Competency tests for Congress? (Wally)

Wally here, filling in for Rebecca.  I'm going with a different tactic in covering Congress tonight.  US House Rep. Howard Coble stood out to me at the House Judiciary Committee today.

During questioning of Attorney General Eric Holder, Coble noted that he had a visibility problem, he couldn't see the witness.  "I like to see you,you like to see me when we're responding.  Now I'm having a senior moment.  I forgot what I was going to ask you.  Hang on.  It'll come back to me in due time.  Oh . . . [pause] Well maybe it won't."  And everyone laughed. "Senior moment recovered," he then announced and went on with a question about a legal case.

I don't mean to be the ass here but Coble's 82 years old. I really think we need to start looking at the competency of people who are running for office.  I don't know that I'd trust Coble to drive a car by himself.  So why would I trust him to be over laws?

I'm not trying to pick on him.  He seems like a funny old man who could probably tell many lively stories.

But we've seen, for example, Senator Ted Kennedy die in office and we've seen Senator Robert Byrd die in office and Senator Daniel Inouye die in office (the last one was 88 at his death).

Congress demands attention.  If we're not going to have a maximum retirement age and we're not going to have term limits, we're going to need to do something because people are not stepping down.  You'd think someone hits 75, for example, and they think, "Hey, let me go get a jet ski or spend time with my family or relax."  Instead, they continue on and on and they're not fit for office and no one wants to point that out.

And I understand why.  Coble seemed like a great guy in the hearing. I have no doubt that he is.  But at 82 years old, he needs to be out of office.  That was before the 'senior' moment. 

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, May 15, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, US Gen Lloyd Austin visits Iraq, the Hawija massacre is not going away, the House Judiciary Committee takes testimony from US Attorney Gen Eric Holder on the AP scandal, the Benghazi scandal and the IRS scandal, the White House dumps e-mails, the new information does not change Victoria Nuland's actions or the need for them to be addressed, US President Barack Obama speaks to the IRS scandal, and more.

This afternoon,  House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte  noted that "just two days ago, it was revealed that the Justice Dept obtained telephone records for more than 20  Associated Press reporters and editors over a two month period. These requests appear to be very broad and intersect important First Amendment protections. Any abridgment of the First Amendment right to the Freedom of the Press is very concerning and members of the Committee want to hear an explanation today."   Ranking Member John Conyers noted, "I'm bothered by that our government would pursue such a broad range of media phone records over such a long period of time."  Conyers used the occasion to call for the passage of his Federal Press Shield bill.  Appearing before the Commitee today, Attorney General Eric Holder stated he supported such a law ("I continue to think that it should be passed") in response to questions from US House Rep Sheila Jackson Lee.

Monday came the shocking news that the Associated Press had been targeting the AP, secretly obtaining phone records for the months of April and May 2012.  Lynn Oberlander (The New Yorker) observed:

The cowardly move by the Justice Department to subpoena two months of the A.P.’s phone records, both of its office lines and of the home phones of individual reporters, is potentially a breach of the Justice Department’s own guidelines. Even more important, it prevented the A.P. from seeking a judicial review of the action. Some months ago, apparently, the government sent a subpoena (or subpoenas) for the records to the phone companies that serve those offices and individuals, and the companies provided the records without any notice to the A.P. If subpoenas had been served directly on the A.P. or its individual reporters, they would have had an opportunity to go to court to file a motion to quash the subpoenas. What would have happened in court is anybody’s guess—there is no federal shield law that would protect reporters from having to testify before a criminal grand jury—but the Justice Department avoided the issue altogether by not notifying the A.P. that it even wanted this information. Even beyond the outrageous and overreaching action against the journalists, this is a blatant attempt to avoid the oversight function of the courts.

From this afternoon's hearing, we'll note this section.

Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte:  It was recently reported that the Justice Dept obtained more than two months of phone records of more than 20 reporters and editors with the Associated Press -- including both work and personal phone lines. There's been a lot of criticism raised about the scope of this investigation.  Including why the Dept needed to subpoena records for 20 different people over a lengthy two month period?  Why was such a broad scope approved?

