Scandalzapoppin

With serious and demonstrable charges of administration wrongdoing popping up every day, conservatives are rightfully angry at the desultory treatment they get from the media.

At Just One Minute, the poster known as "daddy" summarizes that feeling well:

Worth mentioning how the NY Times and the WaPo and Andrea Mitchell and ABC/NBC/CBS/CNN etc, were all so interested in Sarah Palin's Emails, that they recruited volunteers across the nation to help them pore thru them.

Yet when Lisa Jackson specifically uses false email aliases like "Richard Windsor" (unethically and probably illegally) to conduct Government business, and Sebelius today is discovered to have pretty much done the same thing, it is all met by yawns from the suddenly incurious Journalists mentioned above."

Darwin central has much the same complaint:

Friedersdorf also mocks conservatives for finding media bias in coverage of conservative icons who apparently are not worthy of unbiased reporting, mentioning Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann by name. Omitted is any mention of the unbiased AP assignment of eleven reporters to fact check Sarah Palin's autobiography. Perhaps that caused the paucity of personnel available to cover Fast 'n' Furious. Oh, those pesky, silly coincidences kept another story from ever reaching the American public.

[snip]

Compare and contrast the coverage of the Valerie Plame scandal (body count, zero, for those keeping score), with the coverage of Benghazi. Alternatively, consider l'affaire Plame (body count zero), with the protracted somnolence -- it never rose to the level of reporting -- produced by the DOJ's Fast 'n' Furious embarrassment. At last count, over two hundred people lost their lives as a result of Fast 'n' Furious, one of them being United States Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Ho-hum. Got something snarky about the Tea Party?

Young cons.com noted the entertainment industry is just as guilty of using double standards and diversionary tactics as is the press: "With all these Obama scandals piling up the next episode of SNL will have some great George Bush and Sarah Palin jokes."

I'm not sure what the answer is. I suppose we could leak that Sarah Palin was with Obama on the night of the Benghazi massacre. I mean after all, no one knows where he was so it's not impossible. That might get their attention. Maybe we could send Soros-funded Media Matters a picture of Palin outside the IRS headquarters slipping Lois Lerner the instructions on how to keep the Tea Party from getting the tax status they sought.

I mean, how else besides bias and ignorance can the media fail to follow up on stories that seem as easy to get to as Jack Horner's plum fished from a pie?

Here are just two examples of the seemingly inexhaustible mound of evidence of pervasive administration lawlessness that are turning up daily.

The first involves the almost daily revelations that the IRS officials' Congressional testimony was utterly false.

A misfired email from a U.S. Internal Revenue Service employee in Cincinnati alerted a number of Washington IRS officials that extra scrutiny was being placed on conservative groups in July 2010, a year earlier than previously acknowledged, according to interviews with IRS workers by congressional investigators.

Transcripts of the interviews, reviewed by Reuters on Thursday, provided new details about Washington managers' awareness of the heightened scrutiny applied by front-line IRS agents in Cincinnati to applications for tax-exempt status from conservative groups with words like "Tea Party" in their names.

A political furor over the practice has engulfed the tax agency for nearly a month since a senior IRS official publicly apologized for it at a conference. Since then, the IRS' chief has been fired by President Barack Obama, the FBI has mounted an investigation and Congress has held numerous hearings.

The transcripts show that in July 2010, Elizabeth Hofacre, an IRS official in Cincinnati who was coordinating "emerging issues" for the agency's tax-exempt unit, was corresponding with Washington-based IRS tax attorney Carter Hull. She was asked to summarize her initial findings in a spreadsheet and notify a small group of colleagues, including some staff in the Washington tax-exempt unit. However, she sent her email to a larger number of people in Washington by accident.

"Everybody in DC got it by mistake," Hofacre said in the transcripts. She later clarified that she did not mean all officials but those in the IRS Exempt Organizations Rulings and Agreements unit.

Secondly, more and more information is surfacing about cases where Romney donors or applicants for 501 (c) (3) or (4) were audited by more than just the IRS -- something increasingly likely to have been the result of interagency coordination and White House involvement. Still, these revelations seem to be from the targets coming forward often to the new media, not the establishment press seeking out victims.

