Obama team suffers from its mistakes

Posted Tuesday, May. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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On Monday, President Barack Obama called Republicans’ continuing focus on the fatal terrorist attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, “a sideshow” and “a political circus.”

By Tuesday, his administration was buried in new scandals about improper IRS targeting of conservative groups and a sweeping Justice Department seizure of phone records from the Associated Press.

Obama probably doesn’t believe Republican lions will quit stalking him on Benghazi. Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, died there.

But it’s almost as if he’s tossing out red meat to lure the lions in other directions.

The president said it was “outrageous” that the Internal Revenue Service singled out “tea party” and “patriot” groups for special scrutiny on their applications for tax-exempt status.

Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller says the agency was just trying to manage explosive growth in tax-exempt applications. But he said “mistakes were made” in the process.

Politico reported that Miller learned of the improper targeting a year ago but failed to mention it in later testimony to congressional committees investigating tea party complaints of IRS abuse.

The IRS revealed its mistakes Friday at an American Bar Association conference in Washington. Better political form would have been to let congressional investigators know first.

And now the Obama team is going head-to-head with the news media.

The Justice Department is trying to find out who leaked sensitive information for a May 2012 AP story out of Yemen about an al Qaeda plot to bomb an airliner bound for the United States. The CIA foiled the plot, which was timed to coincide with the May 2 anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death.

Attorney General Eric Holder says the leak “put the American people at risk.” AP said it did not publish the story until government officials gave assurances that the risk had passed.

Still, Justice obtained two months of call records from business and personal phones that could have been used by reporters and editors working on the story.

There is a delicate balance between an unfettered free press and stopping the unauthorized disclosure of classified information.

Gary Pruitt, AP’s chief executive, said the record-gathering took in too much information “that the government has no conceivable right to know.”

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