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Old 05-15-2013, 01:07 AM  
Taco John Taco John is offline
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The day the Obama administration went all Nixon on us

The day the Obama administration went all Nixon on us

Attytood spoiler: That day was May 7, 2012...but first a quick history lesson.

Sigh...I know, I know, I write too much about the late 1960s and early 1970s, but this time it's really important. Because today that is the rallying cry for any presidential scandal, that this one is "worse than Watergate." But the Watergate break-in happened 41 years ago, which means that more than half of all Americans weren't even born yet, so you can't blame a lot of voters if they don't know much about what Watergate and the related scandals of Richard Milhous Nixon were all about.

One of the biggest drivers of Watergate was the seemingly unending war in Vietnam. As opposition increased to a foreign war that ultimately killed 58,000 Americans, for goals that were murky at best, so did government paranoia. At the core of Watergate was a team of shady operatives that were nicknamed "the White House Plumbers" -- because they went after news leaks...get it? In May 1969, after news reports about U.S. bombing activities in Cambodia, Nixon and his then-national security adviser Henry Kissinger enlisted J. Edgar Hoover's FBI to wiretap journalists and national security aides.

Later, one of the worst governmental abuses occurred after whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg leaked the massive Pentagon Papers that exposed governmental lies about the conduct of the war in Vietnam. Nixon's "Plumbers" broke into the office of Ellsberg's psychiatrist to dig up dirt to discredit him. Here is what one of Nixon's former aides, Egil Krogh, wrote about it in 2007:
The premise of our action was the strongly held view within certain precincts of the White House that the president and those functioning on his behalf could carry out illegal acts with impunity if they were convinced that the nation’s security demanded it. As President Nixon himself said to David Frost during an interview six years later, “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” To this day the implications of this statement are staggering.
No doubt. Luckily for America, not everyone agreed. Over the next couple of years, criminal charges against Ellsberg were tossed because of the government's misconduct, and Nixon resigned facing certain impeachment over the activities of his Plumbers and the ensuing, elaborate cover-up. The nation mostly rejoiced. The system worked...for a while.

Flash forward to 2012. America had at that point been in an undefined "war on terror" for 11 years -- the same amount of time from the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident that greatly expanded the Vietnam War to the 1975 fall of Saigon. Just as during the 1960s and early 1970s, this terror war had provided government with an excuse to greatly expand its domestic spying on American citizens -- some of that through a law called the Patriot Act and some of it even more dubious, constitutionally.

Then, on May 7, 2012, the Associated Press published an article about the Obama administration's conduct of its war in a country that we'd never declared war on (it was Cambodia in 1969, but Yemen in 2012) and Obama's Justice Department -- for reasons not yet fully known -- went crazy over the leak. This, then, is a reminder of why history matters so much.

Because if we're not careful...it repeats:
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 outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of the calls.


In all, the government seized the 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 where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.
The AP's CEO said tonight that "[t]here can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters" -- and I could not agree with him more. This revelation is deeply troubling -- and has the makings of a major scandal. Sure, you could try to mitigate it by noting, fairly, that accessing these phone records isn't as bad as wiretapping. But that is small solace, indeed. There's every reason to believe that Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on this unwarranted assault on the First Amendment, and if so, he ought to be canned (hasn't he overstayed his welcome, anyway?). Also, you might try to excuse this as a one-off, an ill-advised but isolated incident.

Except that it's not.

Since the day he took office, the Obama administration has undertaken an assault on government whistleblowers -- people informing citizens of what their government doesn't want them to know -- that surpasses anything that Nixon or any other president has done. Since 2009, the Obama administration has brought espionage charges against six whistleblowers. And most of these whistleblowers have been criticizing that way that America conducts its neverending war of the 21st Century. One, Thomas Drake, blew the whistle on the illegal warrantless wiretapping that began under George W. Bush. John Kiriakou dropped the dime on illegal U.S. torture -- and was sent away to prison, even as the perpetrators of torture from Dick Cheney to John Yoo continue to walk freely among us.

Nixon had Daniel Ellsberg, and Obama has Bradley Manning of Wikileaks. OK, so they didn't break into the office of Manning's psychiatrist, but they have detained Manning in a solitary confinement that a UN torture expert called "cruel, inhuman and degrading." Do you feel better about that? Because I don't. The war on whistleblowers, the treatment of Manning, and now this investigation of journalists are all hallmarks of a White House that promised transparency but has been one of the most secretive -- all to the detriment of the public's right to know.

Let's be clear -- this is about Obama...and it is about much, much more than Obama. It is yet another example of how the national security state that has dominated our political life since World War II has corrupted the American soul. It is exactly what Philadelphia's own Benjamin Franklin tried to warn us about -- trading liberty for security, and geting neither. To the conservatives reading this, who warn so much about big government running amok...here it is. To the liberals reading this, who thought that one man named Barack Obama could change the system, he couldn't. Only we, the citizens, can truly change things.

