U Michigan Department Chair: We Should ‘Hate Republicans’

U Michigan Department Chair: We Should ‘Hate Republicans’

A professor explains that studies show the GOP is bad.

Katherine Timpf

A University of Michigan department chairwoman has published an article titled, “It’s Okay To Hate Republicans,” which will probably make all of her conservative students feel really comfortable and totally certain that they’re being graded fairly.

“I hate Republicans,” communications department chairwoman and professor Susan J. Douglas boldly declares in the opening of the piece. “I can’t stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa or any of the legions of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform or championing fetal ‘personhood.’”

She writes that although the fact that her “tendency is to blame the Republicans . . . may seem biased,” historical and psychological research back her up, and so it’s basically actually a fact that Republicans are bad!

Douglas said that in the 1970s she did work for a Republican, Rhode Island’s senate minority leader Fred Lippitt, but she hates them all now because Lippitt was a “brand of Republican” who no longer exists in that he was “fiscally conservative but progressive about women’s rights, racial justice and environmental preservation.”Republicans now, she writes, are focused on the “determined vilification” of others, and have “crafted a political identity that rests on a complete repudiation of the idea that the opposing party and its followers have any legitimacy at all.”

(Apparently, the irony of this accusation given the content of her own article was lost on her.)

Douglas adds that Republicans are really good at being mean because studies have proven that they usually have psychological traits such as “dogmatism, rigidity and intolerance of ambiguity,” and that  “two core dimensions of conservative thought are resistance to change and support for inequality.”

“These, in turn, are core elements of social intolerance . . . which could certainly lead to a desire to deride those not like you — whether people of color, LGBT people or Democrats.”

“So now we hate them back,” she explains. “And with good reason.”

U of M’s anti-discrimination policy forbids “creating an intimidating, hostile, offensive, or abusive environment for that individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a University activity.”

It seems as though, for a student who votes Republican, knowing you had a teacher who assumed you were an intolerant bigot and blatantly advocated for hating you would likely create an “intimidating” educational environment; however, the anti-discrimination policy only protects against discrimination against someone “because of that person’s race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight or veteran’s status.” (Basically anything except for political affiliation.)

Douglas declined an interview with National Review Online on Tuesday, saying she was “so sorry” but just too “buried with work and meetings today.” She assured that she really did enjoy working with Lippitt in the ’70s.

“[I] think it’s terrible we’ve come to this pass of such extreme mutual animus,” she wrote.

The university did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

GOP: Justice Department pushed Lois Lerner to help build criminal case against nonprofits

GOP: Justice Department pushed Lois Lerner to help build criminal case against nonprofits

BY SUSAN FERRECHIO MAY 22, 2014 | 6:10 PM

 

Republicans on a House oversight panel say the Justice Department asked former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner in 2010 to help them build criminal cases against nonprofit groups conducting political activity.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and subcommittee chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, have requested an interview with Jack Smith, who heads the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Unit, after a subordinate revealed the department meetings with Lerner in a closed-door interview.

“The Justice Department convened a meeting with former IRS official Lois Lerner in October 2010 to discuss how the IRS could assist in the criminal enforcement of campaign-finance laws against politically active nonprofits,” Jordan and Issa said in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. “This meeting was arranged at the direction of Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith.”

The GOP-led House recently found Lerner, who headed the IRS Exempt Organizations department, in contempt for refusing to testify before the Oversight panel about her role targeting conservative and Tea Party groupsseeking 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status.

 

In October 2010, Lerner delivered an address at Duke University in which she told the audience, “everyone is screaming at us” to fix campaign finance before the 2012 election.

Issa and Jordan said they believe the Justice Department, “contributed to this pressure” on Lerner and other IRS officials to stop right-leaning organizations from achieving tax-exempt status, following a Supreme Court ruling lifting restrictions on their activity.

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Democrats were particularly angered by the ruling because they believe it created a surge in social welfare groups who were engaged in blatant political activity, many of them conservative.

“By encouraging the IRS to be vigilant in possible campaign-finance crimes by 501(c)(4) groups, the [Justice] Department was certainly among the entities ‘screaming’ at the IRS to do something in the wake of Citizens United before the 2010 election,” Jordan and Issa said to Holder in the Letter.

Issa and Jordan said they learned of the Justice Department’s involvement from Richard Pilger, the Director of the Department of Justice’s Election Crimes Branch. Issa has subpoenaed Pilger because he would not fully answer the questions asked recently in a closed-door meeting with House oversight investigators, although he did answer some questions and provided a lengthy statement.

In the letter to Holder, Issa and Jordan said they learned the Justice Department contacted Lerner again in 2013 after Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., suggested the Justice Department “prosecute nonprofits for false statements made on the groups’ application forms about whether they intended to engage in political speech.”