Attorney General Eric Holder:  Yeah, I mean, there's been a lot of criticism, the staff of the RNC called for my resignation in spite of the fact that I was not the person who was involved in that decision.  But be that as it may.  I was recused in that matter as I described in a press conference that I held yesterday, the decision to issue this subpoena was made by the people who are presently involved in the case, the matter is being supervised by the Deputy Attorney General.  I am not familiar with the ca[se] -- with the way the subpoena was constructed in the way that it was because I'm simply not a part of the, uh, of the case. 

Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte:  It's my understanding that one of the requirements before compelling process from the media outlet is to give the media outlet notice.  Do you know why that was not done?

Attorney General Eric Holder:  There are exceptions to that rule.  I do not know, however, with regard to that particular case, why that was or was not done.  I simply don't have a factual basis to answer that question.

Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte:  And it's also been reported that the Associated Press refrained from releasing this story for a week until the department confirmed that doing so would not jeopardize national security interests.  That indicates that the AP was amenable to working with you on this matter.  If that is the case, why was it necessary to subpoena the telephone records?  Did you seek the AP's assistance in the first place? And, if not, why not?

Attorney General Eric Holder:  Again, Mr. Chairman, I-I don't know what happened there with the, uh, interaction between the AP and the Justice Dept, I was recused from the case.

Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte:  I take it that you or others in the Justice Dept will be forthcoming with those answers to those questions as you explore why this was handled in what appears to be contrary to the law and standard procedure.

Attorney General Eric Holder:  Uh, well, again, there are exceptions to some of the rules that you pointed out.  And I have faith in the people who actually were responsible for this case that they were responsible for the rules and that they followed them.  But I don't have a factual basis to answer the questions that you have asked because I was recused. I don't know what has happened in this matter.

As disclosed before, I know Eric Holder. I like Eric.  That doesn't mean he gets a pass here.  We didn't cover Fast and Furious -- it didn't strike me as story nor was it part of our scope, sorry.  Rebecca did cover it and when it was tossed out -- I believe by one of her readers -- that it was probably making me mad, she asked me for a comment and I told her she needed to cover what she believed was important and that there was no problem.  (Rebecca and I are friends from college, nothing will harm that friendship.)

With that out of the way, on the above, not acceptable.  Holder isn't there to be cute or funny or political or angry.  He had no reason to bring up the RNC.  His job is to sit there, shut his mouth until he's asked to speak and then answer the question.  That is his job.  And it is Congress' time, not his.  So if they ask a question in the midst of a reply, he needs to be silent.  He is not elected to office and he is before Congress -- before The People's House, in fact.  These are the people citizens elected to represent them.  So when he's insulting or silly or anything but professional, it's unacceptable.  If he were a private citizen, fine and dandy.  But he's unelected official appearing before Congress to answer questions.  His behavior was unacceptable.  (Marcia will cover more of this at her site tonight.)  I don't care for Condi Rice.  I don't believe half of what she told Congress at hearings that I've attended.  But she's the one to hold up as the example of an official in front of Congress for the way she carried herself.  No member of that administration was treated as hostilely as Rice was.  That's in part because she's a woman and in part because people like Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft only served one term while Condi was there the full 8 years.  But while I rarely felt she was fully honest, I never faulted her for the way she conducted herself before the Committee. And she was treated rudely.  I have no problem saying that.  What Senator Barbara Boxer did to her in a hearing was the rudest thing I've ever seen.

Holder's behavior also includes his press conference that he noted.  But, more importantly, the interview he did with Carrie Johnson (Morning Edition, NPR) that aired this morning.

Carrie Johnson: And Holder only raised more questions when he told reporters he had seen a draft of Cole's letter beforehand.  And is that normal practice when you're recused from a case?

Eric Holder: Well, no.  I just wanted to see the letter.  I saw the draft letter this morning and I just wanted to have an opportunity to see what it looked like so I'd have at least some sense of the case, in case there were things in the letter that [I] could talk about with the press.

Regardless, once you're recused, you stay out of it.  That means you don't read a letter because, in your kind, beautiful heart, you want to help the press.  I don't care.  You recused yourself, you stay out of it.  Recusing means you wall yourself off.  You don't get to choose which parts you have access to and which parts your review.  If you are recused from the matter, you are out of it.

The wall is not porous.  Out of it means out of it.  That also means you don't make statements of 'faith' about employees.  You are out of it. You cannot offer judgments, you can offer facts.  You are out of it.  Eric Holder's actions are appalling because he is over executing the laws for the Executive Branch and he fails to follow the recusal.

