By: Tom Duggan – June, 2013
In the last few months, the American people have had to endure story after story in the news about the Obama administration’s abuse of power and violations of civil liberties.
Though I rarely write about national politics or the President, I think it is important for our Valley Patriot readers to understand the gravity of government intrusions into our daily lives. It is important for our readers to understand that the only “right of privacy” anyone has, is a right to have an abortion. As for the rights of free speech under President Obama, we have lost our right to a free press, the right to bear arms, the right not to have people who work in government snoop through your laptop, monitor your phone calls and worse, turn your personal information over to political groups or the media.
Scandal By Scandal
IRS Scandals: What we learned in the last month is that people who work at the Internal Revenue Service were targeting for audit and refusing to give nonprofit status to a multitude of conservative political groups, individuals and private businesses. What happened here is that government officials inside and outside the IRS decided to use the great power of the IRS to intimidate and coerce conservative Americans and defeat them at election time.
These IRS officials collected every morsel of information about these conservative groups they deemed to be “the enemy”, used our government to audit them, invade their homes and businesses, shutting some of them down, threatening them with jail time if they did not comply and worst of all, these political operatives who hijacked the power of the IRS, then took all data they collected on their “enemies” (Republicans, conservatives and Christians) and turned them over to liberal political groups and activists.
The problem with this scandal above all the others, is that we now have proof that our government can be weaponized and used against us, create an environment of fear, where people are afraid to assemble and protest their government. Weaponizing government is much less about punishing people with different views, and much more about making everyone else think twice about getting involved in the political process of trying to influence the direction of our government.
We know that this was not just a few rogue employees in the IRS; in fact most IRS employees are decent hard working people who follow the law and execute their duties of managing the nation’s tax collections. This was arms of the Democrat Party and Obama campaign supporters using our government to maintain their own power as if government power and political power were the same. In this case, they made it the same.
Possible solutions? We could abolish the IRS Its not that hard and would not take much of an effort, but it’s not the most practical solution. We could create a Federal IRS Auditing Agency whose sole function would be to audit the IRS on an ongoing basis to root out fraud and abuse of power. They would be funded by the money they save reforming the IRS and keeping it efficient. They could do management audits to see what policies and procedures work and don’t work, and hold the IRS to a fair standard of performance.
The fact that IRS officials spent MILLIONS of dollars on vacations called “conferences” and have no receipts for all of those millions spent… it’s downright laughable. It makes a mockery of the very function of the IRS. How could this happen? It happens because there is nobody overseeing the officials who run the IRS so IRS employees feel threatened and intimidated to go along with these things they normally would report or object to. An IRS Auditor would put a stop to all that.
Benghazi, Libya: This is probably the scandal people understand the least, but is easiest to explain. The American embassy in Libya was attacked by Al-Qaeda Terrorists. They stormed the compound where our Ambassador, his security team which included marines, and other American military and civilian personnel were working. Ambassador Stevens called for backup as mobs of terrorists attacked with rocket launchers, rocks and bottles and automatic weapons.
Despite calling for backup, and despite the fact that US Marines were just a few hours away, someone ordered their backup to “stand down” meaning not to rescue our American Ambassador and the other Americans under siege on the embassy compound. Ambassador Stevens and others fought off the attack for seven hours before terrorists finally overran the compound and killed everyone.
The Obama administration told the American public that the attack was not a terrorist attack, but a spontaneous protest over a YouTube video. We now know that the Obama administration knew that was a lie when they said it. Over and over, President Obama and his administration made this public claim knowing it wasn’t true.
Why is this important? It’s important because Americans are dead, and their families deserve to know why. The families of the Benghazi attack, and indeed all Americans, deserve to know who ordered the American military to stand down and leave men behind. Someone must be held accountable.
We also deserve to know why the embassy can be attacked, so that we can prevent similar attacks in the future.
Justice Department Spying on the Press
If Attorney General Eric Holder was telling the truth and was simply snooping through the phone records of one or two reporters to find out who was leaking top secret documents, I would have no problem with what happened here.
