC endorsed President Obama in both 2008 and 2012, and gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles to anti-Tea Party candidates.
Putting IRS employees in the position of actively financing anti-Tea Party candidates themselves, while in their official positions in the IRS blocking, auditing, or intimidating Tea Party and conservative groups around the country.
The IG report contained a timeline prepared by examining internal IRS e-mails. The IG report did not examine White House Visitor Logs, e-mails, or phone records relating to the relationship between the IRS union, the IRS, and the White House.
In fact, this record in the White House Visitors Log of a 12:30 Wednesday, March 31, 2010 meeting between President Obama and the IRS union’s Kelley was not unusual.
On yet another occasion, Kelley’s presence at the White House was followed shortly afterwards by the President issuing Executive Order 13522. A presidential directive that gave the anti-Tea Party NTEU – the IRS union – a greater role in the day-to-day operation of the IRS than it had already – which was considerable.
Kelley is recorded as visiting the White House over a year earlier, listed in this fashion:
Kelley, Colleen Potus/Flotus 12/03/2009 18:30
The inclusion of “FLOTUS” – First Lady Michelle Obama – and the 6:30 pm time of the December event on this entry in the Visitors Log indicates this was the White House Christmas Party held that evening and written up here in the Chicago Sun-Times. The Sun-Times focused on party guests from the President’s home state of Illinois and did not mention Kelley. Notably, the Illinois guests, who are reported to have attended the same party as Kelley, included what the paper described as four labor “activists”: Dennis Gannon of the Chicago Federation of Labor, Tom Balanoff of the Service Employees International Union, Henry Tamarin of UNITE, and Ron Powell of the United Food and Commercial Workers.
Six days following Kelley’s attendance at the White House Christmas party with labor activists like herself, the President issued Executive Order 13522 (text found here, with an explanation here). The Executive Order, titled: “Creating Labor-Management Forums To Improve Delivery of Government Services” applied across the federal government and included the IRS. The directive was designed to:
Allow employees and unions to have pre-decisional involvement in all workplace matters…
However else this December 2009 Executive Order can be described, the directive was a serious grant of authority within the IRS to the powerful anti-Tea Party union. A union that by this time already had the clout to determine the rules for IRS employees, right down to who would be allowed a Blackberry or what size office the employee was entitled to. The same union that would shortly be doling out serious 2010 (and later 2012) campaign contributions to anti-Tea Party candidates with money supplied from IRS employees. The union, as noted last week here in this space, already has the authority to decide all manner of IRS matters, right down to who does and does not get a Blackberry.
It is the same union whose IRS employee-members were being urged in 2012 by Senate Democrats (Chuck Schumer, Al Franken, Max Baucus, and others) to target Tea Party and other conservative groups.
Which, as the IG records, they did.
Both Mr. Obama and the NTEU’s Kelley have been by turns evasive and tight-lipped about their roles in the blossoming IRS scandal.
Kelley refused to open up to the Washington Post. In an article titled ”IRS, union mum on employees held accountable in ‘sin’ of political targeting,” the Post quoted the following:
“NTEU is working to get the facts but does not have any specifics at this time. Moreover, IRS employees are not permitted to discuss taxpayer cases. We cannot comment further at this time,” NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley said via e-mail.
A call to the NTEU office in Cincinnati resulted in a similar response: “We’ve been directed by national office. We have no comment.”
The President approached things in a more evasive manner.
Last Thursday at the President’s press conference with the Turkish prime minister, Julianna Goldman of Bloomberg News asked the following question:
“Mr. President, I want to ask you about the IRS. Can you assure the American people that nobody in the White House knew about the agency’s actions before your Counsel’s Office found out on April 22nd? And when they did find out, do you think that you should have learned about it before you learned about it from news reports as you said last Friday? And also, are you opposed to there being a special counsel appointed to lead the Justice Department investigation?”
The President’s response?
“But let me make sure that I answer your specific question. I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the IG report before the IG report had been leaked through the press.”
Take note: Goldman’s question was:
“Can you assure the American people that nobody in the White House knew about the agency’s actions before your Counsel’s Office found out on April 22nd?”
The President evaded by answering:
“I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the IG report…”
The question was not whether he knew about the IG report ahead of time. The question was whether he could “assure the American people that nobody in the White House knew about the agency’s actions.”
In response, the President ducked.
In other words, the IRS union chief went to the White House to meet personally with the president on March 31. The union already had Executive Order 13522 behind it, issued by the President barely three months earlier. An Executive Order directing that the IRS must “allow employees and unions to have pre-decisional involvement in all workplace matters…”.
The very next day after that March 31 meeting at the White House, the IRS, with the union involved in its decision-making, was setting up its “Sensitive Case Report on the Tea Party.”
Which raises the famous question from Watergate: What did the President know and when did he know it?
While potentially explosive now, in fact the Obama Administration hadn’t been in office a month before Kelley was boasting of the IRS union’s influence in the White House.
In a February 15, 2009 interview given to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh is Kelley’s home town), there was this question from the PG reporter, with the now Washington-based Kelley boasting as below:
Q: Has the Obama staff been receptive?
A: Yes. We have worked with the transition team, given them suggestions; and throughout the campaign, President Obama talked about working with the federal employees and unions. He’s recognized the contributions federal employees make. I was just at the White House (Jan. 30) while he was signing some executive orders to undo some things the prior administration did.
“I was just at the White House…”
Which is to say, the election of 2008, in which the union had endorsed Obama, was no sooner over than the head of the IRS union had “worked with the transition team” and “given them suggestions.” Literally ten days after the Obama January 20 inaugural in 2009 – January 30 the article notes – Kelley was boasting that “I was just at the White House while he (the President) was signing some executive orders to undo some things the prior administration did.”
