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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Too Many Scandals

"Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness." — George Washington

With all the scandals it’s getting hard for the average American to keep up. First we had Benghazi. Then the Justice Department’s snooping into the e-mails of the AP and James Rosen of Fox News. Then came the IRS’ overt bias against conservative groups requesting 501c(3) tax exempt status. Now we have the bombshell of the National Security Agency’s data mining of millions of Americans. And we will soon have the exposé of the EPA’s illegal actions of going after conservative groups by loading them with onerous regulations and the looming sex scandal involving the State Department.

Most Americans spend their time working and supporting their families. They don’t have much time to focus on all of these scandals every day. Most get their news from the nightly TV news shows or the late night comedians. Unless they are dedicated listeners to talk radio of the cable news channels they just can’t keep up.

The beauty of the 1973 Watergate Scandal is that it was the only scandal to focus on. The American people were able to watch replays of the hearings each night on the three major TV networks. Most of the anchors on these networks were fairly unbiased reporters who did a reasonable job of reporting the news and not getting into opinions. That was left to the Sunday shows like Meet the Press and Face the Nation.

This overload of scandals is in a way a blessing for the Obama administration. It creates a cloud of obfuscation over all of the scandals with the exception of the most current one. In this case it’s the NSA and Edward250px-Elijahcummings Snowden. The Benghazi attack of 9/11/2012 and the issue of gun-running to Syria has taken the rear most seat in the media. The DOJ’s illegal snooping is growing dim. The IRS scandal according to Representative Elijah Cummings (D MD) is over and the case is closed yet the reports and law suits continue to mount. Now it’s all about the NSA.

It’s difficult for the mainstream media to walk and chew gum at the same time. In fact it’s difficult for some of the MSM’s publications and outlets to walk at all. This is good news for President Obama and the worst Attorney General since Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1789 and the Federalist and former Secretary of State Edmund Jennings Randolph was appointed as the first Attorney General.

The United States Attorney General (AG) is the head of the United States Department of Justice (see 28 U.S.C. § 503) concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government. The attorney general is considered to be the chief lawyer of the U.S. government. The attorney general serves as a member of the president's cabinet, and is the only cabinet department head who is not given the title secretary.

The attorney general is nominated by the President of the United States and takes office after confirmation by the United States Senate. He or she serves at the pleasure of the president and can be removed by the president at any time; the attorney general is also subject to impeachment by the House of Representatives and trial in the Senate for "treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors."

The original duties of this officer were "to prosecute and conduct all suits in the Supreme Court in which the United States shall be concerned, and to give his advice and opinion upon questions of law when required by the president of the United States, or when requested by the heads of any of the departments." Only in 1870 was the Department of Justice established to support the attorney general in the discharge of his responsibilities.

Since AG Randolph was appointed we have had 81 Attorney Generals — some good, some bad, some charismatic, but most unknown to most of us today. If I were to ask who Edward Bates or Richard Olney were I would venture you would not know. On the other hand if I asked if you knew who Edwin M. Stanton, Alexander Mitchell Palmer, Francis Biddle, Robert F. Kennedy, or John Mitchel were most educated Americans would get that question correct of Jeopardy.

Three of the worst AGs in American history come to mind: Alexander Palmer (Wilson), Janet Reno (Clinton), and the worst being our current Attorney General Eric Holder.

Prominent voices from both sides of the aisle are calling for embattledturleyjfisa Attorney General Eric Holder to resign as America’s chief law enforcement officer. Even those on the left have abandoned him. Holder has presided over a “comprehensive erosion of privacy rights, press freedom and due process,” according to liberal professor Jonathan Turley

In his May 29th column in USA Today Turley said:

“Recently, Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about the administration's sweeping surveillance of journalists with the Associated Press. In the greatest attack on the free press in decades, the Justice Department seized phone records for reporters and editors in at least three AP offices as well as its office in the House of Representatives. Holder, however, proceeded to claim absolute and blissful ignorance of the investigation, even failing to recall when or how he recused himself.

Yet, this was only the latest attack on the news media under Holder's leadership. Despite his record, he expressed surprise at the hearing that the head of the Republican National Committee had called for his resignation. After all, Holder pointed out, he did nothing. That is, of course, precisely the point. Unlike the head of the RNC, I am neither a Republican nor conservative, and I believe Holder should be fired.”

