As if one scandal weren’t enough …

THE MIDDLE EAST

American people are attacked and killed at diplomatic outposts in the Middle East.  There’s a demand for investigation after investigation, a call for impeachment … well, at least there is in one case.  I think most of us know which case that was.

January 22, 2002. Calcutta, India. The U.S. Consulate is attacked by members of Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami. Five people are killed.

June 14, 2002. Karachi, Pakistan. An al Qaeda suicide bomber attacks the U.S. Consulate, killing 12 and injuring 51.

October 12, 2002. Denpasar, Indonesia. U.S. diplomatic offices bombed.  Luckily, there were no fatalities.

February 28, 2003. Islamabad, Pakistan. Gunmen fire on the U.S. Embassy. Two people are killed.

May 12, 2003. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda terrorists hit the diplomatic compound, killing 36 people.  Nine of them were Americans.

July 30, 2004. Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The U.S. Embassy is attacked by a suicide bomber from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.  Two people killed.

Sana'a
Sana’a (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

December 6, 2004. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Nine are killed when al Qaeda terrorists go after the U.S. Consulate and occupy the perimeter wall.

March 2, 2006. Karachi, Pakistan again. A suicide bomber hits the U.S. Consulate.  Four die.  One of them was diplomat David Foy.

September 12, 2006. Damascus, Syria. Four gunmen shouting “Allahu akbar” attack the U.S. Embassy using grenades, automatic weapons, a car bomb and a truck bomb. Four people killed, 13 wounded.

January 12, 2007. Athens, Greece. A Greek terrorist group called the Revolutionary Struggle fire a rocket-propelled grenade at the U.S. Embassy. No fatalities.

March 18, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. A mortar round fired by the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic Jihad of Yemen at the U.S. Embassy misses its mark, hits a nearby school, and kills two people.

July 9, 2008. Istanbul, Turkey. U.S. Consulate attacked by terrorists. Six people killed.

September 17, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Sixteen people are killed — including an American student and her husband, married three weeks — by terrorists disguised as military officials, boasting an arsenal of weapons including RPGs and two car bombs.

September 11, 2012. Benghazi, Libya.  Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, are killed in a raid on the U.S. Consulate on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  The McClatchy news group reports that Stevens twice declined offers of more military security in the days leading up to the attacks.  Republicans are concerned about “talking points,” that turn out to be misreported in major media circles.  “Armchair quarterbacks” question why the military wasn’t sent in immediately as the attack was taking place, leading President George W. Bush’s former defense secretary, Robert Gates, to call that questioning “cartoonish.”

After all those attacks and lives lost under Bush in years prior, it’s the last one under a Democratic president that refuses to go away.  This is what is meant by “beating a dead horse.”

THE IRS HITS THE TEA PARTY

At a time when one conspiracy is being debunked, another charge arises that offers a glimmer of hope to conspiracy theorists when it’s revealed and admitted that the Internal Revenue Service paid special attention in auditing practices to conservative groups filing for 501(c)(4) status as a “social welfare group,” that special attention coming for anyone filing with the words “tea party” and “patriot.”

Logo of the Internal Revenue Service
Logo of the Internal Revenue Service (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a controversy that’s now claimed the IRS’ acting commissioner.  No one should undergo added scrutiny by the IRS based solely on political persuasion.  How many of the conservative groups getting a closer examination in their applications were denied that 501(c)(4) status?  None.  How many would be willing to bet that liberal groups have gone through the same scrutiny in years past?

The bigger scandal here is what the Supreme Court gave to us in its Citizens United ruling, which opened the floodgates for filings like the ones that have drawn the attention in this case.  A 501(c)(4) status says that social welfare groups “must operate primarily to further the common good and general welfare of the people of the community” — which “does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.”

Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS PAC is allowed 501(c)(4) status.  There’s your real scandal.

LEAVE THOSE AP REPORTERS ALONE

Speaking as someone who’s got the smell of newsprint still running through me, I’d sure hate to know that federal officials were looking at my personal and work phone contacts while trying to see who’s been leaking classified information to me, as has been happening with reporters and editors with The Associated Press.

One good way to stop the free flow of information that’s crucial to a truly free society is to reveal the identities of people giving verified information under an agreement that the source’s name is kept confidential.  The truth all too often has a way of getting lost when that happens.  Reporters and editors have gone to jail defending their sources’ anonymity.

Image representing Associated Press as depicte...
Image via CrunchBase

We live in a very different world these days.  You had to see that coming with the Patriot Act, where even public library records aren’t guaranteed to be kept confidential.

We now live in a world where Republicans want to know why so many “leaks” are happening — including information that would make the sitting Democratic president look good (were the leaks purely for ego, Republicans ask?) — so the Democratic president gives them what they want and his administration investigates leaks like no time we’ve seen before, yet when news of phone records being looked into comes out then the Republicans who wanted the investigations hop on the bandwagon of those wondering how those investigations could possibly take place.

And now, with this latest scandal taking shape, the Democratic president is now suggesting a new federal shield law to boost the legal protections for reporters fighting to keep confidential sources confidential … you know, kind of the way it used to be back in the “good ol’ days.”

I was going to write something here on Benghazi days ago, and then along came the IRS mess so I put it off, and now there’s the mess with the AP.  It’s been a scandalous week.

But here’s the biggest scandal of all.  This is all pretty much politics as usual these days.  It’s a circus, and the sideshows continue to go on while other issues go unnoticed.

Politics as usual.

2 thoughts on “A scandal here, a scandal there, a scandal everywhere

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