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Obama-linked Activists Have a ‘Training Manual’ for Protesting Trump 

As Donald Trump Wins Presidency, Country Reacts

Organizing for Action, a group founded by Obama and featured prominently on his new post-presidency website, is distributing a training manual to anti-Trump activists that advises them to bully GOP lawmakers into backing off support for repealing ObamaCare, curbing immigration from high-risk Islamic nations, and building a border wall.

Paul Sperry reports: An Obama-tied activist group training tens of thousands of agitators to protest President Trump’s policies plans to hit Republican lawmakers supporting those policies even harder this week, when they return home for the congressional recess and hold town hall meetings and other functions.

“A script advises callers to complain: ‘I’m honestly scared that a known racist and anti-Semite will be working just feet from the Oval Office … It is everyone’s business if a man who promoted white supremacy is serving as an adviser to the president.’”

Organizing for Action, a group founded by Obama and featured prominently on his new post-presidency website, is distributing a training manual to anti-Trump activists that advises them to bully GOP lawmakers into backing off support for repealing ObamaCare, curbing immigration from high-risk Islamic nations, and building a border wall.

“The goal is to make Republicans, even from safe districts, second-guess their support for the Trump agenda.”

In a new Facebook post, OFA calls on activists to mobilize against Republicans from now until Feb. 26, when “representatives are going to be in their home districts.”

The protesters disrupted town halls earlier this month, including one held in Utah by House Oversight Chairman Jasonobama_in_limo_pd_12913 Chaffetz, who was confronted by hundreds of angry demonstrators claiming to be his constituents.

The manual, published with OFA partner “Indivisible,” advises protesters to go into halls quietly so as not to raise alarms, and “grab seats at the front of the room but do not all sit together.” Rather, spread out in pairs to make it seem like the whole room opposes the Republican host’s positions. “This will help reinforce the impression of broad consensus.” It also urges them to ask “hostile” questions — while keeping “a firm hold on the mic” — and loudly boo the the GOP politician if he isn’t “giving you real answers.”

[Read the full story here, at New York Post]

“Express your concern [to the event’s hosts] they are giving a platform to pro-Trump authoritarianism, racism, and corruption,” it says.

trumpprotests

“The manual, published with OFA partner ‘Indivisible,’ advises protesters to go into halls quietly so as not to raise alarms, and “grab seats at the front of the room but do not all sit together.’ Rather, spread out in pairs to make it seem like the whole room opposes the Republican host’s positions. ‘This will help reinforce the impression of broad consensus.’”

The goal is to make Republicans, even from safe districts, second-guess their support for the Trump agenda, and to prime “the ground for the 2018 midterms when Democrats retake power.”

“It also urges them to ask ‘hostile’ questions — while keeping ‘a firm hold on the mic’ — and loudly boo the the GOP politician if he isn’t ‘giving you real answers.’”

“Even the safest [Republican] will be deeply alarmed by signs of organized opposition,” the document states, “because these actions create the impression that they’re not connected to their district and not listening to their constituents.”

After the event, protesters are advised to feed video footage to local and national media. Read the rest of this entry »

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Did She, or Didn’t She? Huma Abedin Swore Under Oath She Gave Up ‘All the Devices’ With State Department Emails 

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The FBI found emails pertinent to its Clinton investigation, reportedly on a computer from her aide’s home. That doesn’t jibe with she told lawyers this summer.

M. L. Nestel and Jackie Kucinich report: In a normal election year, a normal candidate’s close aide who caused even minor embarrassment to a campaign so near to Election Day would be whisked away as quickly as possible to avoid becoming a distraction.

But Huma Abedin is not simply a close aide, she’s a critical member of Hillary Clinton’s tiny inner circle that protects and — at times — enables the deeply flawed and secretive Democratic nominee.

So despite FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the bureau is reviewing emails from Abedin’s time at the State Department reportedly found on a laptop she shared with her soon-to-be ex-husband Anthony Weiner (confiscated as a part of the FBI’s investigation into allegations he sexted with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl), the campaign made clear on Saturday that she’s not going anywhere.

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John Podesta, the chairman of the Clinton campaign, told reporters on a conference call that Abedin had been nothing but cooperative with investigators and sat for hours of depositions last summer as part of the civil lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch.

“There’s nothing that she’s done that we think calls into question anything that she’s done with respect to this investigation… we fully stand behind her,” Podesta said.

But the new information that the FBI found State Department-related email on her home laptop also calls into question whether Abedin in fact turned over all of the devices she used to send and receive email while working at State.

[Read the full text here, at The Daily Beast]

On June 28, 2016, Abedin said under oath in a sworn deposition that she looked for all devices that she thought contained government work on them so the records could be given to the State Department. (These records were subsequently reviewed by the FBI.)

“How did you go about searching for what records you may have in your possession to be returned to the State Department?” Attorney Ramona Cotca for Judicial Watch asked her.

“I looked for all the devices that may have any of my State Department work on it and returned — returned — gave them to my attorneys for them to review for all relevant documents. And gave them devices and paper,” Abedin answered.

Cotca then asked Abedin specifically what devices she gave her attorneys.

“If memory serves me correctly, it was two laptops, a BlackBerry, and some files that I found in my apartment,” Abedin said, adding the BlackBerry was associated with her Clintonemail.com account.