And what did Kelley see as the IRS union’s relationship with the White House she had already visited ten days into the President’s first term?
Kelley responded candidly:
“We are looking for a return to what we used to call partnership. I don’t really care what it’s called. For me, it’s about collaboration.”
Catch those words?
In addition to Kelley’s three visits to see the President – in January of 2009, December of 2009, and March of 2010 – she is listed for three other visits, the contact names those of presidential aides:
“Kelley, Colleen Weiss, Margaret 11/04/2009 10:00”
“Kelley, Colleen Weiss, Margaret 12/01/2009 12:00”
“Kelley, Colleen Nelson, Greg 01/14/2010 13:40”
The obvious question instantly arises with the revelation that Kelley was meeting with the President personally – the day before the IRS kicked into high gear with its “Sensitive Case Report on the Tea Party”.
Were the President of the United States and the President of the NTEU meeting in the White House at 12:30 on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 – and engaged in “collaboration” and “partnership”? A “collaboration” and “partnership” that was all about targeting the Tea Party?
And did that collaboration and partnership result in the IRS letting loose the hounds on the Tea Party and conservative groups – the very next day after the Obama-Kelley meeting?
To add to the administration’s IRS-NTEU woes is the fact that beyond the Inspector General, there is another IRS-connected agency in the Treasury Department: the IRS Oversight Board.
And on that board sits a presidential appointee named Robert M. Tobias. Tobias, oddly, was a Clinton appointee in 2005, confirmed by the Senate for a five-year term. He is still there. He is the longtime NTEU general counsel and Kelley’s predecessor as the union president. Here’s the statement, from the IRS Oversight Board, on all of this. It is headed:
IRS Oversight Board Deeply Troubled by Breakdown in IRS Process in Reviewing Tax-Exempt Applications.
There was no reference to the influence of the anti-Tea Party NTEU in the statement. Why would there be when the union’s ex-president sits on the Oversight Board itself?
Obama’s problem here is considerable.
By not forthrightly answering Goldman’s question, he seems to be evading the issue in the manner that brought so much trouble in the form of congressional investigations, special prosecutors, and impeachment threats to Presidents Nixon and Clinton, with Nixon being forced to resign the presidency and Clinton brought to a Senate trial.
The President’s too-clever-by half evasion added to Kelley’s silence leaves open the question of whether the union and the White House, not to mention the IRS Oversight Board, are collaborating – collaborating right now – on a cover-up.
Nixon looked the American people in the television eye and flatly lied about his personal involvement in the Watergate scandal, lies that came from a frantic attempt to conduct a cover-up.
Clinton looked the American people in the eye and famously wagged his finger as he lied that he “did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.” In Clinton’s case this extended to lying to a federal grand jury.
For a good long while, the American people in fact believed both Nixon and Clinton. The stories are now legion of Nixon cabinet and staff believing their man, and Clinton’s cabinet and staff believing their man’s protestations of innocence as well.
Finally, in both cases, the truth was out.
As Washington and the country have long since twice-learned the hard way, the parsing of presidential words in cases like this, not to mention looking into the cameras and boldly lying on the prayer of getting away with the lie, always bodes ill for presidents. It leads inevitably to that simple question famously uttered by then-Tennessee GOP Senator Howard Baker and posed of Nixon at the Senate Watergate hearings: “What did the President know and when did he know it?”
Twice in recent American history the answer to this question, once for Nixon and once for Clinton, has landed popular, powerful presidents in impeachment hot water. Ending Republican Nixon’s presidency altogether and coming close to doing the same with Democrat Clinton. Leaving the legacy of each permanently scarred.
The notion that the players in the IRS scandal did what they did to get past the 2012 election will only add to an Obama presidential reputation as borrowing the Nixon playbook on skirting scandal in a presidential election year.
Ironically re-casting the image of America’s first black president as the black Nixon.
With the examples of how Nixon and Clinton dodged, evaded, and lied, Obama’s non-answer to Juliana Goldman’s question at last week’s press conference comes in for much more scrutiny. Matched to the silence of Kelley it begins raising obvious questions. Such as:
• Did the President himself ever discuss the Tea Party with Kelley?
• Did the President ever communicate his thoughts on the Tea Party to Kelley — in any fashion other than a face-to-face conversation such as e-mail, text, or by phone?
• What was the subject of the Obama-Kelley March 31, 2010 meeting?
• Who was present at the Obama-Kelley March 31 meeting?
• Was the Tea Party or any other group opposing the President’s agenda discussed at the March 31 meeting, or before or after that meeting?
• Is the White House going to release any e-mails, text, or phone records that detail Kelley’s contacts with not only Mr. Obama but his staff?
• Will the IRS release all e-mail, text, or phone records between Kelley or any other leader of the NTEU with IRS employees?
• What role did Executive Order 13522 play in the IRS investigations of the Tea Party and all these other conservative groups?
Doubtless there are others, considerable others and the list of questions will grow.
Not to be lost sight of here is the role of the NTEU in raising money for Democrats in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles – the exact period when the IRS was busy going after the Tea Party and the others to curb any possible influence the groups could have in the elections of 2010 and 2012.
The NTEU, through its political action committee, raised $613,633 in the 2010 cycle, giving 98% of its contributions to anti-Tea Party Democrats. In 2012 the figure was $729,708, with 94% going to anti-Tea Party candidates. One NTEU candidate after another, as discussed last week in this space, campaigned vigorously against the Tea Party.