According to Pilger, the directive came from Smith, but “he was unsure, whether the instruction came from more senior Department leaders.”

The top Oversight panel Democrat said the testimony showed the Department of Justice was simply looking for illegal activity.

“Based on the witnesses and documents before the Committee, the Department of Justice’s request to the IRS was about how to prosecute groups that engaged in criminal activity — not based on their political beliefs,” said panel ranking member Elijah Cummings, D-Md.

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The full text of the letter is below:

May 22, 2014

The Honorable Eric H. Holder Jr.

Attorney General

United States Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20530

Dear Attorney General Holder:

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform continues to examine the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative tax-exempt applicants. On May 6, 2014, the Committee conducted a transcribed interview of Richard Pilger, the Director of the Department of Justice’s Election Crimes Branch. While we knew that the Justice Department engaged with the IRS in May 2013 to consider prosecution of political active nonprofits,[1] we were shocked to learn that this engagement started in October 2010. According to Mr. Pilger, the Justice Department convened a meeting with former IRS official Lois Lerner in October 2010 to discuss how the IRS could assist in the criminal enforcement of campaign-finance laws against politically active nonprofits. This meeting was arranged at the direction of Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith. We therefore respectfully request that you make Mr. Smith available for a transcribed interview.

According to Mr. Pilger, Mr. Smith asked him to arrange a meeting in early October 2010 with the IRS about the “evolving legal landscape” of campaign-finance law following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision.[2] Mr. Pilger testified that the Department’s agenda for the meeting was to engage with Ms. Lerner and the IRS on being “more vigilant to the opportunities from more crime in the . . . 501(c)(4) area.”[3] Mr. Pilger testified that he was interested in the “practicalities” of criminal enforcement by the IRS, such as whether the IRS could review donor lists of 501(c)(4) organizations for potential violations of campaign-finance law.[4] Mr. Pilger stated that Ms. Lerner, however, expressed skepticism about the practicality of using criminal law to address political speech by 501(c)(4) organizations.[5]

Mr. Pilger’s testimony reveals that the Justice Department contributed to the political pressure on the IRS to “fix the problem” posed by the Citizens United decision. On October 19, 2010 – only days after Ms. Lerner’s meeting with the Public Integrity Section – she spoke at a Duke University event about political speech by nonprofit organizations in wake of Citizens United.[6] Ms. Lerner stated:

What happened last year was the Supreme Court – the law kept getting chipped away, chipped away in the federal election arena. The Supreme Court dealt a huge blow, overturning a 100-year old precedent that basically corporations couldn’t give directly to political campaigns. And everyone is up in arms because they don’t like it. The Federal Election Commission can’t do anything about it.

They want the IRS to fix the problem. The IRS laws are not set up to fix the problem: (c)(4)s can do straight political activity. They can go out and pay for an ad that says, “Vote for Joe Blow.” That’s something they can do as long as their primary activity is their (c)(4) activity, which is social welfare.

So everybody is screaming at us right now: ‘Fix it now before the election. Can’t you see how much these people are spending?’ I won’t know until I look at their 990s next year whether they have done more than their primary activity as political or not. So I can’t do anything right now.[7]

We now know from Mr. Pilger that the Justice Department contributed to this pressure. By encouraging the IRS to be vigilant in possible campaign-finance crimes by 501(c)(4) groups, the Department was certainly among the entities “screaming” at the IRS to do something in the wake of Citizens United before the 2010 election.

Mr. Pilger’s testimony further confirmed that the Justice Department reengaged with the IRS in 2013 as a result of pressure from United States Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.[8] Senator Whitehouse convened a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing in April 2013 to address the IRS’s enforcement of campaign-finance laws, featuring testimony from Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman.[9] According to Mr. Pilger, Senator Whitehouse’s hearing led to the Justice Department reengaging with the IRS on possible criminal enforcement relating to political speech by nonprofits. Mr. Pilger testified that Ms. Lerner even helped the Justice Department and Ms. Raman prepare for Senator Whitehouse’s hearing.[10] Mr. Pilger further testified that following the hearing, he contacted Ms. Lerner to follow up on Senator Whitehouse’s proposal that the Department prosecute nonprofits for false statements made on the groups’ application forms about whether they intended to engage in political speech.[11] Although Mr. Pilger stated that Mr. Smith directed him to contact Ms. Lerner, Mr. Pilger was uncertain whether the instruction came from more senior Department leaders.[12]

The Committee’s transcribed interview of Richard Pilger presents further troubling information about the Department’s contemplated prosecution of nonprofit groups for false statements. It is apparent that the Department’s leadership, including Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith, was closely involved in engaging with the IRS in wake of Citizens United and political pressure from prominent Democrats to address perceived problems with the decision. We therefore ask that you make Jack Smith available for a transcribed interview with Committee staff on May 29, 2014. Please have your staff contact the Committee staff as soon as possible, but no later than May 27, 2014, to confirm this interview.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee of the House of Representatives and may at “any time” investigate “any matter” as set forth in House Rule X. Please contact David Brewer or Tyler Grimm with the Committee staff at 202-225-5074 if you have any questions. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Darrell Issa Jim Jordan

Rep. Darrell Issa issues Benghazi subpoenas to State Department.

