Lois Lerner, the IRS Director of Exempt Organizations, signed letters that were sent to targeted groups asking them to turn over an extensive amount of information to the IRS. Earlier this week Lerner refused to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, but not before proclaiming that she had “done nothing wrong” or “broken any laws.”
Lerner has been placed on administrative leave, reportedly after she refused to resign from the agency.
American Center for Law and Justice chief counsel Jay Sekulow, who represents more that a dozen Tea Party groups, released a sample of the IRS letters sent to Tea Party type groups.
“It appears Lerner did nothing to stop the abusive conduct. And our evidence suggests she was actively participating in the improper targeting in March 2012,” he said in a statement.
The same Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee who this week is calling for hearings into IRS activities, specifically called on the IRS to engage in that very conduct back in 2010. And he wasn’t the only one. Just last year, a group of seven Senate Democrats sent another letter to the IRS urging them to similarly investigate these outside political organizations.
As the New York Times also reported just one week before they sent this letter:
The Internal Revenue Service is caught in an election-year struggle between Democratic lawmakers pressing for a crackdown on nonprofit political groups and conservative organizations accusing the tax agency of conducting a politically charged witch hunt.
Voters in New Hampshire may be interested to learn that Jeanne Shaheen was among the signatories of that letter urging action by the IRS.
So lost amid the hubbub surrounding the news that the IRS engaged in McCarthyite tactics to target specific political groups, and their subsequent apology for those tactics, has been the fact that the lobbying campaign from Senate Democrats actually worked.
From Max Baucus to Chuck Schumer to Jeanne Shaheen, key Senate Democrats publicly pressured the IRS to target groups that held differing political views and who, in their view, had the temerity to engage in the political process.
The government is simply too big for President Obama to keep track of all the wrongdoing taking place on his watch, his former senior adviser, David Axelrod, told MSNBC. “Part of being president is there’s so much beneath you that you can’t know because the government is so vast,” he explained.
Axelrod also defended the administration against criticism of the Department of Justice’s decision to seize reporters’ phone records, noting that Joe Scarborough had criticized the administration for the number of national-security leaks that had occurred. Scarborough was having none of it: ”I’ve heard the president’s defenders trying to say this, and I congratulate you guys for going off into a room, calling each other, and coming up with this bogus argument, but never did I suggest that 100 AP reporters have all of their phone records seized, their cell-phone records seized, their home phone numbers seized.”
President Obama urged Americans not to read “some blog” or rely on Republicans to describe Obamacare, because they are telling “tall tales” about the law’s provisions.
“Don’t just read a blog or some commentary from some pundit that has a political agenda, make sure you know what the actual facts are,” Obama said Friday, moments after saying that Republicans are “still telling tall tales about [Obamacare's] impact.”
For instance, Obama issued this fact check: “Whenever insurance premiums go up, you’re being told it’s because of Obamacare, even though there’s no evidence that it’s the case,” he said, blaming insurance companies and employers instead.
Those Republicans apparently fooled one of their top political opponents, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who was asked if Obamacare is driving up insurance premiums just a couple weeks ago.
Jack Bauer will be back to smash more terrorist cells, but will TV’s toughest crime fighter still pull out all the stops to save innocent lives?
Fox is expected to announce a new, limited series version of the popular terrorism drama 24 today, May 13, with showrunner Howard Gordon and star Kiefer Sutherland returning to the franchise.
That’s great news for fans of the show, which featured Sutherland’s character doing anything and everything necessary to prevent terrorist attacks on the home front.
Torture? Sure. Harsh interrogations? Of course. The series featured that worst case, ticking time bomb scenario that turned some doves into hawks on the matter of televised terrorism.
That didn’t sit well with the Left, although the show’s popularity overshadowed most of the outrage. The series came of age before the Twitter revolution, and by the time 24 wrapped its final season in May of 2010 the social networking site hadn’t yet assumed its full clout. Plus, the series has lost some of its pop culture might in its final episodes.
We’re living in an age when the current administration dubs terrorism “workplace violence” and overseas attacks are scrubbed of their terrorist roots.
