H/T Weasel Zippers
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.
• State Department Leaking False Information To Smear Whistleblower Gregory Hicks
• Ex-Diplomats: Stevens’ Benghazi Mission Was To Buy Back Missiles Issued To Terrorists By State Department
• Benghazi Bombshell: CIA Warned Of Impending Jihadist Attack
• White House: ‘Irrelevant Fact’ Where Obama Was During Benghazi
• President Asshat Caught In Yet Another Benghazi-gate Lie
• Benghazi’s Smoking Guns (Jonah Goldberg)
• Washington Post Factchecker Destroys Obama’s Claim He Called Libya ‘Terrorism’
• Ben Rhodes: Obama’s Fixer Behind The Benghazi Cover-Up
• Geraldo: My Sources Tell Me They Were In Benghazi To Round Up Missiles To Send To Syrian Rebels Via Turkey
• *VIDEO* Judge Jeanine Pirro Verbally Bitchslaps Obama Regime Over Benghazi Lies
• The Benghazi Scandal Grows (Stephen Hayes)
• Top GOP Senator Says Obama Could Be Impeached Over ‘Most Egregious Cover-Up In American History’
• Top Obama Official’s Brother Is President Of CBS News, May Drop Reporter Over Benghazi Coverage
• *VIDEO* Benghazi Calling – By Edward L. Daley
• House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman: More Benghazi Hearings Coming
• Benghazi Talking Points Changed 12 Times By Obama Regime, Scrubbed Of Terror References
• Blow-By-Blow: How Obama & Hillary Left Americans To Die (Arnold Ahlert)
• *AUDIO* Mark Levin Berates Obama Lackeys In The News Media Over Their Lack Of Benghazi Coverage
• Obama Used Taxpayer Money In Benghazi Cover-Up (Video)
• 7 Things We Learned From The Benghazi Whistleblower Hearing
• Benghazi Continues: Hillary De Medici (Roger L. Simon)
• *VIDEO* Complete Benghazi Whistleblower Hearing
• *VIDEO* Everything You Need To Know About Benghazi
• *VIDEO* Mother Of Benghazi Victim: I Blame Hillary
• Thanks Barack… Terrorist Group Linked To 9/11 Benghazi Attack Operates Freely In City
• Hillary Clinton Sought End-Run Around Counterterrorism Bureau On Night Of Benghazi Attack
• How Obama Betrayed America (David Horowitz)
• Benghazi Whistleblower Says U.S. Has Identified Terrorist Behind 9/11 Attack But Refuses To Capture Him
• *VIDEO* Lawyer For Benghazi Whistleblower: Obama State Department Breaking Federal Law
• Obama On Benghazi Whistleblowers Scandal: I Know Nothing… Nothing!
• Benghazi Whistleblower Says Obama Regime Is Lying, Multiple Assets Could Have Been Used To Save Our People
• Obama State Department Blocking Lawyers From Representing Benghazi Whistleblowers (Audio)
• Congressman Gowdy: Explosive Benghazi Hearings Coming (Video)
• Benghazigate Congressional Report: Obama Inc. Lied About Video, Hillary Knew About Inadequate Security
• *VIDEO* Benghazi: Unaware, Unresponsive, Unaccountable – OPSEC
• 700 Retired Military Special Ops Tell Congress To Form Select Committee On Benghazi
• Benghazi’s Silenced Witnesses Hidden In Plain Sight?
• Obama Regime’s Benghazi Cover-Up Continues
• *VIDEO* Afterburner With Bill Whittle: What Difference Does It Make?