But what happened here was not that. The United States Justice Department, tasked with finding out who leaked secret information, snooped through hundreds of Fox News employees’ phone records. They snooped through hundreds of employees of the Associated Press. And in the case of James Rosen, a reporter for Fox News, it was Attorney General Holder himself who told a judge in a signed warrant application that Rosen was a co-conspirator for treason.
Either Attorney General Holder lied to the judge (under pains and penalties of perjury) for permission to snoop through a reporter’s phone records, or he lied to Congress when he said he never even heard of a case where a reporter would be charged with such a crime.
While it is perfectly reasonable for the Justice Department to get a warrant and investigate the leaking of national secrets (especially in a time of war), it is not reasonable to pull the phone records of more than 100 employees in a news organization. That’s a fishing expedition. I am sure now that the Justice Department has all those phone records. Nobody at Justice went looking to see what other government employees were talking to “conservative” reporters negatively about President Obama or the Obama administration. Can this information too, be weaponized the way the IRS has weaponized information against political “enemies” of the Obama administration?
This is one of the biggest problems we face as free Americans. We want our government to snoop when they have to, ie: during an investigation of a terrorist threat, or a domestic threat of mass violence. But we do not want the employees gathering that information to use it for nefarious political purposes, or take legitimate government power and turn it against law-abiding citizens.
The NSA (National Security Agency) Snooping Through People’s Phone Records:
We learned last week that the National Security Agency, tasked with counter intelligence and keeping us safe from terrorist attacks here at home, has been gathering and cataloguing all of our cell phone calls, text messages, emails, websites that we visit on line, etc. Like the Justice Department, we want the NSA (some may disagree) to snoop and spy on known terrorist threats, gather information in any way they can to stop those terrorist threats from being carried out, and keep us safe from people within the US who plot to blow us up.
But we don’t want the NSA to be cataloguing every piece of electronic data they can, on every single person in the country for others to use or misuse in the future. As we saw with the IRS and Justice, people who work within these agencies have access to all this information. It’s obvious with all the leaks during the Obama administration, that people who work for our federal government are not really good at keeping their own information safe, much less the information they are gathering on all of us.
The solution to this problem is simple. If the NSA needs to troll phone records and metadata to gain an understanding of terrorist cells in the United States, fine. But as soon as the data is no longer needed it must be destroyed, not catalogued in a massive database system. This takes a simple act of Congress. Anyone caught leaking information gathered on private citizens, should suffer the same fate as anyone caught leaking national security secrets.
When you look at all of these scandals in their totality under the Obama Administration, you see a common thread. Government agencies with legitimate functions were systematically abused by employees of those agencies to achieve a particular political agenda.
That agenda was to silence, intimidate, conceal from or mislead the American people. That agenda is to punish republicans, Christians, and conservatives for daring to hold a different political opinion than the current administration.
If you ask me it is no different than having our government infiltrated by a foreign enemy spy agency using our government against us. The only difference is that those who have infiltrated and weaponized our government against us are political partisans who want to stifle free speech, silence their “enemies” and intimidate anyone else thinking about challenging their enormous political and government power.
What is most troubling about all of this is that those in charge of fixing the problem, our elected officials, have no interest or motivation to change the way that our government is abused.
Where is the call for IRS “Reform” from Congressmen Niki Tsongas and John Tierney?
Where is the bill for “Justice Department Reform” submitted Senator Warren to protect our free press?
Why is there no immediate movement in the Congress or the Senate to protect us from abuses by our own government?
The fact is, our elected leaders have the ability to move mountains when they want to. Look how quickly they passed the Patriot Act (something I support) after 911!
That’s because they were motivated by you. When the public outcry is loud enough, they will respond. So motivate them! It’s as easy as getting to a computer, looking up your congressman, sending them an email and telling them to get to work protecting our freedoms.
If you don’t, that option may not be available the next time government overreaches.