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Belmont Club

A Circle in a Spiral

May 21st, 2013 - 2:22 pm

The Los Angeles Times reports that a top IRS official at the heart of the inappropriate audits and harassment of the Obama administration’s political enemies will take the 5th Amendment.  She won’t talk and rather not be embarrassed with questions she won’t answer.

A top IRS official in the division that reviews nonprofit groups will invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions before a House committee investigating the agency’s improper screening of conservative nonprofit groups.

Lois Lerner, the head of the exempt organizations division of the IRS, won’t answer questions about what she knew about the improper screening – or why she didn’t reveal it to Congress, according to a letter from her defense lawyer, William W. Taylor 3rd….

Since Lerner won’t answer questions, Taylor asked that she be excused from appearing, saying that would “have no purpose other than to embarrass or burden her.” There was no immediate word whether the committee will grant her request.

The entire agency appears to be clamming up. ABC News reporters in Cincinnati found themselves shadowed by an armed Federal office as he attempted to speak to someone in the IRS building.

As we traveled the public hallways of the building – watched over by security cameras – an armed uniformed police officer with the Federal Protective Service followed us. We were looking for a particular office—of someone who would not want to be seen talking to reporters–but chose to bypass it because of our official babysitter.

Asked why we were being escorted in a public building, the officer identified himself as Insp. Mike Finkelstein and said he was only trying to make sure that the newsmen were not a “nuisance.” He brushed aside further questions. The cop said a supervisor would call to explain.

The supervisor never called to explain. As with the mother of the embassy staffer who was assured by officials that someone would call her to tell her how her son died, the return call will be a long time coming.

By then a lot of people will be a long time gone.

The administration appears to be trying to get its story straight. National Public Radio reporter Ari Shapiro spotted pundits Jonathan Capehart, Josh Marshall, and Ezra Klein headed into the West Wing on unspecified business. At least they know someone who will talk — about talking points at least.

For there are wheels within wheels apparently. Eli Lake says the unnamed chief of the Benghazi annex — known only as “Bob” — was decorated at a secret CIA ceremony.

The honor given behind closed doors to “Bob,” the officer who was in charge of the Benghazi intelligence annex and CIA base that was attacked in the early morning of September 12, 2012 and then abandoned for nearly three weeks, illustrates the murky lines of command that preceded the attack, and helped make it a politically volatile issue. While the State Department was responsible for elements of the security for the diplomatic mission at Benghazi, the mission itself was used primarily for intelligence activities and most the U.S. officials there and at the nearby annex were CIA officers who used State Department cover …

Even though the CIA’s role at the Benghazi mission and nearby annex has been widely reported in the U.S. and international press, its role in Benghazi remains a classified secret.

That implies that whatever Benghazi was about it isn’t what the official line describes. One man who might have known how all the pieces fit was David Petraeus. Thomas Jocelyn describes the two day process during which the cover story was crafted.

After nearly two days of editing, then CIA director David Petraeus was sent the revised Benghazi talking points on September 15, 2012. He was less than impressed, to put it mildly.

“No mention of the cable to Cairo, either?” Petraeus wrote in an email. “I’d just as soon not use this, then…”

Petraeus punted, however, writing that ultimately it was the National Security Staff’s (NSS’s) “call” to use the edited talking points.

That suggests that the National Security Staff is ultimately in control of the narrative, responsible for putting together the political explanation that the public would be fed. Though Petraeus as director of Central Intelligence would have been on the National Security Council the staff under Tom Donilon apparently had charge of the talking points.

Interestingly Tom Donilon, like so many of his administration colleagues, is rumored to be on his way out.  Laura Rozen at the Back Channel writes:

Several associates tell the Back Channel they believe that National Security Advisor Tom Donilon is planning to leave this summer—several months earlier than previous reports had suggested, and even as the White House said Donilon has no plans to depart.

On the one hand he doesn’t seem to want to leave, but he’s been doing this five long years, one associate, speaking not for attribution, said Friday …

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice is expected to succeed Donilon as National Security Advisor.