While Prof. Turley makes a case for Obama firing Holder I think it’s a liberal’s way of brushing the issue of government overreach and abuse of power under the rug in the Oval Office and a way for Holder to eat Obama’s sins.

Here are a few reasons why Holder should not be fired:

(1) If Holder is culpable, let him face investigation and the legal consequences for his actions. If he is not, let him keep his job. Resignation is an unsatisfying compromise that leaves the American public without the answers we deserve.

(2) This is no time for him to ride off into the sunset. Resignation wouldJustice Holder allow him to disappear over the horizon and return to private life. The press will move on to the next kerfuffle du jour, and the American people will lose interest in what he may or may not have done while serving as attorney general.

(3) Resigning would immediately reduce his accountability. Resignation would make it easier for Holder to claim he no longer has access to key information. When congressional committees seek answers to the many unanswered questions, Holder can claim that he doesn’t know and that he no longer has access to relevant information.

4) We don’t need any more obfuscation. Holder’s resignation would give political cover to the administration’s erosion of privacy rights, press freedom and due process. The federal leviathan now has unprecedented access to health information, thanks to the behemoth of bad legislation known as ObamaCare.

Freedom of the press goes the way of individual privacy. Outrageous incursions — obtaining phone records of editors and reporters at The Associated Press, the electronic monitoring of Fox News reporter James Rosen — together with Holder’s denials before the House Judiciary Committee that he was not involved in either incident prompted Obama to ask Holder to investigate himself.

And remember that bit in the Fifth Amendment about no person being “deprived of life” without “due process of law”? I missed the part where it says “except in the case of drone strikes.” Waterboarding non-citizen, enemy-combatant Jihadis makes the president evil, whereas vaporizing U.S. citizens from the sky makes the president a hero.

5) Atonement requires more than just a sacrificial lamb. Holder should not resign because that will allow the left to claim that he was a rogue attorney general and that his boss bears no responsibility for his misdeeds. It will allow Obama to escape making the tough public decision to fire him for cause, and it would give Obama an easy way out.

Obama faces a watershed moment in his presidency. From Benghazi to the IRS scandal to the AP and James Rosen investigations to the NSA’s surveillance of the entire population, the American people have innumerable unanswered questions about this administration’s approach to the rule of law.

Obama promised the most transparent administration ever. He claimed he would bring “an unprecedented level of openness in government” that would “work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency.”

He promised transparency. He delivers opacity, blocking investigations of wrongdoing. He promised “a review of government regulations” to find and “fix” rules unnecessarily burdening business. He delivers a one-way ratchet on federal governmental expansion at the inevitable expense of individual freedom.

The issues posed by the current epidemic of current and developing scandals cannot be solved by the resignation of Eric Holder, Lois Lerner, Cheryl Mills, Michael Morell or anyone else. We need to keep the public spotlight shinning on these dark corners of our administrative state.

Barack Obama wasn't an average citizen before moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He was a senator. He was on the Foreign Relations Committee and had access to classified information — all the more reason to believe that he knew that the terror threat was not cynical “fear mongering' by President Bush. When Bush engaged in data mining, he was “undermining our constitution and our freedoms.” When Obama does it, he is “striking the right balance” between security and freedom.

The president assures us that “no one is listening to our phone calls,” and that may be true. But this administration also assured us that no sweeping data collection on American citizens was going on, that the IRS was not unfairly singling out conservatives, that the Justice Department had not attempted to prosecute journalists, and that the Benghazi attack was the response to a video.

According to the latest Fox News poll two-thirds of American voters (66 percent) think the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups as part of a high-level operation to punish political opponents. Far fewer — 23 percent — think it was a mistake by a handful of lower-level IRS employees.

More than three-quarters of voters (78 percent) want Congress to continue to investigate the IRS. That’s a bit higher than the number that thinks Congress should continue to investigate the Justice Department seizing journalists’ records (76 percent) and the Obama administration handling of the attacks in Benghazi (73 percent).

Holder’s resignation would make things easier on this administration. And that’s the last thing we need if we want to return to constitutional government.

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