Earlier today the Washington Post reported that Fox News' James Rosen had been secretly monitored by the Department of Justice. DOJ monitored his work and personal emails, read his work and personal emails, monitored his phones, monitored his movements and even named him as a criminal conspirator. Now, we know Rosen wasn't the only Fox News reporter targeted. Reporter William LaJeunesse, who extensively covered Operation Fast and Furious and national-security senior producer Mike Levine.
Fox News executive Michael Clemente is vowing to stand by reporters and slammed the administration for their intimidation tactics and assault on the First Amendment.
“We are outraged to learn today that James Rosen was named a criminal co-conspirator for simply doing his job as a reporter. In fact, it is downright chilling. We will unequivocally defend his right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney refused to comment on the secret monitoring of Fox News reporters and continued to say President Obama believes in a balance between free speech and national security during his press briefing Monday.
"I can't address an ongoing criminal investigation," Carney said. "The president believes strongly in the need for reporters to pursue investigative journalism."
The Department of Justice is justifying its actions and saying the Department followed the law and all regulations in relation to tapping communications of the press.
Monday the Department of Justice Inspector General [IG] confirmed what Townhall and other media outlets have been reporting for more than a year now: DOJ officials smeared Fast and Furious whistleblower and ATF Agent John Dodson. As a reminder, Dodson was the first whistleblower to expose Operation Fast and Furious. He revealed the operation's connection to the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry on to CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson on March 3, 2011.
The IG report confirms that former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, who has a long personal and professional relationship with now Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, in fact leaked information to smear Dodson after he went to Congress and CBS to reveal ATF, under direction of DOJ, had illegally trafficked thousands of AK-47 style rifles to Mexican cartels operating in Mexico. Two of those weapons were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry on December 15, 2010 in the Arizona. Before resigning in August 2011, Burke admitted to leaking information.
From the report:
We also concluded that Burke’s disclosure of the Dodson memorandum to Levine was likely motivated by a desire to undermine Dodson’s public criticisms of Operation Fast and Furious. Although Burke denied to congressional investigators that he had any retaliatory motive for his actions, we found substantial evidence to the contrary.
In sum, we found that Burke violated Department policy when he provided the Dodson memorandum to Fox News reporter Levine without Department approval, and that his explanations for why he did not believe his actions were improper were not credible. We believe this misconduct to be particularly egregious because of Burke’s apparent effort to undermine the credibility of Dodson’s significant public disclosures about the failures in Operation Fast and Furious.
We found Burke’s conduct in disclosing the Dodson memorandum to be inappropriate for a Department employee and wholly unbefitting a U.S. Attorney. We are referring to OPR our finding that Burke violated Department policy in disclosing the Dodson memorandum to a member of the media for a determination of whether Burke’s conduct violated the Rules of Professional Conduct for the state bars in which Burke is a member.
In the report, Burke described Dodson's decisions to speak with Congress and CBS about Fast and Furious, "Unbelievable."
As a refresher, Burke served as Janet Napolitano's chief of staff during her time as Arizona governor (for seven years), served as Napolitano's Homeland Security advisor until September 2009 (when Fast and Furious started), was appointed by President Obama as U.S. Attorney in Arizona in September 2009 and served on Attorney General Eric Holder's Attorney General's Advisor Board until his resignation in August 2011.
Attorney General Eric Holder "relied heavily" on Burke for advice.
Attorney General Eric Holder today announced the appointment of nine new U.S. Attorneys to serve two-year terms on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys (AGAC). The new appointees include: U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara; U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona Dennis Burke; U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington Jenny Durkan; U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Paul J. Fishman; U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick J. Fitzgerald; U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride; U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Peter F. Neronha; U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Joyce White Vance; and Acting U.S. Attorney, ex officio, for the District of Columbia Channing D. Phillips. John S. Davis, Criminal Chief for the Eastern District of Virginia, was also appointed to the committee to represent the voice of the Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the field.
