NBC's Lisa Myers reported this morning that the IRS deliberately chose not to reveal that it had wrongly targeted conservative groups until after the 2012 presidential election:
The IRS commissioner "has known for at least a year that this was going on," said Myers, "and that this had happened. And did he share any of that information with the White House? But even more importantly, Congress is going to ask him, why did you mislead us for an entire year? Members of Congress were saying conservatives are being targeted. What's going on here? The IRS denied it. Then when -- after these officials are briefed by the IG that this is going on, they don't disclose it. In fact, the commissioner sent a letter to Congress in September on this subject and did not reveal this. Imagine if we -- if you can -- what would have happened if this fact came out in September 2012, in the middle of a presidential election? The terrain would have looked very different."
On TV this morning, Bob Woodward made the case for not dismissing Benghazi and compared the scandal to Watergate:
"You were talking earlier about kind of dismissing the Benghazi issue as one that's just political and the president recently said it's a sideshow," said Woodward. "But if you read through all these e-mails, you see that everyone in the government is saying, 'Oh, let's not tell the public that terrorists were involved, people connected to al Qaeda. Let's not tell the public that there were warnings.' I hate to show, this is one of the documents with the editing that one of the people in the state department said, 'Oh, let's not let these things out.' And I have to go back 40 years to Watergate when Nixon put out his edited transcripts to the conversations, and he personally went through them and said, 'Oh, let's not tell this, let's not show this.' I would not dismiss Benghazi. It's a very serious issue. As people keep saying, four people were killed. You look at the hydraulic pressure that was in the system to not tell the truth, and, you know, we use this term and the government uses this term, talking points. Talking points, as we know, are like legal briefs. They're an argument on one side. What we need to get rid of talking point and they need to put out statements or papers that are truth documents. Okay, this is all we know."
In an email to supporters of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi encouraged readers to sign a petition to "declare your support" for Obamacare ahead of the House plan to hold a vote on repealing the unpopular health care law. The email, which had the subject line "this has gotten out of control,"claims that the vote to repeal is "worthless," particularly because "a real repeal would actually COST money rather than save it."
Read the whole email from Pelosi below:
This Republican circus has gotten out of control:
Led by Michele Bachmann, tonight Republicans will vote to repeal Obamacare for the 37th time.
We want to reach one million people standing behind Obamacare to show that Bachmann and House Republicans have lost the faith of the American people.
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Republican Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez continues to poll within single digits of his opponent, Democratic congressman Ed Markey, in the special election for Senate in Massachusetts. According to a new poll from PPP, first reported by BuzzFeed, Markey leads Gomez, a political newcomer, by 7 points, 48 percent to 41 percent.
As BuzzFeed points out, Markey may be shoring up the Democratic vote after a divisive Democratic primary:
Markey has gone “from a 68/21 lead with Democratic voters two weeks ago to a 77/12 one now,” the PPP analysis of the poll finds.
After nearly two days of editing, then CIA director David Petraeus was sent the revised Benghazi talking points on September 15, 2012. He was less than impressed, to put it mildly.
“No mention of the cable to Cairo, either?” Petraeus wrote in an email. “I’d just as soon not use this, then…”
Petraeus punted, however, writing that ultimately it was the National Security Staff’s (NSS’s) “call” to use the edited talking points.
What did the “cable to Cairo” say, exactly? Earlier versions of the talking points included the following sentence, or language very similar to it:
“On 10 September we warned of social media reports calling for a demonstration in front of the Embassy Cairo and that jihadists were threatening to break into the Embassy.”
When this was struck from the talking points, a key part of the story was lost. The protest in Cairo was not some unorganized reaction to a You Tube trailer for the video Innocence of Muslims. Al Qaeda-linked jihadists, including Mohammed al Zawahiri, the brother of al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri, help incite the Cairo protest, using that video trailer as a pretext.