So the motivations here – defeating the Tea Party in 2010, and failing at that, making sure that the news of the metastasizing cancer in the IRS was kept quiet until after the 2012 presidential election was over – are clear.
What is particularly interesting here are the automatic assumptions of the mainstream media in all of this.
Like this “given” from the Washington Post’s Dan Balz, bold print added for emphasis.
The most corrosive of the controversies is what happened at the IRS, which singled out tea party and other conservative groups for special scrutiny in their applications for tax-exempt status. That Obama knew nothing about it does little to quell concerns that one of the most-feared units in government was operating out of control.
But if in fact the President did know about it?
Here’s the Washington Post’s “Journolist” Ezra Klein:
The crucial ingredient for a scandal is the prospect of high-level White House involvement and wide political repercussions…
If new information emerges showing a connection between the Determination Unit’s decisions and the Obama campaign, or the Obama administration, it would crack this White House wide open. That would be a genuine scandal. But the IG report says that there’s no evidence of that. And so it’s hard to see where this one goes from here.
Which is why it will be a curious sight indeed to see the efforts the media will go to ignore/dismiss the tight, on-the-record connection between the President personally and a vociferously anti-Tea Party union. A union that has the literal run of the IRS – and whose union chief is recorded as having met with the President in the White House the day before the IRS launched “a Sensitive Case Report on the Tea Party cases.” A decision with which, according to the IG report: “The Determinations Unit Program Manager Agreed.” Check those words from Mr. Klein again:
If new information emerges showing a connection between the Determination Unit’s decisions and the Obama campaign, or the Obama administration, it would crack this White House wide open. That would be a genuine scandal.
The question now is a simple one.
In 1974, “the smoking gun” was a tape recording that ended the Nixon presidency.
In 1998, the smoking gun was a blue dress – and it almost undid Bill Clinton’s White House.
Now the all-too-familiar pattern of scandal and its day-by-day drip-drip-drip nature has begun to set in. Newsmax is now quoting Washington attorney and conservative activist Cleta Mitchell as saying:
“There were nearly 100 groups across the country that got the very egregious set of letters from the IRS that were almost identical and they came from offices all over the country, so I know of at least 85 to 90, maybe more, organizations.”
Regular American all over the country are coming forward with their stories. Understanding the relationship between the Obama White House and the IRS union will be a must for congressional investigators.
President Obama is coming perilously closer to becoming the new Nixon. The next Bill Clinton.
And once again, as news of exactly what a president was doing in the Oval Office on a particular day and time goes public, yet again the old question becomes new.
What did the President know? And when did he know it?
The IRS scandal keeps getting closer and closer to the top of the White House food chain as Obama officials desperately try to spin their way out of mounting evidence and foul play. The Wall Street Journal is reporting President Obama’s top attorney knew about the IRS targeting weeks ago before news broke, but of course, Obama still didn’t know about it until he learned about it “from the news.”
The White House’s chief lawyer learned weeks ago that an audit of the Internal Revenue Service likely would show that agency employees inappropriately targeted conservative groups, a senior White House official said Sunday.
That disclosure has prompted a debate over whether the president should have been notified at that time.
In the week of April 22, the Office of the White House Counsel and its head, Kathryn Ruemmler, were told by Treasury Department attorneys that an inspector general’s report was nearing completion, the White House official said. In that conversation, Ms. Ruemmler learned that “a small number of line IRS employees had improperly scrutinized certain…organizations by using words like ‘tea party’ and ‘patriot,’ ” the official said.
President Barack Obama said last week he learned about the controversy at the same time as the public, on May 10, when an IRS official revealed it to a conference of lawyers.
The main question since this whole thing broke on May 10th is whether President Obama ordered the targeting, knew of targeting, or encouraged the targeting through his statements. Did this thing come from the top? Kim Strassel says of course it did.
Was the White House involved in the IRS’s targeting of conservatives? No investigation needed to answer that one. Of course it was.
President Obama and Co. are in full deniability mode, noting that the IRS is an “independent” agency and that they knew nothing about its abuse. The media and Congress are sleuthing for some hint that Mr. Obama picked up the phone and sicced the tax dogs on his enemies.
But that’s not how things work in post-Watergate Washington. Mr. Obama didn’t need to pick up the phone. All he needed to do was exactly what he did do, in full view, for three years: Publicly suggest that conservative political groups were engaged in nefarious deeds; publicly call out by name political opponents whom he’d like to see harassed; and publicly have his party pressure the IRS to take action.
Mr. Obama now professes shock and outrage that bureaucrats at the IRS did exactly what the president of the United States said was the right and honorable thing to do. “He put a target on our backs, and he’s now going to blame the people who are shooting at us?” asks Idaho businessman and longtime Republican donor Frank VanderSloot.
In the days since the Internal Revenue Service first disclosed that it had targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, new information has emerged from both the Treasury Inspector General’s report and congressional testimony Friday that calls into question key statements made by Lois G. Lerner, the IRS’s director of the exempt organizations division.
The clumsy way the IRS disclosed the issue as well as Lerner’s press briefing by phone were seen at the time as a public relations disaster. But even so, it is worth reviewing three key statements made by Lerner and comparing them to the facts that have since emerged.
“But between 2010 and 2012 we started seeing a very big uptick in the number of 501(c)(4) applications we were receiving and many of these organizations applying more than doubled, about 1500 in 2010 and over 3400 in 2012.”
Lerner made this comment while issuing a seemingly impromptu apology at an American Bar Association panel (it was later learned that this was a planted question – more on that below.) In her telling, the tax-exempt branch was simply overwhelmed by applications and so unfortunate shortcuts were taken.
