Will it be Party or Country?

This week the Congress has reached several milestones in the interminable committee hearings and investigations that garner much or little news coverage. The IRS committee has finally cited a recalcitrant and arrogant IRS manager, Lois Learner, for contempt for refusing to answer questions after making a speech asserting she’d broken no laws…except you can’t do that if you’re exercising your 5th amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. You have to keep your mouth shut. Why should we care about what democrats assert is only a partisan witch-hunt? If you were a campaign contributor to conservative groups, like the Tea Party or newly involved in politics, you would suddenly find yourself subjected to significant intimidation by various arms of the federal government. A memo released just last week revealed that the IRS subjected Tea Party and like-minded groups to 10 times the level of scrutiny afforded to any other groups. Imagine having your chances of an IRS audit increase by ten-fold; would that not make you think twice about becoming involved or contributing money to a political group or cause? Under Learner’s supervision, the IRS illegally shared private tax data with other government agencies, specifically the Federal Elections Commission, in an attempt to have groups she disliked prosecuted under election laws in addition to denying them tax exempt status routinely granted to similar liberal groups of which she approved. To put it mildly, that’s not fair let alone legal. It’s a calculated attempt to suppress the political speech of Americans with whom she disagrees using the power of the Federal government to violate the civil liberties of fellow citizens. Not until the contempt citation was issued did the IRS finally agree to provide investigating congressional committees Learner’s e-mails in a timely manner.

The Benghazi Select Committee has finally been approved, an action long overdue. Multiple committees have investigated various components of what occurred at the Benghazi, Libya consulate on September 11, 2011, when our ambassador and three other Americans were killed in a terrorist attack. Significant evidence exists that Ambassador Stevens was tortured before he was murdered by Islamic terrorists. The constitution of a select committee to investigate Benghazi will allow one committee to pull all of the evidence from the disparate congressional committees into one source, enable comparison of prior testimony and depositions and allow trained prosecutors to take depositions from witnesses under oath and at length. No more political speeches from congressmen attempting to obfuscate the issues or witnesses stonewalling until the five-minute time limit for questions expires, as has happened for the last two years.

There are some who don’t want you to know what happened as the result could be politically embarrassing if not devastating to the careers of those who defend the indefensible. Why do we really need this as haven’t we been endlessly told that there’s nothing else to know? We haven’t heard from any of the 31 survivors of the Consulate or CIA annex attacked on September 11th; they were sequestered in Germany, sworn to secrecy via “non-disclosure agreements” which if violated, subject the signer to severe criminal penalties, not to mention end of career and loss of pension. Many were transferred to far-flung locations to prevent access by congressional investigators. Thousands of subpoenaed documents were received by congress either as blank pages or “redacted,” completely blacked out by markers and then classified to prevent release.

The September 11th attack on the Benghazi consulate occurred at a facility left hopelessly and unnecessarily vulnerable. The captain of this ship was Hillary Clinton; she was at the helm when it ran aground. The web of lies and deceit afterwards has been a national disgrace. Subsequently, Clinton failed to hold senior officials accountable; all the State Department employees temporarily suspended were returned to full duty in the face of the worst State Department debacle in 30 years, one that left four good men dead.

We also know, thanks to individual arrogance, that a White House National Security Council spokesman, a political operative personally close to President Obama for over a decade, took an active part in formulating the talking-points used by UN Ambassador Susan Rice, blaming a video for that Benghazi attack. In an interview with FOX News, he let slip that he personally changed intelligence references to an “attack” to say “demonstration” but quickly back-tracked when the FOX anchor called him on his comment. The response was, “Dude, that was like two years ago” as he feigned a sudden loss of memory.

The Democrats now have the choice Republicans did forty years ago in Watergate; in the latter, President Nixon was brought down because Republicans joined Democrats in demanding truth and accountability. So, will the Democrats choose Party or Country and join Republicans in demanding full truth and accountability from those who serve us?

by Al Fonzi
President, Lincoln Club of San Luis Obispo County

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