The evidence for this is plain to see, as THE WEEKLY STANDARD has written here, here, here and here. (See also here.) The protest in Cairo was not just some anti-American affair, it was ostentatiously pro-al Qaeda. The protesters chanted “Obama, Obama, we are all Osama!” as dozens of al Qaeda flags were flown in the crowd. One such black banner was used to replace the American flag that normally sits atop the Embassy. It would be absurd to think the senior al Qaeda-linked jihadists standing out in front of the U.S. Embassy had nothing to do with this.
The spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Shawn Turner, did object to the wording of the CIA’s Cairo warning in the talking points, but he did not advocate removing it entirely.“I've been very careful not to say we issued a warning,” Turner wrote on the evening of September 14. Turner wanted the wording to be changed to read (emphasis added):
“On 10 September we notified Embassy Cairo of social media reports calling for a demonstration and encouraging jihadists to break into the Embassy."
And so it was. Then, on September 15, the language was struck entirely from the Benghazi talking points, prompting Petraeus’s objection. Anyone reading the talking points from then on would have no idea that there was a “jihadist” threat against the U.S. Embassy in Cairo prior to September 11, 2012.
The U.S. Marshal Service has been “unable to locate” two former participants in the federal Witness Security Program “identified as known or suspected terrorists,” states the public summary of an interim Justice Department Inspector General’s report obtained by CNN.
The Marshals have concluded that “one individual was and the other individual was believed to be residing outside of the United States.”
The news comes from an audit of the Witness Security Program by the IG’s office , which states that “the Department did not definitively know how many known or suspected terrorists were admitted into the WITSEC program,” among other “significant issues concerning national security.” The report makes 16 recommendations.
Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey, his party's nominee for Senate in next month's special election, asked a former House colleague not to show up to a fundraiser in Washington, D.C. earlier this week. A Markey staff member reportedly called Ben Jones, a former Democratic congressman from Georgia who also starred as Cooter in the television show The Dukes of Hazzard, to disinvite him from a fundraiser. Here's the story from the Boston Globe:
US Representative Edward J. Markey disinvited Tuesday a Confederate flag defender, former television star, and onetime House colleague from playing music at Markey’s Washington, D.C., fund-raiser hours before it was scheduled to begin.
Markey’s US Senate campaign said the Malden Democrat was “completely unaware” that former Georgia Democratic congressman Ben Jones, who played mechanic Cooter Davenport on the “Dukes of Hazzard” television show, has long been an ardent proponent of the Stars and Bars as a symbol of Southern culture.
Jones, who describes himself as a veteran of the civil rights movement, publicly sparred in 2002 with former Virginia governor Douglas Wilder over Jones’s use of the flag in his campaign for a Virginia congressional seat.
The same year, Markey donated $500 to Jones’s campaign, one of two personal campaign donations Markey has made to federal candidates since 1997, according to Federal Election Commission records.
As Jones recounted to the Globe, he told the Markey staffer to "fold it four ways and put it where the sun don't shine."
Markey is running for the Senate seat once held by John Kerry and which Kerry vacated after being appointed secretary of state. Markey's opponent is Republican Gabriel Gomez, a first-time candidate who is nonetheless running within single-digits of the veteran Democrat, according to some recent polls. The election is June 25.
The designated moderate in the Republican presidential field, Chris Christie, will have to run on a little more than his famous bellicosity. There is the matter of his record as governor of New Jersey and his success in dealing with that famously Republican constituency: organized labor. In that regard, Christie may have a problem.
Gov. Chris Christie has warned potential investors there is no guarantee the state will make its required pension payments in future years, an admission that underscores a looming financial crisis he and future governors face as retirement costs are expected to explode before the decade ends.
The problem of large, unfunded pension obligations has not gone away and numbers do not respond to bluster.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe leads his Republican opponent, Ken Cuccinelli, in the latest poll of the 2013 gubernatorial race in Virginia. According to Quinnipiac, 43 percent of registered voters in the Old Dominion support McAuliffe, a businessman and former chairman of the Democratic party during from 2001 to 2005, while 38 percent support Cuccinelli, the state's attorney general.