But this claim of “more than doubled” appears to be a red herring. The targeting of groups began in early 2010, after the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizen’s United was announced on Jan. 21. The ruling paved the way for political groups to apply under a tax-exempt status known as 501(c)4. Most charities apply under 501(c)3, but under 501(c)4 nonprofit groups that engage in “social welfare” can also perform a limited amount of election activity.
At first glance, the Inspector General’s report appears to show that the number of 501(c)(4) applications actually went down that year, from 1,751 in 2009 to 1,735.
But it turns out that these are federal fiscal-year figures, meaning “2010” is actually Oct. 1, 2009 to Sept. 30, 2010, so the “2010” year includes more than three months before the Supreme Court decision was announced.
Astonishingly, despite Lerner’s public claim, an IRS spokeswoman was not able to provide the actual calendar year numbers. By allocating one-quarter of the fiscal year numbers to the prior year, we can get a very rough sense of the increase on a calendar-year basis.(Figures are rounded to avoid false precision; 2012 is not possible to calculate)
In other words, while there was an increase in 2010, it was relatively small. The real jump did not come until 2011, long after the targeting of conservative groups had been implemented. Also, it appears Lerner significantly understated the number of applications in 2010 (“1500”) in order to make her claim of “more than doubled.”
“I think you guys were reading the paper as much as I was. So it was pretty much we started seeing information in the press that raised questions for us and we went back and took a look.”
Here, Lerner suggests that she only found out about this issue when news reports appeared in February and March 2012 about tea party groups complaining that they were being targeted. But the IG timeline shows this claim to be false.
According the IG, Lerner had a briefing on the issue on June 29, 2011, in which she was told about the BOLO (“Be On the Look Out”) criteria that included phrases such as “Tea Party” or “Patriots.” The report says she raised concerns about the wording and “instructed that the criteria be immediately revised.” She continued to be heavily involved in the issue in the months preceding the new reports, according to the timeline.
“I don’t believe anyone ever asked me that question before.”
This was Lerner’s excuse during the media call for why she had not publicly addressed the issue before.
But in congressional testimony Friday, former acting director Steven T. Miller said he had discussed with Lerner about arranging to make a statement at a May 10 conference sponsored by the American Bar Association, knowing that the IG report would soon be released.
Lerner then contacted a friend, Celia Roady, a tax attorney with the Washington firm Morgan Lewis, to ask a question about the targeting, according to a statement by Roady on Friday. (Roady had previously denied this was a planted question when asked directly by participants at the meeting.)
So Lerner was dissembling when she suggested that a simple well-aimed question prompted the disclosure.
In fact, just two days before the ABA conference, Lerner appeared before Congress and was asked about the status of investigations into 501(c)(4) companies by Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.). She provided a bland answer about a questionnaire on the IRS Web site, failing to take the opportunity to disclose the results of the probe. (The clip is embedded below, with the question coming at 5:09.) Small wonder that Crowley is now calling for her to resign, saying that Lerner lied to him.
We gave the IRS the weekend to provide a response. A spokeswoman said they were not able to offer an explanation for Lerner’s remarks in time for our deadline.
The Pinocchio Test
In some ways, this is just scratching the surface of Lerner’s misstatements and weasely wording when the revelations about the IRS’s activities first came to light on May 10. But, taken together, it’s certainly enough to earn her four Pinocchios.
In what former Republican executive and activist Dylan Nonaka is calling a massive invasion of privacy that suggests a coordinated effort to target conservative groups, two IRS offices last year independently and simultaneously conducted costly audits and sought tea party-related training materials that they apparently believed could be tied to Nonaka.
Nonaka, who is the former executive director of the Hawaii Republican Party and a faculty member of the Arlington, Va.-based conservative activist training organization the Leadership Institute, is little-known outside of Hawaii. So when the now-infamous Cincinnati IRS office in 2012 demanded that the Hawaii Tea Party explain its “relationship with Dylan Nonaka” and the Leadership Institute, and “provide copies of the training material used by Dylan Nonaka” – all almost at the same time that the Baltimore IRS office separately began auditing the Leadership Institute and requesting its training materials – it wasn’t long before Nonaka became suspicious.
“It’s a little bit scary,” Nonaka told The Daily Caller, adding that the apparent coordination made it extremely unlikely that only two IRS officials were primarily behind the agency’s efforts to target conservative groups, as the IRS has claimed.
“To say that these were are a couple of rogue IRS agents, there’s just no way,” Nonaka said. “They obviously had to have done research into the state of Hawaii.”
BELOW – Four of the IRS’ questions for the Hawaii Tea Party. (Read the full request here)
The Hawaii Tea Party, based in Maui, was audited in 2011. But despite the IRS’ inquiries, Nonaka said he had only limited interaction with the group.
“I think I did one training with [the Hawaii Tea Party] through the Leadership Institute, when the Leadership Institute came to Hawaii,” Nonaka told TheDC.”I was never a member of the Hawaii Tea Party. I was never involved with them.”
Meanwhile, also in 2011, the Leadership Institute was under the IRS’ microscope.
“Our audit began June 1, 2011,” Leadership Institute spokeswoman Abigail Alger told TheDC. “We were asked for additional documentation in February 2012″ – just 19 days after the Hawaii Tea Party was asked for additional information.
“The Baltimore office asked for copies of our training material,” Alger said. “The questions ranged from turning over the content of our 2008 training materials, to giving them all the information on our 2008 interns. These were just college kids, but they asked who our 2008 interns went on to work for.”
