Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

House Republicans vote to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress

From CBS News.

Excerpt:

The Republican-led House voted Wednesday to hold former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions related to the agency’s undue scrutiny of certain tax-exempt groups.

The vote to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress was 231-187, with all Republicans voting in favor and all but a few Democrats voting against.

It’s now up to a local U.S. attorney to consider criminal charges against Lerner. The Justice Department, however, has ignored past contempt charges against executive branch officials, including contempt charges against Attorney General Eric Holder.

[...]Republicans maintain they are determined to get to the bottom of the scandal and find out why IRS officials, starting in 2010, unfairly targeted groups for their political activity.

[...]In addition to holding Lerner in contempt, the House also voted 250-168 to approve a resolution calling on Holder to appoint a special counsel to investigate the IRS targeting.

According to Hot Air, “Lerner could face fines up to $100,000 and even a up to a year of jail time”.

In other news, Trey Gowdy, who is heading the new select committee on Benghazi, is kicking some serious ass.

Transcript fragment:

MEGYN KELLY: I know you said you intend to subpoena her, that you want her to appear before your committee. However, and I say this respectfully, the last time she appeared before Congress what we had was a series of speeches from the lawmakers, without that many probing questions. I hear that from my viewers often when we look back on those hearings. What would be different this time?

TREY GOWDY: Well, what will be different is I’m not necessarily committing to hearing. I’m committing to the getting the answers and may be in the form of a deposition, which, as you know, Megyn, as a very good attorney, which you once were, that is the route that is most conducive with eliciting the truth. It’s not five minutes of pounding your chest in a committee room. It’s a deposition.

MEGYN KELLY: Can she get out of that?

TREY GOWDY: Well, if she can get out of a subpoena, she can get out of it. But I don’t send invitations to cocktail parties. We’re going to send subpoenas and we’re going to expect her to comply and if you don’t comply, she’ll suffer the same panoply of consequences that any of your viewers who don’t comply with a subpoena would suffer.

I was hoping they were going to pick him to lead the committee, and I believe we are finally going to get some answers on this scandal.

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Boehner announces select committee to investigate the Benghazi cover-up

From the Daily Caller.

Excerpt:

South Carolina Republican congressman Trey Gowdy claimed he has evidence of “a systematic, intentional decision to withhold certain documents from Congress” about the Benghazi attacks and alleged White House cover-up.

Gowdy spoke with Fox News’ Greta van Susteren about Speaker of the House John Boehner’s Friday decision to form a select committee on Benghazi. The congressman explained that the committee will allow a more complete investigation into the issue, unburdened by the jurisdictional restraints that often plague other committees.

“If you want to have Greg Hicks and the station chief from Tripoli and Hillary Clinton all sitting at the same table, you need to have a committee that has the power to do that,” Gowdy said. “And a select committee would have that power.”

Gowdy — widely viewed as a frontrunner to chair the new committee — later told Susteren he supports Congress’ subpoena of Secretary of State John Kerry in order to get documents they have long awaited from the State Department.

He then added he has proof that documents relating to Benghazi and the alleged Obama administration cover-up have been deliberately withheld from Congress.

“Well, I have evidence that not only are they hiding it, there is an intent to hide it,” he claimed. “I can’t disclose that evidence yet, but I have evidence that there was a systematic, intentional decision to withhold certain documents from Congress.”

And guess what? Boehner has now announced the formation of a special committee. And Gowdy is one of the candidates to lead it.

Excerpt:

House Republicans moved on two fronts Friday to dig for answers on Benghazi, with Speaker John Boehner announcing a special committee to investigate and a key panel subpoenaing Secretary of State John Kerry to testify.

In a significant shift, Boehner announced that the House will vote on establishing a select committee to investigate, on the heels of newly released emails that raised additional questions about the White House’s response.

[...]The committee is expected to be bipartisan, and Fox News is told Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., is among those being considered to lead it. 

Gowdy should be picked to lead it. It is a former prosecutor and he knows how to cut through the baloney.

In addition, Darrell Issa has sub-poena’d John Kerry to explain why documents the GOP has requested have not been received:

On the heels of those documents, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee also announced Friday that it has issued the subpoena for Kerry to testify at a May 21 hearing. The chairman of that committee has accused the administration of hiding records following an earlier subpoena.

“The State Department’s response to the congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack has shown a disturbing disregard for the Department’s legal obligations to Congress,” Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., wrote in a letter to Kerry.

He added: “Compliance with a subpoena for documents is not a game. Because your Department is failing to meet its legal obligations, I am issuing a new subpoena to compel you to appear before the Committee to answer questions about your agency’s response to the congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack.”

So we are going to finally get some answers. This recent shift from Boehner comes as a result of the e-mails that surfaced last week, implicating the White House in the Benghazi cover-up. I would like to know exactly who was responsible for inventing the YouTube video story.

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E-mails: Susan Rice prepped to lie about Benghazi by White House

From Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

Newly obtained emails on Benghazi show then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was coached by a key White House aide to lie and ignore the facts known and reported on the ground to make the administration look good.