Can we expect a kinder, gentler Jack Bauer? Or will Fox executives realize the formula which made 24 such an unrelenting thriller should be left alone?
“Every year for the past few years, on Mother’s Day, I’ve gone–I’ve taken a delegation–into Afghanistan or Iraq, we’re alternating now, now Afghanistan–for Mother’s Day to say thank you to our moms and, by the way, our grandmothers, who are serving there. Some young grandmothers. But, nonetheless, grandmothers. To also thank all of our troops for what they do to protect America’s families. I won’t be going this particular weekend because we don’t have–you know, under sequestration, we don’t have codels.”
As the White House mulls whether Syria has crossed President Obama’s red line and used chemical weapons, the U.S. military and intelligence community are quietly acknowledging that the United States does not know where many of those weapons are located.
The judgment comes from top U.S. military commanders and is supported by recent intelligence community assessments, according to three U.S. officials who work closely on Syrian intelligence matters. At the heart of the concern is that the Syrian military has transferred more and more of its stock of sarin and mustard gas from storage sites to trucks where they are being moved around the country. While U.S. intelligence agencies first saw reports that Syria was moving the weapons last year, the process has accelerated since December, according to these officials. Also worrisome, said two of the officials, is intelligence from late last year that says the Syrian Scientific Research Center—an entity responsible for Syria’s chemical-weapons stockpile—has begun to train irregular militias loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in how to use the chemical munitions.
The assessment that Syria is moving large amounts of its chemical weapons around the country on trucks means that if Obama wanted to send in U.S. soldiers to secure Syria’s stockpiles, his top generals and intelligence analysts doubt such a mission would have much success, according to the three officials. “We’ve lost track of lots of this stuff,” one U.S. official told The Daily Beast. “We just don’t know where a lot of it is.”
The large-scale movement of weapons, if it is in fact occurring, would violate one of Obama’s earliest declared red lines concerning Syria. Last August he said, “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is, we start seeing a whole bunch of weapons moving around or being utilized.”
During the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearings on Benghazi Wednesday morning, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the committee’s ranking member, said some not-so-comforting words to those testifying before the committee about the terrorist attacks that killed the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans last September 11.
“As I listen to your testimony I could not help but think about something that I said very recently – about two years ago now – in an eulogy for a relative,” Cummings said in response to the testimony provided by Gregory Hicks, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya at the time of the attack.
“I said that death is a part of life, but so often we have to find the way to make life a part of death,” he continued. “I guess the reason that I’m saying that, I want to go back to something Mr. Nordstrom said, when he was…umm…he said that he wanted to make sure that….and all of you have said it pretty much…you want to make sure we learn from this, so that…umm…your comrades and our four members of the diplomatic core who sadly passed away…so that this never happens again. And I appreciate it, I know this was difficult, I know this is…we all feel your pain.”
The United States has double the amount of oil and three times the amount of natural gas than previously thought, stored deep under the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana, according to new data the Obama administration released Tuesday.
In announcing the new data in a conference call, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell also said the administration will release within weeks draft rules to regulate hydraulic fracturing, technology that has come under scrutiny for its environmental impact but that is essential to developing all of this energy.
“These world-class formations contain even more energy-resource potential than previously understood, which is important information as we continue to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of oil,” Jewell said in a statement.
The formations, called Bakken and Three Forks, span much of western North Dakota, the northern tip of South Dakota and the northeastern tip of Montana. The last time the United States Geological Survey assessed this area for its oil and gas reserves was in 2008. But that assessment did not include the Three Forks formation, which explains the substantial increase in the estimates. USGS estimates that these two formations together hold 7.4 billion barrels of undiscovered—but technically recoverable—oil and 6.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
The estimates were requested by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., in early 2011. “This is clearly great news for North Dakota and great news for the nation,” Hoeven said in a statement. “It will further serve to enhance our state’s role as an energy powerhouse for the nation.”
The energy boom’s impact on North Dakota’s economy is undeniable. The state has the lowest unemployment in the country, at 3.3 percent.