The Internal Revenue Service's political targeting might not have been limited to a few "rogue Cincinnati agents" or even organizations seeking nonprofit status. A major Mitt Romney fundraiser and campaign official -- along with her husband and three other family members -- all got a visit from the taxman in 2012.

In an interview with The Daily Caller, Kit Moncrief, a big-money fundraiser and state chair in Texas for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, recounted an unusual telephone call she received from an IRS agent on her personal cell phone in the spring of last year.

"The first place [the agent] called me was on my cell phone," Moncrief said, explaining that she believed the only place the agent could have accessed the number was from a Romney list. "The number is listed under my husband's name. She wouldn't have been able to be able to have my cell phone number because on the IRS form it shows the office number.[snip]according to Moncrief, the agent explained that her call was due to an "administration directive."

[snip]

Moncrief said the process was "strange" on two levels. "It was just very strange, number one that she called me for the family business. The tax returns would have said to call the office. And number two she probably said something that she shouldn't have said, that this was a directive from the administration," she added.

According to Kit Moncrief the agent was very interested in her, asking Moncrief's employees specific questions about her activities.

Kit and her husband Charles Moncrief were not the only Moncriefs the IRS visited.

Charles Moncrief told The DC his daughter Gloria Holmsten and brothers Bill and Richard Moncrief were also audited by the IRS in that same 2012 timeframe, all by different agents.

Bill Moncrief's audit lasted from May to July 2012, Richard Moncrief's audit lasted from June to December 2012, and Gloria and her husband Erich Holmsten's audit lasted from April to June 2012.

[snip]

The IRS audit of Kit and Charles Moncriefs lasted from April to June 2012, and according to the family, everything was found to be in order.

[snip]

Indeed the Moncriefs are not the only Romney supporters who have spoken out about their experience with the IRS.

In an interview with The DC in May, Mitt Romney super PAC donor Frank VanderSloot explained how he was audited twice by the IRS after being attacked by the Obama campaign as one of eight "wealthy individuals with less-than-reputable records." In that interview the billionaire businessman and former national co-chair of the Romney campaign's finance committee said that he was "not the only one" on that list had received a visit from the IRS.

With all this bubbling up, I viewed with some suspicion reports of a wide-net NSA spying program first reported in Britain's leftwing paper, the Guardian, by the notorious Glenn Greenwald, known most famously for creating numerous sock puppets to tout his own work online. 

Shortly afterward, the Washington Post picked up the story, initially claiming despite their denials that the government's top-secret PRISM program had accessed servers from large firms with their cooperation. The Post has since
retracted that claim:

The Post previously claimed that Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL and Apple "participate knowingly". The phrase that stood out in the report (it has been repurposed by numerous tech blogs and news sites across the Web) since it suggested that US firms willingly agreed to a process that -- at best -- could violate the rights of millions in the US if their data is accidentally monitored by the NSA.

Hours after the news broke, and every company bar PalTalk and AOL denied any knowledge of the program and allegations of their involvement, the Post has changed its stance.

Senators Feinstein and Chambliss, leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, confirm there is nothing new about the program and various reputable conservative reporters including John Podhoretz, James Taranto, and Andrew McCarthy have asserted there is no scandal in this and it does not involve wiretapping of all of our communications, although most sensible commentators do or, I think, would, concede the administration's credibility is so low at this point, it is not paranoia to question the possible misuse of this program by Obama and his appointees.

My guess is that this was leaked to Greenwald and the Post by those (White House insiders or Chinese hackers) who either wish to distract from real scandals -- look what the evil Bush made Obama do -- or to put the administration on the defensive about its criticisms of Chinese hacking.

Professor Orin Kerr
describes the program for those whose hair might be on fire at this latest bit of news:

The leaked news about the PRISM surveillance program has been the big news story today. The details are murky, but one question that we should be asking is whether the program is legal. From what I've seen so far, it sounds like the program is the way the government is implementing the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 and the Protect America Act of 2007, which were enacted in response to the 2005 disclosure of the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program. Here's what I wrote about the PAA of 2007 when it was going through Congress:

So what does the legislation do? A. . . The first change is a clarification that FISA warrants are not needed for "surveillance directed at a person reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States." That is, if the government is monitoring someone outside the United States from a telecom switch in the U.S., it can listen in on the person's calls and read their e-mails without obtaining a FISA warrant first. The Fourth Amendment may still require reasonableness in this setting when one or more people on the call of e-mail are inside the U.S. or are United States citizens, but there is no statutory warrant requirement.

