Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What Will Happen to Eric Holder?

“The Buck Stops Here” — Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States

There are several things I admired Harry Truman for during his 7 years in the White House. I liked his institution of the Marshal Plan for the reconstruction of Europe as a bulwark against the expansion of Soviet Communism. I like his Executive Order 9981, in July 1948, desegregating and requiring equal opportunity in the Armed Forces after conservative Barry Goldwater had fully integrated the Arizona Air National Guard. I certainly liked his decision to drop the Atomic bombs on Japan to hasten the end of WWII. And I liked his support of the Berlin Airlift in order to defeat the Soviet blockade of the access routes to the divided city. The Berlin Airlift was one of Truman's great foreign policy successes; it significantly aided his election campaign in 1948.

Of course there were many things that Truman did that I did like such as the Korean War and his intervention into the steel and coal strikes.

But I will always remember Harry Truman for his open, honest, and sometimes confrontational relationship with the press. One specific instance has stuck in my mind for 63 years.

On December 6, 1950, music critic Paul Hume wrote a critical review of a concert by Truman’s daughter Margaret:

“Miss Truman is a unique American phenomenon with a pleasant voice of little size and fair quality ... [she] cannot sing very well ... is flat a good deal of the time—more last night than at any time we have heard her in past years ... has not improved in the years we have heard her ... [and] still cannot sing with anything approaching professional finish.”

Well Mr. Hume’s comments did not sit very well with “give em hell Harry” so Truman wrote a scathing response as any loving father should do:

“I've just read your lousy review of Margaret's concert. I've come to the conclusion that you are an 'eight ulcer man on four ulcer pay.' It seems to me that you are a frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful. When you write such poppy-cock as was in the back section of the paper you work for it shows conclusively that you're off the beam and at least four of your ulcers are at work. Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below! Pegler, a gutter snipe, is a gentleman alongside you. I hope you'll accept that statement as a worse insult than a reflection on your ancestry.”

Truman was criticized by many for the letter. However, he pointed out that he wrote it as a loving father and not as the president. I look at a brutally honest for a politician. It was certainly not the usual rope-a-dope you get from the likes of Barack Obama. The criticisms were mainly from the press. As a high school student at the time I can recall no one in my circle of family of friends of the family taking the side of Mr. Hume. Even my father, who was not a fan of Truman, gave him good marks for his honesty and candidness.

Today is a far cry from the days of Harry Truman. We now have politicians, like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Eric Holder who believe the buck stops with the building janitor. They spin, obfuscate, and downright lie to protect their image and jobs. They claim responsibility yet take no accountability for their actions or decisions. And unlike in the days of Truman there are many in the press who allow them to do so.

It must be nice being a Democratic president. No matter what you do – even investigate the press – there’s always someone in the media willing to defend it. The latest defense comes from Reuters media columnist Jack Shafer.

Shafer wrote a May 24 piece raising the question: “What war on the press?” His strange summary point was that “all this legal battering of the press, while real, hardly rises to the level of war.” Perhaps he wouldn’t consider it a war unless Obama started treating journalists like some third-world dictator.

In rebuttal Dan Gainor writes on Fox Obama’s ‘war on journalism’ just a skirmish, argues Reuters media critic:

“The longtime media critic began with three massive paragraphs and nearly 400 words detailing how everybody from the lefties at The New York Times, Washington Post and Slate to libertarians at Reason or the Post’s quasi-conservative Jennifer Rubin all agreed “President Barack Obama has declared war on the press.”

Everybody but Shafer, that is.

Shafer’s 1,400-word half-hearted defense focused on “language in the affidavit for search warrant for Fox News reporter James Rosen’s emails,” because the document called it a “criminal offense.”

The column then relied on an explanation from a George Washington University Law School professor who said that expression was “not a prelude to a prosecution.” So you can call journalism “criminal,” as long as you don’t prosecute today.

The rest of the piece agreed with journalists on most every point – but with finesse of a curveball pitcher nibbling at the corners.

Shafer was never willing to completely admit things are as bad as the 10 separate news organizations he mentions claim. His nuances were reminiscent of Bill Clinton’s classic “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

Shafer went on to admit that “there has been” a leak crackdown, but claimed it was mostly among bureaucrats and not journalists. He even noted that his colleagues compare the “tightlipped” administration to an information “black hole.”

Then we have Fox News’ Juan Williams, the poster boy for cognitive dissonance, stating:

“In the probe of the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity the Bush administration also asked its own officials to sign letters permitting journalist to break the confidentiality of source-reporter relationships and reveal their sources.

