The Norman Transcript

Columns

June 4, 2013

Enough of political bungling

NORMAN — “If this had happened while a Republican was president, the liberal media would be screaming.”

We’ve been hearing that a lot lately from conservatives, and with good reason.

There’s the Justice Department’s aggressive attempts to learn how classified information got leaked to the news media, and then there is the Internal Revenue Service admitting that it has targeted conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status.

Setting aside for another day the question of whether the national news media is all that liberal, as a gun-hating, abortion- and gay-rights-supporting admirer of President Barack Obama … I’m screaming. It’s not one of your short-lived, horror movie screams, either. No, this is Edvard Munch, Scream of Nature despair stuff.

While right-wing politicians and their amen chorus in the media have made victimization and paranoia an art form, in this case they happen to be right about all this being scream-worthy.

The Department of Justice’s Mission Statement includes ensuring “public safety against threats foreign and domestic.” It also includes ensuring “fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.” In its efforts to accomplish the former, the Justice Department trampled on the latter.

It is an abomination.

Last year, Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration were catching a lot of heat over an information leak that led to an Associated Press story about an unsuccessful plan by terrorists to bomb a U.S. airplane.

Recusing himself because he had already been questioned about the leak to the AP, Holder left it to Deputy Attorney General James Cole, who decided to ask a judge for a secret subpoena of AP phone records.

The Justice Department apparently didn’t listen in on any conversations between AP reporters and their sources, but it knew who the reporters called and who called them. It’s almost impossible to overstate the chilling effect that could have.

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