He did clear up that when the Attorney General is recused from a case, the Deputy Attorney General becomes Acting Attorney General on that case.  This goes to the issue of the law requiring Holder to sign off on the subpoena.  As he explained it to US House Rep Jim Sensebrenner,  Deputy Attorney General James Cole would have signed off.  (There's more on that which Kat will cover at her site tonight.)

As Attorney General, he is over the Justice Dept and that means he needs to know what's going on.  So when he explains that he was recused  because he had been interviewed on this case, that's allowed.  [Holder knew the information leaked.  He was interviewed to determine whether or not he was the leak.  For this reason he recused himself.]  That's expected.  When he's asked by Sensebrenner if Cole was also interviewed in the investigation that caused your recusal" and Holder responds, "Uh, I don't know. I don't know. I assume he was, but I don't know," you've got a problem.

He is the Attorney General.  Part of recusing himself was ensuring that whomever took over also had no appearance of a conflict of interest.  I have no idea whether Cole was interviewed or not.  But I'm not Attorney General.  That is something Holder should know.  If the answer was "yes," Cole shouldn't have been put in charge?  Correct.  But Cole shouldn't have been put in charge -- yes or no -- before it was determined whether or not he too was questioned for the investigation.  It was Holder's job to not only ensure that he had no appearance of conflicted interests but that the person who the case was handed off to did not have a conflict of interest.  Eric Holder didn't do that part of his job.

Nor did he put his recusal in writing.  This is an issue.  It's not minor.  Holder is under the opinion that all he needs to do is say, "Tag, you're it."  No.  He cannot just tell his Deputy AG that he is recusing himself and the Deputy AG is in charge.  It needs to be formal.  It wasn't.  Under questioning from US House Rep Spencer Bachus, he admitted that it was not done in writing.  Did he inform the White House?  No, he said because it was an ongoing investigation.  I'm sorry but the White House nominated Holder for the post.  He reports directly to the White House, he should have informed the White House that he was recusing himself and he should have done so in writing.  Holder disagrees.  He does allow that it might have been helpful to have put it in writing.  Bachus pointed out, "Well it would be in this case becuase you don't know when you recused yourself."  To which, he replied, "Well I don't know precisely but I have said that it was at the beginning of the investigation."  He also testified that he put two people in charge of the investigation as part of his recusal.  Why is he staffing the investigation if he's recused?  If he turned power over to the Deputy Attorney General than the DAG should be the one appointing people to lead the investigation.

We'll note more of the hearing throughout the snapshot.  Wally's tackling an issue the hearing raises about Congress (he'll be writing at Rebecca's site tonight) and, at Trina's site, Ava's covering nonsense from a member and the member's failure to redeem himself.

Turning to Iraq. All Iraq News reported earlier today that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi issued a statement expressing his concern of the continued deterioration in security throughout Iraq, "the surge of assassinations, murders and bombings in Baghdad and the provinces" and that there have been no concrete measures to address the security weaknesses.  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 218 violent deaths so far this month -- and there are still 16 days left in the month (and 17 for IBC to count).