• *VIDEO* Rush Limbaugh: Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi Testimony Was “Flat Out Bullshit”
• *VIDEOS* Republican Lawmakers Grill Secretary Of State Clinton During Benghazi Hearing
• *VIDEO* Congressman Duncan Lays Into Secretary Of State Clinton During Benghazi Hearing
• *VIDEOS* Senators Paul And McCain Slam Secretary Of State Clinton During Benghazi Hearing
• Benghazi Terrorists, Skating Free
• Senate Republicans Refuse To Confirm Kerry Until Hillary Testifies About Benghazi
• *VIDEO* Glenn Beck: Obama May Go To Prison For Arming America’s Enemies, Cover-Up Of Treason
• Hillary Clinton’s Head Fake
• BenghaziGate: Obama Regime Knew Libyan Terrorists Had US-Provided Weapons
• *VIDEO* John Bolton: Susan Rice’s Meeting With GOP Senators A Disaster For Her
• Another Laughable Benghazi Lie
• Krauthammer: White House ‘Held Affair Over Petraeus’s Head’ For Favorable Testimony On Benghazi
• Report: Petraeus Agrees To Testify Before Congressional Committees About Libya Attacks
• *VIDEO* Lt. Col. Ralph Peters On Petraeus Resignation: “Timing Is Just Too Perfect”
• Proof: Obama Refused To Call Benghazi ‘Terror,’ CBS Covered Up (Video)
• Criminal Negligence: Benghazi Gave 1-Month Warning
• Benghazi Blunder: Obama Unworthy Commander-In-Chief
• Congress Wants Answers On Newly Found Benghazi Documents
• Benghazi Culpability: Walls Closing In On Administration
• ABC And CBS Ignore Their Own Reporters As Benghazi Blackout Reaches 7 Days
• Scandal Deepens With New Benghazi Documents: At A Minimum, Hillary Clinton Must Go
• Report: Obama Never Convened Counterterrorism Task Force During Benghazi Attack
• Documents: Consulate Warned Of ‘No Police Support’
• Obama ‘Has Not Participated In The Investigation’ Of Benghazi
• *VIDEO* Security Insider Explains What Happens In Intelligence, Military & Diplomatic Communities During Consulate Attacks
• Retired Lt. Col.: My Sources Say Obama Was In The Room Watching Benghazi Attack Happen (Video)
• Top AFRICOM Commander General Carter Ham Was Never Ordered To Save U.S. Men In Benghazi (Video)
• Early Briefings On Benghazi Focused On Al Qaeda, Not Video
• If Reelected, Obama Should Be Impeached Over Benghazi (Roger L. Simon)
• Father Of Fallen Benghazi SEAL: Obama Regime Sat And Watched, Did Nothing While My Son Died (Videos)
• *VIDEO* Benghazi-gate: Obama’s Lying Cronies
• Emails: White House Told Two Hours Into Benghazi Attack That Islamic Terrorist Group Claimed Responsibility
• Obama Camp: Benghazi Attack Was Not A ‘Foreign Policy Failure’ (Video)
• Former CIA Officials Say No Way WH Didn’t Know Benghazi Was A Terrorist Attack, Even During The Attack (Video)
• *VIDEO* Special Report With Bret Baier: ‘Death And Deceit In Benghazi’
• ‘My Son Is Not Very Optimal, He Is Very Dead’: Mother Of Diplomat Killed In Benghazi Attack Slams Obama’s Comment On Raid
• Obama On Benghazi Attack: ‘If Four Americans Get Killed, It’s Not Optimal’ (Video)
• Obama Regime Used Unarmed Guards At Benghazi Consulate Despite Previous Terror Attacks
• Obama Regime Didn’t Reach Benghazi For 17 Days Because They Were Waiting On Visas
• Stunning Incompetence: Up To 20,000 Shoulder-Fired, Surface-To-Air Missiles Are Missing In Libya
• Rep. Trey Gowdy Explodes At Libya Hearing: ‘I Want To Know Why We Were Lied To’ (Videos)
• *VIDEO* Mother Of Benghazi Victim Angry At Being Stonewalled By Obama Regime
• *VIDEO* Ex-Benghazi Security Officer Frustrated By Cuts In Security
• *VIDEO* American Crossroads: “Intelligence”
• There Was No Protest Outside Libyan Consulate; Everything The Obama Regime Told Us Was A Lie
• Intelligence Officials Angered By Obama Regime Cover-Up Of Intelligence On Iranian, Al Qaeda Surge In Egypt And Libya
• President Asshat Rejected Military Intervention In Benghazi DURING The Attack
• Reuters: “Within Hours” Obama Admin Had A Dozen Intel Reports Al-Qaeda Behind Benghazi Attack
• Obama Regime Ignored Requests For Increased Security In Libya Prior To 9/11 Anniversary Attack
• Report: FBI Still Hasn’t Arrived In Benghazi To Begin Investigation Into Consulate Attack
• The White House’s Scandalous Lies About Libya (Stephen Hayes)
• The World Burns: Will The GOP Investigate?