Let's work together. Let's start by repealing the 2001 Authorization of the Use of Force, declare victory in what was formerly known as the war on terror, and resolve that never again will this nation enter into a perpetual and constitutionally dubious war. Let's repeal the most egregious aspects of the USA Patriot Act, hold public hearings on the true extent that the U.S. government has spied on citizens without warrants -- and then bring those practices to an end. And as today's events made crystal clear, let's make America a nation where journalists and other truth-tellers can write stories or reveal information that the government might not like...without fear of intrusion or reprisal. Ironically, many of those type of changes were supposed to happen after Nixon, after Vietnam But they either didn't last, or they didn't come at all.

If greater liberty comes from the latest revelations, Obama's sins -- however bad not not bad they may turn out to be -- will not make things worse than Watergate. This time, it -- the aftermath, anyway -- will be better than Watergate.


Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/a...8PRD54hZRVr.99
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Old 05-15-2013, 09:47 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buster Hymen View Post
Justice DIDN'T inform AP of their actions until AFTER the fact.

Do you do any homework before opening your piehole?

I didn't say they informed them BEFORE the fact, did I?

My understanding is that the Justice Department issued the subpoenas, got the phone records and subsequently informed the AP what it had done.

But I'm with Boehner on this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Speaker Boehner's Spokesman
If the Obama administration is going after reporters' phone records, they better have a damned good explanation.
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Old 05-15-2013, 09:57 AM   #17
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-Either way...why were they investigating the reporters?
-Either way why did the Obama Administration direct the IRS to investigate people for names the OA didn't like (to me this is the big deal, they might have a legit reason to investigate reporters)
-Either way why did the OA let our reps in War Torn Libya die?
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Old 05-15-2013, 10:03 AM   #18
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They were investigating phone records to try and find whistleblowers that reporters were talking to.

This administration has been insane when it comes to intimidating and prosecuting whistleblowers. Kinda makes you wonder what frightening things they can't afford to have revealed...
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Old 05-15-2013, 10:11 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garcia Bronco View Post
-Either way...why were they investigating the reporters?
For leaks, but to me that's not enough to do that, and if it's legal we may want to make it ILLEGAL without some kind of judicial approval that it relates to a very serious, exigent-circumstances type of national security concern.

Quote:
-Either way why did the Obama Administration direct the IRS to investigate people for names the OA didn't like (to me this is the big deal, they might have a legit reason to investigate reporters)
I haven't seen yet that they did direct the IRS to do that. If they did, that is more troubling than what I have seen/heard so far, which already isn't good.

Quote:
-Either way why did the OA let our reps in War Torn Libya die?
I have absolutely NOT seen anything that supports this.
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Old 05-15-2013, 10:32 AM   #20
Taco John Taco John is offline
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Originally Posted by Amnorix View Post
So, first, it's my understanding that the Justice Department informed AP of the subpoenas which is hardly similar to the massive coverup that Nixon launched over Watergate.

Second, there is a big difference between the Watergate break-in and using subpoena powers to request telephone records from third parties. Among other things, what the Obama administration did is almost certainly LEGAL (if unusual).

I do agree that we should be aware of, and carefully watch, the Administration's actions when it comes to keeping an eye on the media. A free, independent and un-repressed media is critical to maintaining individual liberties (which is why libertarians are going nuts, of course).
Of course. When the government infringes on liberties, that means it's not illegal.
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Old 05-15-2013, 10:38 AM   #21
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Oh...well that's brilliant.

The Obama admiinistration has had one single thing going for it - the unquestioned adulation of most of the media.

And now they've gone after AP phone records? Holy hell, hannah - that's just stupid. That was the only shield you fellas had and now you've turned them against you?

I absolutely hate the whitewash that history will give this guy. He's been an abysmal leader, a dictator and a bully and all history is going to refer to him as is the first black President.

He's just an unparalleled disaster and it's in large part due to the fact that he's surrounded himself with the same kind of haughty, angry and entitled pseudo-intellectuals that he is.
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Old 05-15-2013, 10:49 AM   #22
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By the way, the democrats have 21 seats to defend in the Senate for 2014. The Republicans have 14. No sitting president has seen his party gain seats in the second midterm. The average loss is six.

Obama is unquestionably a sitting duck right now. The real question is how soon his own party turns on him out of political calculation.
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Old 05-15-2013, 10:56 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garcia Bronco View Post
-Either way...why were they investigating the reporters?
-Either way why did the Obama Administration direct the IRS to investigate people for names the OA didn't like (to me this is the big deal, they might have a legit reason to investigate reporters)
-Either way why did the OA let our reps in War Torn Libya die?
IIRC, in the Scooter Libby case regarding the outing of Valerie Plame, Judith Miller, the NY Times reporter, was held in jail as a nonresponsive material witness until she would disclose her source.