Abedin maintained that she was “not involved in the process” of what records on her devices would be given to the State Department.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: ‘Hard to Deny That There Is a Quid Pro Quo’ between the FBI and State Department 

Charles Krauthammer said that newly released documents show that the FBI’s coordination with the State Department on the Hillary Clinton case indicates corruption.

“There are so many ironies here. The first is that this is probably normal procedure inside any administration, inside a bureaucracy: trading off favors, trading off probably shady maneuvers. But the problem is this — the charge that Republicans, Trump in particular, are making against Hillary Clinton is precisely that she represents business as usual. You can defend Clinton and say saying ‘Oh, this goes on all the time,’ but that’s the point. They are trying to wipe away this sort of culture of corruption. It is hard to deny that there is a quid pro quo, or at least one was proposed, when the phrase ‘quid pro quo’ is used to describe the transaction in the documents.”

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama

“This is the ‘camera and sausage’ factor. I don’t think that we should be shocked that this happens in any bureaucracy, but once you see it in black in white, and you hear the charge that Clinton represents business as usual — and corrupt business as usual — that, I think, accentuates the charge, and makes it a very serious one.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Disgraced FBI Director Comey Refused to Testify on Clinton Emails

Chaffetz called the hearing to question officials about why whole and partial documents had been withheld from Congress, including unclassified files.

Sarah Westwood reports: FBI Director James Comey refused to attend a classified briefing with the House Oversight Committee despite receiving an invitation to testify about the bureau’s reluctance to disclose thousands of pages of evidence compiled in its year-long investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email use.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the committee’s top Democrat, said Monday that Comey had declined to appear at the meeting because he had “already bent over backwards” to explain the FBI’s decision-making in the Clinton email case.

But Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the Oversight Committee, disputed the suggestion that he had invited Comey to the public hearing on redactions in notes from the Clinton email case, noting he had discussed specific points of concern in a personal phone call with the FBI director but had not issued a subpoena for Comey’s presence at the hearing.

Chaffetz called the hearing to question officials about why whole and partial documents had been withheld from Congress, including unclassified files.

“I don’t expect to have to issue a subpoena to see unclassified information,” Chaffetz said. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Michael Mukasey on Hillary, Homeland Security, and the Courts 

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey uses his legal expertise to tackle the FBI’s verdict on the Hillary Clinton email scandal, the Obama administration’s counterterrorism policies, the objectivity of judges, and more in this Viewpoint interview.

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OH YES THEY DID: House Republicans Formally Move to Impeach IRS Commissioner

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“Commissioner  violated the public trust. He failed to comply with a congressionally issued subpoena, documents were destroyed on his watch, and the public was consistently misled.”

“Impeachment is the appropriate tool to restore public confidence in the IRS and to protect the institutional interests of Congress. This action will demonstrate to the American people that the IRS is under repair, and signal that Executive Branch officials who violate the public trust will be held accountable.”

— Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz in a news release

IMPEACH-ME

Read more…

Source: Katy O’DonnellPolitico.com


‘The Elijah Cummings Guide to How to Perform in Televised Committee Hearings’

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“I believe there are two key ingredients of a successful performances in congressional hearings. One, shameless, grandiose, spectacular displays of emotion. This is important when TV cameras are present.”

“And two, extreme, earsplitting volume. The louder I yell, and the more emotional I am, you see, the better my performance is.”

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“The facts, and the purpose of the hearing, are secondary to showing people how angry and upset I am. I pretend to be really, really upset.”

“The single most important factor in a successful performance is how much volume I can achieve, with my voice.”

Elijah Cummings

“Being able to yell louder than anyone in the room is the most effective way to demonstrate that I am passionate, irrational, emotionally unstable, and a righteous and loyal member of my party.”

— from “The Elijah Cummings Guide to How to Perform in Televised Committee Hearings“, now in paperback.


FAINTING COUCH: Dem Rep Carolyn Maloney Freaks Out, Accuses Jason Chaffetz of ‘Beating’ Female Planned Parenthood Executive by…Asking Salary Questions? 

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Carolyn Maloney Sees ‘War on Women‘ Discrimination in GOP Daring to Question Half Million a Year Salary of Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) lashed out at House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) after he questioned the salary of Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards.

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“I find it totally inappropriate and discriminatory. I’ve never seen a witness beaten up and questioned about their salary.”

— Rep. Carolyn Maloney, suffering a full-blown Victorian case of the vapors

In a charged hearing filled with intense exchanges, Maloney accused Chaffetz of being out of line for questioning Richards’s rising salary.

“I find it totally inappropriate and discriminatory,” said Maloney, the top Democrat on the panel. “I’ve never seen a witness beaten up and questioned about their salary.”

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Chaffetz questioned Planned Parenthood’s expenses on travel, its real estate holdings and Richards’s salary in suggesting it is not really putting its money behind women’s healthcare. He noted that Richards’s salary has gone up by more than $100,000 between 2009 and 2013. Read the rest of this entry »


THE SMIDGEN REPORT UPDATE: IRS Commissioner John Koskinen Has Got to Go

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen testifies under subpoena before the House Oversight Committee as lawmakers continue their probe of whether tea party groups were improperly targeted for increased scrutiny by the IRS, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 23, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

If the president doesn’t tell Commissioner Koskinen to go, then we in Congress should impeach him.