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Rep. Darrell Issa issues Benghazi subpoenas to State Department.

By Shaun Waterman

The Washington Times

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The House Republican chairman investigating last year’s terror attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, has subpoenaed four State Department officials, saying the department was stalling on efforts to interview them.

In a statement Monday, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa of California said the four led offices where the State Department’s report into the attack, called anAccountability Review Board, had found that deficiencies contributed to a lack of security.

The board found that State Department leaders in Washington allowed the temporary facility in Benghazi to be occupied even though it did not meet security standards and then ignored pleas for additional security from diplomats on the ground.

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The Board’s report identified four mid-level officials as failing to show leadership in the run up to the attacks.

Republicans have claimed that the report let senior officials, including then-Secretary of State Hilary R. Clinton, off the hook.

In a letter about the subpoenas to Secretary of State John F. Kerryreleased Monday, Mr. Issa detailed his efforts since April 29 to arrange interviews with the four officials and others, stating his investigators “have only been able to interview one of the 13 individuals with whom they requested interviews and the meeting was arranged without theState Department’s help.”

“These persistent delays create the appearance that the Department is dragging its feet to slow down the Committee’s investigation,” Mr. Issa wrote. “It does not require weeks of preparation to answer questions truthfully.”

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He called the delay “irresponsible.”

Mr. Issa stated that the committee wants to hold a public hearing to examine the findings of the Accountability Review Board “as soon as possible.”

After issuing subpoenas last month, investigators arranged voluntary interviews with the co-chairs of the board — retired career diplomat Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, retired Adm. Michael Mullen.

Writing about Monday’s subpoenas, Mr. Issa said they were not the fault of the witnesses he was serving.

“By its very nature,” Mr. Issa wrote, “a subpoena can carry the implication that the witness is being uncooperative. In this case, that is an unfortunate and misleading consequence since it is the department, and not the individuals themselves, that appears to be dictating the timetable.”

The four officials, according to Mr. Issa, are Eric Boswell, who was assistant secretary at the Bureau of Diplomatic Security; Scott Bultrowicz, former principal deputy assistant secretary in that bureau and director of the Diplomatic Security Service; Elizabeth Dibble, former principal deputy assistant secretary, at the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs; and her boss, Elizabeth Jones, the bureau’s acting assistant secretary.

The State Department had no immedtiate comment.

Mario’s note:  Benghazi is back in the news!  It needs to be.   From top to bottom, it is a scandal that far outdistances the others that are connected to the White House.  Benghazi speaks to the arrogance, incompetence and indifference that endanger our freedom and the future of our nation.  Every believer, regardless of race has a vested interest in Benghazi.

If you are praying for the American Constitution to be reinforced, if you want the machinery of socialism to be stopped then the Benghazi investigation is very strategic.  Getting to the truth of what happened and why is the key to undoing the great deception.

Fear Begets Anger on IRS Scandal

Fear Begets Anger on IRS Scandal

By Chris Stirewalt

Power Play

Published June 03, 2013

FoxNews.com

“…I still hear people saying we were low level employees, so we were lower than dirt, according to people in D.C.  So, take it for what it is.  They were basically throwing us underneath the bus.”— Unnamed IRS employee in the agency’s Cincinnati office talking to House investigators about claims that the targeting of conservative groups was the result of rogue agents in the office.When a senior adviser to the president is attacking a House member over being arrested 40 years ago, you know things are starting to get interesting in Washington.David Plouffe, Democratic sage and architect of President Obama’s successful 2012 community organizing approach to re-election, flipped out on Twitter Sunday after House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa called White House Press Secretary Jay Carney a “paid liar” in reference to the shifting stories from the administration about the targeting of conservatives by the IRS.Plouffe called Issa “Mr. Grand Theft Auto,” a reference to Issa’s 1972 arrest for car theft. The charges were later dropped and Issa famously went on to make millions with a car alarm business.The very fact that such a senior Obama adviser would be dredging up Issa’s youthful arrest record is a strong indicator of how ugly this will get, and how quickly.

Team Obama would very much like to turn Issa into the Ken Starr of this decade and put an embattled president’s chief prosecutor on trial. And Issa certainly gives them some ammunition as a high-profile inquisitor and by using hot words like “liar.”

