AN NJN EDITORIAL — If we really needed a reason to prove why the general public typically has great distrust of the federal government, we now have three.
Last week the Internal Revenue Service, everyone’s favorite government agency, admitted what many conservative groups had been saying ever since President Obama took office: that the agency was targeting them for unusual scrutiny as a form of political payback.
The IRS announced on Friday (a day when bad news is usually released, as everyone is headed out of town) that certain groups — most related to the Tea Party, some tied to radio/TV gadfly Glenn Beck’s 9/12 organization — had gone through extra scrutiny in applications for tax-exempt status because of their political leanings. The agency blamed this on “low-level” workers at its Cincinnati office, but conservative and Republican groups are already linking it to President Obama, accusing him of Nixonian political tactics.
Speaking of Nixon, it’s an old axiom in Washington that the subsequent cover-up effort is almost always worse than the actual misdeed, a saying that goes back to Watergate. That may play out again in the Benghazi incident, in which an attack that killed an American ambassador to Libya and three others was blamed on mobs that were angry about an obscure anti-Muslim online video.
That explanation apparently went through a lot of hands in the administration before it went public through United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, and has been doubted by political opponents of Obama ever since. Congress held hearings last week where “whistleblowers” called that version of events into question.
And then on Monday, the Associated Press announced that the Justice Department had obtained records of incoming and outgoing calls of its reporters at the Capitol, in New York and other places. This may be tied to a story the AP broke about a 2012 CIA operation that foiled an al-Qaeda plot to blow up an airplane bound for the United States.
All of this adds to mounting evidence of a government out of control. Let’s hope our elected representatives somehow sort all this out, before all trust is completely lost.