President Obama's school for scandal: A real-life tragedy

The Obama Administration scandals just keep coming. Photo: President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron

NEW YORK, May 13, 2013 — How ironic that President Barack Obama would today mark the end of his special relationship with the U.S. press corps right in front of British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Until last week, many in the mainstream press functioned almost symbiotically with the unending Obama campaign. However, something important happened last week after the Benghazi whistleblowers testified.

Finally, media denizens compete again in the amazing race for truth.

The immediate consequence of testimony heard Wednesday was to prove Vladimir Lenin wrong—lies told for months about what actually happened in Libya did not magically become reality.

Then, at 6:33 A.M. last Friday, ABC News re-affirmed its journalistic independence with a stunning report by Jonathan Karl that punctured the credibility of repeated White House assertions concerning the motivation for the destruction wrought against America in Benghazi starting on September 11, 2012.

Talking points bleated out by Ambassador Rice during the full panoply of Sunday talk shows did not simply reflect unvarnished assessments of career intelligence professionals.

Hours later, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney consigned himself to the fate that befell Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf—Iraq’s infamous “Information” Minister. Carney’s attempts to reconcile revealed reality with past statements and actions of the Obama Administration proved just as laughable as Baghdad Bob’s reports during a considerably hotter May in Iraq 10 years ago.

The long awaited testimony from career government officials concerning what likely happened over in Libya as President Obama juggled his official function and his role as candidate for re-election placed the fiction subsequently sold as fact in stark relief.

That development, alone, would have been trouble enough.

However, later on Friday, word leaked out that the Internal Revenue Service improperly targeted conservative groups for special scrutiny despite repeated denials.

So, it was a strange scene today in Washington D.C.—President Barack Obama and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron spoke blandly in generalities before the international press corps, then fielded questions on gritty specifics from just two reporters.

Trying to address concerns about last week’s jarring Benghazi testimony and stunning revelations about the Internal Revenue Service, President Obama actually let loose a tear.

His demeanor and the substance of his comments evoked memories of another sighting of “Obama-lite”, during the first Presidential debate in Denver with candidate Mitt Romney on October 3, 2012.

Today, the President stood in plain sight—devoid of “mo-jo”.

Instead of rebutting mounting criticism with robust counter-arguments, the President fatefully stuck to the fabulous story line on Benghazi he must know he cannot possibly sell now and pledged to bring the IRS back into strict congruence with settled American law.

Today’s performance by Barack Obama might have won him kudos while a candidate for President of the Harvard Law Review, but it certainly failed to restore grievously sapped confidence in the competence and integrity of the largest organization on earth: America’s Executive Branch of government.

As if all the above were not bad enough, hours ago news emerged that the Obama Justice Department may have secretly obtained phone logs for lines used by numerous Associated Press reporters and Editors in connection with a terror investigation.

To me, these swirling scandals have a common and dangerous theme—coordinated, unchecked abuse of power by the Executive Branch that is flagrantly in violation of the American Constitution.

I reserve the right to delve more deeply into potential abuses of power involving the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Justice at later moments. Now I feel we should concentrate upon dissonance between reports and reality around September 11, 2012.

Setting Events in Benghazi within Appropriate Context

As the mainstream press returns to incisive investigative reporting, I respectfully suggest that we need to adjust the context of the inquiry into events at Benghazi.

So much happened so quickly that I do not recall exactly what public oversight there has been of American financial, military, and humanitarian support for individuals and organizations that led regime change in Egypt and Libya, and aspire to do so now in Syria.

If there was no spontaneous demonstration in Benghazi over a venom-filled video, what else has never been true about the “Arab Spring”?

Early on in 2011, some of us were much more cautious concerning the potential impact on America’s foreign interests of headlong races into new governance structures along geo-political flash points in the volatile Middle East.

Chrystia Freeland, rightly questioned whether rising Middle Eastern governments might be erected on strong enough economic foundations, particularly in resource starved and population laden states such as Egypt.

Then there was the continuing question of separating friend from foe in a region where loyalties can be frustrating to discern.

Above all, why does the Obama Administration push regime change throughout the Middle East, but not against an Iran that aggressively fights against America wherever and however it can do so?

Returning to September 2012, an effective weapon against Mitt Romney in the Presidential campaign was the narrative that he lacked the foreign policy “chops” required to be a resolute leader of America and the Free World.

On September 11, 2012, in the early evening eastern time, a statement emerged from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo:

“The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”

Shortly thereafter, Mitt Romney issued this statement:

“I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi, It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

Mitt Romney had his priorities and America’s absolutely straight in the heat of that particular moment and afterwards, even though he earned an undeserved heaping of scorn from the Obama campaign and derision from many pundits.

What will email communications reveal for the period centering between September 11, 2012 and Election Day among Obama Campaign officials, advisors, consultants and Executive Branch officials concerning the evolving Benghazi and Cairo narratives?

The Truth about Lies

The fact that politicians lie and that “respected” journalists connive to conceal inconvenient truths is older than the American Republic.

Back before America’s relationship with England was wholly amicable, The Monthly Review of London noted in January 1800:

“The ingenuity and cunning of politicians are not infrequently employed to conceal or misinterpret facts; and venal writers are easily found, ready to construct a tissue of lies to serve the purposes of their employers.”

Today, veteran journalists actually do care about facts—above all, they and the public abhor being played for fools. In this regard, an old Middle Eastern saying is worth noting:

“A fool may be known by six things: anger, without cause; speech, without profit; change, without progress; inquiry, without object; putting trust in a stranger, and mistaking foes for friends”.

In truth, the spreading mess for America around the Middle East has been long in the making.

Egregious mistakes definitely have been made by our best and brightest, by amiable dunces and by knowing rogues.

Approaching twelve long years following events of September 11, 2001, we Americans now appear stuck in a mess that is one part quicksand, the other quagmire.

Looking at unclassified evidence, I conclude that we do not know our true foreign enemies.

Recoiling in horror over the daily dose of domestic politics, I am certain that we have lost common understanding of the exceptional traits that once defined America so clearly and secured our moral high ground.

What America will confront from now onwards is a reality that is considerably worse than Watergate was, in a moment where scrutiny can only become more intense, incessant, and intrusive.

Emile Zola sagely asserted: “if you shut up truth, and bury it underground, it will but grow”.

The War on Terror has grown into a tragic bi-partisan failure, right before our eyes.


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Charles Ortel

Charles Ortel became a lapsed member of the silent majority in August 2007 when he began alerting the public to dangers posed by structural changes in the global economy. Since then, Charles has appeared in the print, radio and television media with increasing frequency. Brass Tacks will attempt to offer non-partisan perspective on factors contributing to the unresolved, burgeoning crisis and discuss potential solutions. Graduated from Horace Mann School, Yale College and Harvard Business School, Charles tries to learn each day.  

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