The second change is a requirement of a formal authorization of a program to do such monitoring. The Director of National Intelligence and the AG have to approve a program (for up to one year) reasonably designed to be limited to the monitoring of persons outside the United States. Those procedures have to be submitted to the FISA court, which then reviews whether the Executive's conclusion that the procedures are reasonably designed to only pick up the communications of people reasonably believed to be outside the U.S. is "clearly erroneous." If the conclusion is clearly erroneous, the court sends them back and tells the Executive to try again. The government can also appeal that determination to the FISA Court of Review and if needed the Supreme Court. I'm not exactly sure, but my sense is that this is a one-size-fits-all order; that is, the one authorization covers all the providers.

It sounds like the PRISM program is the way of implementing the statute, now codified at 50 U.S.C. 1881a. Recall this detail from the original Post story:

Analysts who use the system from a Web portal at Fort Meade key in "selectors," or search terms, that are designed to produce at least 51 percent confidence in a target's "foreignness." That is not a very stringent test. Training materials obtained by the Post instruct new analysts to submit accidentally collected U.S. content for a quarterly report, "but it's nothing to worry about."

Presumably the bit about "selectors" that are "designed to produce at least 51 percent confidence in a target's foreignness" are ones that have been approved by the DNI and AG and then approved by the FISA court to implement the authority to target "persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States to acquire foreign intelligence information." 50 U.S.C. 1881a(a).

Anyway, maybe this is obvious to everyone, but I thought I would add it just in case it wasn't.

While it might be tempting to do to this administration what its backers in and out of the media did to the prior administration -- conjure up scandal where there isn't any -- I think it can only be a distraction that weakens the credibility of those who want to pursue real White House wrongdoing.

In any event, the week ended on one up note, the president, unaccountably praised by the media for so long as a great orator, was
rendered speechless when he stood at a podium in San Jose without a ghostwritten script.  

With serious and demonstrable charges of administration wrongdoing popping up every day, conservatives are rightfully angry at the desultory treatment they get from the media.

At Just One Minute, the poster known as "daddy" summarizes that feeling well:

Worth mentioning how the NY Times and the WaPo and Andrea Mitchell and ABC/NBC/CBS/CNN etc, were all so interested in Sarah Palin's Emails, that they recruited volunteers across the nation to help them pore thru them.

Yet when Lisa Jackson specifically uses false email aliases like "Richard Windsor" (unethically and probably illegally) to conduct Government business, and Sebelius today is discovered to have pretty much done the same thing, it is all met by yawns from the suddenly incurious Journalists mentioned above."

Darwin central has much the same complaint:

Friedersdorf also mocks conservatives for finding media bias in coverage of conservative icons who apparently are not worthy of unbiased reporting, mentioning Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann by name. Omitted is any mention of the unbiased AP assignment of eleven reporters to fact check Sarah Palin's autobiography. Perhaps that caused the paucity of personnel available to cover Fast 'n' Furious. Oh, those pesky, silly coincidences kept another story from ever reaching the American public.

[snip]

Compare and contrast the coverage of the Valerie Plame scandal (body count, zero, for those keeping score), with the coverage of Benghazi. Alternatively, consider l'affaire Plame (body count zero), with the protracted somnolence -- it never rose to the level of reporting -- produced by the DOJ's Fast 'n' Furious embarrassment. At last count, over two hundred people lost their lives as a result of Fast 'n' Furious, one of them being United States Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Ho-hum. Got something snarky about the Tea Party?

Young cons.com noted the entertainment industry is just as guilty of using double standards and diversionary tactics as is the press: "With all these Obama scandals piling up the next episode of SNL will have some great George Bush and Sarah Palin jokes."

I'm not sure what the answer is. I suppose we could leak that Sarah Palin was with Obama on the night of the Benghazi massacre. I mean after all, no one knows where he was so it's not impossible. That might get their attention. Maybe we could send Soros-funded Media Matters a picture of Palin outside the IRS headquarters slipping Lois Lerner the instructions on how to keep the Tea Party from getting the tax status they sought.