At the time al-Nujafi's statement was being reported on, the  National Iraqi News Agency was noting mortar attack on any army station in Anbar Province has left 1 Iraqi soldier dead, and a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 bodyguards for the 7th Regiment Commander (three more were left injured)Alsumaria reports an armed Mosul attack has left 1 police officer dead. T
 Xin Since then?  Xinhua reports, "A total of 23 people were killed and 110 others wounded as nine car bombs struck Baghdad on Wednesday evening, an Interior Ministry source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity."  The outlet also notes 2 Kirkuk car bombings which claimed 10 lives and left thirteen injured and a bombing just outside of Kirkuk injured two police officers.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) offers this point of reference, "More people died violently in Iraq in April than in any other month since June 2008, the United Nations said. A total of 712 people died and 1,633 more sustained injuries" UN figures showed for the month of April.  
Human Rights Watch's Sarah Leah Whitson pens a column (New York Times) on the topic of Iraq today and the ongoing protests and Nouri's failure to meet the demands of the protesters:
The government has failed to address any of the major grievances of the Sunni — and even some Shia — communities. Those include ongoing exclusion from the political process, with regular delays in elections; no real reforms in the punitive, wildly overbroad “De-Baathification” and antiterrorism laws; increasingly centralized power in the hands of the prime minister; and brutal policing, with mass arrests, unfair trials and endemic torture in Iraqi prisons. But since early 2012, Sunnis have challenged the status quo with persistent, overwhelmingly peaceful protests, despite violent incursions by the state authorities.
It is in this environment that Maliki’s SWAT security forces, along with army and federal police, carried out an armed attack on one of the longest-running protest camps, in the Sunni village of Hawija. A parliamentary committee’s preliminary findings were that 44 people were killed and 104 injured, with the government saying 3 police officers were killed. Remarkably, the attack came after several days of negotiations with the protesters, whom the government accused of harboring militants who had killed a soldier, and taking weapons from a nearby checkpoint.
The government has not made public any finding of weapons or killers. In an apparent acknowledgement that the attack had gone too far, Maliki announced the appointment of a ministerial committee, headed by the Sunni deputy prime minister, Saleh al-Mutlaq, to investigate. But the committee seems designed to placate the Sunni community with compensation for the victims, with no intent to identify what really happened or who ordered the attack, much less punish those responsible. The committee has no actual investigators or resources to gather evidence, relying only on the ministers themselves to conduct the inquiry.
The April 23rd massacre by Nouri's forces storming a sit-in in Hawija resulted in massive deaths and injuries.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP has been reporting 53 dead for several days now -- indicating that some of the wounded did not recover. UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).
Today CENTCOM Tweeted:

  1. Gary Sinise visited U.S. Central Command during a recent trip to Tampa:

So they can Tweet.  No offense to Gary Sinise, good for him, but that 'news' really isn't.  News is where CENTCOM Commander Gen Lloyd Austin was today.
To check the Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and official websites of the Defense Dept, CENTCOM and the US Embassy in Baghdad is to learn nothing.
You have to go to the Iraqi news outlet  Alsumaria to find the report on Gen Austin in Iraq where he and US Ambassador Stephen Beecroft met with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq in Baghdad to discuss the "moral obligation" the US has to Iraq and the security situation and agreements between the two countries about security. The agreements?  That's the Strategic Framework Agreement and the agreement that was signed at the end of last year.  From the April 30th Iraq snapshot:

December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed.  We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way.  It was similar to the silence that greeted Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

The MoU wasn't news either.  All the US news outlets looked the other.  You won't find a major network or newspaper reporting on it last December.  It is mentioned  in the US Congressional Research Service report from last month by Kenneth Katzman  entitled "Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights."  It's really interesting that the US press which can't stop following the US military brass around has no reports on Austin's visit.  The silence is, in effect, telling.

Let's move to Benghazi.  The attack last fall left four Americans dead: Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Chris Stevens and Tyrone Woods.  Today, there are no known arrests in the case of terrorism.  The FBI is leading the investigation.   Appearing before the House Judiciary Committee today, Attorney General Eric Holder replied to US House Rep Howard Coble's question about the status of the investigation stating that "the investigation is ongoing and we have taken steps that are definitive, concrete, and we will be prepared shortly, I think, to reveal all that we have done."

The White House did an e-mail dump of what appears to be all of the e-mails on the talking points of the September 11, 2012 attack that would be given to Congress (to tell the people) and to US Ambassador Susan Rice to use on a White House-planned media blitz when she appeared live on five Sunday programs.

Jake Tapper (CNN) had a report on his program The Lead with Jake Tapper yesterday.  Jake Tapper's a solid reporter, we've praised him before.  After his report aired, e-mails began coming into the public account about how I was wrong about Ben Rhodes.   Click here for Jonathan Karl's ABC News report.

That's last week, Friday and Saturday.  The "State Dept . . ." deals with Karl's report.  So does the snapshot, so does "I Hate The War."  Karl appears to have gotten a quote from Rhodes wrong.  A mistake if so.  But check the entries and, so sorry Cult of St. Barack, I never mentioned Ben Rhodes.  I believe he's only been mentioned once at this site and that was in 2010 when I quoted a Reuters article.  I actually know Ben Rhodes, I didn't include him because I didn't feel the quote in Karl's report was pertinent.  As quoted (and apparently it was a misquote), I read it as Ben trying to keep the conversation going and not breaking off.  Maybe because I know him, the comment didn't stand out as important to me?  I don't know.  You can assume that I didn't mention him to cover for him but that's not the case, but you can assume that.  But what you know, if you use your brain and the links above or a Google search engine, I never mentioned Ben in relation to Karl's report.