But it’s going to take more than stoking media skepticism about Issa to shift the focus away from the still unfolding story of abuses aimed at the president’s political enemies. Fear is the father of rage, and the rage against Issa suggests there is fear aplenty when it comes to the IRS scandal.

Appearing on “This Week,” earlier Sunday, Plouffe fiercely denied any connection between the White House and the harassment of conservative groups ahead of the 2010 and 2012 elections. He said that doing so “would be the dumbest political effort of all time.”

Don’t be so sure, Mr. Plouffe. How about hiring burglars to sneak into the rival political party’s headquarters to steal their election plans? That would be pretty dumb, right?

The reason presidents typically steer clear of the IRS is that they like the political insulation that the agency’s semi-autonomy provides. Bill Clinton made hay in his second term by attacking the IRS right alongside Republicans. It wasn’t his IRS, it was the IRS and he was going after it. Clinton wasn’t blamed for the abuses of 20 years ago, he was credited for reforming the agency.

Political wisdom would suggest that the only time a president wants face time with the IRS boss is in either hiring or firing him or her.

But President Obama, who has shown a policy passion for the mechanics of tax enforcement, brought the IRS into the heart of the Executive Branch. The dozens and dozens of White House campus visits by former Commissioner Douglas Shulman show just how close the relationship has become.

Political wisdom would suggest that the only time a president wants face time with the IRS boss is in either hiring or firing him or her. Obama, though, wanted to bring Shulman into the loop.

There is little that Obama has discussed more frequently than taxes. His great policy obsession has been using the tax code to reduce income inequality to help engineer a society with a broader middle class – to take money from top earners and spend it on projects he believes will push poor people into middle-income stability.

And for the president and his political team, the question of who pays what in taxes has been an animating concern. If there was a centerpiece of Obama’s re-election campaign it was Mitt Romney’s tax returns, used as evidence that Romney was not patriotic or moral because he took advantage of tax shelters to protect his vast fortune.

The tax returns of others were of issue too. Romney’s donors, wealthy conservatives funding political action and others on the right were held up as evidence that Republicans want to rig the system to help rich people abuse the poor. The belief has been that if regular Americans knew about the low rates paid by the super rich, the president could defeat his challenger and achieve the long-frustrated liberal goal of winning a tax-rate increase.

Obama did both of those things, but is now reaping some tragic consequences for his taxation fixation. And Obama, ironically, is now the one who has tax secrets to keep from view.

Preliminary reports from House investigators suggest that the field agents designated to be fall guys and gals for the tax scandal are not buying into the part. They say, according to interviews from Issa’s committee, that the orders to target conservative groups cam from Washington, and that high-level officials asked that case files on conservative groups be passed along for extra scrutiny.

Front-line workers bridled at the idea for fear that they would be left holding the bag. Prescient thinking, it would seem.

The idea that this scandal could be contained in Cincinnati was always a little silly, but the effort to shove this down to the Queen City is about to boomerang on the White House.

Plouffe offers as a defense that no one in Obama’s orbit would be so stupid as to have directed the IRS to harass the president’s enemies. That remains to be seen. Seemingly smart people often do obviously stupid things.

But what about tacitly encouraging the harassment? What about getting wind of it but not stopping it? What about finding a helpful, ideologically aligned IRS official to slip you some sensitive tax information to use against a political enemy? Was no one on team Obama so stupid as to have done any of those things?

Team Obama is making a big bet that either none of those things happened, or if they did the wrongdoing can be kept secret until it would be less politically damaging.

As the folks in Cincinnati start to shove the blame back up the organizational chart, the fears will grow. And so will, as Plouffe’s outburst revealed, the anger.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News, and his POWER PLAY column appears Monday-Friday on FoxNews.com. Catch Chris Live online daily at 11:30amET  at  http:live.foxnews.com.

Press is finally starting to treat it like Watergate.

Benghazi, IRS: Son of Watergate?

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, discusses the ongoing hearings into the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Cal ThomasTribune Media Services4:30 a.m. CDT, May 14, 2013
In his defense of President Obama, Press Secretary Jay Carney is beginning to sound a lot like Ronald Zeigler, Richard Nixon’s spokesman. Carney only has to use the word “inoperative,” as Ziegler did when incriminating evidence surfaced that proved his previous statements untrue.Following what appears to be a cover-up in the Benghazi attack, the Washington Post has obtained documents from an audit conducted by the IRS’s inspector general that indicate the agency targeted for special scrutiny conservative groups with “tea party” and “patriot” in their names, as well as “nonprofit groups that criticized the government and sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution.”

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  • Editorial: Why did the IRS muscle the right?

