What’s Up May 15, 2013?

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· First Thoughts: Sidetracked

Controversies sidetrack the White House, Congress, and the press… The danger for the White House: This could imperil Obama’s second-term legislative agenda… But there’s also a danger in over-analyzing the past seven days… Krauthammer’s warning to Republicans… Obama, Treasury respond to IG report on IRS… On that Ben Rhodes email… Mark Sanford’s first day back on Hill… And Planned Parenthood hits Cuccinelli. By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Brooke Brower

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White House Press Secretary Jay Carney pauses while speaking to reporters in the briefing room of the White House May 14, 2013.

*** Sidetracked: The Benghazi/IRS/AP stories over the past week have had this additional impact for the Obama White House: They’ve sidetracked the other issues that President Obama has wanted to discuss. (Frankly, they’ve also sidetracked us in media, too.) Last Thursday, Obama was in Austin, TX to talk about the economy; on Friday, he was selling implementation of his health-care law; on Monday night, the president traveled to fundraisers in New York, where expressed his desire to still work with Republicans (even as he raised money for Democrats for the ’14 midterms); and today at 11:00 am ET, he delivers remarks at a national peace officers memorial. Oh, there was another piece of news from yesterday the White House would have enjoyed to tout — the budget deficit, according to the Congressional Budget Office, is estimated to fall to its lowest level since 2008. But what are the stories still being discussed in Washington today? The IRS targeting conservative-sounding groups. The Justice Department getting the AP’s phone records in a national-security leak investigation. And the Obama administration revising those Benghazi talking points.

*** The danger for the White House: NBC’s Kasie Hunt also notes that the controversies have sidetracked Congress, too. For instance, a weeks-long markup of a major Senate immigration bill received little attention yesterday; Attorney General Eric Holder testifies at a 1:00 pm ET oversight hearing, which will likely focus on the department’s seizure of AP phone records and other thorny issues. Moreover, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee (Orrin Hatch) wants the IRS investigation to take priority over dealing with tax reform. And get this: Fully a third of House committees are now focused on investigating the Obama administration. As NBC’s Mike O’Brien writes, all of this COULD imperil the Obama White House’s second-term legislative agenda. “The fact of the matter is House and Senate Republicans have done very little legislating so far this year. This certainly isn’t going to help things,” Jim Manley, a former senior Democratic Senate aide, told O’Brien. “Now they’re going to feast on investigation after investigation for the rest of the year, while throwing red meat to their base and forgetting about the divisions in their own caucus.”

*** A temporary distraction or a long-term one? So is this a temporary distraction or the beginning of the end of Obama’s second term? Remember the warning we issued months ago about second terms. Legislatively, in the best of times, they last about 18 months. The last four presidents to win second terms saw their ability to drive a legislative agenda get stopped in its tracks in 18 months or less. For Nixon, it was about six months before Washington gave up; Reagan got tax reform done and then Iran-Contra came; Clinton got a year until Monica broke in Jan. 98; and George W. Bush’s second term legislative push ended before Labor Day of that first year

*** Yet the danger in over-analyzing: Despite all the controversies facing the administration — and how they have sidetracked its agenda — there is a danger in over-analyzing what has occurred in the past week. After all, the White House has faced even more trying times over the past four and a half years (the U.S. economy in free-fall, the BP spill, the debt-ceiling debacle of 2011), and all of those stories now seem like distant memories. And while some are saying that Washington has turned on Obama, we have this question: When has Establishment Washington ever been a fan of how Team Obama has responded to crises and controversies? (The current issues, and the White House’s stubbornly passive way of handling them, are serving as an excuse for the president’s frenemies to pile on and re-air old grievances, like he’s terrible at personal outreach or he’s or why the person who promised to “turn the page” can’t change Washington.) Politico’s Jonathan Martin puts it well: Will all of these investigations and controversies result in a 2010 (when the public worried about the federal government’s excesses, albeit in a time of 9.0%-plus unemployment) or in a 1998 (when the GOP faced backlash for the Lewinsky investigation)? Right now, we don’t have an answer, but you can begin making a case that everything out there (talk of scandal and investigations, the Dow reaching new highs, the budget deficit declining) looks a whole lot like the 1990s.