“In May, the IRS had an internal workshop. Our audit was closed July of that year, with no evidence of wrongdoing,” Alger said. “By that point, we had spent $50,000 in legal fees.”
The Hawaii Tea Party was also cleared of wrongdoing by the Cincinnati office.
“It’s a pretty big invasion of privacy,” Nonaka said.
An Internal Revenue Service watchdog testified Friday that he told Obama administration officials in June that he was looking into allegations the IRS targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status.
The revelation by Inspector General Russell George came at the first congressional hearing on the IRS misconduct, which has generated a political firestorm since it was disclosed a week ago.
George’s testimony represented the first evidence that officials in the Obama administration knew of the allegations as long as a year ago, during the presidential campaign.
Appearing Friday before the House Ways and Means Committee, George said he told the Treasury Department’s general counsel of his investigation on June 4, in a routine briefing of what his office was working on.
George said he did not disclose that he had concluded the targeting was improper.
But his testimony that knowledge of the allegations was not limited to the IRS is likely to fuel efforts by Republicans to link the scandal to the White House and congressional Democrats.
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said Friday that he was briefed in March that an investigation was underway of IRS screening of conservative groups – though he didn’t learn the substance of the findings until last week.
In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Lew said he had “a getting-to-know-you conversation” with George in mid-March, a couple of weeks after he was sworn in as treasury secretary, and the investigation “was one of the things he briefed me was ongoing.”
“I didn’t know any of the details of it until last Friday,” Lew said.
Lew also disclosed that he has ordered Danny Werfel, whom President Obama named Thursday to take over as acting IRS commissioner, to come up with an action plan within 30 days to address the handling of applications for tax-exempt status.
Obama also has said he first learned of the matter last Friday – when a Treasury Department official, Lois Lerner, revealed during an American Bar Association conference that IRS workers in a Cincinnati office had subjected groups with “Tea Party” or “patriots” in their names for extra scrutiny to determine if they should be tax exempt.
During yesterday’s testimony, Steven Miller, who was forced to resign this week week as the IRS acting commissioner, revealed that Lerner made her disclosure in response to a planted question at the bar association conference.
“We talked about what would be said and how we might do it,” he said.
The revelation irked lawmakers already angry the IRS never told them it had been improperly targeting conservative groups, despite numerous inquiries by members of Congress.
Reps. Joe Crowley (D-Queens) and Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) demanded Lerner resign or be fired.
During a House Ways and Means Committee hearing today, Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., grilled outgoing IRS commissioner Steven Miller about the IRS targeting a pro-life group in Iowa.
“Their question, specifically asked from the IRS to the Coalition for Life of Iowa: ‘Please detail the content of the members of your organization’s prayers,’” Schock declared.
“Would that be an inappropriate question to a 501 c3 applicant?” asked Schock. “The content of one’s prayers?”
“It pains me to say I can’t speak to that one either,” Miller replied.
After Schock pressed him further, Miller explained that although he couldn’t comment on the specific case, it would “surprise him” if that question was asked.
The report comes from the Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm for religious liberty.
From their report:
Coalition for Life of Iowa found itself in the IRS’s crosshairs when the group applied for tax exempt status in October 2008. Nearly ten months of interrogation about the group’s opposition to Planned Parenthood included a demand by a Ms. Richards from the IRS’ Cincinnati office unlawfully insisted that all board members sign a sworn declaration promising not to picket/protest Planned Parenthood. Further questioning by the IRS requested detailed information about the content of the group’s prayer meetings, educational seminars, and signs their members hold outside Planned Parenthood.
No kidding, you mean it wasn’t done for “efficiency”?
In House testimony Friday, former Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller explained that the IRS mistakes in handling applications for non-profit status from tea party groups were due, in large part, to a flood of applications following the Citizens United decision. Miller said the targeting was a botched attempt to centralize the process to account for the increased workload. There were fewer applications in 2010, when the IRS began targeting conservative groups, than the year before, however.
In 2009, before IRS began targeting tea party organizations, 1,751 groups applied for 501 (c)4 status. That number dropped in 2010 to 1,735. In fact, applications were down across all areas in the Tax Exempt division’s jurisdiction. So, they had more staff available for processing. While the number of applications did increase in 2011 and 2012, there was no increase in applications when the IRS began isolating tea party groups.
Moreover, the IRS reportedly abandoned the targeting in early 2012. It presumably had little trouble handling the increased number of applicants in advance of the 2012 election.
For whatever reason the IRS chose to target tea party organizations for special scrutiny, it wasn’t due to a flood of new applications.
IT GETS WORSE!
The Obama IRS demanded that several Tea Party groups provide back-end access to their websites.
And, from reliable sources: This happened to several Tea Party groups!
The source has this in writing. It states they wanted access to everything the members had access to, which would be chats, email, contact information, etc. The group raised less than $600. She was targeted as early as October 2010.
Central Texas 912 President, Maria Acosta joined Kristina Ribali from FreedomWorks to discuss being singled out by the Feds.
The IRS asked for back-end access to the group’s website.
And this is a tax question?
Here is the latest creepy story of IRS harassment and abuse.
UPDATE: The IRS also demanded the Richmond Tea Party in Virginia to provide access to the back-end of their website.
The Internal Revenue Service on Friday issued a statement to ProPublica saying that the agency’s release of pending confidential tax-exempt applications from conservative groups last year had been found to be “inadvertent and unintentional disclosures by the employees involved.”
In the statement, the IRS said the cases had been referred to and reviewed by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
“When these two issues were previously raised concerning the potential unauthorized disclosures of 501(c)(4) application information, we immediately referred these cases to TIGTA [Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration] for a comprehensive review,” the statement said. “In both instances, TIGTA found these instances to be inadvertent and unintentional disclosures by the employees involved.”