IRS official Lois Lerner described the targeting efforts as “absolutely inappropriate,” but said IRS actions were not driven by partisanship. How, then, would she explain why no groups with “progressive” in their titles were similarly targeted? Carney labeled Lerner an “appointee from the previous administration.” In other words: Bush’s mistake, not Obama’s.

The Post’s editorial board writes, “A bedrock principle of U.S. democracy is that the coercive powers of government are never used for partisan purpose.” The board called for a full accounting. I doubt we’ll get it. Take Benghazi.

ABC News first reported that the now famous Benghazi “talking points” used by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice on five Sunday morning news shows were revised 12 times, deleting references to “the al-Qaida-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia (and) CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.”

Carney said Ambassador Rice’s initial claim — that the attack grew out of protests over a video that insulted Islam — was based on what was known to U.S. intelligence at the time. But as last week’s testimony by three whistleblowers before the House Oversight Committee revealed, much more was known at the time.

Contributing to cover-up suspicions is the administration’s continued stonewalling when asked to provide information on Benghazi. CNN sources acknowledge that “An email discussion about talking points the Obama administration used to describe the deadly attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, show the White House and State Department were more involved than they first said…” The American people deserve the full story.

The latest, but probably not the last shocker, is a report in The Daily Caller about CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, who has “steadily covered the Obama administration’s handling of the Benghazi terrorist attack in Libya,” reportedly frustrating CBS News executives who claim her unrelenting coverage is “bordering on advocacy” on the issue. Now, according to Politico, Attkisson can’t get some of her stories about Benghazi on the air. Oh, did I fail to mention that CBS News President David Rhodes is the brother of Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes? Coincidental? Attkisson is reportedly in talks to leave the network. Is it because she chooses to behave like a real journalist instead of a cheerleader for Obama?

On Friday, Carney held a “secret briefing” on Benghazi for a select number of White House reporters, raising the ire of reporters not in the room. Is this what the Obama administration calls transparency?

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) has asked Speaker John Boehner to name a select committee to investigate the Benghazi attack with full subpoena powers that could place witnesses under oath. Boehner should. Meanwhile, House Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany (R-LA) has demanded the IRS turn over by Wednesday all communications containing the words “conservative,” “patriot” or “tea party.” And the IRS should.

Democrats now accuse Republicans of partisanship, claiming their motive is to damage Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential prospects. If she has nothing to hide, transparency should enhance, not harm, her chances. We’ve learned more about Benghazi since her appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January and she should be asked to account for it.

In 1972, Republican partisans initially accused Democrats of wanting to destroy President Nixon, but most were forced to acknowledge his culpability in Watergate once the facts became known. One of the Articles of Impeachment of Nixon concerned his misuse of the IRS to undermine political enemies.

Journalists should stop protecting President Obama and Hillary Clinton and do their jobs, like Sharyl Attkisson. Congressional Republicans should press for all the facts. That’s their job.

Scandal politics sweep Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill is pictured. | AP Photo

House committees will morph into mock courtrooms with the White House as defendant. | AP Photo

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By JAKE SHERMAN and LAUREN FRENCH | 5/13/13 7:15 PM EDT

Scandal politics are sweeping Capitol Hill.

Just days after news broke that the IRS targeted conservative nonprofits, Speaker John Boehner’s House committees will morph into mock courtrooms where the White House will be the defendant in what amounts to a number of high-stakes political trials.

The most recent scandal to grip the Obama administration came Monday evening, when The Associated Press disclosed that the Justice Department sought its reporters’ phone records — including those of correspondents who sit in the Capitol. Within hours, House Republicans vowed to investigate. To make things worse for President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder is scheduled to be on Capitol Hill Wednesday for a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

(Also on POLITICO: Journalists fume over DOJ raid on AP)

That’s hardly the president’s only problem.

Two separate committees — Oversight and Government Reform, and Ways and Means — will probe whether the IRS was treating right-leaning groups unfairly. Republicans moved swiftly to secure the IRS acting director for a Friday hearing, just a week after the news broke. GOP aides hinted Monday afternoon that widespread calls for the director’s resignation could come shortly.

The panels will probe whether the targeting of right-leaning groups is systematic, or isolated. Ways and Means Republicans say they are interested in when top IRS officials, specifically former Commissioner Douglas Shulman was told about search terms used to single out conservative groups. Shulman told Ways and Means members in March 2012 that the IRS was not engaged in any manner of political targeting.

(PHOTOS: 10 slams on the IRS)

Top GOP sources acknowledge that it’s highly unlikely the White House was directly involved in the IRS mess, but the probe is sure to add to the Republican-spun narrative of Democratic, Big Government overreach.

The IRS probes might be new to the public, but they’re not to House Republicans, who have long worried about politicization at the agency. The hot-button topic has come up in several committee hearings since the GOP took the majority.