Like Eric Wemple (idiot at the Washington Post), the e-mailers don't understand what Jake Tapper reported or what's in the e-mails the White House released today: Victoria Nuland.  That was accurate in Karl's reporting.  Is Eric Wemple really that stupid or does he not realize that the issue was Victoria Nuland?  To read his blog post, you're falsely told that Karl's report was wrong.  No, one section of it may have been wrong.  The serious charge about the talking points is that Victoria Nuland, writing that she was speaking for her building, wanted changes because she didn't want Congress fed information that she felt would lead to questioning of the State Dept.

Before the wave of attack e-mails insisting I was wrong about the e-mails because of my comments about Ben Rhodes (I made no comments about Ben and didn't mention him), the big complaint was that I was ignoring Ben Rhodes -- these appeared to be from the right wing -- and doing so because of his brother who heads CBS News.  Anyone who's read for any length of time should know I'm not biting my tongue about most people.  There's one friend who has made herself an embarrassment (she's in entertainment) that I'm biting my tongue on but that's it.  And if there's a reason to call her out -- if the news cycle should warrant it -- I will call her out here.  To those who e-mailed that, they got a generic reply noting that I knew Ben Rhodes and if the media wasn't 'attacking' him, it probably had less to do with who his brother was and more to do with the passage reading innocuous.

Michael D. Shear and Mark Lander (New York Times) note,  "White House aides have said the excerpts used by Republicans -- and heavily reported by the news media -- were an inaccurate representation of their involvement. On Tuesday, CNN obtained one of the e-mails in question that appeared to minimize the White House involvement."  That doesn't surprise me.  Read last week's entries (from the links offered earlier).  Did I call out the White House?  No.  I called out Nuland, Hillary Clinton and the State Dept.  And I noted my conversation with a friend at the White House who wanted my input Friday morning.  My input was stop protecting Hillary, save your own ass.  That appears to be what today's document drop did.  Shear and Lander remark on the "intensive jostling among top intelligence and diplomatic officials."  This was State fighting the CIA.  That's what the e-mails revealed.  State did not want the Congress -- or the American people -- to know what went down. Nuland fought to strip things out.

Which is why the lie about 'national security' that some Cult of St. Barackers have felt the need to repeat never got traction.  The CIA was saying it was okay for the American people to know about the terrorism.  State was the one saying, 'Oh, no, this might make us look bad.'

Nedra Pickler (AP) reports today that the e-mail dump by the White House reveals David Petreaus (CIA Director at the time) lodged a complaint about the talking points "becuase he wanted to see more detail publicly released, including a warning issued from the CIA about plans for an embassy attack"  Again, the issue on the talking points was and is Victoria Nuland.

CBS News' Mark Knoller Tweeted on the e-mail dump.  He Tweets on the White House in the e-mails, Ben Rhodes in the e-mails and more.  I'm emphasizing Nuland:

  1. At 932pm 9/14, another State Dept official emails Nuland and says "we can make edits" in the Talking Points.
  2. At 923pm, 9/14, Nuland said revisions still "don't resolve all my issues or those of" State Dept leadership.
  3. Latest version on 9/14 spoke only of "indications that Islamic extremists participated" in the Benghazi attacks. No mention of al-Qaida.
  4. At 915pm on 9/14, CIA e-mails about State Dept having "major reservations" about the Talking Points document & sends another edited version.
  5. Still later on 9/14, another State Dept official raises concerns: "some of the statements below are new by me." Asks for reconsideration.
  6. Nuland worries that members of Congress might "beat the State Dept for not paying attention" to CIA warnings about Benghazi.
  7. Still later on 9/14, State Dept spkswmn Victoria Nuland raises concerns about Talking Points reference to prior CIA warnings about Benghazi.
  8. Another edited version on 9/14 shows "investigation is on-going as to who is responsible for the violence" in Benghazi.