I mean, how else besides bias and ignorance can the media fail to follow up on stories that seem as easy to get to as Jack Horner's plum fished from a pie?

Here are just two examples of the seemingly inexhaustible mound of evidence of pervasive administration lawlessness that are turning up daily.

The first involves the almost daily revelations that the IRS officials' Congressional testimony was utterly false.

A misfired email from a U.S. Internal Revenue Service employee in Cincinnati alerted a number of Washington IRS officials that extra scrutiny was being placed on conservative groups in July 2010, a year earlier than previously acknowledged, according to interviews with IRS workers by congressional investigators.

Transcripts of the interviews, reviewed by Reuters on Thursday, provided new details about Washington managers' awareness of the heightened scrutiny applied by front-line IRS agents in Cincinnati to applications for tax-exempt status from conservative groups with words like "Tea Party" in their names.

A political furor over the practice has engulfed the tax agency for nearly a month since a senior IRS official publicly apologized for it at a conference. Since then, the IRS' chief has been fired by President Barack Obama, the FBI has mounted an investigation and Congress has held numerous hearings.

The transcripts show that in July 2010, Elizabeth Hofacre, an IRS official in Cincinnati who was coordinating "emerging issues" for the agency's tax-exempt unit, was corresponding with Washington-based IRS tax attorney Carter Hull. She was asked to summarize her initial findings in a spreadsheet and notify a small group of colleagues, including some staff in the Washington tax-exempt unit. However, she sent her email to a larger number of people in Washington by accident.

"Everybody in DC got it by mistake," Hofacre said in the transcripts. She later clarified that she did not mean all officials but those in the IRS Exempt Organizations Rulings and Agreements unit.

Secondly, more and more information is surfacing about cases where Romney donors or applicants for 501 (c) (3) or (4) were audited by more than just the IRS -- something increasingly likely to have been the result of interagency coordination and White House involvement. Still, these revelations seem to be from the targets coming forward often to the new media, not the establishment press seeking out victims.

The Internal Revenue Service's political targeting might not have been limited to a few "rogue Cincinnati agents" or even organizations seeking nonprofit status. A major Mitt Romney fundraiser and campaign official -- along with her husband and three other family members -- all got a visit from the taxman in 2012.

In an interview with The Daily Caller, Kit Moncrief, a big-money fundraiser and state chair in Texas for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, recounted an unusual telephone call she received from an IRS agent on her personal cell phone in the spring of last year.

"The first place [the agent] called me was on my cell phone," Moncrief said, explaining that she believed the only place the agent could have accessed the number was from a Romney list. "The number is listed under my husband's name. She wouldn't have been able to be able to have my cell phone number because on the IRS form it shows the office number.[snip]according to Moncrief, the agent explained that her call was due to an "administration directive."

[snip]

Moncrief said the process was "strange" on two levels. "It was just very strange, number one that she called me for the family business. The tax returns would have said to call the office. And number two she probably said something that she shouldn't have said, that this was a directive from the administration," she added.

According to Kit Moncrief the agent was very interested in her, asking Moncrief's employees specific questions about her activities.

Kit and her husband Charles Moncrief were not the only Moncriefs the IRS visited.

Charles Moncrief told The DC his daughter Gloria Holmsten and brothers Bill and Richard Moncrief were also audited by the IRS in that same 2012 timeframe, all by different agents.

Bill Moncrief's audit lasted from May to July 2012, Richard Moncrief's audit lasted from June to December 2012, and Gloria and her husband Erich Holmsten's audit lasted from April to June 2012.

[snip]

The IRS audit of Kit and Charles Moncriefs lasted from April to June 2012, and according to the family, everything was found to be in order.

[snip]

Indeed the Moncriefs are not the only Romney supporters who have spoken out about their experience with the IRS.

In an interview with The DC in May, Mitt Romney super PAC donor Frank VanderSloot explained how he was audited twice by the IRS after being attacked by the Obama campaign as one of eight "wealthy individuals with less-than-reputable records." In that interview the billionaire businessman and former national co-chair of the Romney campaign's finance committee said that he was "not the only one" on that list had received a visit from the IRS.