"This is a critical and exciting time for the Department of Justice and I will rely heavily on these U.S. Attorneys as we work to further the Department’s efforts to reduce violent crime and gang violence, promote civil rights, ensure fairness in the marketplace and above all, preserve our national security," said Attorney General Holder.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is increasingly focused on the month of July as the time to exercise the so-called “nuclear option” and revisit filibuster reform, and he has privately told top advisers that he’s all but certain to take action if the Senate GOP blocks three upcoming key nominations, a senior Senate Democratic aide familiar with his thinking tells me. Reid has privately consulted with President Obama on the need to revisit filibuster reform, and the President has told the Majority Leader that he will support the exercising of the nuclear option if Reid opts for it, the aide says, adding that senior Democrats expect the President to publicly push for it as well. “If Senator Reid decides to do something on nominations, the president has said he’ll be there to support him,” the aide says. Reid is eyeing a change to the rules that would do away with the 60-vote threshold on all judicial and executive branch nominations, the aide says, on the theory that this is a good way to immediately break an important logjam in Washington — without changing the rules when it comes to legislation.
The Bush-era "nuclear" Senate stand-off was defused by the 'Gang of 14,' which remains intact today -- on judicial nominations, at least. Republicans have only mounted filibusters against a tiny handful of the president's most radical judge selections. Democrats are also looking to wipe out filibusters against executive appointments, as the GOP has stifled a number of extreme nominees Obama has put forward to groups like the NRLB. The White House sought to circumvent Congress on this score by making a series of "recess" appointments while Congress was...not in recess. In doing so, they undercut a practice Democrats pioneered to thwart would-be Bush recess appointments. Several federal courts have since dealt legal blows to these non-recess "recess" gambit,s which may explain Reid's new-found sense of urgency. I reached out to Mitch McConnell's office for comment, but they declined to wade into this until they get a better handle on whether they're dealing with a real threat or more bluster from Reid. One thing is very clear, based on multiple discussions with senior Republican Senate aides: Given how poisonous the political climate already is, a move by Democrats to change the Senate rules would push the chamber into full partisan meltdown.
By now you know the IRS has been targeting conservative groups, but one group in particular has been put through hell by the Department of Justice. I've written about True the Vote's efforts to promote fair and clean elections free of voter fraud for more than a year now. The group is based in Houston, Texas and headed by President and Founder Catherine Engelbrecht. True the Vote strongly supports voter identifications laws, which have been proven not only to produce higher voter turn out, but also preserve the intergrity of our elections.
Attorney General Eric Holder, who of course heads the Justice Department, has done everything in his power to prevent voter identification laws from being implemented. As a result, True the Vote has been a top target for Holder and his goons. Holder's DOJ has been tormenting Engelbrecht and her organization since the beginning. Not only has she been bullied by the IRS, but the FBI and ATF too. More from Breitbart:
True the Vote, a Houston-based nonprofit which focuses on election integrity issues, was formed by Catherine Engelbrecht and her King Street Patriots Tea Party group. True the Vote applied to the IRS for their 501(c3) non-profit status in July 2010, and almost immediately their problems began.
Within two years, multiple federal agencies, along with an EPA-affiliated Texas state agency, began auditing True the Vote and its founders, visiting their group, their businesses, and asking questions of people who knew them. The IRS was not the only governmental agency involved.
True the Vote’s experiences with the IRS’s abuse of power were recently discussed by Catherine Engelbrecht in a previous interview with Breitbart News. She said:
We applied for nonprofit C-3 status early in 2010. Since that time the IRS has run us through a gauntlet of analysts and hundreds of questions over and over again. They’ve requested to see each and every tweet I’ve ever tweeted or Facebook post I’ve ever posted. They also asked to know every place I’ve ever spoken since our inception and to whom, and everywhere I intend to speak in the future.
