The Mother of All Scandals
A system of voluntary tax compliance cannot survive a dishonest IRS. Lois Lerner and company have virtually ruined the agency. For the foreseeable future, each time an American receives a tax query, he will wonder to what degree his politics ensures enhanced or reduced scrutiny -- or whether his name as a donor, activist, or partisan has put him on a watch list.
Worse still, when a high commissioner of the IRS takes the 5th Amendment, it sends a frightening message: those audited go to jail when they refuse to testify; those who audit them who do the same do not.
The Associated Press/James Rosen monitoring by the Obama administration was creepy not just because it went after a heretofore obsequious media, but because Obama’s lieutenants alleged that the reason was aiding and abetting the leaking of classified material.
Of course, disclosing top-secret information and thereby damaging the national interest is no small thing. But was leaking the real reason that Eric Holder lied under oath when he assured his congressional inquisitors that he was not monitoring the communications of Americans -- after he had done just that in the case of James Rosen of Fox News?
No modern administration has leaked classified data like the Obama administration. Do we remember a frustrated Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warning White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon “to shut the f--- up” for disclosing the secret details of the bin Laden hit?
Or was John Brennan’s effusive blow-by-blow description of the Navy SEAL team protocol worse? Or for that matter, why did David Sanger and David Ignatius seem to have access to classified details about the bin Laden document trove and the Iranian Stuxnet cyber-war campaign? The obvious answer is that after the midterm election of 2010, a panicking Obama administration worried about reelection, and especially polls that suggested the president was weak on national-security issues.
To rectify that image, politicos began leaking the nation’s most intimate secrets to remind the public that, behind the scenes, Obama was a veritable Harry Truman. The problem with the AP was not that it leaked, but that it did not leak in a fashion and at a time of the administration’s own choosing. In other words, the Associated Press was a competitor when Obama wished a monopoly on the leaking franchise.
No one knows much about the NSA mess. But already there are some disturbing developments. How can Director of National Intelligence James Clapper outright lie under oath without consequences after he assured the Congress that the agency did not monitor the communications of American citizens?
After the president’s press conference last week, an embarrassing paradox arose: the president promised all sorts of new NSA reforms. But why now, and for what reason the sudden worry? After all, Obama offered no new protocol to ensure that classified matters did not end up in the hands of a high-school dropout and highly ideological computer hacker like Eric Snowden.
Instead, the president de facto made Snowden’s case. It was only because of the illegal acts of Snowden that Obama promised future measures -- not against the next Snowden, but against abuses promulgated by himself. Consider the logic: Snowden is supposed to be a criminal for leaking a top-secret intelligence gathering operation, but in response to that illegal conduct, Obama for the first time promises to address just the sort of abuses that Snowden outlined.
With enemies like Obama, the lawbreaking Snowden hardly needs friends.
Of the four most prominent scandals -- and by “four” I do not wish to deprecate “Fast and Furious,” or EPA Director Lisa Jackson’s fake email persona, or the arbitrary non-enforcement of the law, from ignoring elements of Obamacare to granting pre-election amnesty by fiat to over one million illegal aliens -- Benghazi is by far the most disturbing; the scandal is insidious.