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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Looks like Barry got a bad case of Nixonitis

The tip off:

Carney... "Benghazi...that happened a long time ago."

It's funny and simply must be a coincidence, but every time there is a scandal, and there are many, nobody knows anything. Yet it habitually seems once the scandal is committed, the one who stands to gain the most from the potential outcome and be cast in a favorable light is Barry.

Just how concerned was Barry over Benghazi? The very next day the lowlife was at a fundraiser in of all places Las Vegas! Goes to show you where is priorities are. Say what you will about Bush but that never would have happened under his watch and you can take that to the bank. 

Having "Stedman" investigate the IRS scandal is like having Al Capone investigate the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre.

Obama engulfed by triple scandal crisis: White House faces fury over Benghazi cover-up, tax probes on right wing groups and spying on reporters' phone calls

Press secretary Jay Carney insists the White House had no knowledge of the IRS's admitted plan to subject right-wing groups to closer scrutiny.

Carney also says the administration was unaware of the Justice Department's seizure of Associated Press phone records until 'yesterday'.

The administration continues to spin Benghazi, telling reporters that 'politicization' and comparisons with Richard Nixon are Republicans' fault.

Asked what action Obama will take on the IRS scandal, Carney responded only, 'We'll see'
One-THIRD of committees in the House of Representatives are now investigating the Obama administration.

Criminal investigation is launched into the AP phone records, with Attorney General Eric Holder recusing himself from the probe.

The White House struggled to deflect a barrage of questions today as it scrambled to contain three growing scandals lapping at Obama's door.

The usually unflappable Obama press secretary Jay Carney faced a torrid grilling in his daily briefing and could only claim the White House was ignorant - or blame Republicans for the deep water the Obama administration has found itself in.

The swell of criticism over the administration's actions following the 2012 terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya has reached a new crescendo. 

Tight-lipped: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney tried to deflect tough questions today during a torrid briefing with reporters demanding answers

Under siege: Obama and his administration are under siege on three fronts and struggling to contain the damage 

Under siege: Carney faces grilling on IRS and AP scandals 

And at that same moment, news has emerged that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative non-profit groups for extra scrutiny. 

Thirdly, the Justice Department secretly obtained the phone records of Associated Press reporters in an effort to trace a leak of classified information. 

'Is there a siege mentality back there in the West Wing?' one reporter asked Tuesday. Carney's reply 'absolutely not' – drawing eye rolls among cameramen and reporters in the White House briefing room.

Carney maintained his line that the Benghazi question is politically motivated and fueled by House Speaker John Boehner, whom he accused of being 'obsessed' with the topic. The episode, he said Tuesday, is little more than a 'clear political circus.'

Carney bristled at a question about whether it was fair to draw comparisons between the administration's responses and those during the Richard Nixon presidency, bemoaning 'the rapid politicization of everything'.

'I can tell you that the people who make those kinds of comparisons need to check their history,' Carney insisted, "because, you know, what we have here with one issue – Benghazi – is so clearly, as we're learning more and more, a political sideshow. A deliberate effort to politicize a tragedy."

'If you look at the facts, and I think Benghazi is instructive on this, the real issue is that four Americans died,' he said.

The comment is reminiscent of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's testimony before a congressional panel that it didn't matter whether the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other U.S. personnel were caused by a terror attack or a spontaneous protest. 

'What difference, at this point, does it make?' Clinton famously asked.

The DOJ, led by Attorney General Eric Holder, is under immense pressure following revelations that it secretly collected logs of phone calls made to, and by, AP reporters 

President Barack Obama has said those responsible for any improper scrutiny of conservative groups' tax status would be held 'fully accountable.' The current and former heads of the IRS were informed last May that tea-party groups had been targeted. Senator Marco Rubio has called for the removal of Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller, pictured

The Benghazi political melee had its beginnings in the Obama administration's tale, after the bloodbath in Libya, that an unplanned demonstration over an anti-Islam YouTube video had sparked the consulate's destruction. 

Both Obama and Clinton referred to the video in public comments during the week following the attack, and UN Ambassador Susan Rice blamed it for the attack five separate times on Sunday talk shows.

The truth, that the attack was a terrorist assault carried out by extremists including those from the al-Qaeda-affiliated Ansar al-Sharia, emerged much later. More recently came evidence that a talking points memo prepared by the CIA for members of Congress went through a dozen edits, including some directed by the State Department, which removed all references to terrorism. 

'[W]e do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa'ida participated in the attack,' the CIA wrote, in a line that was later removed. Despite the CIA's certainty, Jay Carney claimed repeatedly on Friday that the final, sanitized talking points reflected the best knowledge of the intelligence community – 'what the CIA thought it knew.'

But the IRS and AP tempests brought a refrain from Carney, which he cited in some form more than a half-dozen times during his 50-minute press availability, that the White House knew nothing at all and therefore wouldn't comment.

'I cannot, and he [Obama] cannot comment specifically on an ongoing criminal investigation,' he would say repeatedly. 'It would be wholly inappropriate.'