*** Krauthammer’s warning to Republicans: Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer warns Republicans not to overplay their hand. “The one advice I give to Republicans is stop calling it a huge scandal. Stop saying it’s a Watergate. Stop saying it’s Iran Contra. Let the facts speak for themselves. Have a special committee, a select committee. The facts will speak for themselves. Pile them on but don’t exaggerate, don’t run ads about Hillary. It feed the narrative for the other side that it’s only a political event. It’s not. Just be quiet and present the facts.”

*** Obama, Treasury respond to IG report on IRS: On “TODAY” this morning, NBC’s Lisa Myers reported on inspector general’s report into the IRS, and the IG concluded that the agency was targeting conservative-sounding groups in their application for tax-exempt status, that the IRS unit responsible was a mess, and that some employees were actually ignorant about tax laws. But the IG also concluded that the targeting didn’t originate OUTSIDE the IRS. “We asked the Acting Commissioner, Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division; the Director, EO; and Determinations Unit personnel if the criteria were influenced by any individual or organization outside the IRS. All of these officials stated that the criteria were not influenced by any individual or organization outside the IRS,” the report said. President Obama released a statement after the report’s release: “[T]he report’s findings are intolerable and inexcusable… I’ve directed Secretary Lew to hold those responsible for these failures accountable, and to make sure that each of the Inspector General’s recommendations are implemented quickly, so that such conduct never happens again.” And Treasury Secretary Jack Lew responded with his own statement: “I strongly agree with the President about the need for accountability at the IRS, and I expect the IRS to implement the Inspector General’s recommendations without delay.” That said, the IG report will do NOTHING to satisfy members of Congress who still have lots of questions.

*** On that Ben Rhodes email: Regarding those Benghazi talking points, First Read has now seen the email from Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, and it appears to differ from the earlier portrayal that the Obama White House wanted the State Department’s concerns to be addressed. In fact, what Rhodes seemed to want is for all the information to be as accurate as possible. “There is a ton of wrong information getting out into the public domain from Congress and people who are not particularly informed. Insofar as we have firmed up assessments that don’t compromise intel or the investigation, we need to have the capability to correct the record, as there are significant policy and messaging ramifications that would flow from a hardened mis-impression,” he said. But it’s important to note that this Rhodes email, via a government source, is a SELECTIVE leak — just as the earlier portrayal of the email chain was a SELECTIVE leak. This only puts pressure on the White House to release ALL of these emails. You can’t start showing some of them without showing all of them.

*** Sanford’s first day back on Capitol Hill: In other news, “Rep.-elect Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) will be sworn in Wednesday as the new representative of South Carolina’s 1st district, his spokesman announced Tuesday,” the Washington Post writes. “In the House chamber, Sanford will be sworn in approximately 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, spokesman Joel Sawyer said. The Republican will rejoin Congress a week after he defeated Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch by nine points, even as he was barraged by Democratic outside spending.”

*** Planned Parenthood hits Cuccinelli: In Virginia’s gubernatorial contest, Planned Parenthood Action Fund is launching a web advertisement hitting Ken Cuccinelli on social issues in advance of this weekend’s Virginia GOP convention in Richmond. “That Ken Cuccinelli — he’s running for governor, and he keeps showing up where he doesn’t belong. He’s trying to put himself in the middle of our most personal decision,” the ad goes. He sponsored legislation to end funding for Planned Parenthood, and Ken Cuccinelli wants to make abortion illegal, even in cases of rape, incest, or when the health of the woman is in danger.” The web ad, which targets women voters, will run through this weekend. Story Continued

· Reports: IRS Spared Liberal Groups as Tea Party Languished, More Conservative Orgs Targeted Than First Thought

Guy Benson | May 15, 2013

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Remember what we were told when this explosive story first broke less than a week ago? The IRS official in charge of tax exemptions for organizations said the improper methods employed within her division were executed by “low level workers” in Cincinnati who weren’t motivated by “political bias,” and impacted roughly 75 organizations? Wrong, wrong and wrong:

“Low Level” – Officials within the highest echelons of the agency were aware of the inappropriate targeting, including the last two commissioners — at least one of whom appears to have misled Congress on this very question. Now Politico reports that Lerner herself sent at least one of the probing letters to an Ohio-based conservative group.