But the Obama administration became the first to cross a very dangerous line when it listed a journalist, Rosen, as a “co-conspirator” in an affidavit in order to get a judge’s permission to go after his emails and cell phone records.

In all previous cases the government used its prosecutorial powers to go after the people doing the leaking or passing along information from a government source.

Rosen may have set off alarms for prosecutors by using a phony450px-Juan_williams_2011 name and secret email address for his contact with his state department source. But a supervisor at FBI or among prosecutors – even the judge who approved the subpoena of Rosen’s information – needed to recognize the difference between a legitimate, scoop-hungry news reporter and a potential spy or terrorist.

That failure constitutes a chilling assault on freedom of the press.

Yes, there is a national security factor. The government obviously did not want North Korea to know that it had infiltrated its nuclear operations. But the problem is not the American press but government employees who decided to reveal the information despite their oath not to do so.

Arguably, even obsessive prosecution of sources can be a problem. The Obama administration has prosecuted six leakers. That is the most in history.”

To be fair, Attorney General Eric Holder is slowly beginning to recognize the grievous errors by the investigators and prosecutors who sent him the affidavit listing Rosen as a “co-conspirator.” And he seems to know now that by trusting that the FBI agents and Justice Department lawyers had a strong basis for their suspicions about Rosen he made a mistake in signing the affidavit.

In an interview with the Daily Beast website on Tuesday, Holder said “While both of these cases were handled within the law and according to Justice Department guidelines, they are reminders of the unique role the news media plays in our democratic system, and signal that both our laws and guidelines need to be updated.”

He added: “This is an opportunity for the department to consider how we strike the right balance between the interests of law enforcement and freedom of the press.”

The question of how we as a country (and our legal system) deal with leakers of classified information is an unresolved and urgent problem. This is a special problem that involves the kind of life and death decisions that attend to national security. It should be kept separate from those leakers who leak to score political points, embarrass political officials personally, or reveal government negligence or corruption.

The government often makes the mistake of lumping such items in with national security when it chooses what to classify and what not to.

But if these scandals have shown us anything it is that in this post 9/11 era the nation needs to resolve this specific issue once and for all.”

Williams just can’t get off this national security spin in his protection of Holder. He can’t seem to come to terms that is was not national security that motivated Holder to personally review and sign off on the subpoena for Rosen’s e-mail records. He argues this national security tune over and over again even though the Justice Department had to shop three judges to get their warrant based on a criminal action they tell us now they had no intention of prosecuting. I guess if you take that course you can get a warrant for anybody on anything. Williams continually argues, even against all common sense, the Holder is the best person to investigate Holder.

Top Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee openly challengedEric_Holder_s_Five_Stages_of-8c2664a3f1e7259f3cbcc5b05162cf35 Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday over his testimony two weeks ago in which he claimed to be unaware of any "potential prosecution" of the press, despite knowing about an investigation that targeted a Fox News reporter.

Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, (R-VA), and Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., (R-WI)., voiced "great concern" in a letter to Holder. They asked a litany of questions about the department's dealings with the press, and pointedly alleged that the Fox News case "contradicts" his testimony at a May 15 hearing.

"It is imperative that the committee, the Congress, and the American people be provided a full and accurate account of your involvement," they wrote.

The letter comes a day after the committee confirmed it was looking into Holder's testimony. Appearing before the House Judiciary Committee on May 15, Holder insisted that "the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material" is not something he was involved in or knew about.

But days later, it emerged that the Justice Department obtained access to the emails of Fox News reporter James Rosen -- after filing an affidavit that accused him of being a likely criminal "co-conspirator" in the leak of sensitive material regarding North Korea. Rosen was never charged, and never prosecuted. But he was effectively accused of violating the federal Espionage Act.

"The media reports and statements issued by the Department regarding the search warrants for Mr. Rosen's emails appear to be at odds with your sworn testimony before the Committee," Goodlatte and Sensenbrenner wrote in the letter Wednesday. They did not accuse Holder of committing perjury, but noted he was "under oath."

Among other questions, they asked Holder how he could claim to have never heard of the potential prosecution of the press. And they asked him to clarify whether he "personally approved" the search warrant request.

The top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Michigan Rep. John Conyers, said Tuesday, though, he thinks Holder "was forthright and did not mislead the Committee."

"Certainly, there are policy disagreements as to how the First Amendment should apply to these series of leak investigations being conducted by the Justice Department, and that is and should be an area for the committee to consider. However, there is no need to turn a policy disagreement into allegations of misconduct," he said.

Among other questions, they asked Holder how he could claim to have never heard of the potential prosecution of the press. And they asked him to clarify whether he "personally approved" the search warrant request.

