Culture of Intimidation
With new reports today that the Obama Department of Justice leaked documents intended to smear a whistleblower in the Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal, it is now more obvious than ever that this administration has, in the words of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), created a “culture of intimidation” that stretches from the White House down to myriad agencies of the executive branch.
President Obama: From his language suggesting targeting of enemies to his officials’ attempts to castigate Tea Partiers as economic terrorists, President Obama has presided over an administration that sees his political opponents as unworthy and nasty. Early in his administration, Obama threatened CEOs of banks, “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.” The White House's regular meetings with non-profit hit group Media Matters are often designed to help target conservative media ranging from Fox News to Rush Limbaugh. Whether he’s urging supporters to bring guns to a fight or suggesting that his enemies are in thrall to the gun lobby at the expense of children, President Obama’s tactics of intimidation have become commonplace. The Obama campaign singled out Mitt Romney donors for special censure, suggesting that they were lawbreakers. Not coincidentally, many of those donors ended up on the wrong end of Obama administration legal scrutiny, including megadonors like Frank Vandersloot.
Department of Justice: Today’s report from the Department of Justice Inspector General, showing that former US Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke leaked documents intended to smear a whistleblower in Fast and Furious, is only the latest revelation on misconduct from DOJ. The DOJ has also targeted: Fox News reporter James Rosen over leaks from State Department employee Stephen Jin-Woo Kim; according to Megyn Kelly, two other Fox News staffers; the Associated Press, over a story regarding CIA investigations into al-Qaeda; Gallup, shortly after the polling firm showed Mitt Romney with a substantial lead over Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential race; and True the Vote, an organization dedicated to stopping voter fraud. The Eric Holder Department of Justice has been the lead enforcement arm of the Obama agenda, going after Arizona’s immigration law and refusing to go after New Black Panther voter intimidation. The DOJ reportedly uses the non-profit group Media Matters to disseminate its talking points.
State Department: According to whistleblower Gregory Hicks, the second-in-command in Libya from the State Department during the Benghazi attacks of September 11, 2012, the Hillary Clinton State Department attempted to force a handler on him during a Congressional visit to Libya. He then received a dressing-down from his superiors at the State Department for being too forthcoming with Congresspeople.
Internal Revenue Service: The IRS’ discrimination against conservative non-profit groups has stunned Americans, but conservatives have known for years that the Obama IRS targets conservatives. The IRS allegedly leaked donor information of the National Organization for Marriage to Human Rights Campaign, then-headed by an Obama re-election co-chair. The IRS handed liberal group ProPublica confidential documents from conservative tax-exempt groups. Jewish and pro-Israel groups have received heightened IRS scrutiny. So have Catholic groups.
Department of Health and Human Services: Kathleen Sebelius’ Department of Health and Human Services has thugged its way through the Obamacare rollout. Sebelius revealed in January 2012 that Obamacare would force religious employers to provide health insurance including contraception to their employees; Catholic organizations have been fighting that mandate ever since. That came on the heels of the Obama administration agreeing to concessions to the pharmaceutical industry in return for the industry’s support for Obamacare. Big Pharma eventually agreed to finance millions worth of TV advertising for Obamacare in exchange for capping liability at $80 billion over ten years. More recently, Sebelius has allegedly been soliciting donations from non-profit groups to push Obamacare. Those non-profits are directly regulated by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Department of the Treasury: After the United Auto Workers contributed serious cash to President Obama’s 2008 election campaign, Obama’s Department of the Treasury worked closely with the union to ensure that its stake in the failing automobile companies trumped the stake of other stockholders and bondholders, including pension funds and victims of injury. And when it came to the bank bailouts the story of intimidation was similar: according to Bank of American Chairman and Chief Executive Ken Lewis, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson pressured him to shut up about losses at Merrill Lynch while picking up the troubled company.
Federal Bureau of Investigation: During an investigation of then-CIA Director David Petraeus, the FBI specifically checked out Petraeus’ sex life, ending in his resignation as director. The investigation reportedly began after Jill Kelly, a Tampa friend of the Petraeuses, asked an agent friend to look into Petraeus. Civil liberties advocates worry about the FBI’s reported practice of storing digital communications between private citizens (that, of course, has been a longtime worry not relegated strictly to the Obama administration).
Department of the Interior: As the Obama administration tried to foist all responsibility for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on the oil companies, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told the media, “our job basically is to keep the boot on the neck of British Petroleum.” The next day, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs used the same words.
Department of Homeland Security: When not relabeling the war on terrorism, the Department of Homeland Security warned about groups “antagonistic toward the new presidential administration,” including “those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.” The 2009 report from DHS warned about “rightwing extremist chatter on the Internet continues to focus on the economy.”
Environmental Protection Agency: Whether it was former EPA head Lisa Jackson creating dual email accounts to avoid transparency or the agency allegedly requiring conservatives to pay up for their Freedom of Information Act requests while exempting liberals, the EPA is yet another wing of the Obama government that seems focused on intimidating its enemies.
The intimidation comes from the top down in the Obama administration. And it is pervasive.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).