The director of the Internal Revenue Service division under fire for singling out conservative groups sent a 2012 letter under her name to one such group, POLITICO has learned. The March 2012 letter was sent to the Ohio-based American Patriots Against Government Excess (American PAGE) under the name of Lois Lerner, the director of the Exempt Organizations Division…at the time of the letter, the group was in the midst of the application process for tax-exempt nonprofit status — a process that would stretch for nearly three years and involve queries for detailed information on its social media activity, its organizational set-up, bylaws, membership and interactions with political officials. The letter threatened to close American PAGE’s case file unless additional information was received within 60 days.

These burdensome requests were apparently designed to bury the victimized groups in paperwork. Carol reported last night that some 58 percent of these applicants were asked for unnecessary information and data, according to the Inspector General’s review. Some inquiries asked for screenshots of organizations’ Facebook posts and even lists of what books (!) its members were reading.

“No Political Bias” – This claim was laughable on its face from the start, in light of the agency’s surreal criteria for added scrutiny and the “red flag” words and phrases that triggered investigations. Now add to the mix this scoop from USA Today:

In February 2010, the Champaign Tea Party in Illinois received approval of its tax-exempt status from the IRS in 90 days, no questions asked. That was the month before the Internal Revenue Service started singling out Tea Party groups for special treatment. There wouldn’t be another Tea Party application approved for 27 months. In that time, the IRS approved perhaps dozens of applications from similar liberal and progressive groups, a USA TODAY review of IRS data shows. As applications from conservative groups sat in limbo, groups with liberal-sounding names had their applications approved in as little as nine months. With names including words like “Progress” or “Progressive,” the liberal groups applied for the same tax status and were engaged in the same kinds of activities as the conservative groups.

Lerner also reportedly fast-tracked an approval for a foundation operated by President Obama’s half brother, taking the extraordinary step of granting it retroactive tax-free status.

“Seventy-five organizations effected” – That number almost immediately swelled to 300. Now it’s closer to 500:

The IRS targeting of conservative groups is far broader than first reported, with nearly 500 organizations singled out for additional scrutiny, according to two lawmakers briefed by the agency. IRS officials claimed on Friday that roughly 300 groups received additional scrutiny. Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said Tuesday that the number has actually risen to 471. Further, they said it is “unclear” whether Tea Party and other conservative groups are being targeted to this day.

We have an answer to that question now, too. Here’s Carol again, quoting the cover letter from the IG’s findings, dated yesterday: “A substantial number of applications have been under review, some for more than three years and through two election cycles, and remain open.” Lest you even ask, nobody involved in this scheme has been disciplined (yet); just the opposite, in fact:

More allegations of IRS impropriety are cropping up across the country, and similar questions are now being raised about political favoritism within the EPA’s FOIA request process: “Conservative groups seeking information from the Environmental Protection Agency have been routinely hindered by fees normally waived for media and watchdog groups, while fees for more than 90 percent of requests from green groups were waived, according to requests reviewed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.” This steady drumbeat of ugliness was enough to prompt NBC’s Nightly News to kick off its broadcast with a Nixon comparison last evening, and for Jonathan Alter to pronounce the administration’s crisis management efforts “disastrous:” Story Continued

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· IRS exec got $42K in bonuses in three years 

Lois Lerner, the senior executive in charge of the IRS tax exemption department and the federal employee at the center of the exploding scandal over the IRS targeting of conservative, evangelical and pro-Israel non-profits, was given $42,531 in bonuses between 2009 and 2011.

That figure was included in data provided by the IRS in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Washington Examiner. Lerner is director of the IRS exempt organizations division, which processes and approves or denies applications from groups seeking tax-exempt status.

Lerner received $17,220 for 2010, $24,691 for 2011 and $10,620 for 2012, the most recent year for which the IRS said data was available.

Her annual salary in 2009 and 2010 was $172,200, and $177,000 in 2011 and 2012. With the bonuses, Lerner was paid a total of $740,931 for the four-year period.

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Lerner admitted last week that her agency had singled out conservative groups with words like “Tea Party” and “Patriot” in their names. Being singled out reportedly delayed resolution of their application for many months for most of the groups, while applications from liberals groups were typically processed in only a month or two. Story Continued

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Holder Isn’t Sure How Often Reporters’ Records Are Seized

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As his Justice Department faces bipartisan outrage for searching phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors, Attorney Gen. Eric Holder says he is not sure how many times such information has been seized by government investigators in the four years he’s led Justice.

During an interview with NPR’s Carrie Johnson on Tuesday, Holder was asked how often his department has obtained such records of journalists’ work.