Engelbrecht’s application with the IRS for non-profit status allegedly triggered aggressive audits of one of her family’s personal businesses as well. The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) began a series of inquiries about her and her group; the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) began demanding to see her family's firearms in surprise audits of her and her husband’s small gun dealership--which had done less than $200 in sales; OSHA (Occupational Safety Hazards Administration) began a surprise audit of their small family manufacturing business; and the EPA-affiliated TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environment Quality) did a surprise visit and audit due to “a complaint being called in.”
The Democratic Party of Texas filed a lawsuit against her, as did an ACORN affiliated group. Both the FBI and the BATF continued to poke around her life, the lives of people in her Tea Party group, and her businesses.
And did Engelbrecht do anything wrong? Nope.
Ultimately, the IRS determined that it actually owed a refund to Engelbrecht; the BATF found nothing wrong in any of its repeated visits and audits; OSHA’s fine-toothed comb found reason to demand $25,000 from Engelbrecht’s family business; and TCEQ demanded the Engelbrechts spend $42,000 on additional storage sheds.
“This is what the beginning of tyranny looks like," Engelbrecht said. "My family and I have lived with great concern that we would be subject to even greater government abuses if we were vocal about what they were doing to us because of our political views and our efforts to increase governmental accountability.
Over the weekend, Engelbrecht spoke extensively on Fox News about her experiences.
As many have already said, Obama has created a culture of intimidation and it isn't just within the IRS. We're just getting started.
Amazingly, the Obama administration is seeking to punish the practice of investigative journalism. To the excellent post by Katie below, I'd add this quote from the WaPo story:
[In court documents, FBI agent Reginald] Reyes wrote that there was evidence Rosen had broken the law, “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator.” That fact distinguishes his case from the probe of the AP, in which the news organization is not the likely target.
In other words, the administration is alleging that Rosen somehow broke the law simply by soliciting information for publication. What this means is that every investigative journalist could be in legal peril every time s/he sought information that turned out, in an administration's view, to threaten national security. Imagine the creative and selective enforcement an administration could employ to deter investigation of tis doings. This is what the First Amendment was designed to guard against, a point even the Post article concedes:
[I]t remains an open question whether it’s ever illegal, given the First Amendment’s protection of press freedom, for a reporter to solicit information. No reporter, including Rosen, has been prosecuted for doing so.
There is a good reason these sorts of accusations and prosecutions aren't thrown around often. A free press (and the Second Amendment) are a free people's only defenses against government tyranny. What's more, it isn't illegal to publish classified information (a protection for which the ObamaPhiles at The New York Times had reason to be grateful during the Bush administration -- but note that the Bush administration never went so far as to try to criminalize journalistic activity).
Oh, and keep in mind that this spying on and prosecution of Rosen was happening in 2009, at the same time that the White House was waging war on Fox News. Coincidence? You decide.
It turns out President Obama's Department of Justice wasn't just targeting Associated Press reporters. The Washington Post has revealed DOJ specifically targeted Fox News' Reporter James Rosen, who covers the State Department. DOJ not only monitored Rosen's phone calls, but his movements.
When the Justice Department began investigating possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009, investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material.
They used security badge access records to track the reporter’s comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit. They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for the reporter’s personal e-mails.
The case of Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, the government adviser, and James Rosen, the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News, bears striking similarities to a sweeping leaks investigation disclosed last week in which federal investigators obtained records over two months of more than 20 telephone lines assigned to the Associated Press.
At a time when President Obama’s administration is under renewed scrutiny for an unprecedented number of leak investigations, the Kim case provides a rare glimpse into the inner workings of one such probe.
Court documents in the Kim case reveal how deeply investigators explored the private communications of a working journalist — and raise the question of how often journalists have been investigated as closely as Rosen was in 2010. The case also raises new concerns among critics of government secrecy about the possible stifling effect of these investigations on a critical element of press freedom: the exchange of information between reporters and their sources.