This is not my country. The Chicago thugocracy we have in the White House is every bit what Michelle Malkin has always said it was, using government to target and oppress political ‘enemies’.
In this segment, Frank Vandersloot tells BillO that after he gave Romney one million to help his campaign, he was then targeted by the Obama campaign on their official website along with seven others. Shortly after that he received a letter from the IRS saying he would be audited. And then on top of that, he also had the Labor Dept. come calling because they wanted to look at his books.
He tells BillO his story:
The IRS not only targeted conservative Tea Party groups and Jews… They also targeted conservative groups that taught the US Constitution.
The Washington Post reported:
At various points over the past two years, Internal Revenue Service officials targeted nonprofit groups that criticized the government and sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution, according to documents in an audit conducted by the agency’s inspector general.
The documents, obtained by The Washington Post from a congressional aide with knowledge of the findings, show that on June 29, 2011, IRS staffers held a briefing with senior agency official Lois G. Lerner in which they described giving special attention to instances where “statements in the case file criticize how the country is being run.” Lerner, who oversees tax-exempt groups for the agency, raised objections and the agency revised its criteria a week later.
But six months later, the IRS applied a new political test to groups that applied for tax-exempt status as “social welfare” groups, the document says. On Jan. 15, 2012 the agency decided to target “political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform movement.,” according to the appendix in the IG report, which was requested by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and has yet to be released.
The new revelations are likely to intensify criticism of the IRS, which has been under fire since agency officials acknowledged they had deliberately targeted groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their name for heightened scrutiny.
Read the rest here.
More… (From previous post) The IRS has some explaining to do.
Beyond Political posted this earlier:
This cannot possibly be. As someone who has gone through IRS certification (due to the off chance we may encounter taxpayer data during investigations), I can attest for the extensive rigor and controls that prevent such low level activities. For instance, the mere act of someone pulling up a neighbor’s tax data would set off numerous alarms; investigation and prosecution would be inevitable. Cases are distributed in a manner that a low-level worker would not have access to all “tea party” and “patriot” filings.
This means one of two things. Either ALL low-level employees in the IRS are operating in collusion, conspiring to attack all citizens of a particular political orientation (which would be necessary to cause low level employees randomly assigned and supervised with such extensive controls to consistently flag and punish people of that political interest), or senior level IRS employees who are able to pull up files of a particular interest (“patriot” “tea party”) were involved. Furthermore, if it was low-level employees, they would be investigated and disciplined as a matter of routine process. Only senior level IRS executives are able to bypass those controls.
And that IRS spokespersons are lying suggests how far up the conspiracy goes. I’m rather confident that a competent investigation would show White House political appointees had directed these actions, in collusion with senior level IRS officials. Nobody down below would be able to have such a broad reach and get by without being terminated and criminally prosecuted.
“There is little question that one or more employees at the IRS stole our confidential tax return and leaked it to our political enemies, in violation of federal law.” – Brian Brown, NOM president -
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today renewed its demand that the Internal Revenue Service reveal the identity of the employee or employees responsible for stealing the organization’s confidential Form 990 tax return and leaking it to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). At the time of the theft, the HRC had long-sought to know the identity of NOM’s major donors and its chief executive was a co-chair of President Obama’s reelection campaign. The Form 990 that was leaked to the HRC contained the identity of numerous major donors to the organization.
“There is little question that one or more employees at the IRS stole our confidential tax return and leaked it to our political enemies, in violation of federal law,” said Brian Brown, NOM’s president. “The only questions are who did it, and whether there was any knowledge or coordination between people in the White House, the Obama reelection campaign and the Human Rights Campaign. We and the American people deserve answers.”
In March 2012 the Human Rights Campaign and the Huffington Post published NOM’s Form 990 Schedule B from 2008 containing the identity of dozens of donors. The HRC claimed the tax return was provided by a ‘whistleblower.’ For months previous to the publication, the HRC had been demanding that NOM publicly release this confidential information even though federal law protects the identity of contributors to nonprofit groups. The publication of NOM’s tax return occurred just a few months after Joseph Solmonese, then president of the HRC, was appointed a national co-chair of the Obama reelection campaign. An analysis of the published documents shows that they could only have originated with the IRS.
“We’ve seen in recent days an admission that the IRS intentionally targeted conservative groups for harassment and scrutiny,” Brown said, “but what NOM has experienced suggests that problems at the IRS are potentially far more serious than even these latest revelations reveal.”
Following publication of NOM’s confidential tax return and a complaint to the IRS, investigators with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) interviewed NOM officials about the theft. Nothing has come of the investigation if there is indeed one, and the agency has refused to answer any questions about the status of its examination.
Brown concluded, “No group should ever be subjected to the IRS leaking its confidential tax return to its political enemies. But when the recipient of the stolen information is a group headed by a co-chair of the President’s reelection campaign, serious concerns arise. We have no way of knowing if people within the White House, the Obama reelection campaign or the HRC had any role in the crime, but we call on the Congress to investigate. So far, we’ve heard nothing from the federal government even though they’ve had all the facts for over a year.”
To schedule an interview with Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage, please contact Elizabeth Ray (x130), email@example.com, or Jennifer Campbell firstname.lastname@example.org, at 703-683-5004.
Paid for by The National Organization for Marriage, Brian Brown, president. 2029 K Street NW, Suite 300 Washington, DC 20006, not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. New § 68A.405(1)(f) & (h).
