STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

Obama tries to regain control amid controversies

On Wednesday Obama released a trove of documents related to the Benghazi attack and forced out the top official at the federal tax collection agency following revelations that the it targeted conservative groups.

Published: 16th May 2013 10:49 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2013 10:49 AM   |  A+A-

Obama_AP

President Barack Obama is trying to halt a perception spreading among both White House opponents and allies that he has been passive and disengaged as a trio of unexpected controversies consume his second term.

On Wednesday Obama released a trove of documents related to the Benghazi attack and forced out the top official at the federal tax collection agency following revelations that the it targeted conservative groups.

In another action, the White House asked Congress to revive a media shield law that would protect journalists from having to reveal information, a step seen as a response to the Justice Department's widely criticized subpoenas of phone records from reporters and editors at The Associated Press.

The flurry of activity signaled a White House anxious to regain control amid the trio of deepening controversies. The incidents have emboldened Republicans, overshadowed Obama's legislative agenda and threatened to plunge his second term into a steady stream of congressional investigations.

Standing in the East Room of the White House, the president said Acting Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Steven Miller had resigned and vowed that more steps would be taken to hold those responsible accountable.

"Americans have a right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it," Obama said of the IRS actions. "I will not tolerate this kind of behavior at any agency, but especially at the IRS given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives."

The president had addressed the IRS controversy on Monday, but his measured words left many unsatisfied, particularly given that he had waited three days to address the developments. He also repeatedly asserted that he was waiting to find out if the reports were accurate, even though top officials had already acknowledged the controversial actions.

Adding to narrative of a passive president were White House efforts to distance Obama from the IRS scandal, as well as the revelations that the Justice Department had secretly obtained work and personal phone records of journalists. In both cases, the White House insisted the president had no prior knowledge of the events and learned about the matters like the general public — from news reports.

Obama's cautious response, combined with his lack of awareness about controversies brewing within his administration, opened him to quick criticism from his Republican foes.

"If Obama really learned about the latest IRS and AP secret subpoena scandals in the news, who exactly is running the ship at the White House?" Republican National Committee spokesman Kirsten Kukowski said.

But in a worrying sign for the White House, some Democrats also criticized the president for not being more aggressive in responding to trouble within the .

Robert Gibbs, Obama's former White House press secretary, said the president should have appointed a bipartisan commission of former IRS officials to look into the issue of targeting organizations. And Gibbs gently chided his former boss for using passive language when he first addressed the targeting during a White House news conference Monday.

"The language should be more active than phrases like 'I didn't have any patience for this' or 'If the allegations are true," Gibbs said during an appearance on MSNBC.

The pair of new fresh controversies coincided with a resurgence in the Republican-led investigation into the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

Congressional Republicans launched another round of hearings on the attacks last week. And on Friday, a congressional official disclosed details of emails among administration officials that resulted in the CIA downplaying the prospect that the attacks were an act of terror in talking points used to publicly discuss the deadly incident.

Obama aides insisted the emails were either taken out of context or provided no new information but resisted pressure to make the emails public for five days, before finally disclosing the documents to reporters Wednesday. The emails revealed that then-CIA Director David Petraeus disagreed with the final talking points, despite the White House's insistence that the intelligence agency had the final say over the statements.

The White House

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp