An Era of Distrust
“In each of these cases, the White House has refused to take any responsibility. Instead, the President and his administration have obfuscated, shifted blame or questioned the motives of those genuinely concerned with seeking resolution to these matters. Absent such leadership, I must ask: Mr. President, how can the American people trust you?”
–Rep. Tom Price (R-GA)
While each of the many scandals the Obama administration has found itself mired in may seem trivial taken alone, when looked at as parts of the whole, they signify a government disrespectful of its people and undeserving of their trust.
Fast and Furious
Fast and furious was the Department of Justice’s failed gun tracking program that allowed thousands of guns to be sold into Mexico without proper tracing. The government said that it was a simple lack of oversight, but gun rights groups saw it as the administration pushing American guns into Mexico so they could later blame Mexican drug and gang violence on American gun owners and retailers.
Earlier this month the President gave a speech at the Anthropology Museum in Mexico where he said, “Most of the guns used to commit violence here in Mexico come from the United States.”
On September 11th 2012, four Americans lost their lives in a terrorist attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya. For almost two weeks, the administration blamed the attack on anger over a video.
The original CIA determination had no reference to the video. The intelligence community’s first draft of talking points had no mention of the video in them. After twelve rounds of edits to the communication several points the CIA felt important were significantly changed or deleted.
References to Al Qaeda and related groups and warnings about a possible attack were deleted at the State Department’s request. An email from State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland contained objections to the paragraph:
“The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.”
Her concern was that inclusion of this information “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either?”
Several more State Department emails expressed that the early changes weren’t enough. Nuland’s fingerprints are all over the changes to the talking points showing direct administration involvement in scrubbing them for political purposes.
Just prior to the attack, the President’s re-election campaign had released a slogan. “GM is alive and al-Queda is on the run.” The intelligence communication did not fit that narrative and Nulan seems to have been keenly aware. With the election only months away, terrorists could not have been shown to have had a victory on President Obama’s watch.
The fact that the President made several references to the video after the attack shows either willful dishonesty or a President being misled by his own administration.
Many, including the President, talk about the talking points as though they are insignificant. They are significant. They were intended as a brief form of communication to leaders in Congress. Misleading Congress should come with heavy penalties – if Congress were so inclined to perform its duty to balance the power of the executive.
Even Democrats see past the smoke and mirrors that Obama is putting up with Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) writing a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa saying “If our committee is truly interested in improving the security of American diplomatic personnel overseas, members of our committee and the American public should hear first-hand from the individuals who have done the most exhaustive review of these attacks.”
Benghazi is not a partisan attack, it’s American’s seeking the truth from an untruthful government.
IRS Abuse of Power
In March of 2010, the IRS began targeting groups with “tea party”, “9/12″ and patriots related to them. Before long, the tax collection arm of the federal government added “government debt”, “constitution” and “criticize how the country is run” the the list. More than 100 Conservative groups were targeted in the initiative.
Who asked for these groups to be targeted? How far up the chain-of-command does this go? Questions still needing answers.
More disconcerting is the fact that the IRS will become the de-facto enforcer for the Obamacare mandate. An agency that makes major decisions based on political ideology will be given even more power as the mandates take hold.
AP Phone Records
The phone records attached to 20 separate phone lines used by AP reporters were seized by the Department of Justice.
DOJ policy requires notice beforehand and that the scope of the information gathering be kept narrow. Neither was done.
The records were allegedly seized in an effort to discover the source of leaked information about a possible airline bombing plot.
The government is setting a precedent of willingness to abridge the first amendment, freedom of the press, as long as it suits its purpose.
A simple request for the phone records should have been the first action before using the liberty-destroying Patriot Act to garner information from a press organization.
Fostering mistrust of the government
Each of these scandals on their own are small. But there is an over-arching theme: the government does not respect the rights of the people.
Misleading Congress, creating dangerous scenarios with Mexican gun runners, abuse of power by the IRS and spying on the Press are all indicative of a culture that feels the Constitution and its protections are a nuisance.
How many times will the American public be lied to and still be able to feel that their government can be trusted?