Background: On March 30, 2012, the Huffington Post published NOM’s confidential 2008 tax return filed with the IRS, which it said came from the Human Rights Campaign. The HRC has said on its own site the documents came from a “whistleblower.” However, NOM has determined that the documents came directly from the Internal Revenue Service.
The document above is as it appeared when published by the Huffington Post. However, that document was modified in a failed attempt to obscure its source. There is a label visibly obscuring a portion of each page, and it was determined that information on the top of each page was also obscured in the version posted on the Huffington Post.
After software removed the layers obscuring the document, it is shown that the document came from the Internal Revenue Service. The top of each page says, “”THIS IS A COPY OF A LIVE RETURN FROM SMIPS. OFFICIAL USE ONLY.” On each page of the return is stamped a document ID of “100560209.” Only the IRS would have the Form 990 with “Official Use” information.
Just months after being slimed by President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, Mitt Romney supporter and businessman Frank VanderSloot was informed that he was going to be audited not only by the Internal Revenue Service, but by the Labor Department as well.
VanderSloot’s saga was told by columnist Kimberley Strassel in the Wall Street Journal last July.
In April 2012, VanderSloot, who served as the national co-chair of Mitt Romney’s presidential finance committee, was one of eight Romney backers to be defamed as ”wealthy individuals with less-than-reputable records” in a post on the Obama campaign’s website. The post, entitled “Behind the curtain: a brief history of Romney’s donors,” singled out VanderSloot for being a ”litigious, combative and a bitter foe of the gay rights movement.”
Two months later, the IRS informed VanderSloot he and his wife were going to be audited, Strassel reported. Two weeks after that, VanderSloot was notified by the Labor Department that it was going to “audit workers he employs on his Idaho-based cattle ranch under the federal visa program for temporary agriculture workers,” reported Strassel.
“The H-2A program allows tens of thousands of temporary workers in the U.S.; Mr. VanderSloot employs precisely three,” Strassel wrote. “All are from Mexico and have worked on the VanderSloot ranch—which employs about 20 people—for five years. Two are brothers. Mr. VanderSloot has never been audited for this, though two years ago his workers’ ranch homes were inspected. (The ranch was fined $8,400, mainly for too many ‘flies’ and for ‘grease build-up’ on the stove. God forbid a cattle ranch home has flies.)”
“This letter requests an array of documents to ascertain whether Mr. VanderSloot’s ‘foreign workers are provided the full scope of protections’ under the visa program: information on the hours they’ve worked each day and their rate of pay, an explanation of their deductions, copies of contracts,” she continued.
In her column, Strassel raised the specter that the IRS targeted VanderSloot for his political activism.
“Did Mr. Obama pick up the phone and order the screws put to Mr. VanderSloot?” she asked. “Or—more likely—did a pro-Obama appointee or political hire or career staffer see that the boss had an issue with this donor, and decide to do the president an unasked-for election favor? Or did he or she simply think this was a duty, given that the president had declared Mr. VanderSloot and fellow donors ‘less than reputable’?”
VanderSloot’s tale is more relevant in light of the admission Friday by IRS official Lois Lerner that the agency gave extra scrutiny to non-profit tea party groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their name that applied for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code. While Lerner said the agency’s actions were inappropriate, she claimed it was not the result of political bias.
However, a forthcoming report by the IRS inspector general will say that the agency went beyond what Lerner admitted to on Friday by targeting groups which criticized “how the country is being run,” the Washington Post, which got an advanced copy of part of the internal audit, reported Sunday.
Though that practice was soon halted, just months later, in January 2012, groups that applied for tax exempt status which described themselves as “political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform movement” were again subjected to special scrutiny.
On Friday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was among the congressional leaders who called for an investigation into what went on at the IRS.
“The IRS cannot target or intimidate any individual or organization based on their political beliefs,” he said in a statement. “The House will investigate this matter.”
The White House also voiced support for an investigation.
“The president would expect that it would be investigated,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said at the Friday’s press briefing.
While non-profit groups were targeted by the IRS, no hard evidence has yet emerged to show that individuals like VanderSloot were targeted for their political leanings.
New evidence has now arisen that the IRS under President Obama, which admitted, then half-denied this week that it was targeting conservative non-profit groups, has been targeting Jewish organizations in a virulent manner. An IRS agent admitted that some Israel-related organizations’ applications have been assigned to “a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.”
What does that mean? It means that the Obama administration is going after organizations that support the existence of the state of Israel; one Jewish organization that was not even focused on Israel was required to state “whether [it] supports the existence of the land of Israel,” and also to “[d]escribe [its] religious belief system toward the land of Israel.”
Z STREET, a staunch defender of Israel, had filed a lawsuit against the IRS, saying that an IRS agent told them that their attempt to secure tax-exempt status would be looked over more than usual because it was “connected to Israel.”
Lois Lerner, of the IRS, has already admitted that the IRS had improperly targeted groups with “Tea Party” and “patriot” in their names but said it wasn’t politically motivated, because “That is not how we do things.”
The Obama Administration apparently hates Israel enough to harass and intimidate those who support the Jewish state. So much for the contention of liberal Jews that the Obama administration is a friend to the State of Israel.
The House Ways and Means Committee wants to know when the White House first knew that the Internal Revenue Service was targeting groups for heightened scrutiny for their political views, including groups that used the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications for tax exempt status, or that sought to educate people about the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has provided a timeline to congressional staff that indicates that in the 2010 election year the Internal Revenue Service instructed officials in its “Determinations Unit” to “be on the lookout for” organizations applying for tax exempt status that used the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications.