Yet as one journalist pointed out to the chagrined press secretary, Obama made repeated public comments about the shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed in 2011 in a case that sparked hostile race-based controversy.

And the president inserted himself into the story of Henry Louis Gates, a Harvard professor who was allegedly targeted by police because of his race, and arrested for attempting to break into his own house. 

'The police acted stupidly,' Obama told his global audience, prompting a much-discussed 'beer summit' – brokered by the president and Vice President Joe Biden at the White House – between Gates and the arresting officer. 

Holder: 'Very serious leak' prompted AP records case 

Cover-up: Carney reiterated Obama's insistence that Republican fury over the deaths in Benghazi is 'politically-motivated' and that there's no merit in claims there was a deliberate attempt to mislead the country in the hours after the attack days before the last election 



THE SCANDAL: Documents show that in the midst of a re-election campaign, administration officials in the State Department had a hand in editing a set of CIA talking points about the 2012 terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The first draft from the CIA named the al-Qaeda-linked group Ansar al-Sharia as bearing some responsibility, but the final version contained no references to Islamic terrorism.

THE WHITE HOUSE LINE: Jay Carney has said the White House's only role consisted of editing a single word for clarity, and that the 'intelligence community' was solely responsible.

THE KEY QUESTION: Obama must explain how much influence his political appointees had in the editing process. Did the CIA merely hold the pen while his key advisers dictated the edits?

Associated Press phone records

THE SCANDAL: Journalists are upset that the Department of Justice went to a judge to secretly obtain the office, home and mobile phone records of Associated Press journalists in at least three cities. Justice says it was trying to learn who leaked information to the AP about a classified CIA operation in Yemen which foiled a terror plot involving bombing a U.S.-bound jetliner. 

THE WHITE HOUSE LINE: The administration insists that the White House was completely out of the loop, even as Attorney General Eric Holder - an Obama appointee - knew what was going on, and that the president himself found out only on Monday. Carney says that while Obama believes reporters should have 'unfettered' access to information, the government has the right to temper their First Amendment protections by protecting classified information. Carney also says that since the leaker may have been an administration official, it's appropriate for the White House to be on the outside looking in.

THE KEY QUESTION: Obama must tell the press how it is that he was outside the circle of people who knew about what the Attorney General is calling one of the most serious criminal cases he has ever seen. Obama receives daily classified intelligence briefings. If he was truly ignorant of the DOJ's investigation, he should explain why that's a good thing.

IRS targeting of tea party groups and other conservative non-profits

THE SCANDAL: The Internal Revenue Service has admitted running a longstanding program that targeted right-wing groups - including those aligned with the politically successful tea party - for extra scrutiny, through delay tactics and intrusive mandatory questionnaires, when the organizations applied for tax-exempt status through the federal government. Some of those inquisitions involved demands for donor lists and the names of groups' volunteers. The Washington Post has reported that senior IRS officials in Washington, D.C. knew about the program. And a draft of portions of a report from the IRS's internal Office of Inspector General lays out a timeline showing who knew what, and when.

THE WHITE HOUSE LINE: Carney says the White House was completely unaware of the program, learned about it less than a month ago, and was taken completely by surprise. Obama has said he was outraged but cautioned that all the facts are not yet known, and that since the report has not been finalized, it's inappropriate for the administration to comment or to assume that anyone in the government has done anything wrong.

THE KEY QUESTION: The president needs to convince the press that senior IRS officials in Washington who were informed about the politically partisan program never told the Treasury Secretary or anyone in the White House, and that they kept it from Obama's political team during his re-election campaign. The administration also must provide an explanation for its inaction, despite the IRS's quick admissions and apology. Senator, Marco Rubio - partially to bolster his credentials among conservatives who don't like his immigration reform proposals - is openly calling for the top tax collectors' heads to roll.

Carney's professed ignorance on Tuesday covered both new administration headaches. 

He first insisted that no White House personnel were notified about the IRS's intense focus on challenging the tax-exempt status applications of conservative organizations. 

Moments later, he made a similar promise about the Justice Department investigation that prompted subpoenas for reporters' phone records – including the calls made and received on journalists' mobile phones, their home landlines, and at least one line in the House of Representatives press gallery.

The AP reported in May 2012 on the CIA's disruption of an al-Qaeda plot in the Gulf state of Yemen, which aimed to blow up a commercial aircraft bound for the United States. That operation was classified, and the Justice Department sought to determine who provided the information to reporters.

Only weeks before, the Obama administration – in mid-re-election swing – had assured the American public that no such attack had been planned or set into motion.

'I have been a prosecutor since 1976,' Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday, 'and I have to say that this is among – if not the most serious, it is among the top two or three most serious leaks that I have ever seen.'

The entire case, Carney said, was 'handled by the Justice Department independently.'

Ignorance: Carney repeatedly said the White House was not aware of either the IRS 'harassment' of the Tea Party and conservatives or the DoJ wiretapping the AP 

Playing for time: Carney went on to claim that reporting of the growing 'scandals' was inaccurate, telling journalists to wait for the investigations to finish before making conclusions 

'We have no knowledge' of the matter, he told reporters. 'We are not involved in the White House with any decisions made about ongoing investigations.'