The fish rots from the head, as the saying goes, and no further proof is needed than a Sept. 14, 2012, email from Ben Rhodes, an assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, contained in more than 100 pages of documents released by Judicial Watch and obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request.

That email, with the subject line: “RE: PREP Call with Susan: Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET,” was sent to other key White House staffers such as then-Communications Director David Plouffe and Press Secretary Jay Carney the day before now-National Security Adviser Susan Rice made her whirlwind tour on five Sunday news show appearances to specifically and emphatically blame an Internet video for the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, in which U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other nationals were killed.

One of the goals listed in the emails was the need for Rice “to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.” She was also to “reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.” Her job was not to tell the truth, but to put lipstick on the Obama administration’s Benghazi pig.

The documents include a Sept. 12, 2012, email from Payton Knopf, a former deputy spokesman at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, in which Knopf informs Rice that senior officials had already dubbed the Benghazi attack “complex” and planned in advance. Yet Rice would still insist on her TV tour that the Benghazi terrorist attacks were “spontaneous.”

In early April, former deputy CIA director Michael Morell, who was heavily involved in editing the now infamous talking points, told lawmakers it was Rice, on the Sunday shows, who linked the video to the Benghazi attack and that the video was not part of the CIA analysis.

The Rhodes email was not part of the 100 pages of emails released by the administration last May, and we can see why. As we noted at the time, that email package showed a successive pattern of edits with White House involvement designed to remove any hint of terrorist involvement to fit the administration’s campaign narrative that the war on terror was over and won.

Those emails show that Rhodes and National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor were alerted that the intelligence community was drafting talking points that as late as 3:04 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, still included references to extremists tied to al-Qaida and an “attack.”

The terms “al-Qaida” and “attack” were stripped out by 4:42 p.m., and shortly afterward Vietor thanked colleagues for revisions and said they would be vetted “here,” as in the White House. He then forwarded “edits” from John Brennan, the current CIA chief who then was a White House counterterrorism adviser.

In a White House meeting on Saturday morning, Sept. 15, the CIA, at the direction of the State Department and White House, drafted the final version of the talking points from which all references to al-Qaida and security warnings in Benghazi before the attack were deleted.

The question of how the video story was concocted out of whole cloth, by whom and why, and why it was trumpeted by Rice, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama himself with such fervor at the United Nations has remained unanswered until now.

I was talking to my Dad on Skype when this came out, and I told him about it. He said “that’s it for Hillary Clinton”. But I really wonder about that. After all, we knew a lot of things about Obama’s past before he was elected – like his votes against a born alive infant protection bill. But that didn’t stop people from voting for him.  I am not sure if truth still matters to the American people. In a different time, this cover-up by the White House would be an impeachable offense. But all of his scandals – IRS targeting Tea Party groups, Fast & Furious gunrunning to drug cartels, NSA wire-tapping, Benghazi cover-up, etc. – seem to have just rolled off him.

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Sharyl Attkisson on Fox News describing White House harassment of journalists

You’ll remember that Sharyl Attkisson used to work at CBS News, and did the best investigative journalism on the Obama administration’s”Fast and Furious” gun smuggling to Mexican drug cartels, and then again on the CIA cover-up of the Obama administration’s foreign policy weakness in the Benghazi massacre. I always disliked her as a journalist when she was attacking the Bush administration so effectively, but I’ve sort of realized that she just thinks that it’s her job to attack and expose whoever is in power. But whereas the Bush administration never did anything to her, the Obama administration is different.

The Daily Caller reports.

Excerpt:

Former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson accused the White House of running an unprecedented pressure campaign against journalists, claiming they are pursuing a “particularly aggressive, well-organized” strategy “designed to have some kind of a chilling effect” on the American press.

Attkisson spoke with Fox News’ Howard Kurtz on Sunday about her early departure from CBS and her battles with the Obama administration for access to information. An investigative reporter who covered White House bugbears like Benghazi and Fast and Furious, she left CBS before her contract expired because she felt network executives inappropriately shot down her stories.

But in her conversation with Kurtz, Attkission made it clear that she ultimately blames the Obama administration itself for her bosses’ timidity.

“I think any journalist who has been covering Washington for a few years would agree… that there is pressure coming to bear on journalists for just doing their job in ways that have never come to bear before,” she began.

“There have always been tensions, there have always been calls from the White House — under any administration, I assume — when they don’t like a particular story,” she admitted. “But it is particularly aggressive under the Obama administration, and I think it’s a campaign that’s very well organized and designed to have sort of a chilling effect.”

“And to some degree,” she continued, “has been somewhat successful in getting broadcast producers who don’t really want to deal with the headache of it. Why put on the controversial stories that we are going to have to fight people on when we can fill the broadcast with other perfectly decent stories that don’t ruffle the same feathers?”

The reporter claimed she and her bosses both received direct pushback from the White House, including phone calls and emails pressuring them to change or retract stories.