Ron DeSantis and Jim Jordan write:

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen needs to go.

When it was revealed in 2013 that the IRS had targeted conservative groups for exercising their First Amendment rights, President Obama correctly called the policy “inexcusable” and pledged accountability. He even fired the then-acting IRS commissioner because he said it was necessary to have “new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward.”

“A taxpayer would never get away with treating an IRS audit the way that IRS officials have treated the congressional investigation.”

Unfortunately, Commissioner Koskinen, who took over in the wake of the IRS targeting scandal, has failed the American people by frustrating Congress’s attempts to ascertain the truth. A taxpayer would never get away with treating an IRS audit SMIDG-LRGthe way that IRS officials have treated the congressional investigation. Civil officers like Mr. Koskinen have historically been held to a higher standard than private citizens because they have fiduciary obligations to the public. The IRS and Mr. Koskinen have breached these basic fiduciary duties:

• Destruction of evidence. Lois Lerner, at the time the director of the IRS’s exempt-organizations unit, invoked the Fifth Amendment on May 22, 2013, when appearing before Congress; her refusal to testify put a premium on obtaining and reviewing her email communications. On the same day the IRS’s chief technology officer issued a preservation order that instructed IRS employees “not to destroy/wipe/reuse any of the existing backup tapes for email, or archiving of other information from IRS personal computers.”

“John Koskinen has violated the public trust, breached his fiduciary obligations and demonstrated his unfitness to serve. Mr. President, it’s time for Commissioner Koskinen to go. If you don’t act, we will.”

Foley & Lardner LLP Partner Cleta Mitchell on presidential evasions about the targeting of conservative groups, and the status of Congress’s investigation. Photo: Getty Images

Several weeks later, on Aug. 2, the House Oversight Committee issued its first subpoena for IRS documents, including all of smidgen-lieMs. Lerner’s emails. On Feb. 2, 2014, Kate Duval, the IRS commissioner’s counsel, identified a gap in the Lerner emails that were being collected. Days later, Ms. Duval learned that the gap had been caused in 2011 when the hard drive of Ms. Lerner’s computer crashed.

Despite all this—an internal IRS preservation order, a congressional subpoena, and knowledge about Ms. Lerner’s hard-drive and email problems—the Treasury inspector general for tax administration discovered that the agency on March 4, 2014, erased 422 backup tapes containing as many as 24,000 emails. (Congress learned of the discovery only last month.)smdg-tv2

Ms. Duval has since left the IRS and now works at the State Department, where she is responsible for vetting Hillary Clinton’s emails sought by congressional investigations of the Benghazi attacks.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

• Failure to inform Congress. Mr. Koskinen was made aware of the problems associated with Ms. Lerner’s emails the same month Ms. Duval discovered the gap. Yet the IRS withheld the information from Congress for four months, until June 13, 2014, when the agency used a Friday news dump to admit—on page seven of the third attachment to a letter sent to the Senate Finance Committee—that it had lost many of Ms. Lerner’s emails. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: OPM Director Resigns over Hack

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Cory Bennett The embattled director of the Office of Personnel Management has resigned, bowing to mounting pressure from Capitol Hill for her to step aside over a devastating government hack.

Also see – Katherine Archuleta and the Accountability Problem

“Archuleta made clear to the president that she believed it was best for her to step aside and allow new leadership that would enable the agency to move beyond the current challenges and allow the employees at OPM to continue their important work.”

Katherine Archuleta, director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), stepped down a day after she revealed that multiple breaches at her agency had exposed more than 22 million people’s sensitive information.

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The chorus on Capitol Hill calling for her firing have been growing since shortly after the breach was first revealed in early June. Read the rest of this entry »


Contrary To White House Denials, Jonathan Gruber Was ‘Integral’ To Obamacare

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Gruber’s role may help decide the King v. Burwellcase that is now before the Supreme Court, the one that will shape Obamacare’s implementation for years to come

Avik Royavik-roy writes: Last fall, videos emerged showing MIT economist Jonathan Gruber—the architect of Obamacare—mocking “the stupidity of the American voter” for not perceiving the ways in which the controversial health law concealed its true costs. At the time, President Obama and others went through great lengths to deny Gruber’s centrality to Obamacare.

[DISCLOSURE: I am an adviser to former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, but the opinions in this post are mine, and do not necessarily correspond to those of Gov. Perry.]

But 20,000 pages of new emails, obtained from MIT by the House Oversight Committee, appear to prove Gruber’s critical role. And Gruber’s role may help decide the King v. Burwellcase that is now before the Supreme Court, the one that will shape Obamacare’s implementation for years to come.

[Read the full text here, at Forbes]

Gruber-screen

Gruber, the ‘independent expert’

In October 2009, as the debate over Obamacare crested in Congress, PriceWaterhouseCoopers published a prescient analysis projecting that, under Obamacare, health insurance premiums would increase by 47 percent in 2016 for people who bought coverage on their own: the “individual” or “non-group” market in jonathan-gruber-affordable-care-acthealth insurance parlance.

[Stephanie Armour of the Wall Street Journal first reported the existence of the new email trove]

If anything, PwC understated Obamacare’s impact on individual-market premiums. But the report directly contradicted President Obama’s wild claim that Obamacare would “lower your premiums by up to $2,500 per family per year.”

