Administration's back room tactics are unacceptable
Saturday, May 18, 2013 5:00 AM
What's going on in the Obama White House?
First, in the past week, the Internal Revenue Service was forced to apologize for targeting conservative political groups, spending extra time and scrutiny on their nonprofit behavior during the 2012 campaign.
President Barack Obama was properly outraged, casting blame at rungs deep down in the IRS and saying those sort of games wouldn't be tolerated.
But even as he was saying that, word spread of the U.S. Department of Justice gathering phone records for a handful of Associated Press reporters in 2012.
According to the AP's attorneys, federal agents secured subpoenas to get phone records, including home and cellphone numbers, of AP reporters working in Washington, D.C., Hartford, New York, among other places.
What's behind the investigation hasn't been revealed by the Department of Justice, though attorneys for the AP say they believe it has to do with a May 2012 account of how the CIA foiled a plot to put a bomb on an airplane. Presumably, the Justice Department is interested in who is leaking confidential information.
The reach around the First Amendment by the Justice Department into the AP business is more than troubling.
As David Schultz, the AP's lawyer, put it: "This sort of activity really amounts to massive government monitoring of the actions of the press, and it really puts a dagger at the heart of AP's news-gathering activities."
Obama touted himself to America as a transparent alternative to the Bush administration, deriding exactly the sort of backroom tactics that were revealed in the past week.
Right now, it appears the administration is OK with thug tactics meant to squash any questions, whether they come from the media or from political groups with an anti-administration bent.
It's been a disappointing week.