Newsbusters has more:

Kurtz asked how Attkisson feels about the charge of liberal bias leading to soft coverage of Obama. “The press in general seems to be very shy about challenging this administration, as if it’s making some sort of political statement, rather than just doing our job as watchdogs,” Attkisson said.

ATTKISSON: I didn’t run into that same kind of sentiment [at CBS] as I did in the Obama administration when I covered the Bush administration very aggressively, on its secrecy and lack of Freedom of Information responses, and its poor management of the Food and Drug Administration and the national laboratories, the Halliburton-Iraq questions of fraud. I mean, there was one thing after another. The bait-and-switch of TARP, the bank bailout program. All of those stories under Bush were met with a good reception. There were different managers as well, but no one accused me of being a mouthpiece for the liberals at that time.

I’m surprised that the communist Democrat Party would suppress freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of the press. Communists have never done that before in history, have they? They never put in place disastrous plans and then had to cover it all up by suppressing journalists. And they certainly never did it in the Soviet Union, Cambodia, Vietnam, and everywhere else communism’s been tried. Whenever government government gets really, really big, we should expect individual liberties to increase. Right?

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Benghazi hearings: CIA director altered talking points from “attack” to “demonstration”

From the Wall Street Journal, a summary on the Benghazi congressional hearings.

Excerpt:

Last week’s encounter between former acting CIA Director Michael Morell and the House Permanent Subcommittee on Intelligence may have brought us a bit closer to the truth of how four Americans came to be killed at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, and how their countrymen came to be lied to about it. But the progress toward truth was probably not made in a way that Mr. Morell intended. The encounter on Capitol Hill also made clear that the forum that will take us all the way to the truth must be something other than a congressional hearing.

[...]Critics of the government’s performance on Benghazi have charged that Mr. Morell’s revisions principally although not exclusively involved changing the description of the violence and its perpetrators, and removing the suggestion that they might have had ties to a terrorist organization. These changes, it is argued, enabled Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the time, to promote the discredited and since abandoned narrative that the violence was a reaction to an anti-Muslim YouTube video produced by a probationer in Los Angeles.

The acting CIA director’s changes to the talking points did indeed enable the blame-it-on-the-video fiction, which served the interest of a president seeking re-election based in part on having put al Qaeda on the run, although in fairness it is not clear that was Mr. Morell’s motive. Thus he edited out a description of the warnings that the CIA had provided to the State Department of earlier terrorist attacks on the British embassy and on the Red Cross that caused them to withdraw their personnel, and a description of an attack that blew a hole in the U.S.’s own installation—events that might have suggested that Sept. 11, 2012, was not an isolated event.

Morell believed “analysts” who are desk employees, and disregarded statements of the station chief, who was on the scene, and in contact with the eyewitnesses:

He substituted “demonstration” for “attack” despite the direct statement by the CIA’s Libya station chief in Tripoli that there was no demonstration; Mr. Morell changed “terrorist” to “extremist.” His explanation is that he relied on the CIA’s analysts, who he said had comprehensive information available to them, rather than on the CIA’s station chief, who relied on the testimony of eyewitnesses who arrived soon after the attack started. 

The directorate of intelligence functions according to a protocol whose rigidity we more often associate with the military. So analysts whose deductions put them at odds with those on the scene wouldn’t have considered, and apparently didn’t consider, simply ringing up those on the scene and getting their input. To the contrary, analysts deal only with information that comes in the prescribed way. The CIA station chief’s communication to headquarters came in an email and did not get circulated within the intelligence community as it would have if it had been contained in a cable.

There was plenty of information disconfirming his “demonstration” lie:

There was, as it happens, other information available. A private company, Agincourt Solutions, had followed the Twitter, Facebook and other social media in the vicinity of the U.S. installation attacked in Benghazi. The company found no evidence of a “demonstration.” There were video cameras trained on the front gate of the consulate that showed no demonstration. Days before the attack, al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri had been calling for an attack to avenge the death of Abu Yahya al-Libi, a senior al Qaeda member who was, as his name suggests, a Libyan. And Sept. 11 is a date of highly symbolic value to people who set great store by symbols.

The last two data points were certainly available to the CIA analysts, and the camera feed should have been. But all this was discounted, apparently in favor of their consensus view that the attack at Benghazi had started with a demonstration that drew inspiration from violence inflicted on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo—allegedly as part of a protest against the video.

Both Obama and Clinton blamed the Youtube video for a “demonstration”, and denied that there was a terrorist attack:

Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton told the grieving families that the producer of the video would feel the weight of the law. It was one promise they kept: Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was arrested in the middle of the night in the glare of TV lights for a probation violation—the only arrest thus far growing out of the Benghazi attack, even though the identity and whereabouts of the principal suspects, one of whom is an alumnus of Guantanamo Bay, have long been known.

The Obama administration blamed the Youtube video in order to win the 2012 election. They were afraid if the real story came out, people would know that they had screwed by underestimating the threat and ignoring the warning signs and the requests for additional security. Democrats can’t do national security – they just give speeches about spending taxpayer money.

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