[Also see – Yes, Jonathan Gruber Is an Obamacare Architect – by Veronique De Rugy]

Democrats understood how much the report threatened the passage of Obamacare, and rolled out Jonathan Gruber—an “independent expert”—to assure senators that the “Affordable Care Act” would live up to its name.

Gruber scored an interview with Ezra Klein, then blogging at the Washington Post, in which Gruber said that “what we know for sure the bill will do is that it will lower the cost of buying non-group health insurance.” (Emphasis added.) Read the rest of this entry »


OPM IT Outsourced to Foreigner Contractors, with Root Access, Working from their Home Country. In this Case, Oh Yeah, China

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Encryption ‘would not have helped’ at OPM, says DHS official: Attackers had valid user credentials and run of network, bypassing security

 reports: During testimony today in a grueling two-hour hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Katherine Archuleta claimed that she had recognized huge problems with the agency’s computer security when she assumed her post 18 months ago. But when pressed on why systems had not been protected with encryption prior to the recent discovery of an intrusion that gave attackers access to sensitive data on millions of government employees and government contractorsNON-STOP-PANIC-EX, she said, “It is not feasible to implement on networks that are too old.” She added that the agency is now working to encrypt data within its networks.

But even if the systems had been encrypted, it likely wouldn’t have mattered. Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity Dr. Andy Ozment testified that encryption would “not have helped in this case” because the attackers had gained valid user credentials to the systems that they attacked—likely through social engineering. And because of the lack of multifactor authentication on these systems, the attackers would have been able to use those credentials at will to access systems from within and potentially even from outside the network.

House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told Archuleta and OPM Chief Information Officer Donna Seymour, “You failed utterly and totally.” He referred to OPM’s own inspector general reports and hammered Seymour in particular for the 11 major systems out of 47 that had not been properly certified as secure—which were not contractor systems but systems operated by OPM’s own IT department. “They were in your office, which is a horrible example to be setting,” Chaffetz told Seymour. In total, 65 percent of OPM’s data was stored on those uncertified systems.

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Chaffetz pointed out in his opening statement that for the past eight years, according to OPM’s own Inspector General reports, “OPM’s data security posture was akin to leaving all your doors and windows unlocked and hoping nobody would walk in and take the information.”

[Read the full text here, at Ars Technica]

When Chaffetz asked Archuleta directly about the number of people who had been affected by the breach of OPM’s systems panic-manand whether it included contractor information as well as that of federal employees, Archuleta replied repeatedly, “I would be glad to discuss that in a classified setting.” That was Archuleta’s response to nearly all of the committee members’ questions over the course of the hearing this morning.

At least we found it

Archuleta told the committee that the breach was found only because she had been pushing forward with an aggressive plan to update OPM’s security, centralizing the oversight of IT security under the chief information officer and implementing “numerous tools and capabilities.” She claimed that it was during the process of updating tools that the breach was discovered. “But for the fact that OPM implemented new, more stringent security tools in its environment, we would have never known that malicious activity had previously existed on the network and would not have been able to share that information for the protection of the rest of the federal government,” she read from her prepared statement. Read the rest of this entry »


SMIDGEN REPORT SPECIAL UPDATE: IRS Created ‘Special Project Team’ of ‘Hundreds of Lawyers’ to Hide Information from Congress

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The American Center for Law and JusticeJay Sekulow reports: New testimony reveals that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) used “hundreds of attorneys” to SMG-REPORThide critical information from Congress’s investigation of the IRS targeting of conservatives.

According to new congressional bombshell testimony today, the IRS set up a previously unknown “special project team” comprised of “hundreds of attorneys,” including the IRS Chief Counsel (one of only two politically appointed positions at the IRS).

The “special project” this team was given?  Concealing information from Congress.

The IRS’s director of privacy, governmental liaison, and disclosure division, Mary Howard, testified that soon after the IRS targeting scandal was revealed, the IRS “amassed hundreds of attorneys to go through the documents [requested by Congress] and redact them.”

Shulman looks on as Lerner delivers an opening statement to a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Washington

Members of Congress have long complained that many of the documents produced by the IRS have been “redacted to the point of absurdity.”

Now we know why.

As the Washington Times reports:

Mary Howard, who also works as the head Freedom of Information Act officer in the IRS, told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that once the “special project team” was created and operational, she never saw requests for information.

“My understanding was that it started soon after the request came from Congress and other investigators asking for documents around this whole issue,” which she surmised meant around spring of 2013.

In other words, as soon as the IRS targeting scandal broke, the IRS set up a special O-SMDGE-CONDENSEDteam of hundreds of attorneys, including President Obama’s political head of the Chief Counsel’s office, to keep requests for publicly available information away from the person who would normally review those documents and turn them over to Congress and the public.  That “special” team then overly redacted, delayed, and determined which documents it wanted Congress to see.

After setting up a special “group” to target and delay applications by Tea Party groups for tax-exempt status, the IRS set up a new “special project team” to delay and redact information from Congress about that targeting.  Can you smell a cover-up? Read the rest of this entry »


THE SMIDGEN REPORT UPDATE: How Congress Botched the IRS Probe

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Top officials repeatedly misled investigators without consequences. Congress needs to get tougher.