The inquest into the IRS is just the latest in a string of GOP-led investigations suddenly gaining steam on Capitol Hill. Instead of negotiating with the White House, GOP lawmakers are now investigating it.

There are currently five separate committee investigations into the attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, and a probe into Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius raising millions of dollars to promote Obamacare. Ways and Means is demanding answers to seven questions on this matter, as well.

(PHOTOS: 10 hits on Obama and Benghazi)

All together, roughly one-third of House committees are engaged in investigating some aspect of the Obama administration.

“The speaker and other House leaders have been clear: Effective, responsible oversight is a key constitutional responsibility of Congress,” said Michael Steel, Boehner’s spokesman. “Whether the topic is the truth about Benghazi, thuggish political attacks from the IRS or the ‘train wreck’ of the president’s health care law, we will keeping fighting to make sure the American people know the truth.”

Government seizes AP phone records

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By ASSOCIATED PRESS |

5/13/13 4:30 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.

The records obtained by the Justice Department listed incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP.

In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.

(WATCH: Darrell Issa: AP report prompts DOJ review)

In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.

“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know,” Pruitt said.

The government would not say why it sought the records. U.S. officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have leaked information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.

In testimony in February, CIA Director John Brennan noted that the FBI had questioned him about whether he was AP’s source, which he denied. He called the release of the information to the media about the terror plot an “unauthorized and dangerous disclosure of classified information.”

Prosecutors have sought phone records from reporters before, but the seizure of records from such a wide array of AP offices, including general AP switchboards numbers and an office-wide shared fax line, is unusual and largely unprecedented.

In the letter notifying the AP received Friday, the Justice Department offered no explanation for the seizure, according to Pruitt’s letter and attorneys for the AP. The records were presumably obtained from phone companies earlier this year although the government letter did not explain that. None of the information provided by the government to the AP suggested the actual phone conversations were monitored.

Among those whose phone numbers were obtained were five reporters and an editor who were involved in the May 7, 2012 story.

The Obama administration has aggressively investigated disclosures of classified information to the media and has brought six cases against people suspected of leaking classified information, more than under all previous presidents combined.

Justice Department published rules require that subpoenas of records from news organizations must be personally approved by the attorney general but it was not known if that happened in this case. The letter notifying AP that its phone records had been obtained though subpoenas was sent Friday by Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney in Washington.

Spokesmen in Machen’s office and at the Justice Department had no immediate comment on Monday.

The Justice Department lays out strict rules for efforts to get phone records from news organizations. A subpoena can only be considered after “all reasonable attempts” have been made to get the same information from other sources, the rules say. It was unclear what other steps, in total, the Justice Department has taken to get information in the case.

A subpoena to the media must be “as narrowly drawn as possible” and “should be directed at relevant information regarding a limited subject matter and should cover a reasonably limited time period,” according to the rules.

The reason for these constraints, the department says, is to avoid actions that “might impair the news gathering function” because the government recognizes that “freedom of the press can be no broader than the freedom of reporters to investigate and report the news.”

News organizations normally are notified in advance that the government wants phone records and enter into negotiations over the desired information. In this case, however, the government, in its letter to the AP, cited an exemption to those rules that holds that prior notification can be waived if such notice, in the exemption’s wording, might “pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation.”

It is unknown whether a judge or a grand jury signed off on the subpoenas.

The May 7, 2012, AP story that disclosed details of the CIA operation in Yemen to stop an airliner bomb plot occurred around the one-year anniversary of the May 2, 2011, killing of Osama bin Laden.

The plot was significant because the White House had told the public it had “no credible information that terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida, are plotting attacks in the U.S. to coincide with the (May 2) anniversary of bin Laden’s death.”

The AP delayed reporting the story at the request of government officials who said it would jeopardize national security. Once government officials said those concerns were allayed, the AP disclosed the plot because officials said it no longer endangered national security. The Obama administration, however, continued to request that the story be held until the administration could make an official announcement.

The May 7 story was written by reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman with contributions from reporters Kimberly Dozier, Eileen Sullivan and Alan Fram. They and their editor, Ted Bridis, were among the journalists whose April-May 2012 phone records were seized by the government.

Brennan talked about the AP story and leaks investigation in written testimony to the Senate. “The irresponsible and damaging leak of classified information was made … when someone informed the Associated Press that the U.S. Government had intercepted an IED (improvised explosive device) that was supposed to be used in an attack and that the U.S. Government currently had that IED in its possession and was analyzing it,” he said.

He also defended the White House’s plan to discuss the plot immediately afterward. “Once someone leaked information about interdiction of the IED and that the IED was actually in our possession, it was imperative to inform the American people consistent with Government policy that there was never any danger to the American people associated with this al-Qa’ida plot,” Brennan told senators.

UPDATE (4:36 p.m. (DB)): Pruitt’s full letter to Attorney General Holder:

There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.