To read his Twitter feed, you can click here.  Again, he's covering all the e-mails released today.
Eugene Kiely and Lori Robertson (FactCheck.org) did a fact check prior to the White House dumping (presumably all of the) e-mails.  Their fact check doesn't mention Ben Rhodes either.  Probably because to most people reading the quote (that apparently was false) of Rhodes last Friday, it didn't seem damning.  It reads like a parent telling two squabbling children, "Okay, okay.  Let's talk this out.  One at a time." Their fact check focuses on Nuland and Jay Carney.  Carney's the only one at the White House that currently needs to issue an apology -- in my opinion.  You can feel differently.  He misled the American people.  Because he was told wrong or because he chose to?  I don't know.  But he is the public voice of the White House and he made some errors.  If they were errors and not lies, he should be apologizing.  If they were lies, he should turn his resignation.

And when I write something like that, the e-mails pour in that I'm minimizing the White House's actions.  And I'm attacked for giving Barack a pass.  You can feel that way, it's your call.  I think friends at the White House would roll with laughter at the idea that I give Barack a pass. But what I shared was a view.  It was a view I felt a number of people would have. 

That appears to have been the case.  Here's how it went at the White House on Monday.  A ton of responses were sent starting Friday -- on the White House contact form.   They expressed support for Barack.  Some included blessing him and his family.  But they were concerned, overwhelmingly, with Barack going down for what the writers saw as Hillary's action.  One that was read to me in full was from a woman who stated she supported Barack in the primaries because she didn't trust Hillary.  The woman appealed to Barack not to let Hillary pull him down.

This was the general tone of the bulk of the e-mails.  I wasn't surprised that, after being asked, Barack went on to comment on Benghazi this week.  (I was surprised he didn't mention the four killed -- Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Chris Stevens and Tyrone Woods by name because I did stress over the phone that if he was going to speak of it, he needed to name the dead, he needed to show that respect.  So that shows you how little my sought-out opinion is listened to.)

What the White House is done is taken another step towards letting Hillary fight her own battles.  Those White House 'letters' (using the contact form)?  About 29% were calling for Barack to publicly state what the State Dept did was wrong.  If that number increases, you're going to get a statement on that too.

Let's repeat what's known.  The CIA was for giving the American people more information than the State Dept wanted.  It was Nuland who wrote she had "serious concerns" -- about what?  "Arming members of Congress" and providing information for "Members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to AGency warnings so why do we want to feed that either?"

I didn't let Ben Rhodes skate or give Barack a pass.  They weren't the news in Jonathan Karl's report and they really aren't the news today.  Victoria Nuland is the news.  In her own words, she has been caught attempting to deceive the American people.  Guess what?  You can't do that in a democracy.  The news value of the e-mails has always been Nuland.  Now people can extrapolate above, chain of command and administrative issues.  To me, those roads lead to Hillary who was Nuland's immediate supervisor.  If others want to say they reflect on Barack, that's fine, they're entitled to their opinon.  But we have gone there yet.  What Nuland was outrageous and anti-democratic.  She attempted to deceive the American people to make her agency look better.

That, pay attention, is what qualifies for a "cover up."  That is what demands government attention and response.  Now you can disagree with that, that's fine.  And I could be wrong and so often am.  But stop the volley of e-mails about how I was "wrong" when I called out Ben Rhodes because I never mentioned him.  I get what's going on.  I was actually part of this in 2004.  So it's fitting that it's causing me a problem now (although the ones being put out are the ones reading the e-mails). I was part of a group that worked very hard to see that there would not be another stolen election.  With Al Gore, I felt our (Democratic Party) biggest problem was that we lost the media.  Why did we lose the media?  Because the right wing was astroturfing them.  I could make that argument because I knew a number of the columnists and reporters and editors and producers.  They were overwhelmed in 2000 with e-mails -- supposedly spontaneous public reaction.  And that did influence the outcome of the coverage.  So in March of 2004, I was part of a group that made it a point to start educating on the media and setting up people who would do nothing but e-mail (they believed in but they were paid) columnists and reporters on nights of debate, on days where things went seriously wrong for either campaign (for the Democrats to defend them, for the Republicans to demand coverage of the outrage).  To be clear, the operation I was working on was not about spin or lies.  It was about pushback with truth.  The argument being that we should have demanded that the lying about Al Gore stop.  (Lying by the press in 2000.)   Media Matters for Stupidity is a completely different animal.  Click here for their latest garbage. They spin like crazy and avoid Nuland except to offer a non-important quote.  They ignore the Petraeus e-mail that the AP is reporting on.  They spin with lies.  I stressed that the 2004 operation had to be about truth because if anyone was caught lying (the ones working the refs) that meant finding and training someone new and putting the whole operation at risk.  It was used in 2008 (I don't know about 2012) for Barack's campaign.  (I did not participate in 2008.)