Cleta Mitchell writes: Two years ago this week, a report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Information confirmed what hundreds of tea party, conservative, pro-life and pro-Israel organizations had long known: The Internal Revenue Service had stopped processing their applications for exempt status and subjected them to onerous, intrusive and discriminatory practices because of their political smdg-tv2views.

“Lying to Congress is a felony. But the Obama Justice Department has not lifted a finger to prosecute anyone responsible for the IRS scandal, including top brass who repeatedly gave false testimony to Congress.”

Since the report, additional congressional investigations have revealed a lot about IRS dysfunction—and worse. But they’ve also revealed Congress’s inability to exercise its constitutional oversight responsibilities of this and other executive agencies.

Consider the repeated testimony and other statements to Congress subsequently shown to be false. The report issued in December by Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.)—then chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform—details numerous instances in which senior IRS officials, including former Commissioner Doug Shulman, Acting Commissioner Steven Miller and Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lernerlied to Congress, denying and covering up the targeting of tea party and conservative groups before the inspector general’s May 2013 report.

Mr. Shulman told the Ways and Means Committee in March 2012 that there was no targeting of conservative groups. Congressional investigations, the Issa committee report notes, established that at the time of his denial Mr. Schulman knew there was “a backlog of applications, delays in processing, and the use of inappropriate development questions.”

Shulman, Lerner and Wolin take their seats to testify before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on targeting of political groups seeking tax-exempt status from by the IRS, on Capitol Hill in Washington

In the early months of 2012, Ms. Lerner made multiple false statements to Congress. In personal meetings, telephone interviews and written communications with congressional investigators, Ms. Lerner denied there were any changes in the criteria for evaluating applications for exempt status. O-SMDGE-CONDENSEDShe stated, falsely, that the intrusive demands from her agency for proprietary information from grass-roots organizations were “ordinary”—a characterization the inspector general’s report specifically rebutted.

Ms. Lerner also told Congress that “nothing had changed” about the way her unit handled such applications. But at the very time she said that, the IRS, including Ms. Lerner, had already identified seven types of information that it had inappropriately demanded from conservative groups between 2010 and 2013. These included donor lists, transcripts of speeches by public officials to meetings, and lists of groups to whom leaders made presentations.

Between May 2012 and May 2013, Mr. Miller testified before Congress on at least six occasions, first as deputy IRS commissioner, then as acting commissioner. He withheld information from Congress each time about the targeting. In a November 2013 interview with congressional investigators—well after the targeting had been documented in the inspector general’s report—Mr. Miller admitted that he became aware of possible IRS misconduct in February 2012. Read the rest of this entry »


Misplaced Capitol Police Gun Found in Boehner’s Bathroom by 7-Year-Old

Ben Kamisar reports: Capitol Police officers misplaced their loaded guns in plain sight on at least three separate occasions, including once when a small child found the weapon, according to a Roll Call analysis of a Capitol Police Board report.bohner

“The Department takes very seriously all breaches of Department rules and has established policies that address such matters.”

— Lt. Kimberly Schneider, a Capitol Police spokeswoman

One officer assigned to protect Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) left his gun in a toilet seat cover holder in a bathroom stall in the Capitol Visitor Center in January, according to the paper.

Another assigned to the detail of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) left a firearm in the bathroom of the Speaker’s suite, where a 7- or 8-year-old visiting child discovered the gun. The Glock pistol left by Boehner’s detail does not have a traditional locking mechanism and could still be fired when left out, Roll Call reported.

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“Each disciplinary matter is thoroughly investigated and reviewed, employees are held accountable for their conduct, and they are provided due process in adjudicating these matters. Depending on the nature and seriousness of the violation, an employee’s record, and other ‎required considerations, an appropriate penalty is applied, up to and including termination of employment.”

A janitor found the third pistol out in the Capitol Police headquarters, according to the paper.

The report on the January incident reportedly shows that police brass recommended a six-day suspension without pay for the officer from McConnell’s detail as punishment, but Roll Call reports that the other two incidents are still under investigation.

John Shinkle/POLITICO

John Shinkle/POLITICO

“As a matter of policy, the Department does not routinely discuss internal personnel matters, in order to maintain the integrity of the Department.”

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel declined to comment on the incidents, referring questions to Capitol Police. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] House Committee: Two Secret Service Agents Shown Driving Through an Active Bomb Threat Scene After Drinking

At The Corner, Brendan Bordelon writes:

Despite the Secret Service’s refusal to provide video of the incident, House Oversight Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (R, Ut.) released an alternate video showing two agents driving through an active bomb threat scene after drinking, knocking over a barricade in the process.

“…Two agents suspected of being intoxicated drove through the scene, knocking over a protective barrel and passing their vehicle’s wheels within feet of the possible bomb…”

Chaffetz and his fellow lawmakers excoriated Secret Service head Joseph Clancy during a hearing on Tuesday, accusing him of trying to cover up embarrassing details of an incident that occurred outside the White House earlier this month.

