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Every American should watch this hearing to see how their government works and the brave government employees who are willing to speak up and tell the truth. Watch the hearings:
Benghazi: Exposing Failure and Recognizing Courage (House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform)
Benghazi: Unaware, Unresponsive, Unaccountable (OPSEC Team video)
The Benghazi hearings: what’s new and what’s not (Washington Post/Fact Checker)
Readers who are just tuning into the Benghazi story may be a little confused about what is new — and what is not. As a reader service, here’s an effort to help readers through some of the fog of charges and countercharges that emerged at the House hearings on Wednesday. . . .
IRS Political Targeting Report Released, Issa, Jordan To Announce Hearing Soon (House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform)
Today, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released its report on the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of organizations for their political beliefs. The full report can be found here and a summary of the findings can be found here.
The report was requested by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in June 2012.
“Today’s report magnifies our concerns about the breadth and depth of the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of organizations for their political beliefs. Unfortunately, the report raises more questions than it answers. What we do know for sure is that the IRS personnel responsible for granting tax exemptions systematically targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny, and that officials in Washington, D.C. were aware of this practice, even while publically claiming that it never happened,” said Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
“We still do not know why the targeting began, how extensive it was, who initiated it and who knew about it. The IRS must be held accountable to the American people, which requires a full investigation of the circumstances surrounding the facts established in this audit,” said Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.
Earlier today, Issa and Jordan sent a letter to the IRS seeking additional information on the political targeting and on several false and misleading statements made to the Committee in 2012.
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. . . . .
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The IRS’ targeting of conservative groups has nothing to do with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, but these two political tornados collided simultaneously into the White House Friday and continue to swirl around Washington.
Both stories are like catnip for conspiracy theorists. On the Internal Revenue Service, conservative groups and lawmakers have for years complained they were getting harassed by the IRS. Maybe they weren’t imagining things.
On Benghazi, conservatives have long alleged that the White House tried in the immediate aftermath to downplay that terrorism led to the consulate attack. Their suspicion is that the White House didn’t want to admit a terrorist attack occurred right before the presidential election.
But talking points on Benghazi, it turns out, underwent heavy revisions. ABC News’ Jonathan Karl unearthed those edits last week. . . .
. . . .Which is precisely why the nature of the cascading scandals of the past week are so damaging to the Obama presidency. Just as Hurricane Katrina shattered what remained of the Bush administration’s image of competence, which had once been a strength of the first M.B.A. president, the Benghazi, IRS, and AP stories are like a multihead missile aimed at Obama’s fundamental belief: that government is good and will make your life better. . . .
. . . . Let’s review:
—The IRS using unchecked power of government to throttle political dissent.
—The DOJ logging AP reporters’ calls for two months, and, when telling them later that they’d done so, simply saying “trust us,” we had a good reason.
—In Benghazi, the president and his minions exposed in a blatant political strategy to downplay the threat of radical extremists intent on killing Americans after they’ve just succeeded at doing so. Check.
What does this mean? Well, take the argument against gun registration. When the IRS is advising officials to BOLO (be on the look out) for groups with “patriot” in their names, it’s hardly a Red Dawn fantasy to fear the government might abuse gun-registry data. Or take Obamacare.
Do you really trust the people who are tapping your phone and auditing your taxes to take over your medical records? . . .
Benghazi, IRS, AP scandals — will buck ever stop with Obama? (Fox News)
The first question for White House spokesman Jay Carney at Tuesday’s press briefing went right to the heart of the growing crisis facing President Obama:
In the matters of the Benghazi terror attack, the IRS targeting conservative groups, the Justice Department going after AP phone records, “…doesn’t responsibility for setting tone, setting direction ultimately rest with the president?” . . .
. . . On Libya, a detailed examination of the record shows that the White House has had no consistent message on what happened on September 11. In fact, they changed their message from day to day — and it’s clear that the administration’s actions in the days and weeks after the Benghazi tragedy was all political maneuvering.
The White House has been caught not telling the full story, and modifying the narrative for political ends.
But that’s just a piece of the troubling picture emerging from the West Wing.
We have Attorney General Eric Holder — he who managed to dodge full responsibility for the “Fast & Furious” gun-walking debacle in the president’s first term — revealing Tuesday that he had recused himself from the investigation into Justice Department gathering of phone records from more than “20 separate telephone lines assigned to the AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012.” . . .
Benghazi, IRS — son of Watergate? (Cal Thomas)
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.” . . .
Ryan C. Fogle, U.S. diplomat accused of spying, ordered to leave Russia (Washington Post)
An American diplomat was briefly detained by the Russian State Security Service and then ordered to leave the country after being accused of trying to recruit a Russian officer to work as a U.S. agent, Russian officials said Tuesday. . . . .
Detroit Bankruptcy news stories (Huffington Post)
The first report by Detroit’s emergency manager declares that the city is broke and at risk of running completely out of money – a financial meltdown that could mean employees don’t get paid, retirees lose their pensions and residents endure even deeper cuts in municipal services. . . . .
. . . Orr, a Washington-based turnaround expert and bankruptcy attorney, was selected by Gov. Rick Snyder to oversee Detroit’s finances.
In his report, Orr described the city’s operations as “dysfunctional and wasteful after years of budgetary restrictions, mismanagement, crippling operational practices and, in some cases, indifference or corruption.”. . .
Detroit in Ruins (The Guardian photographs)
Mother’s Day shooting in New Orleans tests violent ‘street code’ (Christian Science Monitor)
The suspect in the New Orleans Mother’s Day shooting appears to fit the profile of those being targeted by the police anti-gang task force in the city’s latest crackdown on violence. . . .
. . . a nationwide takedown by Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in eight cities has resulted in charges against 89 individuals, including doctors, nurses, and other licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in Medicare fraud schemes involving approximately $223 million in false billing.
This coordinated takedown was the sixth national Medicare fraud takedown in strike force history. In total, almost 600 individuals have been charged in connection with schemes involving almost $2 billion in fraudulent billings in these national takedown operations alone. . . .
. . . Since their inception in March 2007, strike force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,500 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $5 billion. . . .
Be suspicious of doctors, health care providers, or suppliers who:
- Ask for your Medicare number:
- In exchange for free equipment or services
- For “record keeping purposes”
- Tell you that tests become cheaper as more of them are provided
- Advertise “free” consultations to people with Medicare
- Call or visit you and say they represent Medicare or the federal government
- Use telephone or door-to-door selling techniques
- Use pressure or scare tactics to sell you expensive medical services or diagnostic tests
- Bill Medicare for services you never received or a diagnosis you do not have
- Offer non-medical transportation or housekeeping as Medicare-approved services
- Bill home health services for patients who are not confined to their home, or for patients who still drive a car
- Bill Medicare for medical equipment for people in nursing homes
- Bill Medicare for tests you received as a hospital inpatient or within 72 hours of admission or discharge
- Bill Medicare for a power wheelchair or scooter when you don’t meet Medicare’s qualifications