It's working the ref, I understand that completely. But the thing is, I'm not a sports gal, you can't work me.  Not only was I part of that, but I'm not influenced by it.  (Other than I am seriously considering closing the public account so that everyone working the account can focus instead on the private account for community members.)

The IRS attack on political groups attempting to utilize their free speech rights was raised repeatedly in the House Judiciary Committee hearing today.  Here's one example.

US House Rep David Scott: On the Internal Revenue situation, I think we can all agree that the published reports which suggest that IRS agents were denying people their proper consideration based on politics, that's the allegation.  I assume you haven't completed your investigation but I think there's bi-partisan agreement that you shouldn't be able to do that.  Now you've publicly said that you're having a criminal investigation.  There are obviously criminal laws against denial of Civil Rights under 1983.  There's also a specific IRS code that's says, "Any officer or employee of the United States acting in connection with any revenue law of the United States who with the intent to defeat the application of any provision of this title files to perform any of the duties of his office or employment" -- and then goes on to show that's -- if you violate that -- that's a five year felony. Are there any gaps in the criminal code that would make it difficult for you to pursue criminal sanctions if you find that IRS agents were denying benefits under the Internal Revenue Code based on politics?

Attorney General Eric Holder:  That actually is a good question and I'm not sure what the answer is.  I think the provisions that you have noted are the ones that we are looking at.  There are Civil Rights provisions, IRS provisions,  potentially The Hatch Act.  And I think we're going to have to get into the investigation before I can answer that question more intelligently.  But to the extent that there are enforcement gaps that we find, we will let this Committee know and hopefully work with this Committee to make sure that what happened and was outrageous -- as I've said -- and if we have to bring criminal actions so that that kind of action that kind of activity doesn't happen again.

US House Rep David Scott:  I understand that certain individuals in the IRS have apologized.  Does an apology immunize you from criminal prosecution?

Attorney General Eric Holder:  Uh, no.

Today, President Barack Obama addressed the IRS scandal.  We'll close with his remarks in full.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  I just finished speaking with Secretary Lew and senior officials at the Treasury Department to discuss the investigation into IRS personnel who improperly screened conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.  And I look forward to taking some questions at tomorrow’s press conference, but today, I wanted to make sure to get out to all of you some information about what we’re doing about this, and where we go from here.
I’ve reviewed the Treasury Department watchdog’s report, and the misconduct that it uncovered is inexcusable.  It’s inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it.  I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives.  And as I said earlier, it should not matter what political stripe you’re from -- the fact of the matter is, is that the IRS has to operate with absolute integrity.  The government generally has to conduct itself in a way that is true to the public trust. That’s especially true for the IRS.
So here’s what we’re going to do.
First, we’re going to hold the responsible parties accountable.  Yesterday, I directed Secretary Lew to follow up on the IG audit to see how this happened and who is responsible, and to make sure that we understand all the facts.  Today, Secretary Lew took the first step by requesting and accepting the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS, because given the controversy surrounding this audit, it’s important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward.
Second, we’re going to put in place new safeguards to make sure this kind of behavior cannot happen again.  And I’ve directed Secretary Lew to ensure the IRS begins implementing the IG’s recommendations right away.
Third, we will work with Congress as it performs its oversight role.  And our administration has to make sure that we are working hand in hand with Congress to get this thing fixed.  Congress, Democrats and Republicans, owe it to the American people to treat that authority with the responsibility it deserves and in a way that doesn’t smack of politics or partisan agendas.  Because I think one thing that you’ve seen is, across the board, everybody believes what happened in -- as reported in the IG report is an outrage.  The good news is it’s fixable, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to work together to fix it.
I’ll do everything in my power to make sure nothing like this happens again by holding the responsible parties accountable, by putting in place new checks and new safeguards, and going forward, by making sure that the law is applied as it should be -- in a fair and impartial way.  And we’re going to have to make sure that the laws are clear so that we can have confidence that they are enforced in a fair and impartial way, and that there’s not too much ambiguity surrounding these laws. 
So that's what I expect.  That's what the American people deserve.  And that's what we’re going to do.
Thank you very much.