So perhap Rice’s embarassing stint as the spokesman for the lie about the video made in LA didn’t really hurt her career after all. Now she gets to sit at the right hand of Obama.

From the administration’s style of work one might come to believe that a disinformation component is built into almost every major initiative the administration undertakes. Benghazi, the AP scandal,the IRS crackdown on the President’s political opponents in the lead up to the 2012 elections — all these — seem compartmented into levels of access. like layers of an onion, each layer guarded by the stalwart likes of Lois Lerner.

The particular problem the administration faces with eruption of a multiplicity of scandals is not that they are many, but that they are really one. Each of these scandals isn’t a separate brook with its sources in a different part of the mountain. Rather they are all the same spring; ultimately a particular instance in the actions of a single manager; the product of a place where all the threads converge, the throne to which all roads lead. Where would that be? Well maybe Jonathan Capehart, Josh Marshall, and Ezra Klein can tell us.

At least these gentlemen can tell us what they’ve been told it is. Whether they themselves believe it, one cannot say. Still I have my theory about what this all comes to — which I’ll share with you in a couple of decades when I’m done editing my talking points.

Raymond Maxwell, one of the lower level State Department officials who fired over the Benghazi attacks was also something of a poet. After his dismissal Maxwell made news by penning lines which some might interpret as protest verses.

The web of lies they weave
gets tighter and tighter in its deceit
until it bottoms out
-at a very low frequency –
and implodes

Yet all the while,
the more they talk,
the more they lie,
and the deeper down the hole they go

But poet though Maxwell is someone expressed the thought before him …

Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of it’s own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone,
Like a door that keeps revolving
In a half forgotten dream,
Or the ripples from a pebble
Someone tosses in a stream

As the images unwind
Like the circles
That you find
In the windmills of your mind


The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99

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Top Rated Comments   
Some Congressman should ask her each and every question that was on the questionnaire sent by the IRS to the conservative groups seeking tax exempt status. Get it on the public record.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"This ain't monopoly. Taking the fifth is NOT a get out of jail card. There will be repercussions if she is called to testify and takes the fifth. That will be a HUGE 'red-flag' to everyone. " - Geoffrey Britain

Well, that will slow down any investigation, where there in fact, an actual investigation in progress. With Holder's FBI running the investigation, I expect maximum constraints on these agents activities, and minimum results. The FBI will be Obama's smoke screen and rear guard. The "active investigation" will slow or stop Congressional inquires, for about four of five years.

If there were an investigation in progress, with subpena and prosecutorial authority, the prosecutor would start from the bottom and indict the IRS agents who did the actual deed. It doesn't matter if their boss, or boss's boss, directed them to break the law, they are be accountable nonetheless.

However, if they'd rather not lose their retirement and liberty, the prosecutor can immunize THEM to testify against the supervisors who gave the order, and so on up the tree of accountability until the reach either (a) the originator or (b) the senior IRS supervisor who has chosen to fall on their sword to cover for the originators of the illegal policy.

Now, there's also a separate line of prosecution, which is, if supervisors knew that crimes were being committed for several years, and failed to either report them or stop them, they become co-conspirators in the crime. In fact, ANY IRS Agent who knew of the crimes in progress, the violations of USC regs or confidentiality laws, and failed to report the activity, could be indicted as co-conspirators to the actual crime.

There's plenty of "smoke" to investigate, and with all the IRS and government records keeping, there will be a superb electronic paper trail to follow. The problem is that there is no honest authority available to prosecute. Maybe old Sheriff Joe Arpaio can figure out a way to include jurisdiction, or some Sheriff in Ohio, maybe the Ohio state police.

If the White House uses government offices as their personal cover-up army, and Congress won't do it's job, then Lois Lerner's travail is over as soon as she pleads the fifth.

However, it would be interesting to see if she could still hold government office or maintain a security clearance after that. I guess Obama could sign a classified executive order and make it so.

Man, I hate saying this, but the only justice that will be realized may be by the direct action of the American people, or by select radicalized Americans. How long do the Democrats think they can ignore the law, use the law to illegally persecute their political opposition, with no consequences.