• Suspected Killer Of U.S. Ambassador Was Leader Of U.S.-Backed Libyan Rebel Forces And Former Gitmo Detainee
• Rodeo Clown Media Frantically Distract From Obama’s Foreign Policy Disaster
• U.S. Intelligence: Benghazi Attack Wasn’t Spontaneous
• Video Proof Of Obama’s Embassy Attack Lies… (Warning: Graphic Content)
• No Protest Before Benghazi Attack, Wounded Libyan Guard Says
• *VIDEO* Rep. Allen West Calls Ambassador Rice ‘Asinine, Naive, Inept, Incompetent And Borderline Ignorant’
• Al-Qaeda Says Attack On U.S. Consulate In Benghazi “Revenge” For Recent Drone Killing Of Abu Yahya Al-Libi
• Despite Four Previous Benghazi Attacks, State Department Refused Even “Standard Security” At Consulate (Video)
• Why Barack Obama Should Resign
• Former Secret Service Agent Says Obama Administration Has Shown ‘Sheer Incompetence’ In Handling Libya Attack (Video)
• Press Endangers Private Citizen To Hide Obama’s Middle East Failures
• *AUDIO* Mark Steyn: Every American Should Be Ashamed Of Buffoon Obama
• Obama State Department Ignored Warnings About U.S. Embassy Attack In Libya
• Leftist Media Wrong Again: Looks Like The Libyan Consulate Attack Wasn’t About Some YouTube Video After All
• UPenn Professor Doubles Down, Writes USA Today Op-Ed Calling For Arrest Of Mohammed Movie Filmmakers
• GOP Congressman Louie Gohmert Hammers Obama In Scathing House Floor Speech (Video)
• Obama Calls Libyan President To Thank Him For Support After U.S. Ambassador Murdered (Video)
• Romney Is Right: In Embassy Incidents, Obama Administration’s First Instinct Was To Sympathize With Attackers
• Romney: U.S. Response To Consulate Attack In Libya Disgraceful
• Radical Islamists Chant “We Are All Osama!” At U.S. Embassy In Egypt On 9-11
• Obama State Department: Egypt Attack Doesn’t Necessarily Reflect Growing Anti-American Sentiment
• Former Deputy National Security Adviser: U.S. Response To Embassy Attack ‘Bizarre And Unacceptable’
• Obama Camp Condemns Romney Before Condemning Attacks In Egypt, Libya
• MSNBC Panel Actually Debates If DOJ Should Prosecute Anti-Islam Pastor Terry Jones For Libya Deaths
• House Conservatives Call For Stripping Aid To Libya, Egypt From Spending Bill Following Attacks Ob U.S. Embassies
• Corrupt News Media Caught On Tape Conspiring Against Romney Over Embassy Attack Response
• *VIDEO* Mitt Romney Remarks And Q&A On Libya And Egypt Embassy Attacks
• After U.S. Consulate Torched And Ambassador Murdered, President Asshat Delivers A ‘Strongly Worded’ Speech
• *VIDEO* Raw Footage: Consulate In Benghazi On Fire, Ambassador To Libya Reported Killed
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), firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jennifer Campbell email@example.com, 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.
Senators investigating the attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya and the administration’s version of events in the aftermath were livid when the White House initially sent them documents so heavily redacted they were “worthless,” a source told Fox News.
The so-called Benghazi talking points were requested by the Senate Intelligence Committee, but were so heavily redacted lawmakers sent them back and demanded another set, a source told Fox News. Lawmakers sought the papers in order to find out why the administration repeatedly claimed the attack, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, a State Department employee and two former Navy SEALs, was sparked by a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islam video.
But the first batch of documents contained hundreds of pages that were of no use, the source said.
“It was so redacted that there was no information whatsoever,” said the source, who spoke to Fox on the condition they not be identified. “There were some documents that were 100 pages with every word on the page redacted. They were worthless.”
A second set of documents were delivered to Capitol Hill Thursday night which had only minimal redactions.