Chaffetz

On the evening of March 4, a woman dropped a package she claimed was a bomb near the White House and fled the scene. The Secret Service first bungled the response, treating it merely as a suspicious package instead of a verified bomb threat. Read the rest of this entry »


The White House Emails at the Center of Washington’s Brewing Net Neutrality Storm

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Jason Leopold writes: Republican lawmakers are not pleased with the FCC‘s proposed new open Internet rules — set to be publicly released next Thursday — that call for aggressively regulating broadband providers like a utility. And they want to know how the FCC came up with them.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, will chair a hearing Wednesday about whether the White House improperly influenced the independent agency and pressured its chairman, Tom Wheeler, to develop a net neutrality plan that mirrored recommendations President Barack Obama made last November. Obama had called on the FCC to classify broadband as a public utility and adopt open internet rules that would ensure that “neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online.”

“There’s more than enough smoke here to warrant a further investigation. I think the FCC has to answer in totality what sort of interaction they had with the White House. If there’s nothing to hide, then provide all of those emails unredacted.”

The congressional hearing was initiated after Chaffetz reviewed heavily redacted emails and other documents VICE News obtained from the FCC two weeks ago in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request; the emails show White House officials and Wheeler communicating about net neutrality. VICE News sought comment from Chaffetz’s office about the email exchanges and shared the documents with him.

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[Net Neutrality emails reveal a cozy social network between the FCC and telecoms. Read more here]

Wheeler unveiled details of the FCC’s new net neutrality guidelines in an op-ed published in Wired earlier this month. His decision to classify broadband as a utility surprised net neutrality advocates who believed Wheeler, a former lobbyist for telecom firms, would adopt the draft proposal the FCC approved last May that would have authorized broadband providers to create “fast lanes” for content companies willing to pay for the service.

[Read the full text of Jason Leopold‘s article here, at VICE News]

Chaffetz’s suspicions about the White House’s influence over the FCC’s decision is based on a February 4 Wall Street Journal report that alleged two senior White House officials, David Edelman and Tom Power, held dozens of secret meetings with “online activists, Web startups, and traditional telecommunications companies” in an effort to build a case for net neutrality.

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After the Journal story was published, Chaffetz and Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson sent letters to Wheeler requesting a wide-range of documents including visitor logs and emails, and set a February 23 deadline for the FCC to produce the records.

“I am concerned that undue outside pressure may have led you to this decision,” Johnson wrote in his letter to Wheeler. “In particular, my concern is the apparent pressure exerted on you and your agency by the White House.”

“The White House is not an ‘agency.’ Does the FCC run emails from congresspeople or citizens outside of government by them before processing them for FOIA? I don’t think so. I think in this case they gave the White House a political privilege.”

— Nate Jones, a FOIA expert at George Washington University’s National Security Archive

The emails VICE News obtained from the FCC show that as far back as last May, when Wheeler released the FCC’s draft net neutrality proposal, Edelman, Power, and other White House officials were communicating with Wheeler and his senior staff about the plan. However, the emails are so heavily redacted that its unknown what was discussed or whether it rises to the level of “undue” influence. (The FCC cited a privacy exemption and the deliberative process privilege, which protects “inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters” from disclosure, as the reasons for blacking out the emails.)

Since last year, the FCC has turned over to VICE News thousands of pages of heavily redacted records, It has withheld thousands of pages more about the agency’s internal discussions related to net neutrality.

DigitalDC

In a letter dated February 9 included with the batch of White House emails, Kirk Burgee, the chief of staff for the Wireline Competition Bureau, one of seven FCC bureaus that advises the commission on policy related to wireline telecommunications, said the emails were redacted at the behest of the White House.

Although we have not completed the consultation process with the Department of State, we have completed the consultation process with NTIA [National Telecommunications and Information Administration] and the White House. As a result of that consultation, we are releasing an email exchange among Larry Strickling (Associate Administrator of NTIA), Tom Power (Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), White House), Ross David Edelman (OSTP), and Chairman Wheeler. These records have been redacted pursuant to FOIA exemptions 5 and 6 which are consistent with those recommended by NTIA and the White House. We are also releasing an email exchange between Tom Power and Chairman Wheeler (which includes an email exchange among FCC staff and Chairman Wheeler) and an email exchange between John Podesta and Chairman Wheeler (which includes an email exchange among Jeffrey Zients (Executive Office of the President (EOP), White House), Jason Furman (EOP, White House), and Tom Power). These documents also include redactions under Exemptions 5 and 6 consistent with those recommended by the White House.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 13: In this handout from the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama talks on the phone while in the Oval Office with British Prime Minister David Cameron on February 13, 2012 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images)

(Photo by Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images)

Burgee’s letter footnoted two documents to justify the redactions: a January 29 email sent by associate White House counsel Nicholas McQuaid to Joanne Wall at the FCC’s office of general counsel; and a December 31, 2014 letter from Kathy D. Smith, chief counsel, NTIA, US Department of Commerce, to Elizabeth Lyle, the FCC’s assistant general counsel.

The FCC disclosed a copy of the letter Lyle signed and sent to McQuaid asking for guidance on whether any of the emails at issue should be released to VICE News and, if so, what should be redacted. The FCC also released an identical letter the agency sent to NTIA requesting redactions to documents.

Protesters from the Anonymous India group of hackers wear Guy Fawkes masks as they protest against laws they say gives the government control over censorship of internet usage in Mumbai

An FCC spokesman told VICE News the Justice Department’s FOIA guidance, which “the Commission strictly adheres to,” “makes clear that the Commission should not unilaterally decide to release records that involve other agencies. Consistent with the guidance, the FCC always consults with other agencies on the sensitivity of a document before determining whether to disclose it.”