The top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Michigan Rep. John Conyers, said Tuesday, though, he thinks Holder "was forthright and did not mislead the Committee."

Meanwhile, one of the country's most prominent liberal legal scholars called Wednesday for Holder to be "fired," joining the growing list of left-leaning pundits slamming his department's pursuit of journalists' phone and email records.

Jonathan Turley, an attorney and law professor at George Washington University, hammered Holder in a USA Today column today. He charged that Holder has "supervised a comprehensive erosion of privacy rights, press freedom and due process," aided by Democrats who looked the other way.

But in the wake of the reporter records scandal, Democrats are starting to join with Republicans in questioning whether Holder continues to be the right man to lead the Department of Justice in President Obama's second term.

Turley, in his column, referenced a recent call by the Republican National Committee chairman for Holder's resignation. "Unlike the head of the RNC, I am neither a Republican nor conservative, and I believe Holder should be fired," Turley wrote.

While Democrats largely defended Holder when his department came under fire for the botched anti-gunrunning sting Operation Fast and Furious, they've been less forgiving over the move this year to seize two months of phone records from Associated Press offices. That bombshell was compounded by the revelation that the department seized phone and email records for Fox News offices. The scandal grew as the department acknowledged Friday that Holder was involved in the court document that accused Rosen of being a likely criminal "co-conspirator," as part of the department's successful argument for obtaining a search warrant for Rosen's emails.

According to a report in The Daily Beast, aides say Holder has started to feel regret for the investigations. Under Obama's direction, he is starting a review of DOJ policies and meeting with representatives from the media.

A Justice Department official said Wednesday that Holder will hold meetings with several Washington bureau chiefs of national news organizations over the next two days. This is nothing more than Holder’s attempt at garnering support from friendly media outlets such as NBC and ABC,

A Justice Department official said Wednesday that Holder will hold meetings with several Washington bureau chiefs of national news organizations over the next two days.

"These meetings will begin a series of discussions that will continue to take place over the coming weeks. During these sessions, the Attorney General will engage with a diverse and representative group of news media organizations, including print, wires, radio, television, online media and news and trade associations," the official said.

Turley, in his column, scoffed at this course of action, since Holder was involved in the surveillance — at least the surveillance involving Fox News — in the first place. "Such an inquiry offers no reason to trust its conclusions," Turley wrote.

He described Holder as a trusted Obama "sin eater," swallowing the worst criticisms to shield the president.

"Indeed, these sins should be fatal for any attorney general," Turley wrote.

In the case of the burgeoning IRS Scandal when Congress returns from a weeklong recess on Monday, Danny Werfel is scheduled to appear before a House Appropriations subcommittee in his first congressional testimony since becoming acting IRS commissioner last week. Also appearing will be J. Russell George, the Treasury Department inspector general whose report detailed the IRS tactics..

Florida Republican Rep. Ander Crenshaw, who chairs the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees financial services and general government, said he wants to make sure Americans are treated fairly, whatever their political beliefs.

On Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee plans a hearing with groups targeted by the IRS. The panel did not identify which organizations would testify.

Meanwhile, the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative legal organization, brought the lawsuit on behalf of the groups in U.S. District Court in Washington.

The suit accuses the Obama administration of using a "comprehensive, pervasive, invidious and organized scheme" to deny tax-exempt status based on groups' political views. It seeks unspecified monetary damages and asks that the 10 groups still seeking the status be granted it.

Other legal action is also being taken by other conservative groups around the country.

According to a report in the Washington Times lawmakers will zero in on IRS meetings at White House:

“Lawmakers now investigating the Internal Revenue Service practice zeroed in on those nearly weekly White House meetings to determine whether an IRS official — or someone higher up in the administration — had approved the targeting and whether it was politically motivated.

The frequent meetings also raised questions about the White House's claims that it couldn't have instigated the targeting of conservative groups because it took a hands-off approach to the tax agency, going so far as to describe it as independent of the administration even though it's part of the Treasury Department.”

Over the past few weeks, the Obama Administration has been hit withGary Varvel: Bigger Government Question scandal after scandal. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) apologized for targeting conservative organizations, the State Department covered up its reaction to Benghazi, the Department of Justice (DOJ) secretly seized phone records of AP reporters, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asked health industry officials for contributions to implement the Affordable Care Act.

With these scandals arising, the question becomes, “Is President Obama responsible?” As of right now, there has been no link identified between the White House and these situations, nor is there evidence that Obama had any direct knowledge of the alleged wrongdoing. Does this mean that he is not responsible?

