Gadsden Times | ROBERT ADERHOLT: More questions than answers on Benghazi, IRS, AP
ROBERT ADERHOLT: More questions than answers on Benghazi, IRS, AP
By Rep. Robert Aderholt | Gadsden Times | May 20, 2013
Our nation’s forefathers created three equal branches of government to ensure checks and balances existed within in the federal government. No one branch should have more power than the other and no branch should be exempt from scrutiny from another. In recent weeks the importance of checks and balances has been on clear display in Washington.
If you have caught a glimpse of the news lately, you have seen or heard coverage of a number of questionable actions by this Administration. One of these events alone is concerning, but together the pattern of negligence and/or disregard for the law for political gain by this Administration is alarming.
Beginning with Benghazi, when State Department “whistleblowers” testified at a congressional hearing regarding the events that happened in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, that took the lives of four Americans. Followed by the Internal Revenue Service, which illegally targeted and scrutinized conservative nonprofit groups. Trailed by the Department of Justice that may have illegally obtained Associated Press journalists’ phone records.
Despite the administration’s numerous attempts to stall or ignore congressional inquires regarding the attacks in Benghazi, eight months of back and fourth resulted in more questions and answers that simply did not add up. The administration’s lack of answers prompted the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to hold a hearing with three brave State Department officials, known better as the “whistleblowers,” that were directly involved in the events that occurred on that fateful night.
It wasn’t until the congressional hearing this past week that the mainstream media recognized the importance of the attacks in Benghazi. And it wasn’t until after the hearing concluded that the administration finally started to release more information. However, the fact remains four Americans lost their lives in this attack and a number of important questions remain unanswered. Until they are, this issue is far from being resolved.
And then last week, we learned the IRS allowed agents to improperly target conservative groups for extra scrutiny when applying for tax-exempt status for more than 18 months. This action is completely unacceptable and beyond that, illegal.
Though I appreciate that the president agrees that this is unacceptable and has called for the immediate resignation and replacement of IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, there are many pieces to this puzzle that need to be put together so we get the complete picture. If Benghazi has taught us anything, we cannot just take the administration’s word for it and move on. A number of hearings have already been scheduled and congressional investigators will be on the job until the puzzle is complete and those responsible are held accountable.
The latest concern came when the AP reported that the DOJ had secretly seized two months of reporters’ phone records—including the records of correspondents stationed in the Capitol—in search of a leak regarding a CIA operation in Yemen. There is no denying that taking action in interest of national security is important. However, the scope of the phone records collected from these 20 AP phone lines is incredibly broad and covers conversations of about 100 journalists, doing two months of newsgathering.
Just a few days after this information become public Attorney General Eric Holder was on Capitol Hill to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. When asked about his department’s actions, he claimed to be out of the loop and in fact responded with the phrase “I don’t know” at least 20 times. If Holder does not know what is going on in his agency, then who does? As with Benghazi and the IRS, again there are a lot of unanswered questions here.
It seems that the common theme of this administration is unanswered questions on questionable action, inaction or authority.
Every administration has its challenges and no one expects perfection. Be it Republican or Democrat, what the American people, however, do expect is integrity and honesty. President Barack Obama has said on a number of occasions that his administration was the most ethical and transparent in history. However, the limited and perhaps concealed information regarding the attack in Benghazi, the IRS specifically targeting conservative groups and the DOJ potentially compromising the liberties of our nation’s Constitution suggest that’s not matched by reality.
The president must lead by example and raise his administration’s standards of doing business to meet the expectations of the American people.
As these investigations continue, it would be great if the administration would commit to work with Congress to create a complete picture of what happened in Benghazi, at the IRS and at the DOJ.
If not, my colleagues and I in Congress will continue to examine these issues until all of the questions are answered, so events like these do not happen ever again and the White House can focus on our nation’s economy instead of damage control.
If you would like to view this article online, click here.