That was a case where a US Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, was hired to do an independent investigation of possible administration wrongdoing.

A lot of people felt that was abusive to arrest the reporter as a unresponsive material witness until she revealed her source. There was also a male reporter threatened the same way, but do not remember if he did any time in jail or not.

I think this investigation re: this leak was independent because the GOPs in congress thought the leak was irresponsible bragging by the administration. When you hire an independent US Attorney to investigate those guys can be azzholes.

Once Eric Holder was questioned by the FBI he recused himself and an independent US Attorney was assigned the job with the expectation that he will follow DOJ guidelines.

If you have a situation where a leak has happened and you think it is wrong to compel the reporters to reveal their source by arresting them as a non-responsive material witness, maybe they were not finding any good leads and the US Attorney applied for subpeonas.

IMO, this should be a judge authorized subpeona and not a grand jury subpeona because grand juries are usually a bunch of lay people and they only get to hear the US Attorney's side of the story. If this was a judge authorized subpeona, I think a judge would have said wait a minute and looked into whether or not the investigation had exhausted other leads and whether AP's lawyers should have a chance to weigh in on limiting the scope of the request.

I think this story is more of a matter of the press standing up for itself on the general idea of preferring that the government not chill all whistleblowing, and they are not being completely forthright about the fact that this is an independent US Attorney led investigation and the AG and the White House are not supposed to interfere, because the leaker might just be in the White House and he might have been bragging to make the White House look good about suppressing terrorism on the anniversary of Bin Laden's death.

I think that would be an interesting development if they find out who leaked and it was was political bragging as the GOP argued earlier after all of this brouhaha about these subpeonas, or if this brouhaha about the subpeonas stops the investigation from being effective and identifying the leaker.

If you want to get all reverse Nixonian, you would have to admit that it would be extra-genious if the White House knows the leaker and knows that it would be embarrassing for it to be found out, and sent this letter to the AP to get the investigation off track.

Then again, if that were the case, the journalists might just break their sacred rule and disclose their source just for the hell of it after these phone record subpeonas.
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Old 05-15-2013, 10:57 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Amnorix View Post


I haven't seen yet that they did direct the IRS to do that. If they did, that is more troubling than what I have seen/heard so far, which already isn't good.



I have absolutely NOT seen anything that supports this.
Leak what? They're reporters. I think the answer is more "We want to see what they're talking about so we can leverage say the IRS on them should they print or say something we don't like."

The argument I would make there is the OA is in charge of the IRS and if they were going to do that then either one of two things: Either the OA has no control over the IRS by allowing rouge administrators run free without oversight or they ordered it with full knowledge.

On Libya, they had full knowledge of the security reports in a war torn country with our citizens in it. There is absolutely NO excuse for not giving that full due diligence. They didn't. This is where the rubber meets the road in terms of leadership and being responsible for the lives of others.
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Old 05-15-2013, 10:58 AM   #25
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Old 05-15-2013, 11:00 AM   #26
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Old 05-15-2013, 11:02 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taco John View Post
Of course. When the government infringes on liberties, that means it's not illegal.

Right, because that is precisely what I said.
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Old 05-15-2013, 11:07 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Garcia Bronco View Post
The argument I would make there is the OA is in charge of the IRS and if they were going to do that then either one of two things: Either the OA has no control over the IRS by allowing rouge administrators run free without oversight or they ordered it with full knowledge.

Sure, and the buck stops here and all that, but until we know if the OA itself ordered this, then we don't know. The federal government is absurdly massive. They can't keep track of everything. If the OA didn't order this (and if they did, that's massively troublesome), then some bureaucrat (or lower level political appointee) has gotten himself into some massive hot water.

Quote:
On Libya, they had full knowledge of the security reports in a war torn country with our citizens in it. There is absolutely NO excuse for not giving that full due diligence. They didn't. This is where the rubber meets the road in terms of leadership and being responsible for the lives of others.

The State Department has personnel taking risks all the time. Every day. All over the world. Difficult judgment calls are made all the time about security versus doing their jobs. I haven't yet seen some massive failure by those above the poor deceased ambassador sufficient to warrant the witch hunt Republicans are calling for. I'm sure they will keep digging, so we'll see if anything more interesting turns up. So far all I see is alot of excitement about talking points, which doesn't excite anyone except those who already paint Obama with horns on his head.
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Old 05-15-2013, 11:32 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Amnorix View Post
Right, because that is precisely what I said.
It pretty well fits the spirit.
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Old 05-15-2013, 11:35 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Amnorix View Post
The federal government is absurdly massive.
Apparently, the talking points are out, because that's what Axelrod is saying now:
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner...-that%E2%80%99


How amusing that they're taking the Tea Party's main issue and using it as their fig leaf.
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This is a test for a client's site.
A new website that shows member-created construction site listings that need fill or have excess fill. Dirt Monkey @ https://DirtMonkey.net
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