The source speculated that the administration had two sets of documents ready to go: one that was redacted and another that didn’t. Senators have asked to see the documents as a part of their inquiry into the attack on Benghazi. Senators also wanted the documents before they were willing to vote on John Brennan to be Director of Central Intelligence.
A committee vote on Brennan’s nomination is set for Tuesday.
The documents reveal various email traffic about the “talking points” which were passed through a litany of Washington power centers: The White House, the FBI, the CIA, and the Justice Department. The source questions why it took the Obama administration months to deliver the information when all of these agencies had dealt with the email traffic.
Sources said the emails revealed heavy editing by then-CIA Director David Petraeus. The talking points evolved as they were passed around various intelligence and security hubs, and scrubbed of language referring to “al Qa’ida.” They also seemed to indicate an effort to paint the Sept. 11 attack as a demonstration and not a planned attack, the source said.
“The word ‘attacks’ was changed to ‘demonstration,’” the source said.
In the wake of the attack, the White House sent UN Ambassador Susan Rice on several Sunday news shows to explain the incident as a spontaneous event spurred by a 13-minute trailer for the low-budget film “The Innocence of Muslims” which had been posted online.
Weeks before the presidential election, President Barack Obama’s administration faces mounting opposition from within the ranks of U.S. intelligence agencies over what career officers say is a “cover up” of intelligence information about terrorism in North Africa.
Intelligence held back from senior officials and the public includes numerous classified reports revealing clear Iranian support for jihadists throughout the tumultuous North Africa and Middle East region, as well as notably widespread al Qaeda penetration into Egypt and Libya in the months before the deadly Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
“The Iranian strategy is two-fold: upping the ante for the Obama administration’s economic sanctions against Iran and perceived cyber operations against Iran’s nuclear weapons program by conducting terror attacks on soft U.S. targets and cyber attacks against U.S. financial interests,” said one official, speaking confidentially.
The Iranian effort also seeks to take the international community’s spotlight off Iran’s support for its Syrian ally.
Two House Republicans, Reps. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) and Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), stated in a letter sent this week to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that officials “with direct knowledge of events in Libya” revealed that the Benghazi attack was part of a string of terror attacks and not a spontaneous uprising against an anti-Muslim video produced in the U.S. The lawmakers have scheduled congressional hearings for Oct. 10.
Susan Phalen, spokeswoman for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Mich.), said the panel is “reviewing all relevant intelligence and the actions of the [intelligence community], as would be expected of the oversight committee.”
But she noted: “At this point in time it does not appear that there was an intelligence failure.”
Intelligence officials pointed to the statement issued Sept. 28 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) that raised additional concern about the administration’s apparent mishandling of intelligence. The ODNI statement said that “in the immediate aftermath, there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo.”
Officials say the ODNI’s false information was either knowingly disseminated or was directed to be put out by senior policy officials for political reasons, since the statement was contradicted by numerous intelligence reports at the time of the attack indicating it was al Qaeda-related terrorism.
Among the obvious signs of terrorism was the arms used by the attackers, who were equipped with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles.
A U.S. intelligence official who disputes the idea of an Obama administration coverup said: “Intelligence professionals follow the information wherever it leads.”
“When there isn’t definitive information, it makes sense to be cautious,” the official said. “There has never been a dogmatic approach to analyzing what happened in Benghazi. Staying open to alternative explanations – and continually refining assessments as new and credible information surfaces – is part of the intelligence business.”
Officials with access to intelligence reports, based on both technical spying and human agents, said specific reporting revealed an alarming surge in clandestine al Qaeda activity months before the attack in Benghazi.
Yet the Obama administration sought to keep the information from becoming public to avoid exposing what the officials say is a Middle East policy failure by Obama.
Officials said that the administration appeared to engage in a disinformation campaign aimed at distancing the president personally during the peak of the presidential election campaign from the disaster in Benghazi, where numerous warning of an attack were ignored, resulting in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other officials.
The first part of the apparent campaign, officials said, was the false information provided to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who appeared on Sunday television shows after the attack to say the event was a “spontaneous” response to an anti-Muslim video trailer posted online.
