This past week has not been kind to President Obama and his administration, in what Daily Show host Jon Stewart has deemed “Hurricane Scandy, the tropical shit-storm.” First there was increased scrutiny over the attacks in Benghazi, then came the news that the IRS had been targeting conservative groups, and finally the worst of them all. It was revealed that the Department of Justice had secretly obtained the phone records of the Associated Press for a period of two months without first informing them — going far beyond the very narrow guidelines established by the DOJ.
AP received information from an undisclosed source about a possible terror attack that was to take place in May 2012. The Department of Justice claims that AP was only asked to keep the details quiet to ensure that CIA efforts to prevent a terror attack in May 2012 were not hindered. The story could not be revealed until national security was no longer an issue, as there was the possibility that Al-Qaeda would become aware of CIA operations, thus ruining the mission and further endangering the lives of Americans. In response, the DOJ went on to seize the phone records in an attempt to discern who had passed on the information to the press.
Important details being leaked by the press at this time may have thwarted a national security operation, so simply asking the AP to wait to release information makes sense. This also poses some freedom of press issues, but it is at least reasonable, right?
Not so fast. The Obama administration has gone after whistleblowers at an unprecedented rate, so this is nothing new. But while this fact is troubling enough, the emerging reason behind the administration’s most recent actions is even more disturbing. AP claims it did not plan to release any of the information until there was no longer a threat, so the initial statement from the Department of Justice makes no sense. According to the Washington Post, “CIA officials reported that the national security concerns were “no longer an issue,” according to the individuals familiar with the discussion.”
It seems that the real reason the administration went after phone records was to find out who had divulged the information to the AP because they wanted to be the first to make the announcement.
Since when is it the job of the government to determine how information gets disseminated by the media?
President Obama once promised to bring transparency back to the White House, releasing the following memo shortly after his inauguration in 2008:
“My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in government.”
Unfortunately, despite all the talk of “transparency,” the President never seems to understand the definition of the word. This latest scandal may even be enough to make some of the pundits at MSNBC believe that the President only believes in transparency when it makes him look good. Infringing on the freedom of the press is an act that should trouble people on both ends of the political spectrum, and liberals and conservatives alike have been disturbed by what is being seen as a blatant attempt to limit the First Amendment. Even Chris “Thrill Up My Leg” Matthews was unable to find kind words for the President after this revelation, noting that Obama seems to prefer giving speeches to actually running the country.
This is not something that can be said often, but Matthews hit the nail on the head. For someone who loves big government so much, Obama is the most laissez-faire executive of all time.
It is about time that someone on the left noticed that Obama never seems to be responsible when something goes wrong in his administration.
The President himself has even claimed he was unaware of the recent scandals surrounding his administration until he learned about them from the press.
Whether you agree with the President’s policies or not, it should be embarassing that no one in the administration seems to want to take responsibility for anything that has happened over these past few weeks. However, pretending to be unaware of these situations may be the new the tactic for Obama’s second term, as blaming George W. Bush may have gotten old after four years.
It’s simply unbelievable that the President was not aware of a national security threat, especially one so large it required the Department of Justice to spy on a major news organization for two months.
Perhaps in the future Obama would do best to allow the media to report as much as possible.
How else would he know what’s going on in his own administration?