“I’m not sure how many of those cases … I have actually signed off on,” Holder said. “I take them very seriously. I know that I have refused to sign a few [and] pushed a few back for modifications.”

On Morning Edition, Carrie added that Holder declined to say whether there will be a review of the Justice Department’s policy on searches of reporters’ records.

Tuesday, NPR and other media organizations joined in a letter sent to Holder by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. In it, the news outlets ask that the Justice Department:

— “Immediately return the telephone toll records obtained and destroy all copies, as requested by The Associated Press.”

— “Announce whether it has served any other pending news media-related subpoenas that have not yet been disclosed.”

At a news conference Tuesday, Holder said the AP records were seized as part of an investigation into leaks about a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an airliner bombing plot.

He will be asked about the search of the reporters’ phone logs at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday afternoon. Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., says, “Congress and the American people expect answers and accountability.”

Holder will also be questioned about the Justice Department’s plan to investigate whether IRS personnel broke any laws when they gave extra scrutiny to some conservative groups’ applications for tax-exempt status. Story Continued

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James Cole Authorized AP Subpoenas, Eric Holder Confirms

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Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed Wednesday that Deputy Attorney General James Cole, a longtime friend of Holder’s and the number two official at the Justice Department, signed off on subpoenaing a wide range of Associated Press phone records.

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, Holder at first said he had to “assume” that Cole signed off on the subpoenas, which came out of an investigation run from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. But after being handed a note from an aide, Holder said he could confirm that Cole was responsible for signing off on the subpoenas because Holder had recused himself from the investigation into a leak about an undercover al Qaeda sting involving the CIA.

The AP had revealed Monday that the Justice Department informed the news organization last week that it had obtained phone records for more than 20 different AP phone lines over the course of a two-month period last year.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the AP subpoenas appeared to be “very broad” and described the panel as anxious for an explanation. Several committee members from both sides of the aisle pressed Holder on the issue.

Holder, for his part, pledged an “after-action” review of the AP subpoena process because of the amount of attention and criticism the decision has received. It’s unclear when the leak investigation will end, so such a review could be months, or even years, down the line.

In a press briefing Tuesday, Holder noted that he had recused himself from that leak investigation. In an interview with NPR the same day, the attorney general said he didn’t know how many times he had otherwise signed off on subpoenaing journalists or their phone records, but said he had rejected a number of requests and required others to be modified.

Also on Tuesday, Cole wrote a letter to the AP justifying the subpoenas as “limited in both time and scope.” Cole was appointed deputy attorney general in late 2010 through a recess appointment and was confirmed after a tough battle in the summer of 2011.

Holder confirmed during his testimony Wednesday that the Obama administration is backing a federal press shield law that would provide greater protections for reporters who refuse to provide information on confidential sources. He said he didn’t support going after journalists or news outlets for publishing information.

“The focus should be on those people who break their oaths and put the American people at risk, not the reporters who gather this information,” Holder said.

This story has been updated with Eric Holder’s comments on a proposed federal press shield law. Story Continued

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The IRS Was Dead Right To Scrutinize Tea Party

Lost in the latest political scandal is a simple fact: The Internal Revenue Service was acting in the public interest when it opted to train its auditing power on the Tea Party and affiliated groups.

In castigating government as the root of all evil while portraying taxation as a form of tyranny, the Tea Party is no less than a mass celebration of the evasion of the basic responsibilities of American citizenship. Common sense alone tells you that people drawn to its ranks may feel extra temptation to find ways to limit what they surrender to the rogue federal bureaucrats who have supposedly seized the nation.

The cover-up is the bad part here, as in nearly all Washington scandals. It’s not the act itself that delivered the real trouble — in this case, a campaign unleashed in the Cincinnati offices of the IRS to scrutinize with particular rigor the applications for tax-exempt status submitted by Tea Party-affiliated groups. Rather, it was what happened afterwards that poses the problem: Officials at the IRS lied to members of Congress about what was actually going on.

That’s how we got here, to this full-blown scandal with all the usual rituals — an event that lends validation to seemingly every crackpot idea a conservative group has ever leveled at the Obama administration. (The fact that the Justice Department simultaneously got caught on an overreach of its own, seizing a trove of correspondence from journalists, hardly helps the administration deflect the well-earned wrath of critics.)

