The Free Press, Mankato, MN

August 7, 2013

My View: Obama's actions fall short on scandals

By Al DeKruif

---- — Speaking at Knox College, President Obama called on Congress to offer constructive input: "With an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball," he said. "And I am here to say this needs to stop. Short-term thinking and stale debates are not what this moment requires."

I agree with the president that Congress needs to offer constructive input on real problems that confront America. Calling serious if not criminal actions “distractions” or “phony” only shows the president’s lack of responsibility and accountability for this administration. I seem to remember Richard Nixon wanting to change the conversation in America from Watergate to talk about jobs decades ago. Changing the subject is something the president wants to do, but I think America deserves answers first.

Let’s talk about Benghazi. We lost four Americans; a foreign ambassador and two brave Marines. Why didn’t the president send in help? Why were the survivors hidden and forced to sign non-disclosure agreements? Don’t we owe the truth to the families of the dead? I for one believe Americans do not leave other Americans behind defenseless or without backup. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s remark “What difference does it make” rings loud with many. Having soldiers coming back home in body bags when our military was told to “stand down,” makes a difference. Did the President fail in his role as commander and chief? I think so. But let’s change the subject.

Let’s talk about the IRS targeting “conservative” groups that applied to obtain tax-exempt status to operate. Why was extra scrutiny targeted on 100 percent of “conservative” groups compared to less than 1/3 of liberal groups [1]? Why did IRS head Douglas Shulman claim he only visited White House on few occasions when White House records show he visited over 150 times [2]? One visit occurred just prior to IRS targeting these groups. Now records seemed to have disappeared?

Why did Lois Lerner, IRS official in charge of the targeting unit, plead the “5th” when testifying before Congress? An inspector general report revealed excessive travel spending by IRS executives in 2011 and 2012 and linked an IRS political appointee to scandal [3]. Just released emails show discrimination of conservative groups may extend beyond the IRS and into the FEC [4]. Would you want the IRS unlawfully targeting your church or other tax-exempt group for political reasons?

This is the same IRS that will be implementing Obamacare and penalizing folks that don’t purchase health care on their own or through the new “Health-care Exchanges” set up by the government. Government employees along with elected officials, who are trusted to follow the rules and the law, should not be given a pass. But let's change the subject.

Let’s talk about the families impacted by gun deaths including one American foolishly lost under Fast and Furious [5]. America deserves answers on who was involved and responsible for this straw-purchase, gun-selling plan to track guns reaching suspected Mexican narco-terrorists. If not for tragic death of border agent Brian Terry and courage of ATF field agents risking their careers to blow the whistle on this spectacularly ill-conceived plan, Americans still might not know. With Attorney General Holder facing contempt of Congress charges, the documents that can provide answers were protected by executive privilege. Was that the plan to try to keep America from having answers? Let’s change the subject.

Finally what about Department of Justice spying on reporters and news agency records? James Rosen, Fox News's chief Washington correspondent, had a search warrant filed against him, including his personal emails, after publishing news report about North Korea’s intent on conducting nuclear tests in June 2009. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) described Rosen “as an aider, abettor and/or co –conspirator [6].” The DOJ did the same thing to five reporters and an editor at the Associated Press for an article run on May 7, 2012 [7].

There should be a bipartisan movement by Congress to call for hearings on these issues. How does your congressman stand on these issues? Does he think, “What difference does it make”? In an America where we have learned our own government is tracking every phone call, e-mail and nearly everything we do, how can they have no knowledge of what they are doing themselves? There must be checks and balances for any out-of-control government agency. I think, we as Americans must demand answers to these questions.

Al DeKruif is a former District 25 state senator. He is the owner of DeKruif Enterprises and Sakatah Trail Resort. He lives in Madison Lake.