Officials said Rice was given the false information to use in media appearances in order to promote the excuse that the obscure video was the cause of the attack, and not the Islamic concept of jihad.
Rice’s claims provoked concern inside the U.S. intelligence community that intelligence about what was going on in Libya and the region was being suppressed, and led to a series of news disclosures about what would later be confirmed as an al Qaeda attack using the group Ansar al Sharia.
After Rice’s incorrect statements, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney repeated the false assessment of the Benghazi attack.
The final element of the campaign involved comments by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was the first to give a partial explanation of the intelligence when she said al Qaeda terrorists operating from Mali were possible culprits in the Benghazi attack.
“What she failed to mention was the cooperation of Iran and Egypt in supporting jihadists in Libya,” the official said, who added the events would be investigated in an apparent effort to stave off internal critics in government.
That has led to delays in getting FBI and other U.S. investigators into Benghazi, raising concerns that some in the White House wanted to delay the FBI’s efforts to uncover evidence about the attack.
The FBI did not reach Benghazi until Thursday, ostensibly over concerns about the lack of security to protect them.
“The Obama Administration is afraid to admit al Qaeda is running rampant throughout the region because it would expose the truth instead of what President Obama so pompously spouted during the Democratic Convention” said the official.
The president said during his nomination acceptance speech that “al Qaeda is on the path to defeat,” an assertion contradicted by the group’s rise in the region.
The administration, in particular, wants to keep hidden solid intelligence showing that the terrorist group behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans is now flourishing under the Muslim Brotherhood regime of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
Egypt was among the locations of Obama’s 2009 so-called “apology” tour, when the president criticized past U.S. policies based on what he said was “fear and anger” that prompted actions “contrary to our ideals.” He also promised “a new beginning” for the U.S. and the world’s Muslims and a radical shift in U.S. policy.
The rise of Islamists in the region instead has produced a surge in anti-American protests and riots, culminating in the terrorist attack on the Benghazi consulate.
Recent intelligence reports show that Egypt’s Al-Azhar University in Cairo is emerging as a covert base for al Qaeda organizational and training activities for a jihadi network consisting of many nationalities.
The Morsi government has turned a blind eye to both the increased jihadist activity and Iran’s support for it in the region, particularly in Libya and Syria.
However, the administration is keeping the intelligence under wraps to avoid highlighting Obama’s culpability for the democratic aspirations of the Arab Spring being hijacked by Islamists sympathetic to al Qaeda’s terrorist ideology.
Intelligence officials said in Egypt – currently ruled by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood – one of the key al Qaeda organizers has been identified as Muhammad al-Zawahiri, brother of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Muhammad al-Zawahiri was released by Morsi in March after having been sentenced to death for terrorist acts in Egypt.
In recent months Egypt-based al Qaeda terrorists were dispatched to Libya and Syria, where they have been covertly infiltrating Libyan militia groups and Syrian opposition forces opposing the Bashar al Assad regime.
In addition to Egyptian government backing, intelligence from the region has revealed that operatives from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, the main spy service, and from Iran’s Quds Force paramilitary group and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps are also facilitating al Qaeda terrorists based in Egypt that are preparing to conduct operations to increase instability throughout the region.
The intelligence revealing that al Qaeda is growing in Egypt is said by officials to be one of the reasons behind Obama’s decision to cancel a meeting in New York with Morsi during the U.N. General Assembly meeting last month.
Other news outlets in recent days have revealed new internal U.S. government information that contrasts sharply or contradicts official Obama administration statements that appear designed to minimize the rise of Egyptian-origin terrorism.
The Daily Beast reported Sept. 28 that intercepted communications revealed terrorists belonging to the group Ansar al Sharia were in contact with the group Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb regarding the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and others.
Communications intercepts revealed that the terrorists in Benghazi bragged about the attack, the news outlet reported.
A group called Ansar al Sharia in Egypt was formed in April 2011 and advocates violent jihad and support for al Qaeda.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that terrorists linked to a former Guantanamo prison inmate, Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmad, was one of the individuals who attacked diplomatic facilities in Libya on Sept. 11, and that intelligence reports showed some of the terrorists in the attack may have been trained in Libyan desert camps.