With these scandals arising, the question becomes, “Is President Obama responsible?” As of right now, there has been no link identified between the White House and these situations, nor is there evidence that Obama had any direct knowledge of the alleged wrongdoing. Does this mean that he is not responsible?

Nobody is remotely suggesting that, absent his direct involvement, the President should be prosecuted for the misdeeds of those who work in the executive branch. It is interesting to note, however — by way of analogy only — that under the DOJ’s standard of “responsibility,” if President Obama were the head of a corporation, he would be responsible and could be prosecuted

The Responsible Corporate Officer Doctrine allows federal prosecutors to criminally prosecute business owners and officers for the criminal activity of their businesses, regardless of whether they had knowledge of the illegal activity. The only requirement for criminal liability is “some relationship between the executive’s supervisory responsibilities and the underlying misconduct.” Put another way, in order to obtain a conviction, the government need only prove (1) illegal conduct occurred, and (2) the corporate officer had authority to exercise control over the activity.

The DOJ has used the Responsible Corporate Officer Doctrine to make criminals out of many well-meaning business people. In United States v. Park, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prosecuted the president of a corporation under the theory that his subordinates committed violations of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that the president had the ability to prevent or correct. Park, the company president, had delegated responsibility to correct the violations to one of his employees, who, regrettably for Park, did not follow through on his responsibilities. Park was convicted for FDA violations that he did not commit, order committed, or conspire to commit.

Just to be clear, there is no evidence in the recent Obama Administration scandals that criminal behavior took place, but the executive branch should stick to one definition of “responsible.” The DOJ definition of “responsible” is especially troubling in the context of a criminal prosecution where a person’s individual liberty is at stake—not just news stories that make the President look bad.

As Paul J. Larkin Jr. has written in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy:

“The point is not that courts should be eager to hold senior federal officials vicariously liable for the criminal actions of subordinates.… Courts should refuse to adopt novel readings of criminal statutes which expand criminal liability to reach conduct that they find immoral or unethical and that they fear otherwise will go unpunished. Courts might be willing to hesitate before expanding the breadth of federal criminal laws, and to force Congress to define crimes with precision and specificity, if they looked at the issue from the perspective of the government officials’ own liability. After all, sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander.”

The Responsible Corporate Officer Doctrine turns our notion of fairness on its head. People should be liable for crimes they commit — not crimes committed by others without their knowledge. The Responsible Corporate Officer Doctrine and thousands of criminal statutes and regulations are turning ordinary citizens into criminals.

If the President is not responsible for the wrongdoings of executive branch employees because the federal government is “too vast” for him to know everything that goes on in the various agencies, business owners and officers should be afforded the same excuse in criminal prosecutions. But, on the other hand if the Responsible Corporate Officer Doctrine stands the Obama, Holder, Hillary, along with IRS chiefs Miller, and Shulman should be liable to prosecution. After all, as Larkin stated: “the sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander.”

Our Founding Fathers feared the emergence of an agency such as the IRS and its potential for abuse. That's why they gave us Article 1, Section 9.4 of the Constitution, which reads: “No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.” A capitation is a tax placed directly on an individual. That's what an income tax is. The founders feared the abuse and the government power inherent in a direct tax. In Article I Section 8.1 they added, “But all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.” These protections the founders gave us were undone by the Progressive era's 16th Amendment, which reads, “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” The bottom line is that members of Congress need such a ruthless tax collection agency as the IRS because of the charge we Americans have given them."

"We have truly entered the world of 'Alice in Wonderland' when the CEO of a company that pays $16 million a day in taxes is hauled up before a Congressional subcommittee to be denounced on nationwide television for not paying more. Apple CEO Tim Cook was denounced for contributing to “a worrisome federal deficit,” according to Senator Carl Levin — one of the big-spending liberals in Congress who has had a lot more to do with creating that deficit than any private citizen has. The real danger to us all is when government not only exercises the powers that we have voted to give it, but exercises additional powers that we have never voted to give it. That is when “public servants” become public masters. That is when government itself has stepped over the line. Government's power to bully people who have broken no law is dangerous to all of us. No American government can take away all our freedoms at one time. But a slow and steady erosion of freedom can accomplish the same thing on the installment plan. Progressives and their supporters have been doing this for the past 100 plus years and now, perhaps, we the people will begin to reverse this trend — I hope.

As former Senator Fred Thompson quipped: "The ratings are out, and MSNBC has hit a 7-year low with their coverage of the scandals swirling around the White House. Well, when the emperor has no clothes, it's hard to take his tailor seriously."

No comments:

Post a Comment