With all this bubbling up, I viewed with some suspicion reports of a wide-net NSA spying program first reported in Britain's leftwing paper, the Guardian, by the notorious Glenn Greenwald, known most famously for creating numerous sock puppets to tout his own work online. 

Shortly afterward, the Washington Post picked up the story, initially claiming despite their denials that the government's top-secret PRISM program had accessed servers from large firms with their cooperation. The Post has since
retracted that claim:

The Post previously claimed that Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL and Apple "participate knowingly". The phrase that stood out in the report (it has been repurposed by numerous tech blogs and news sites across the Web) since it suggested that US firms willingly agreed to a process that -- at best -- could violate the rights of millions in the US if their data is accidentally monitored by the NSA.

Hours after the news broke, and every company bar PalTalk and AOL denied any knowledge of the program and allegations of their involvement, the Post has changed its stance.

Senators Feinstein and Chambliss, leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, confirm there is nothing new about the program and various reputable conservative reporters including John Podhoretz, James Taranto, and Andrew McCarthy have asserted there is no scandal in this and it does not involve wiretapping of all of our communications, although most sensible commentators do or, I think, would, concede the administration's credibility is so low at this point, it is not paranoia to question the possible misuse of this program by Obama and his appointees.

My guess is that this was leaked to Greenwald and the Post by those (White House insiders or Chinese hackers) who either wish to distract from real scandals -- look what the evil Bush made Obama do -- or to put the administration on the defensive about its criticisms of Chinese hacking.

Professor Orin Kerr
describes the program for those whose hair might be on fire at this latest bit of news:

The leaked news about the PRISM surveillance program has been the big news story today. The details are murky, but one question that we should be asking is whether the program is legal. From what I've seen so far, it sounds like the program is the way the government is implementing the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 and the Protect America Act of 2007, which were enacted in response to the 2005 disclosure of the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program. Here's what I wrote about the PAA of 2007 when it was going through Congress:

So what does the legislation do? A. . . The first change is a clarification that FISA warrants are not needed for "surveillance directed at a person reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States." That is, if the government is monitoring someone outside the United States from a telecom switch in the U.S., it can listen in on the person's calls and read their e-mails without obtaining a FISA warrant first. The Fourth Amendment may still require reasonableness in this setting when one or more people on the call of e-mail are inside the U.S. or are United States citizens, but there is no statutory warrant requirement.

The second change is a requirement of a formal authorization of a program to do such monitoring. The Director of National Intelligence and the AG have to approve a program (for up to one year) reasonably designed to be limited to the monitoring of persons outside the United States. Those procedures have to be submitted to the FISA court, which then reviews whether the Executive's conclusion that the procedures are reasonably designed to only pick up the communications of people reasonably believed to be outside the U.S. is "clearly erroneous." If the conclusion is clearly erroneous, the court sends them back and tells the Executive to try again. The government can also appeal that determination to the FISA Court of Review and if needed the Supreme Court. I'm not exactly sure, but my sense is that this is a one-size-fits-all order; that is, the one authorization covers all the providers.

It sounds like the PRISM program is the way of implementing the statute, now codified at 50 U.S.C. 1881a. Recall this detail from the original Post story:

Analysts who use the system from a Web portal at Fort Meade key in "selectors," or search terms, that are designed to produce at least 51 percent confidence in a target's "foreignness." That is not a very stringent test. Training materials obtained by the Post instruct new analysts to submit accidentally collected U.S. content for a quarterly report, "but it's nothing to worry about."

Presumably the bit about "selectors" that are "designed to produce at least 51 percent confidence in a target's foreignness" are ones that have been approved by the DNI and AG and then approved by the FISA court to implement the authority to target "persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States to acquire foreign intelligence information." 50 U.S.C. 1881a(a).

Anyway, maybe this is obvious to everyone, but I thought I would add it just in case it wasn't.

While it might be tempting to do to this administration what its backers in and out of the media did to the prior administration -- conjure up scandal where there isn't any -- I think it can only be a distraction that weakens the credibility of those who want to pursue real White House wrongdoing.

In any event, the week ended on one up note, the president, unaccountably praised by the media for so long as a great orator, was
rendered speechless when he stood at a podium in San Jose without a ghostwritten script.