The HuffPost story begins as follows:
The Obama administration woke up on Tuesday to another morning of scorching criticism about the Justice Department’s decision to secretly obtain months of Associated Press phone records.
The DOJ tracked the incoming and outgoing calls on more than 20 AP phone lines, as well as the home, office and cell phone lines for six individual journalists involved in writing a national security-related story about Yemen that the Obama administration did not want them to write.
While many of us who supported this president are dismayed by this story and its ramifications — given its open attack on the first amendment — there are those who will insist that the president is in no way connected with this sort of suppression. How could he be? He’s a liberal democrat, after all, and Democrats are champions of a free press. But the story goes on to point out that
[Buzzfeed editor Ben] Smith wrote that the nuclear nature of the probe could, in part, be traced back to Obama, who has made it a policy to aggressively go after leaks in a fashion not seen in any of his predecessors. Though the White House said it had nothing to do with the probe and referred reporters to the Justice Department, Smith wrote that it was not hard to see Obama’s hand in some way: Elements of this approach, Obama’s friends and foes agree, come from the top. Obama is personally obsessed with leaks, to the extent that his second chief of staff, Bill Daley, took as one of his central mandates a major and ill-fated plumbing expedition. Attorney General Eric Holder, who pressed the leak policy, is a trusted Obama insider.
This obsession with leaks and attempts to suppress the news is disquieting indeed. I must admit I found Obama’s first term as president unsettling, given his urge to make everyone happy and reach compromises that violated fundamental principles he embraced during his campaign. But I figured that when he gets a second term and doesn’t have to run again he will come out strong on the principles one identifies with liberal thinkers and politicians who aren’t simply holding a finger up to see which way the wind is blowing. But there he is with his finger up — and it appears to be his middle one and it is pointed at us! The man doesn’t seem to know what a principle is and he is acting very much like a paranoid Richard Nixon or George W. Bush, saying one thing while he does another. Shades of Watergate and the invasion of Iraq clouded in lies in the name of “freedom.”
It was terribly disappointing, for example, to see that even though 91% of the people in this country wanted some sort of background checks on gun sales the man couldn’t wheedle the Senate into a vote to support gun control. Is he really that clueless, not to mention inept? He seems to be sleeping with corporations like Monsanto who are determined to ignore ethics completely in the name of higher profits. Moreover, he promised to close Guantanamo where prisoners at this writing are still on a hunger strike to draw attention to their inhumane plight. And while the drone attacks started under Bush, they have escalated under Obama to an alarming extent — and he refuses to “come clean” and appear before committees to explain what he is up to. His tendency toward secrecy and his inclination to resort of prevarication when confronted smacks of the very thing we all hoped we were getting way from with this president who promised to be open and honest. He does, indeed, appear to be a Republican in Democratic clothing, fearful of “the enemy” and devoted to increasing corporate profits. It’s one thing to be a closet Republican with his hand in corporate pockets (there are a number of them in Congress), but it is quite another to pretend that he is anything but. It’s the duplicity coupled with the growing lack of trust that causes the greatest concern. Just who is this man?
What can be expected from an administration which has chosen most of its cabinet members from the Clinton administration- which had great expertise in the field of covering things up and pleasing corporations while receiving the votes of the middle and working classes.
Leon Panetta, Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, Rebekka Blank, Seth Harris, and Sylvia Burwell were part of the Clinton administration.
Obama has apparently been able to master the art of triangulation even better than Clinton.
But they both have nice smiles!
That’s what matters, isn’t it?
I expected a lot more from Obama and his administration in the way of ethics. To see the full-throttle intrusion and — I have to say — theft of the Associated Press’ phone records is disgusting, a Third-World or Putinesque sort of move. I’m a former editor, as you know Hugh, one who took judges and city administrators to court over freedom of information issues. To paraphrase my Second Amendment friends, “you can have my notebooks and laptop when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.” Obama promised less secrecy, a downscaling of all the post-9/11 security measures like the Patriot Act. He’s done a 180, worse than Bush in some ways. Drones, using the IRS to target enemies, pilfering news organization’s data. I wonder if he’s got someone rifling Sean Hannity’s psychiatrist’s records, too. (Yeesh, I can’t believe I just wrote that. I disdain people like Hannity. But that’s what Obama’s behavior has led to me think.)
It is unsettling, to say the least.
I’d prefer an inept president to one spying on journalists.
Hugh, I am disappointed in the whole lot of them. We Americans do not seem to matter in the equations and what is being discussed. So, we will now spend more time focused on “gotcha politics” and less on moving the ball forward on issues of import – our crumbling infrastructure, creating avenues for even more jobs, our poverty problem that no one wants to talk about, eco-energy, deficit reduction while investing in growth, gun control. immigration reform, etc. These allegations are troubling and if they are traceable to Obama, then that is a problem.
To be honest, it is very hard being tried in the press and by politicians who are looking to blame someone. On Benghazi, if the Senate will let Pickering and Mullens testify, then the issue can be explained more – David Brooks, wrote an editorial today about some of the scapegoating. From a NPR interview, Pickering said the report notes we all screwed up and could have done better. I want to see more on the IRS issue and reserve judgment – it looks like cluster f— right now, but it may be a streamlining of processing. Yet, everyone is ready to indict people. They may have a reason and this should not be condoned, but more information is needed. The seizure of records is troubling as well.
The issue of drones and Gitmo as you note, paint a lesser picture of the US. We are not doing things in the right way. This troubles me. I am not giving Obama a hall pass on any of the above, but I need to see more facts, before I indict someone. Yet, there is a helluva a lot of smoke going on.
One final thought. Nixon was crook. The more I read and see about him, his spy organization was much deeper than Watergate affair. That was his Waterloo, but he did a number of evil things before Watergate.
A good editorial in today’s Minneapolis paper, saying Obama’s got to step it up or risk becoming a lame duck with three years left. http://www.startribune.com/opinion/editorials/207616601.html
And the lead story in the same paper today, some of it the usual back and forth between the two parties, but two very telling comments — one from Obama’s former press secretary Robert Gibbs, the other from a political science professor who scoffed at the idea Obama learned of the IRS and AP scandals through the media, saying if that’s so then “he’s the bubble boy.” http://www.startribune.com/nation/207719721.html