We regard this action by the Department of Justice as a serious interference with AP’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news.

UPDATE (5:08 p.m. (DB)): The Dept. of Justice has released the following statement:

We take seriously our obligations to follow all applicable laws, federal regulations, and Department of Justice policies when issuing subpoenas for phone records of media organizations. Those regulations require us to make every reasonable effort to obtain information through alternative means before even considering a subpoena for the phone records of a member of the media. We must notify the media organization in advance unless doing so would pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation. Because we value the freedom of the press, we are always careful and deliberative in seeking to strike the right balance between the public interest in the free flow of information and the public interest in the fair and effective administration of our criminal laws.

UPDATE (6:25 p.m. (DB)): House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa has released the following statement:

This is obviously disturbing. Coming within a week of revelations that the White House lied to the American people about the Benghazi attacks and the IRS targeted conservative Americans for their political beliefs, Americans should take notice that top Obama Administration officials increasingly see themselves as above the law and emboldened by the belief that they don’t have to answer to anyone.  I will work with my fellow House Chairmen on an appropriate response to Obama Administration officials.

‘There’s No There There’

Obama on Benghazi

THE BLOG

Obama on Benghazi: ‘There’s No There There’

12:07 PM, MAY 13, 2013 • BY DANIEL HALPER

At a press conference today at the White House, President Obama said “There’s no there there” on criticism of how his administration handled the Benghazi terror attack:

“And suddenly three days ago this gets spun up as if there’s something new to the story,” Obama said in response to a question about Benghazi. “There’s no there there.”

The president continued, “Keep in mind by the way these so-called talking points that were prepared for Susan Rice, five, six days after the event occurred, pretty much matched the assessments that I was receiving at that time in my presidential daily briefing.”

OOPS!  There is some there there.

The Benghazi Scandal Grows

The State Department, the CIA, the White House . . .

MAY 20, 2013, VOL. 18, NO. 34 • BY STEPHEN F. HAYES

CIA director David Petraeus was surprised when he read the freshly rewritten talking points an aide had emailed him in the early afternoon of Saturday, September 15. One day earlier, analysts with the CIA’s Office of Terrorism Analysis had drafted a set of unclassified talking points policymakers could use to discuss the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. But this new version​—​produced with input from senior Obama administration policymakers​—​was a shadow of the original.

WhistleblowersANDREW HARNIK/THE WASHINGTON TIMES/LANDOV

The original CIA talking points had been blunt: The assault on U.S. facilities in Benghazi was a terrorist attack conducted by a large group of Islamic extremists, including some with ties to al Qaeda.

These were strong claims. The CIA usually qualifies its assessments, providing policymakers a sense of whether the conclusions of its analysis are offered with “high confidence,” “moderate confidence,” or “low confidence.” That first draft signaled confidence, even certainty: “We do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda participated in the attack.”

There was good reason for this conviction. Within 24 hours of the attack, the U.S. government had intercepted communications between two al Qaeda-linked terrorists discussing the attacks in Benghazi. One of the jihadists, a member of Ansar al Sharia, reported to the other that he had participated in the assault on the U.S. diplomatic post. Solid evidence. And there was more. Later that same day, the CIA station chief in Libya had sent a memo back to Washington, reporting that eyewitnesses to the attack said the participants were known jihadists, with ties to al Qaeda.

Before circulating the talking points to administration policymakers in the early evening of Friday, September 14, CIA officials changed “Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda” to simply “Islamic extremists.” But elsewhere, they added new contextual references to radical Islamists. They noted that initial press reports pointed to Ansar al Sharia involvement and added a bullet point highlighting the fact that the agency had warned about another potential attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in the region. “On 10 September we warned of social media reports calling for a demonstration in front of the [Cairo] Embassy and that jihadists were threatening to break into the Embassy.” All told, the draft of the CIA talking points that was sent to top Obama administration officials that Friday evening included more than a half-dozen references to the enemy​—​al Qaeda, Ansar al Sharia, jihadists, Islamic extremists, and so on.

The version Petraeus received in his inbox Saturday, however, had none. The only remaining allusion to the bad guys noted that “extremists” might have participated in “violent demonstrations.”

In an email at 2:44 p.m. to Chip Walter, head of the CIA’s legislative affairs office, Petraeus expressed frustration at the new, scrubbed talking points, noting that they had been stripped of much of the content his agency had provided. Petraeus noted with evident disappointment that the policymakers had even taken out the line about the CIA’s warning on Cairo. The CIA director, long regarded as a team player, declined to pick a fight with the White House and seemed resigned to the propagation of the administration’s preferred narrative. The final decisions about what to tell the American people rest with the national security staff, he reminded Walter, and not with the CIA.