California congressman Devin Nunes made the claim yesterday that the Justice Department wiretapped telephones in the House of Representative's Cloak Room, an exclusive part of the Capitol where members are able to privately interact with one another. Nunes made the claim on Hugh Hewitt's radio show.
"I don’t trust the Department of Justice on this," said Hewitt, referring to the subpoenas the Justice Department to obtain the Associated Press's phone records. "Do you, Congressman Nunes?"
"No, I absolutely do not, especially after this wiretapping incident, essentially, of the House of Representative. I don’t think people are focusing on the right thing when they talk about going after the AP reporters. The big problem that I see is that they actually tapped right where I’m sitting right now, the Cloak Room," Nunes respond.
Hewitt was surprised. "Wait a minute, this is news to me," he said.
"The Cloak Room in the House of Representatives," Nunes repeated.
Hewitt again expressed surprise. "I have no idea what you’re talking about," said the radio host.
"So when they went after the AP reporters, right? Went after all of their phone records, they went after the phone records, including right up here in the House Gallery, right up from where I’m sitting right now. So you have a real separation of powers issue that did this really rise to the level that you would have to get phone records that would, that would most likely include members of Congress, because as you know," Nunes claimed.
Hewitt responded by saying, "Wow."
UPDATE: Jack Langer, Rep. Nunes's communications director, emails this clarification:
I wanted to make a clarification for your article. What Rep. Nunes meant by “tapped” was that the DOJ seized the phone records, as has been widely reported. There was a little confusion between him and the host during the conversation: He did not mean to refer to phone records of the cloakroom itself, but of the Capitol. This refers to the phone records from the AP’s desk in the press gallery, which the DOJ admitted to looking at. He was explaining that if those phone records were seized, they would reveal a lot of conversations between the press and members of Congress, since reporters often speak to Members from the press gallery phones. The notion of the DOJ looking at phone records from the Capitol of conversations between Members of Congress and reporters is something that concerns Rep. Nunes, bringing up issues related to the separation of powers.
Although his comments were a bit unclear, he clarified soon after in the interview:
The White House on Wednesday released 94 pages of emails between top administration and intelligence officials who helped shape the talking points about the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that the CIA would provide to policymakers in both the legislative and executive branches.
The documents, first reported by THE WEEKLY STANDARD in articles here and here, directly contradict claims by White House press secretary Jay Carney and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the revisions of those talking points were driven by the intelligence community and show heavy input from top Obama administration officials, particularly those at the State Department.
The emails provide further detail about the rewriting of the talking points during a 24-hour period from midday September 14 to midday September 15. As THE WEEKLY STANDARD previously reported, a briefing from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence shows that the big changes came in three waves – internally at the CIA, after email feedback from top administration officials, and during or after a meeting of high-ranking intelligence and national security officials the following morning.
The initial CIA changes softened some of the language about the participants in the Benghazi assault – from “Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda” to “Islamic extremists.” But CIA officials also added bullet points about the possible participation of Ansar al Sharia, an al Qaeda-linked jihadist group, and previous warnings about the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi. Those additions came out after the talking points were sent to “the interagency,” where the CIA’s final draft was further stripped down to little more than boilerplate. The half dozen references to terrorists – both in Benghazi and more generally – all but disappeared. Gone were references to al Qaeda, Ansar al Sharia, jihadists, Islamic extremists, etc. The only remaining mention was a note that “extremists” had participated in the attack.
As striking as what appears in the email traffic is what does not. There is no mention of the YouTube video that would become a central part of the administration’s explanation of the attacks to the American people until a brief mention in the subject line of emails coming out of an important meeting where further revisions were made.
Carney, in particular, is likely to face tough questioning about the contents of the emails because he made claims to reporters that were untrue. “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two – of these two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility,’ because the word ‘consulate’ was inaccurate,” he told reporters on November 28, 2012.
That’s not true. An email sent at 9:15 PM on September 14, from an official in the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs to others at the agency, described the process this way. “The State Department had major reservations with much or most of the document. We revised the document with their concerns in mind.”