Inside Opinion

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Tag: Benghazi

May
14th

Secrecy ignited firestorms over Benghazi and the IRS

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Here’s what you don’t do if an IRS division is discovered to be singling out the political opposition: Sit on the explosive information for at least two years, and let the abuses fester in the meantime.

Here’s what you don’t do if a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans are killed by jihadists in Libya: Water down the public explanations until it sounds as if lax security had nothing to do with the attack.

The blunders behind these two evasions aren’t remotely comparable in magnitude. But the Obama administration’s impulse to conceal the truth is the same.

An Internal Revenue Service unit’s seeming hostility to exemption-seeking conservative groups could conceivably go nuclear if responsibility reaches high enough in the Obama administration. The fact that IRS employees were hunting down Republican-leaning groups is shocking in itself; if it was even tolerated on high, it’s a revival of Nixon-style political tactics.

It also gives the lie to President Obama’s mantra that he’s running “the most transparent administration” in American history. Lois Lerner, who ran the IRS division that granted or refused tax exemptions for advocacy groups, learned in June 2011 that its employees were using such search terms as “tea party” and “patriot” when targeting groups extra scrutiny.

She didn’t bother to inform the public until Friday, on the eve of a scathing inspector general’s report. Even then, she insisted that the Determinations Unit had no political agenda.

The problem never would have arisen in the first place had the IRS been more forthcoming about its practices.

The unit uses what it calls “be on the lookout” criteria for scrutinizing particular groups. There’s no reason the BOLO has to be secret. Had it been an open document, no one would have dared add small-government advocacy to the guidelines.
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Nov.
1st

Complacency set the stage for attack in Benghazi

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

President Obama is probably not going to lay out a complete, hour-by-hour account of how four Americans came to die in Libya on Sept. 11. Not before Tuesday.

Welcome to politics. Presidents don’t supply their challengers with rocket-propelled grenades on the eve of elections. Mitt Romney, for the same reason, is brushing off demands to clarify his past statements about FEMA.

Obama’s critics are rooting furiously for proof that his lieutenants deliberately denied help to the U.S. consulate in Benghazi – knowing full well that the ambassador and his staff were facing a sustained attack by a large force of heavily armed jihadists.

That extreme scenario reflects the passions of a high-stakes presidential election. It’s far more likely that people simply screwed up and aren’t eager to come clean until the ballots are counted.

What we now know about the attack remains sketchy, but it’s possible someone might have saved lives with a more decisive reaction to the attack.

According to CIA officials, their response was decisive – if not successful. On Thursday, the agency released a chronology indicating a rapid, large-scale response to the crisis. Intelligence officials said that an emergency security force was dispatched quickly to the scene.

What happened prior to the attack is troubling enough, though.

On Monday, The New York Times detailed how many red flags were ignored in the weeks and months leading up to the attack.
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