But let’s get back to the primary act at issue here: The IRS — an agency loved by no one and responsible for stocking the Treasury with federal tax proceeds, due under the law — appears to have devoted unique effort to making sure that Tea Party organizations were not fudging the paperwork in their bids to secure tax exemption.

Good for the IRS.

Like any institution, the agency has limited resources at its disposal. The notion that everyone ought to be treated the same, with auditing powers sprayed around like a lawn sprinkler, is ridiculous. Cops concentrate patrols in high-crime areas. And while we properly decry racial profiling and odious tactics like New York City’s Stop and Frisk campaign — through which people are subject to police pat-downs for no other reason than their being black and male — no one would criticize the police for keeping an eye on people who are openly encouraging criminal behavior.

Which gets us back to the Tea Party. Here is a group that has made no effort to hide its contempt for the very institution of taxation. This is what it says on the website of the Cincinnati Tea Party: “Individuals need to have a direct connection between their efforts and the fruits of their labor. This is the magical spark that has led the United States from a loosely conglomerated political experiment into the most exceptional, strongest and most powerful nation on earth. Too many taxes and regulations ultimately serve to snuff out that spark.”

The blog section of that site includes links to a host of propaganda from anti-government groups, including this link to a video produced by an outfit called “Government Gone Wild,” which highlights the expansion of taxpayer-financed safety net programs such as food stamps, unemployment and Medicaid.

“You are being enslaved,” declares a fear-mongering narrator, engaging in an all-too-typical depiction of poor people as freeloaders living fat on the public dime. “More and more people are becoming dependent on government to take care of them, and politicians don’t like it one bit: They love it.”

In short, being poor is depicted as just a con aimed at gorging on a luxurious buffet, stocked by taxpayer-financed programs like food stamps. Other than fear of enforcement, why would anyone with such beliefs bother to pay their taxes in full?

This sort of thinking is pervasive among those inclined to caricature government as inherently demonic, which is to say, the sorts of people attracted to the Tea Party. Search for “Tea Party” and “tax evasion” on the Internet and you can find a blog called Government Against the People, and a post titled “Tax Resistance Is As American As Apple Pie.”

We are living in a time of startling inequality, long-term joblessness, entrenched poverty and the breakdown of middle-class opportunity. Our classrooms are crumbling. Whole cities are consumed by neglect and deterioration, while suburban communities now contend with foreclosure, homelessness and despair. Government alone cannot fix any of these problems, but government clearly has a role to play. Government must boost investment in education and spur innovation through support for research. Government must maintain a safety net for people in need. All of this costs money.

The Tea Party stands for many things, but a big part of its message is that sending money to Washington amounts to the perpetuation of a dangerous welfare state that’s intent on turning America into a helpless land where our lone skill is filling out the forms to go on the dole.

Isn’t it reasonable to assume that people who hold such beliefs might feel additional motivation to pursue grey areas and loopholes at tax time? Wouldn’t the people who oversee federal coffers have been derelict had they not at least had a good look?

None of which justifies shortcuts in terms of due process or basic civil liberties. We live in a free society, and people can congregate and propagate and opine as they like. People should be able to vote how they choose and encourage others to do the same, while feeling secure that they will not suffer reprisals at work or under the law.

This scandal does not stem from the IRS actually levying action that contravenes the law. It’s simply about whom the IRS decided to scrutinize. And the IRS had abundant reason to look carefully at the applications for tax exempt status sent in by people who are prone to portray taxes as something as base as slavery. Story Continued

This story is sourced from Huffington Post and as much as I would like to have the Democrats incorrect on this issue there is some truth to the Tea Party going too far with its agenda and hurting the Republican Party. It is just like the liberal agenda in the Democratic Party going to far to the left and giving us Obamacare, But the IRS needs to address both sides of the Political Agenda not just the party out of office. PdC

· Holder Says Leak Required “Very Aggressive Action”… Bank Crimes, Not So Much

Apparently it never occurred to Attorney General Eric Holder that the Associated Press might be “too big to fail.” If it had,then his Justice Department probably never would have investigated it.

The AP isn’t just any news agency. It’s the largest one in the United States and one of the three largest in the world, along with Great Britain’s Reuters and Agence France-Presse. And it is, understandably enough, angry.

So are journalists who work for other outlets, along defenders of a free press and supporters of an informed citizenry. Journalists must be free of direct or implied intimidation if democracy is to work properly. And yet, correspondents who cover this Administration will often admit privately that they do feel intimidated.