'It would be wholly inappropriate for me to have answers to those questions,' he added, 'and I don't have them.'

Obama himself, he said, found out about the Associated Press-related subpoenas yesterday while watching TV.

Carney reminded reporters that the president 'believes that the press, as a rule, needs to have the ability to pursue investigative journalism,' referring to that freedom as 'unfettered.' 

But the government, he added, must balance that 'unfettered' access with the need to protect classified information.

'There is a balance that has to be struck here,' Carney said, prompting one journalist to ask him how that balance could be compatible with an 'unfettered' press corps.

'The president understands that a reporter needs to be shielded,' he intoned. But with respect to the DOJ obtaining reporters' phone records, he said: 'I can tell you that I am not aware of anyone here knowing about it.'

'I am certainly not aware of, and am confident that, no one here was involved with this,' Carney continued, referring further questions to the Justice Department in a moment which may soon be interpreted as a shifting of blame.

Politico reported Tuesday that AP reporters themselves were furious.

'People are pretty mad — mad that government has not taken what we do seriously,' one reporter told the inside-the-beltway broadsheet.

'When the news broke yesterday … people were outraged and disgusted. No one was yelling and screaming, but it was like, 'Are you kidding me!?'

Obama surrogate Jay Carney claimed the president doesn't insert himself into active criminal cases like the Justice Department's probe of Associated Press reporters. But he weighed in repeatedly when the self-styled neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman (L) was charged with second-degree murder for killing the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin (R) in Florida

The president (R) also inserted himself into the 2009 controversy created when Police Sergeant James Crowley (2nd R) of Cambridge, Massachusetts arrested Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. (2nd L), holding a so-called 'beer summit' at the White House that also included Vice President Joe Biden (L). 'The police acted stupidly,' Obama said, after what was presumed to be a racially-motivated arrest of Gates 

Politico also reported Tuesday that 'roughly one-third of House committees are engaged in investigating some aspect of the Obama administration.'

Holder, who leads the Justice Department as the nation's highest-ranking law enforcement official, was having his own press conference across town at the same moment Carney held his announcing a criminal probe into the phone-records scandal, and also making clear that it was his deputy who had approved the plan to spy on reporters' phone records.

Similarly, despite the IRS's apparent admissions that it targeted right-wing groups – including some that identified with the once politically powerful Tea Party – for extra scrutiny, Carney crouched behind Obama's hedging on Monday and said the White House was in the dark.

And he, like Obama, suggested that the reporting to date might not be true.

Carney questioned aloud 'if the actions [of the IRS] were inadvertent, or not,' and said that 'at this point, we have to wait for the action of an independent investigator ... before we can jump to conclusions about what happened.'

No shortage of hands raised on Tuesday as White House Press Secretary Jay Carney took questions - mostly from his regular journalist-inquisitors - during his daily news briefing at the White House. Reporters were most persistent on the Justice Department's seizure of two months of phone records from the Associated Press, in pursuit of the source of leaks of classified information

The president 'made it clear,' Carney argued without conceding any facts, 'that if the reports about the activity of IRS personnel proved to be true, he would find them outrageous.'

Even the details the IRS has confirmed, Carney suggested, were not yet settled. Obama, he said, 'had no tolerance for the targeting of specific groups,' and referred to them as 'conservative groups, if the reporting is true about this.'

Carney acknowledged the media reports about 'a deliberate targeting of groups, inappropriately,' but said action from the administration would only be expected 'if it, in fact, took place.'

Citing Obama's public comments about his 'outrage' over the IRS's reported partisan activity, one reporter asked what might be 'the consequences of his outrage.'

'We'll see,' Carney responded.

A full bank of TV cameras focused on Jay Carney as he defended the Obama administration against a hail of media attacks over a trio of scandals

But 'instead of rushing to conclusions or perpetrating consequences,' he insisted, the media must wait for the conclusions of a report from the IRS Office of Inspector General.

While the president, he said, 'is concerned about every report he hears about this,' Carney refused to commit the administration to a change in leadership at the IRS, even if the reports so far are proven true.

He did, however, answer 'yes' to a reporter's request that he state 'categorically' that no one in the White House knew about, or was involved with, targeting Tea Party groups ''We learn everything we know about this from your reports,' Carney insisted.

Yet amid new reporting from the Washington Post that senior IRS officials in Washington knew about the anti-conservative program in 2011, before the president's re-election date, Carney punted a question about whether or not the White House should have been informed.

'Notification is appropriate and routine' only after the IG report is published, he insisted, adding that 'there was no knowledge here' before media outlets broke the story.

Ultimately, Carney gave himself a breather by taking questions from reporters representing news outlets in Pakistan and Turkey, despite reporters' interest in Benghazi, the IRS and the Associated Press.

He had lengthy prepared statements addressing both questions and read aloud from them.

And, perhaps for the first time in the Obama administration's history with the press, audible sighs were heard among reporters in the packed briefing room.


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