Oh, yeah, I forgot, they purchased a billion hollow point bullets and armored MRAP's in anticipation. Only a radical, right-wing-nut would jump to the the conclusion that Obama Administration was preparing for urban warfare against American citizens, who might be incensed that Obama used the Constitution for White House toilet paper. Don't be that wing-nut! (/sarcasm )
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
America's a great place. You can undermine the First amendment, ignore the Second, disregard the Fourth and still take the Fifth.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (60)
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“I would advise ANYONE who testifies before Congress on a matter considered to be scandalous to take the 5th.”

As I understand it, the 5th protects you from testifying on matters of direct criminal conduct. That means there is a lot of latitude on lines of inquiry that do not specifically touch on culpability. For instance, who gave briefings in regards to specific policies in regards to 501’s, etc. Ms Lerner is going to be called back or subject to an inquiry from a special prosecutor. Someone mentioned earlier that the problem is public employee unions. I agree.

Aristide’s recommendations are not out of bounds.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sometimes a tangential thought means something, so here goes.
The Federal Government is the biggest practitioner of Affirmative Action. We all pretty much agree that that means hiring and advancement are not merit based. In fact if you are a WEMP it is means negative advancement.
Suppose, similar to IRS, AA hiring practices also screened for either political ideology or mental malleability or both?
That means for 30 years the day to day bureaucracy has been suborned, while SES and political appoints, especially in the last 5 years, have become besotted with 'them'.
Bush gets a bad rap in many things. His big fail was attempting to retain so many of his predecessors appointees, a decision that haunted him daily.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I hope that means if there is an administration other than the Democratic Party that, whoever they are, they clean house and "reinvent" government based on the rule of law. The Corruptocrats have trashed this nation, are ruining it, and must go!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm not trying to defend Lerner, or what she ostensibly is responsible for doing, i.e. targeting conservatives. But after what happened to Scooter Libby, I would advise ANYONE who testifies before Congress on a matter considered to be scandalous to take the 5th.

If a man can be imprisoned for bad memory, then I suggest that testifying before Congress puts someone in a no win sitation.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have not been able to keep up with all recent BC comments, so apologies if the following observations were recently mentioned by others.

1. Regarding the lengthy and inappropriate questionnaires sent by the IRS to the various Tea Party groups: Was this just harassment or was it for the purpose of creating a data base?

2. Looking at these high level IRS bureaucrats, I can't get the image of Adolph Eichmann out of my mind. IIRC, Eichmann, who presided over the machinery of the Holocaust, was not some cartoon Nazi villain. He was more of a competent high level bureaucrat; securing railroad transportation to move Jews to the death camps, making sure the guards were paid and fed, making sure Zyklon B inventories were adequate, etc.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
AE was the Jewish cultural expert AND the SS railroad expert (transportation theory) at the Wansee Conference.

It was upon his analysis and recommendation that Auschwitz was sited -- just off the main east-west rail line in southern Poland -- inside the SS run General Government Area. (It does not get much modern press, but Adolf gave the SS their own 'country' to run in Poland. No doubt it would have been expanded in time to include western Russia, and more.)

The railroad, itself, took care of all the administrative routine: routing, scheduling, the works. They billed the SS at 'holiday rates' -- yet one-way.

AE functioned -- to the rail system -- just like any other customer -- and one without much of a priority, either. This last point is lost on most. The common reader implicitly accepts that human cargo would have rail priority. It didn't. Hence, the constant tales of victims parked on sidings -- for days on end, even -- until priority traffic cleared.

The rest of the program was on 'automatic pilot.'
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If Issa does not force Lerner to take the 5th it will be hard thereafter to trust his integrity. There is just too much to be gained for his purposes by swearing her in. My hunch is, at the moment, she would not even take an immunity deal. There might well be something or someone she fears more than a jail sentence.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If you have looked into the history of Obama. There is a huge body count to compensate for the sheer and total corruption he brings to the table. I would be scared too.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Having her take the 5th on every question to have it in the record creates advantages for Issa and all investigating bodies too numerous to mention. Does he have the stones to do it ?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I've just read that Issa will bring her back because, by making an opening statement and claiming her innocence, she forfeited her right to the 5th.