By January 2012, at the beginning of a presidential election year, according to the timeline, the IRS broadened its “be on the lookout order” to target groups that were involved in educating people on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Now the Ways and Means Committee, which is investigating the matter, has publicly posed what it calls ‘The Top 10 Questions for the IRS.” These include: When did the White House know?
“The IRS absolutely must be non-partisan in its enforcement of our tax laws. The admission by the agency that it targeted American taxpayers based on politics is both shocking and disappointing,” said Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R.-Mich.). “The Committee on Ways and Means will thoroughly investigate this matter and will soon hold a hearing to get to the bottom of this situation. We will hold the IRS accountable for its actions.”
Here are the committee’s questions:
What did the IRS know and when? The Top 10 questions for the IRS
1. Beginning with an inquiry in June 2011, the House Ways and Means Committee has repeatedly asked the IRS for verification about whether or not it was targeting groups based on their political philosophies. On repeated occasions, including at a March 2012 Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee hearing, the IRS explicitly denied such activities had occurred. Now, widespread media reports confirm that the agency learned of these practices just three weeks after the Committee made its initial inquiry related to these groups – nearly 2 years ago. How many times did the IRS lie to Congress about this issue?
2. What words were used in the targeting campaign? We know “tea party,” “patriots” and “conservative” were used.
3. We know words targeting conservative-leaning organizations were used. What about words like “progressive” or “green”? What proof, if any, has IRS provided to demonstrate this was not a politically motivated act? Were any personnel ever directed to delay processing of certain 501(c )(4) applications until after the election?
4. When was the IRS Commissioner informed? When were the White House and Treasury made aware that groups were being targeted based on their political philosophies? How did the White House and Treasury respond when they were made aware that conservative groups were being targeted?
5. When the IRS Commissioner was made aware of these unlawful practices, what steps were taken, if any, to halt the harassment of conservative organizations? Who was disciplined regarding these practices, if anyone?
6. Who were the employees that made these decisions, and what guidance were they provided with from Washington, if any, to pursue their work in this manner? Who are these employees? Were these political appointees? Were they hired through the process established by the Ramspeck Act (where some, including staff whose Members have lost or retired, receive placement assistance in an agency setting)?
7. It is clear from the TIGTA timeline that IRS was targeting those with conservative political philosophies as early as 2010. It is well documented that active Congressional investigations were going on pertaining to this subject – why wasn’t Congress immediately notified when IRS became aware that groups were, in fact, actively being targeted?
8. How widespread was the campaign to target conservative groups? We’ve heard about Ohio, a longtime bellwether state in political elections. What has IRS done, if anything, to identify whether this practice of targeting specific groups was occurring in IRS offices in other states?
9. Why is IRS apologizing now? IRS waited until well after the 2012 election cycle to issue a public apology for targeting these groups, but never informed Congress of its intent to do so, despite ongoing investigations. Why didn’t they inform Congress of their intent to do so?
10. What steps, if any, has IRS taken to ensure that the targeting of individuals and organizations does not occur in the future?
As the House Oversight Committee hears from witnesses presenting a chronological timeline that starkly contrasts with initial statements by the Obama administration on the Benghazi attacks, it is instructive to recall how the administration spent $70,000 in taxpayer funds on an ad denouncing an anti-Muhammad film.
The ad aired on Pakistani television amid White House claims that the Benghazi attacks were caused by popular protests against an obscure Muhammad film released on YouTube.
It would later emerge that no such protests took place and that the Obama administration almost immediately had evidence the Benghazi attacks were carried out by jihadists.
The ads reportedly aired on seven Pakistani networks. They also came in response to protests in Pakistan that were reportedly a reaction to the film. However, it was the claim of popular protests in Benghazi at the time that garnered the biggest public reaction from the White House.
The Sept. 19, 2012, ads feature Obama and Clinton making statements against the film in the wake of the Benghazi attacks, which transpired one week prior.
“Since our founding, the United States has been a nation of respect, that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” Obama says in the ad, which is stamped “paid content.”
Clinton then denies any official U.S. involvement in producing the “Innocence of Muslims” video.
“We absolutely reject its contents,” she says.
The Obama administration blamed the YouTube video for what it claimed were popular protests that engulfed the Benghazi mission.
On Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, three days before the ads were released, United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on five morning television programs to discuss the White House response to the Benghazi attacks. In nearly identical statements, she asserted that the attacks were a spontaneous protest in response to a “hateful video.”
Rice’s spot on “Face the Nation” was preceded by the new president of Libya, Mohammed al-Magariaf, who said his government had “no doubt that this was pre-planned, predetermined.”
Still, other Obama administration officials made similar claims about the film being behind the Benghazi attacks.
Scores of news reports, video and intelligence evidence that was immediately available to the government had demonstrated there were no popular protests outside the Benghazi facility and that the attacks were carried out by jihadists.
The claims about the anti-Muhammad film being behind the Benghazi attacks are also now called into question by a top State Department official who said he knew immediately the attacks were terror strikes, not a protest turned violent, according to interview transcripts released Sunday.
“I thought it was a terrorist attack from the get-go,” said Greg Hicks, a 22-year foreign service diplomat who was the No. 2 U.S. official in Libya at the time of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks. “I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning.”
According to Hicks, “everybody in the mission” believed it was an act of terror “from the get-go.”
Reacting to Rice’s television interviews blaming the anti-Muhammad film, Hicks stated, “I’ve never been as embarrassed in my life, in my career, as on that day.”
In testimony yesterday, Hicks said he was “stunned,” his “jaw dropped” and he was “embarrassed” when Rice blamed the terror attack on an Internet video.
“The YouTube video was a non-event in Libya,” he stated.