“Search warrants like these have a severe chilling effect on the free flow of important information to the public,” said First Amendment lawyer Charles Tobin, who has represented the Associated Press, but not in the current case. “That’s a very dangerous road to go down.”
Last week during testimony on Capitol Hill, Attorney General Eric Holder denied any involvement in the secret monitoring of AP reporters and said he recused himself from the case. Holder said his Deputy Attorney General James Cole signed off on the subpoenas allowing for the secret monitoring of personal and work phones of AP editors and reporters. So, who exactly signed off on the creepy monitoring of Rosen? Was it Holder? Or did he "recuse" himself from that case too? The law requires the Attorney General to sign off on intrusive monitoring of the press.
The big question after the revelations of the AP being monitored came out nearly two weeks ago was, "How far does this go? What other media outlets were monitored?" It turns out, this wasn't just an overreach into the Associated Press, but an overreach into the press in general. You can bet this isn't the end of this thing.
Actually, we know who was primarily responsible for scrubbing the talking points (the State Department) and why (to mitigate political embarrassment for their lethal failures). And assigning responsibility for misleading the public isn't "irrelevant," Dan. While we're at it, no, Rice's rendition of events wasn't based on the "best information" the intelligence community produced. Their best assessment included a clear link to terrorist groups, and entailed previous security warnings, both of which disappeared from the final draft. The head of America's top intelligence agency called the end result "useless." Passing the buck to Congress is pathetic, too. Yes, we should do what we must to protect our people in the future, but that doesn't address what led to four American deaths in Libya. The lack of sufficient security at our compound in Benghazi had nothing to do with Congress or funding. It had everything to do with a series of denied and ignored requests from State higher-ups, the rationale for which remains murky (and for which no one has been held accountable). Fox News' Chris Wallace asked a question I've been wondering about for some time. Where was the Commander-in-Chief as the terrorist attack unfolded? Surprise -- Pfeiffer thinks the answer to that inquiry is "largely irrelevant," too:
After the eight-hour raid began, Obama had one single contact with the Secretary of State that day, and zero with the Defense Secretary or the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. So where was he and what was he doing? All Pfeiffer can offer is that his boss "was kept up to date" by someone. Why the president was not actively engaged during the crisis is totally inexplicable. It's the president's job to make the tough calls during emergencies; instead, Obama seemingly told staffers to keep him posted as he focused on something else. What that might have been is anyone's guess at this stage. Still. Eight months later. Finally, ABC News' George Stephanopolous asked Pfeiffer if the president views the IRS' targeting scheme as an illegal activity. The acting IRS commissioner testified that his agency's actions were "absolutely not" illegal on Friday (before changing his tune and saying that he wasn't sure). What does our law professor president have to say on the matter. Get ready for the most comical use of the "I-word" yet:
"The law is irrelevant." Perfect. (Pfeiffer has hilariously "clarified" that of course the law matters on Twitter). I'll leave you with this quote from a piece in yesterday's Washington Post, which described the shock of IRS employees that they're being accused of partisanship (which Carol also mentioned yesterday):
We’re not political,’’ said one determinations staffer in khakis as he left work late Tuesday afternoon. “We people on the local level are doing what we are supposed to do. .?.?. That’s why there are so many people here who are flustered. Everything comes from the top. We don’t have any authority to make those decisions without someone signing off on them. There has to be a directive.”
Phil Kerpen notes that this rather interesting comment was buried in...the Post's Style Section.
Over the weekend, White House Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer was deemed with trying to rescue the Obama administration amid growing scandals. The IRS scandal has been at the top of the news cycle for the past week, but questions about Benghazi still remain unanswered. Appearing on five Sunday shows, Pfeiffer called on Republicans to apologize to UN Ambassador Susan Rice for their criticisms of her after she falsely blamed a YouTube video for the attack on the U.S. consulate which left four Americans dead. Pfeiffer cited emails to back up his request for apology and said Rice was simply restating what the CIA had told her. The problem? There was no mention of a YouTube video anywhere in the emails.