This should be fun.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You are correct.

To plead the Fifth means you MUST shut up ENTIRELY and immediately.

Claiming innocence -- in your own mind -- establishes that you have no rational reason for pleading the Fifth. You're begging for judgment -- that of innocence -- right from the start.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I find it hard to imagine that any chief executive from the head of Pepsi Co to George W. Bush could shrug off blatant bias at any level, let alone what appears to be institutional bias and discrimination. It just wouldn’t work. If an executive didn’t directly order hate-based discrimination they would be held accountable for creating an environment that such activity could abound. Businesses are constantly having companywide meetings and seminars outlining hard edge ethics and what to do in the case of gray areas. I find it disingenuous that there is some question as to who is responsible for this kind of corrupt behavior. It is simply a matter that the Obama administration set out to enforce these breaches of law or created an environment that it was likely that government wide breeches of law would take place. Whose responsibility is it? Simple, it is the responsibility of the chief executive to set standards and examples and to communicate to the most radical of one’s organization that the rule of law must be followed in both letter and spirit in spite of party zeal. The Obama administration failed to do that, therefore, it is completely culpable. They are still looking for a signed document that Hitler ordered the holocaust. Ain’t gonna happen.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Right you are! See my comment below at 3:46 PDT:
The Left has so permeated the bureaucracy that the "Revolution" proceeds on autopilot with a compliant media. And above it all Dear Leader reigns unscathed. No Smoking Gun. The Left needs only to elect a president who will stay uninvolved and out of the way. Any activism from Dear Leader is a plus but unnecessary.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Even the Ranking Member of Issa's committee, Elijah Cummings, is now expressing dismay that after IRS Commissioner Schulman became aware that his previous testimony was incorrect, he failed to go back to Congress to amend his testimony to correct the record.

It seems no one in the Executive Branch knows the meaning of "...the whole truth".

As I mentioned once before, the change in Cummings's demeanor reminds me of the way he changed during the testimony of disgraced former Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Greg Jaczko. Shortly thereafter, Jaczko resigned.

Here comes the PREFERENCE CASCADE!

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Inertia is not a physics term in the realm of human deception, but human deception is much more powerful in the perceived physical outcomes of such."

Ok, I just made that up, but hey...

The ball is rolling. As in downhill for the communists. For those of us who have spent the last 6 or 7 years researching Obama (which by the way is an exercise in the study of radical communist subversion) one question remains:

What took so long?

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Chuck, Inertia may not be that bad a descriptor. Entropy might be better, 'everything sinking to its lowest state'
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have adapted the communist "state of nature" BS into what I think is an explanation that even the low-info folks can understand on the definition of entropy...

A jumping bean has a limited amount of life energy. All its resources are limited into the shell unto which it exists. The goal of the bean is to jump from a flat surface into a tall mason jar.

The entity directing the bean to jump promises a new life in the jar. So the bean tries and tries to jump into the jar. But fails. On the last jump, the bean makes it into the jar. The bean feels great for the feat.

Exhausted, the bean celebrates it's record bean accomplishment. Then the bean decides it is time to jump out of the jar. It can barely move. It has no life left in it.

The person who said "jump" in the first place then seals a lid of the jar.


The story on the Inertia thing is a little longer short essay. Too long for this forum. (Little old lady quilters anyone?)

PS: of course the control freak who put the damn lid on the jar in the first place feeds the little caterpillar from which that the bean became from time to time...

But only if the little bug creature sings a song of praise and worship to "the lid sealer" in order to get its grub.



1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Lois Lerner’s career in government service is over. I assume she is an SES, and one of the drawbacks of that designation is that she has no Civil Service Commission protections. They can fire her and that is that.

So she has two choices:

1. Tell Congress, “I vas only following der orders.”
2. Take the 5th.

If she does Option 2 she can be assured of getting a good position as Head of Diversity Training for Media Matters, a VP with NOW, or a similar position with some Soros-backed organization. If she does Option 1 there’s a certainty of her being denounced, Whittaker Chambers style, or a mysterious mishap of some kind, perhaps in Ft. Marcy Park. Not a difficult choice.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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