Nate Jones, a FOIA expert at George Washington University’s National Security Archive, said the FCC spokesperson’s interpretation of the federal FOIA guidelines is a “bit off.” Read the rest of this entry »


House to Probe White House Role in FCC’s ‘Net Neutrality’ Proposal

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Panel to Investigate Whether White House Improperly Influenced Agency on Broadband Rules

WASHINGTON — Gautham Nagesh and Siobhan Hughes report: A House oversight committee on Friday said it was launching an investigation into whether the White House improperly influenced the Federal Communications Commission on its new rules for how broadband providers treat traffic on their networks.

“The White House needs to get its hands off the FCC.”

— Rep. Fred Upton

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Friday demanding all documents and communications between the FCC and the White House or other executive-branch agencies on the issue, along with all internal discussion at the FCC.

Mr. Wheeler on Wednesday made public the outlines of a proposal that would ban broadband providers from blocking, slowing down, or speeding up certain websites in exchange for payment.

The plan would use strong utility-like rules to regulate broadband companies, an approach largely in line with President Barack Obama ’s call in November for the “strongest possible rules” to protect net neutrality—the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally.

To implement those rules, Mr. Wheeler proposed reclassifying broadband from a lightly regulated information service to a more strictly overseen telecommunications service. Advocates of such an approach say that without such rules, broadband companies could charge tolls to websites for their fastest speeds, putting startups and smaller websites at a disadvantage.

internet-surrender-2014

Mr. Wheeler had previously laid out proposals to his fellow commissioners that wouldn’t have used the public-utility route. Then Mr. Obama made his statement in November, one of a series of events outlined in a Wall Street Journal article Thursday that appeared to leave Mr. Wheeler little choice but to go with the stronger rules.

“[R]eports indicate that views expressed by the White House potentially had an improper influence on the development of the draft Open Internet Order circulated internally at the Commission on February 5, 2015,” Mr. Chaffetz wrote.

Neither the White House nor the FCC responded to requests for comment.

Earlier on Friday, FCC Special Counsel Gigi Sohn rejected the notion that the president’s statement forced Mr. Wheeler’s hand.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler

“I think what the president’s statement did was rather than force the chairman’s hand was give him cover to do something that he already was thinking about doing,” Ms. Sohn said during an interview on C-Span.

In his letter, Mr. Chaffetz said he is particularly interested in “how the FCC communicated with the White House and other Executive Branch agencies.”

He also requested a briefing on the issue within two weeks. The commission plans to vote on the proposal Feb. 26. Read the rest of this entry »


Not a Mystery: Border Figures Posted, Removed Month Before Election

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Staggering statistics that show nearly a half-million people were caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally — and more than half were not Mexican, a number far higher than in 2013 — reportedly were posted on a U.S. government website for just a few hours last month before being taken down.

According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, the numbers were posted on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website on Oct. 10 for roughly five hours. The dramatic numbers raised questions over whether they were yanked to protect the administration before key midterm elections.

“According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, the stats showed about 53 percent of the migrants, or 253,000, caught at the U.S.-Mexico border this year were not Mexican — a number far higher than in 2013. A decade ago, fewer than 10 percent were from countries other than Mexico.”

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told the Center he’s worried “they may have been taken down for purely political reasons.”

“If the information is ready it should be made available. The idea that it was and then yanked down for political reasons is outrageous,” he said.

“This year, some of CBP’s data was posted on the website prematurely and removed later that day. One of the statistics released was the number of Southwest border apprehensions by the Border Patrol, which was 479,371.”

— CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske

The numbers could have become a political football less than a month before the elections. They emphasize the challenge still facing U.S. border agents — the reported number of apprehensions is larger than the population of major U.S. cities including Atlanta, Miami and New Orleans. The number has dropped from even higher levels a decade ago, but the flow is staying strong, even as a virtual army of border agents numbering close to 20,000 remains posted, to catch them.

The stats also point to a startling shift, with more and more border crossers coming from other countries. It is already well-known that illegal immigrant children from Central America have been crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, but some lawmakers also have suggested the border could be a crossing for Middle East extremists. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Secret Service Director to Resign

JULIA-PIERSON-SECRET-SERVICE

The resignation came less than a day after lawmakers from both parties assailed Ms. Pierson’s leadership and said they feared for the lives of the president and others in the protection of the storied protective agency.

“Under intense questioning on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Ms. Pierson admitted that those charged with securing the White House failed to follow numerous security protocols, allowing a man armedwith a knife to penetrate deep inside the mansion.”

A 30-year veteran of the Secret Service, Ms. Pierson was supposed to have been the one to repair the agency’s reputation after scandals that raised questions about a culture that gave rise to incidents involving drinking and prostitution during overseas trips. Read the rest of this entry »


CNN bombshell: Dozens of CIA operatives were on the ground during the Benghazi attack

 Agency in panic over revelations

POSTED AT 6:31 PM ON AUGUST 1, 2013 BY ALLAHPUNDIT

What kind of panic are we talking about here? Actual quote from agency “insider” communications obtained by CNN: “You don’t jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well.”

