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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Scandalabra at the Beginning of August

The multiple scandals besetting the Obama administration are not getting the same play that they did a few months ago -- but they are not going away, either.

On Benghazi, CNN reports:
CNN has uncovered exclusive new information about what is allegedly happening at the CIA, in the wake of the deadly Benghazi terror attack.
Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in the assault by armed militants last September 11 in eastern Libya. 
Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret.
CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency's Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.
Read: Analysis: CIA role in Benghazi underreported
Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency's missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency's workings.
The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress.
On IRS targeting, The Huffington Post reports:
A GOP lawmaker accused the Internal Revenue Service of obstructing congressional investigations into the agency's targeting of tea party groups, a charge the head of the IRS denied.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said the IRS has been slow in producing documents that are so thoroughly blacked out they are useless to investigators.
Issa said he plans to bypass IRS lawyers and will subpoena documents directly from the Treasury Department, which oversees the IRS.
"You are slow-rolling us," Issa told acting IRS head Danny Werfel in a heated exchange during a committee hearing Friday. "There are important facts to get out, and you are obstructing."
"That is not true," Werfel fired back.
Werfel said that by the end of the day Friday, the IRS will have given more than 16,000 pages of documents to Issa's committee and more than 70,000 pages to Congress as a whole. Werfel said documents are blacked out to protect confidential taxpayer information.
Issa's committee does not have legal authority to receive confidential taxpayer information. In Congress, that authority is reserved for the chairmen of the two tax-writing committees, House Ways and Means and Senate Finance, and their designated staff.
Werfel said the two tax-writing committees are receiving full documents. However, both the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have also complained that the IRS is producing documents too slowly.
On the NSA, Conor Friedersdorf writes at The Atlantic:
The Guardian's latest scoop concerns the ability of National Security Agency analysts to search vast databases of emails, online chats, and web browsing histories, among other online activity.
Glenn Greenwald notes that the NSA is lawfully required to obtain a FISA warrant if the target of surveillance is a U.S. person. But it provides analysts "the technological capability, if not the legal authority, to target even US persons for extensive electronic surveillance without a warrant," he reports, and to reveal IP addresses of everyone who visits "any website the analyst specifies."
That alarms many Americans.
The Guardian article doesn't provide any evidence of NSA analysts targeting U.S. persons without a warrant, as critics of the newspaper are quick to note. Yet there is still ample reason to worry.
It is naive -- in fact, it is absurd -- to imagine that the scores or hundreds of NSA analysts given access to these databases will never commit abuses.