On Sunday night, Spanish-language station Univision – one of the only networks to provide critical coverage of President Obama’s failures in office instead of cream-puff interviews – broke open the Fast and Furious investigation, revealing new evidence of weapons smuggling and displaying shocking new images of the bloody aftermath of the government-supported gun-smuggling program.
The Univision report undermines the integrity of the recently released DOJ inspector general report on Operation Fast and Furious, already heavily criticized as an attempt to whitewash criminal activity within the Obama administration.
The hour-long Univision report revealed the existence of another 57 guns recovered by Mexican authorities, including some of those used in the mass-murder at a party just one year after Obama’s inauguration:
On January 30, 2010, a commando of at least 20 hit men parked themselves outside a birthday party of high school and college students in Villas de Salvarcar, Ciudad Juarez. Near midnight, the assassins, later identified as hired guns for the Mexican cartel La Linea, broke into a one-story house and opened fire on a gathering of nearly 60 teenagers. Outside, lookouts gunned down a screaming neighbor and several students who had managed to escape. Fourteen young men and women were killed, and 12 more were wounded before the hit men finally fled.
Indirectly, the United States government played a role in the massacre by supplying some of the firearms used by the cartel murderers. Three of the high caliber weapons fired that night in Villas de Salvarcar were linked to a gun tracing operation run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), according to a Mexican army document obtained exclusively by Univision News.
These 57 recovered weapons discovered are in addition to the 122 weapons referenced in a congressional report. It is chilling to learn that each weapon recovered was dumped at the scene of a crime by cartel members who had attempted, and in most cases completed, the crime of first-degree murder. It is even more disturbing to know that American Department of Justice officials knew that most of the weapons walked over the border would only be discarded by the police and recovered by Mexican authorities after they were used in a crime, and that they were indifferent to the body count being racked up, callously noting that to make an omelet, eggs had to be broken.
Univision pulled no punches in describing the horrors of the Villas de Salvarcar massacre, even showing a graphic pool of blood reminiscent of the iconic Normandy D-Day invasion scene in the classic World War II film The Big Red One.
The report also shed more light on a fact that many in the media have attempted to ignore – namely, that Operation Fast and Furious was not the only federal gun-walking operation providing weapons to criminals at this time.
Operation Castaway, run with the same bloody-minded approach as Operation Fast and Furious, provided more than 1,000 guns to cartels via the Tampa ATF. Those guns leaked out across Honduras, Colombia, and Venezuela, according to the U.S. veteran who smuggled some of the weapons, Hugh Crumpler:
“When the ATF stopped me, they told me the guns were going to cartels,” Hugh Crumpler, a Vietnam veteran turned arms trafficker, told Univision News. “The ATF knew before I knew and had been following me for a considerable length of time. They could not have followed me for two months like they said they did, and not know the guns were going somewhere, and not want for that to be happening.”
Univision also uncovered evidence of weapons being smuggled from Texas: two gun-smuggling programs similar to Fast and Furious are rumored to have put thousands of additional weapons in the cartels’ hands in operations larger than Fast and Furious. U.S. Senator John Cornyn has repeatedly pressed the Obama administration for information about the documented trail of weapons coming from two Texas ATF areas of operations. The Department of Justice has denied the existence of such programs, despite the physical evidence of guns recovered suggesting otherwise. While the Univision report focused on guns the DOJ ran to Mexican cartels, there is enough evidence to suggest other Obama administration-sanctioned gun-walking plots arming domestic criminal gangs, such as the so-called Gangwalker plot in Indiana, which supplied Chicago street gangs, and similar rumored operations in California, North Carolina, northern Florida, and elsewhere, which provided weapons to gangs in U.S. cities. Nor has the Univision report focused on weapons that have found their way to cartels via the State Department or the Department of Defense.
Despite a concerted effort by the mainstream media to ignore the story and the Obama administration’s attempt to stonewall investigators, this story seems to be catching fire.
The first presidential debate between embattled President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney will occur Wednesday. You can rest assured the moderator Jim Lehrer will not ask questions about the bloody gun-smuggling plot. It will be interesting to see, however, if Romney himself is willing to bring the scandal out onto a stage so public that even the media can’t ignore it.