DOJ vs AP
During the Bush administration, I was critical of the misdeeds of government. Being consistent, I apply the same standards to the Obama administration.
While Obama failed to close the infamous prison and has run a drone assassination campaign of dubious legality and morality, his administration has largely avoided the volume of scandals that have hit previous administrations. While the same Republicans who said very little about 54 attacks on American consulates/embassies under the Bush administration worked tirelessly with the Fox News allies to make Benghazi into a scandal, it would seem that Fox News’ dream has come true: two true scandals on Obama’s watch.
The first involves the IRS which apparently flagged conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status for special review. While it has yet to be proven that Obama was directly connected to this, I do hold that leaders are accountable for the actions of those who fall under their authority. This is, of course, can be mitigated by various factors such as reasonable knowledge and the extent to which the leader directly oversees those in question. For example, the CEO of GE is obviously not accountable for a low-level employee stealing office supplies in some office overseas.
While some claim that this scandal has been deflated, this matter probably needs more sorting out.
The second involves the Justice Department obtaining two months of the Associated Press’ telephone records. As happened so often in the Bush Administration, this apparent violation of rights was defended by concerns of national security. In this case, the concern was in regards to a criminal investigation of leaked information in a May 7, 2012 AP story about the CIA stopping an al Qaida bomb plot in Yemen.
During the Bush years, I was critical of using appeals to national security to warrant violations of rights and liberties. Being consistent, I must be critical of the same approach when it is used under Obama.
As I have argued before, such apparent violations can sometimes be properly justified by appeals to national security. In the AP case, there do seem to be legitimate grounds for an investigation. However, the handling of the phone records by the DOJ certainly seems to be excessive and unwarranted and it seems to have grotesquely violated the rights of the reporters and editors, not to mention assaulting the foundation of the free press. This is clearly an unjust act on the part of the department of justice.
Naturally, I cannot help but compare the views expressed on Fox News and by some Republicans when a Republican administration was engaged in violating rights (such as illegal wire tapping, illegal detention and torture) as well as other wrongful and/or incompetent behavior (such as the invasion of Iraq on the basis of lies). This time around, Fox News and I are sort of on the same side in that we are critical of the IRS and DOJ. However, I am acting on the basis of a consistent application of moral principle and the folks at Fox News are presumably following their usual approach of attacking Obama.