The word of the day is “unprecedented.” Phony scandal no more:

Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency’s missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency’s workings…

It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career…

Another [insider] says, “You have no idea the amount of pressure being brought to bear on anyone with knowledge of this operation.”…

Among the many secrets still yet to be told about the Benghazi mission, is just how many Americans were there the night of the attack.

A source now tells CNN that number was 35, with as many as seven wounded, some seriously.

While it is still not known how many of them were CIA, a source tells CNN that 21 Americans were working in the building known as the annex, believed to be run by the agency.

Thirty-five Americans on the ground, 21 at the CIA annex. Maybe the skeletal security crew at the consulate wasn’t as skeletal as thought. Is that what happened here — not so much a security vacuum as a security presence so secret that it couldn’t be revealed publicly, despite the White House being pounded over its failures for months afterwards? None of which is to say that they shouldn’t have had more security; the consulate and annex were overrun regardless, no matter how many people were there. But maybe that helps explain why the formal security presence wasn’t bigger: There was a lot of CIA in the area and maybe the White House didn’t want to attract attention to what they were doing there by inserting a squad of Marines to patrol the grounds. We already had an inkling of that, in fact, per thisinteresting but vague WSJ story from last November, which argued that the CIA’s role in the city appeared to be more important than thought. (“The consulate provided diplomatic cover for the classified CIA operations.”) CNN itself followed up in May by reporting that“the larger mission in Benghazi was covert” and alleging that there were more Americans there tied to the CIA — 20 of 30 in all — than to State’s diplomatic presence.

Read the rest of this entry »


CIA Honored Benghazi Chief in Secret Ceremony

The challenge of investigating and understanding Benghazi. Key events remain underreported and under-explained: to what degree the Benghazi Base’s dual role as both Consulate —and lesser-known status as a Spook Shack —are a factor in:

A. The attack itself

B. Intelligence and security mismanagement leading to the predictable failures and preventable deaths of four Americans

C. The poorly-managed, badly-executed coverup attempt following the attack

Lacking the security clearance to access more revealing information about this question, we’re left with official explanations, leaks, and reporting. I suspect that the real story is mostly hidden, and will remain so, until some time in the distant future when it’s eventually declassified.

Until then, what we’re left with are official explanations cloaked in falsehoods, multiple streams of misinformation, and occasional bursts of accidental truths. Leaving even the most persistent investigative reporters to parse though scraps of information that remain, at best, incomplete.

Anything I read about Benghazi can’t be taken at face value, but instead, viewed with these reservations in mind. 

That said, here’s more on the Benghazi Consulate as “diplomatic cover” for CIA operatives.  –The Butcher

“The U.S. effort in Benghazi was at its heart a CIA operation,” officials briefed on intelligence told the Wall Street Journal, and there’s evidence that U.S. agents—particularly murdered U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens—were at least aware of heavy weapons moving from Libya to Syrian rebels.

WSJ reports that the State Department presence in Benghazi “provided diplomatic cover” for the previously hidden CIA mission, which involved finding and repurchasing heavy weaponry looted from Libyan government arsenals…

— Business Insider, Nov. 3, 2012

This theme is explored again, in an article today by Eli Lake

CIA Honored Benghazi Chief in Secret Ceremony

Part of why the State Department has taken the brunt of the political blame for the Benghazi attack, writes Eli Lake, is that clandestine services by definition have very little public oversight.

At a secret February ceremony at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., the chief of the CIA’s base in Benghazi the night of the 9/11 anniversary attacks there was awarded one of the agency’s highest intelligence medals, according to U.S. military and intelligence officials.

The interior of the burnt US consulate building in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. (Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images)

The honor given behind closed doors to “Bob,” the officer who was in charge of the Benghazi intelligence annex and CIA base that was attacked in the early morning of September 12, 2012 and then abandoned for nearly three weeks, illustrates the murky lines of command that preceded the attack, and helped make it a politically volatile issue. While the State Department was responsible for elements of the security for the diplomatic mission at Benghazi, the mission itself was used primarily for intelligence activities and most the U.S. officials there and at the nearby annex were CIA officers who used State Department cover.

That purposeful ambiguity between diplomatic and intelligence efforts abroad has meant that at home, the State Department has taken almost all of the public blame for an error that was in part the fault of the CIA. And while CIA contractors performed heroically on the evening of the Benghazi attacks, Bob was also responsible in part for one major failure the night of the Benghazi attack: his officers were responsible for vetting the February 17 Martyr’s Brigade, the militia that was supposed to be the first responder on the night of the attack, but melted away when the diplomatic mission was attacked.

To be sure, the CIA has reviewed what went wrong in the Benghazi attacks in its own internal report. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has conducted three classified hearings with CIA officials regarding Benghazi. CIA deputy director Michael Morell is scheduled to testify in closed session before the committee on Wednesday regarding Benghazi.

But those hearings have been closed to the public as opposed to the grueling public hearings of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Earlier this month that committee held a hearing that featured YouTube–friendly moments from witnesses hostile to the administration like former deputy chief of mission Gregory Hicks, who described what was likely the last phone call of Ambassador Chris Stevens, one of four Americans who were killed that evening.

What’s more, the CIA’s own internal review was not led by outside figures like the State Department’s Accountability Review Board (ARB) headed by a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and a former U.S. ambassador, Thomas Pickering. Nor was the CIA review made public.

Read the rest of this entry »