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Obama vs. The Free Press

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Last week, the Obama White House finally was exposed to Americans on both the left and right as the abusive and arrogant administration that it is. Throughout this presidency, we've seen examples of the constant abuse of power and living above the law. The executive orders on gun control, the assault on religious liberty through Obamacare and the refusal to enforce immigration laws to gain political favor are just a few among many. And last week, three more egregious offenses came to light that concern all freedom-loving Americans.


First, despite efforts to cover up the origin, truth and creator of the talking points about the September 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, we have seen more than 100 pages of emails that demonstrate how the talking points were changed from fact to fiction to fit the administration's 2012 election narrative that al-Qaida was on its heels.

Next, the Internal Revenue Service got caught targeting conservative nonprofit groups over their tax-exempt status. The harassment was not from a lone rogue agent but a systematic program condoned at high levels of the agency, and it was designed to silence the voices critical of the president's policies. And it goes even higher. Reports are emerging that top officials at the Treasury Department were aware of the practices as far back as June 2012 -- right in the middle of the president's campaign for re-election -- not all too different from the Benghazi case. This incredibly chilling revelation confirms two oft-mentioned concerns. First, President Obama's history of vitriolic attacks on his political foes sets a tone for not only his political supporters but also those who work for him. Second, elitist federal officials have contempt for average Americans who fight to keep power away from them.


The president's response? Permit me to paraphrase: "Who did what? Never heard of such a thing."

But he has assured us he is "angry" -- although he's not angry enough to fire those responsible. Instead, he graciously requested the man who oversaw and condoned such activity to opt for early retirement (with full benefits). You will be pleased to know that the woman who was in charge of the department discriminating against conservative groups is now overseeing Obamacare!

Finally, I am no fan of The Associated Press or the mainstream media, but I will defend with every fiber of my being their First Amendment right. President Obama's Justice Department's secretly pulling the phone records of the AP and possibly members of Congress to investigate government leaks about a terror plot in Yemen is an abuse befitting Fidel Castro, not a U.S. president.

Our mainstream news media generally have treated Barack Obama with adoration since he emerged on the national political scene, and when he has gotten into trouble, they have ignored it or generally given him the benefit of the doubt. Most recently, this was true in the reporting -- or lack thereof -- of the massive failure that led to four American diplomats being killed by al-Qaida in Benghazi. But the media are treating the tax and surveillance scandals differently. Unlike the other scandals, this behavior by the administration is hitting close to home.


Most journalists in America agree with many of the intrusive government policies, unless it is their freedom upon which government is infringing. The media might want to look at the events over the past decade in Venezuela, where the late President Hugo Chavez brought a huge expansion of government and centralized power and then used his intelligence assets to stifle political and media opponents. This is what leftist leaders do around the world; they control the news media, use bureaucrats to suppress dissent and obscure the truth.

On May 3, 2012, World Press Freedom Day, President Obama issued a statement saying: "On this World Press Freedom Day, the United States honors the role of a free press in creating sustainable democracies and prosperous societies. ... We call on all governments to protect the ability of journalists, bloggers, and dissidents to write and speak freely without retribution."

Is it not shocking that during this very same week, the Obama Justice Department was secretly obtaining the phone records on 20 lines from the world's largest and oldest news wire service, attempting to uncover the source of a possible information leak from the government?

Americans are seeing here the ugly side of the liberal, big-government philosophy they voted for last fall. This is what you get when government gets too big and intrusive. It tramples on your basic rights.


Remarkably, statements from responsible voices from across the ideological spectrum have condemned these actions by the Obama administration. How about that? After 4 1/2 years, President Obama finally has done something to bring both sides together in Washington.

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