“I think that many of the Republicans who had been talking about this, now that they’ve seen the emails, owe Ambassador Rice an apology for the things they’ve said about her in the wake of the attack,” said Pfeiffer on ABC’s “This Week.”
Meanwhile on CBS' Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer asked Pfeiffer why he was there instead of someone more important like the White House Chief of Staff or the Secretary of State. More from MRC:
As NewsBusters reported two weeks ago, CBS’s Bob Schieffer is fed up with the White House’s talking points concerning what happened at our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last September.
His impatience continued on Sunday's Face the Nation when Obama senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer gave stock answers to questions about the three crises facing the President leading Schieffer to first accuse his guest of taking "exactly the approach that the Nixon administration took" and finally scolding him by asking, "Why are you here today? Why isn't the White House Chief of Staff here to tell us what happened?" (video follows with transcript and commentary)
But what I'm saying to you is that was just PR. That was just a PR plan to send out somebody who didn't know anything about what had happened. Why did you do that? Why didn't the Secretary of State come and tell us what they knew and if he knew nothing say, “We don't know yet?” Why didn't the White House Chief of Staff come out? I mean I would, and I mean this as no disrespect to you, why are you here today? Why isn't the White House Chief of Staff here to tell us what happened?
Tea Party groups from across the country are planning to protest IRS offices Tuesday as details of inapropriate targeting by the agency continue to emerge.
On behalf of Tea Party, Patriot groups, 9/12, liberty activists, and the American people, we are calling for anyone and everyone to protest the IRS’ complete abuse of power on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at noon local time.
The IRS scandal keeps getting closer and closer to the top of the White House food chain as Obama officials desperately try to spin their way out of mounting evidence and foul play. The Wall Street Journal is reporting President Obama's top attorney knew about the IRS targeting weeks ago before news broke, but of course, Obama still didn't know about it until he learned about it "from the news."
The White House's chief lawyer learned weeks ago that an audit of the Internal Revenue Service likely would show that agency employees inappropriately targeted conservative groups, a senior White House official said Sunday.
That disclosure has prompted a debate over whether the president should have been notified at that time.
In the week of April 22, the Office of the White House Counsel and its head, Kathryn Ruemmler, were told by Treasury Department attorneys that an inspector general's report was nearing completion, the White House official said. In that conversation, Ms. Ruemmler learned that "a small number of line IRS employees had improperly scrutinized certain…organizations by using words like 'tea party' and 'patriot,' " the official said.
President Barack Obama said last week he learned about the controversy at the same time as the public, on May 10, when an IRS official revealed it to a conference of lawyers.
The main question since this whole thing broke on May 10th is whether President Obama ordered the targeting, knew of targeting, or encouraged the targeting through his statements. Did this thing come from the top? Kim Strassel says of course it did.
Was the White House involved in the IRS's targeting of conservatives? No investigation needed to answer that one. Of course it was.
President Obama and Co. are in full deniability mode, noting that the IRS is an "independent" agency and that they knew nothing about its abuse. The media and Congress are sleuthing for some hint that Mr. Obama picked up the phone and sicced the tax dogs on his enemies.
But that's not how things work in post-Watergate Washington. Mr. Obama didn't need to pick up the phone. All he needed to do was exactly what he did do, in full view, for three years: Publicly suggest that conservative political groups were engaged in nefarious deeds; publicly call out by name political opponents whom he'd like to see harassed; and publicly have his party pressure the IRS to take action.
Mr. Obama now professes shock and outrage that bureaucrats at the IRS did exactly what the president of the United States said was the right and honorable thing to do. "He put a target on our backs, and he's now going to blame the people who are shooting at us?" asks Idaho businessman and longtime Republican donor Frank VanderSloot.