“Twice as much as all previous administrations combined”

A free press sometimes makes powerful people uncomfortable. It can even cause them considerable inconvenience. Actions against journalists must be very carefully weighed against democratic principle and fundamental freedoms. Instead, this White House has been as zealous as its Republican predecessors – in many ways, more so – both in its pursuit of low-level officials who leak information to reporters, and in its pursuit of reporters themselves.

The AP investigation, which seems quite broad, is only one example of that. As The New York Times reports: “Under President Obama, six current and former government officials have been indicted in leak-related cases so far, twice the number brought under all previous administrations combined.”

Even the Bush Administration didn’t find it necessary to pursue journalists and truth-revealing Americans as fiercely as the Obama White House.

“Too big to jail”

Holder said today that investigators were pursuing a “very serious” leak which “put the American people at risk” and therefore required “very aggressive action.” That approach stands in stark contrast to his comments about bank prosecutions this past March, when he said: “the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them (because) if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.” Holder’s comment appears to be disingenuous on its face, since he fails to explain how prosecuting individual wrongdoers at those institutions would threaten the national or world economy. That’s the primary demand of those who criticize his failure to investigate or prosecute Wall Street criminals.

Subpoena these records

It’s also why the Home Defenders League has announced a week of action starting May 20 to demand an end to the Obama/Holder “too big to jail” policy. That policy has led to extraordinary prosecutorial passivity in the face of overwhelming evidence. There’s certainly no sign that the Justice Department has ever sought the phone records or emails of America’s top bankers.

That’s not for a lack of promising leads to pursue, including:

Which bankers conspired to rig LIBOR pricing or fix other rates?

What discussions were held among MERS users about using the database and shell company to conceal the identity of mortgage lien holders or evade local taxes and fees?

What conversations were held between accounting firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers and executives at AIG, Goldman Sachs, or other institutions about concealing their true financial status?

How frequently was JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon in touch with the “London Whale” and his office, and how aware was Dimon of the extent of losses when he told investors the six-billion-dollar blunder was a “tempest in a teapot”?

When and how did CEOs and other senior bank executives learn of widespread fraud in the foreclosure process at their banks, and to what extent were they accessories after the fact in these crimes?

But instead of pursuing these crimes, the Obama/Holder Justice Department chose to aggressively pursue the phone records of journalists — including those who weren’t involved in the story they were investigating.

A time for skepticism

Holder said that story “put the American people at risk.” But experience with other civil-liberties-unfriendly administrations should teach us to treat such warnings with some skepticism. The AP piece which apparently triggered the investigation reported that the CIA thwarted an attempt by al-Qaeda in Yemen to blow up an American airliner.

But another story filed the same day as the AP’s, and credited to “NBC News and msnbc.com news services,” begins as follows:

“The CIA foiled a plot by al-Qaida’s affiliate in Yemen to bomb a U.S.-bound airliner this month, senior U.S. officials told NBC News.”

Sounds like a promising lead — if you really want to find the leaker. Were reporters at the administration-friendly NBC/MSNBC operation subject to the same level of scrutiny as AP’s?

Motivation becomes a key factor when considering the targets a Justice Department chooses to pursue — or ignore. Deputy Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who was charged with investigating Wall Street crimes and whose inaction became a national disgrace, has already cashed in with a specially-created senior position at Wall Street defense firm Covington & Burling…

… which happens to be the firm that employed Eric Holder when he defended Wall Street bankers.

Americans at Risk

Every law enforcement agency needs to worry about keeping its citizens safe. But “too big to jail” leaves the administration with a black mark in that category, too. Our nation’s bankers “put Americans at risk” before 2008 and continue to do so every day. Their misdeeds have deprived Americans of wealth, health, and even their lives. (The suicide rate has risen four times faster since the recession began.)

But bank crime doesn’t seem to appear on the Obama Administration’s radar, and it doesn’t seem to interest the Holder Justice Department. That means local law enforcement spends a lot more time evicting homeowners — including the victims of illegal foreclosure — than it does arresting law breaking bankers. They’re wiretapping reporters and jailing leakers,while letting executive-suite criminals go free.

Apparently leaks which keep the public informed require “very aggressive action” — but crimes which shatter the economy, leaving millions without homes and millions more without jobs aren’t worth lifting a finger to investigate. Story Continued

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