A Circle in a Spiral

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

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99

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