This candid, real-time assessment from then-CIA director Petraeus offers a glimpse of what many intelligence officials were saying privately as top Obama officials set aside the truth about Benghazi and spun a fanciful tale about a movie that never mattered and a demonstration that never happened.

“The YouTube video was a nonevent in Libya,” said Gregory Hicks, a 22-year veteran diplomat and deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli at the time of the attacks, in testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on May 8. “The only report that our mission made through every channel was that there had been an attack on a consulate . . . no protest.”

So how did Jay Carney, Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and others come to sell the country a spurious narrative about a movie and a protest?

There are still more questions than answers. But one previously opaque aspect of the Obama administration’s efforts is becoming somewhat clearer. An email sent to Susan Rice following a key White House meeting where officials coordinated their public story lays out what happened in that meeting and offers more clues about who might have rewritten the talking points.

Republicans call for depositions in Benghazi probe, amid revelation Clinton barely interviewed.

hillary26n-1-web

Republicans call for depositions in Benghazi probe, amid revelation Clinton barely interviewed.

 

 

Congressional Republicans on Sunday pressed their investigation into the Benghazi attacks, suggesting depositions for high-ranking officials and more whistle-blowers testifying amid further questions about why then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not thoroughly interviewed about the issue.

Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told “Fox News Sunday” that more potential and self-proclaimed “whistle-blowers” might come forward after three of them – career State Department foreign service employees – testified last week before the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee.

“We have had people come forward because of the (hearing) and say we would also like to talk,” the Michigan Republican told “Fox News Sunday.” “I do think we’re going to see more whistle-blowers. Certainly my committee has been contacted; I think other committees as well.”

Rogers’ remarks came as Thomas Pickering, the former U.S. ambassador who helped write a report on security at a U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, defended his assessment but absolved Clinton.

“We knew where the responsibility rested,” Pickering told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”  “They’ve tried to point a finger at people more senior than where we found the decisions were made.”

Pickering said he and retired Adm. Mike Mullen had to work within the legal scope of the investigation and that they “knew and understood” Clinton’s role based upon “talking to other people at meetings.”

Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed in the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the U.S. outpost.

Benghazi Massacre Blog copy

Congressional Republicans have since led efforts to learn whether the Obama administration provided adequate security and if the explanation of events was altered as part of a possible political cover-up.

Among the lingering questions are whether Clinton was involved in changing a CIA memo about how the attacks started and was she at least partially responsible for the apparent lack of adequate security.

The Accountability and Review Board, led by Pickering and Mullen, did not question Clinton at length about the attacks but concluded the decisions about the consulate were made well below the secretary’s level.

However, Pickering’s defense Sunday of the panel’s conclusions appeared to do little to quiet Republicans’ calls for more accountability for the attacks, which killed Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, and two embassy security personnel, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both former Navy SEALs.

Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House oversight committee, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” he would like to interview under oath Pickering and Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein told NBC that Congress’ review seems aimed at discrediting Clinton and her potential 2016 presidential bid.

Pickering and Mullen’s report, released in December, found that “systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels” of the State Department meant that security was “inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.”

The House oversight committee hearing last week included testimony from Gregory Hicks, a former deputy chief of mission to Libya.

Hicks, a self-proclaimed whistle-blower, detailed his phone conversations from Tripoli with Stevens, who died during the two nighttime attacks.

Hicks and two other State Department witnesses criticized the Pickering and Mullen review. Their complaints centered on a report they consider incomplete, with individuals who weren’t interviewed and a focus on the assistant secretary level and lower.

The hours-long hearing produced no major revelation but renewed interest in the attacks that happened during the lead-up to the November 2012 presidential election.

Five days after the attacks, in the final weeks of President Obama’s re-election bid, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice went on Sunday talk shows and said the attacks were “spontaneous” and sparked by protests elsewhere in the Middle East over an anti-Islamic video.

However, new reports show the original CIA memo on the incident was scrubbed of the mention of “Islamic militants” and early intelligence about Al Qaeda in the region.

The series of emails that circulated between the State Department and the CIA led to weakened — and, in some cases, wrong — language that Rice used to describe the assault.

Issa also said he will on Monday request private testimonies from Pickering and Mullen and that his oversight panel has not been provided sufficient details on the State Department review.

Pickering, who was sitting next to Issa during “Meet the Press,” said he wanted to appear at the Republican-led hearing Wednesday but was blocked.

Issa said Democrats could have invited their own witnesses, such as Pickering, but did not.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Sunday renewed congressional Republicans’ call for a House select committee on Benghazi — like the one used to investigate Watergate — and called the Obama administration’s handling of the terror attacks “a cover-up.”

“I would call it a cover-up in the extent that there was willful removal of information, which was obvious,” McCain said on ABC’s “This Week.”