Saturday, December 06, 2014

Key elements of Rolling Stone’s U-Va. gang rape allegations in doubt

 December 5 at 11:31 PM
 Photo by: Ryan M. Kelly
University President Teresa Sullivan speaks during a board of visitors meeting about sexual assault at the University of Virginia on Tuesday Nov. 25, 2014 in Charlottsville, Va. The meeting comes after Rolling Stone published an article describing a woman's account of a brutal gang rape, and what the magazine called a hidden culture of sexual violence at the school. (AP Photo/The Daily Progress, Ryan M. Kelly)

 — A University of Virginia student’s harrowing description of a gang rape at a fraternity, detailed in a recent Rolling Stone article, began to unravel Friday as interviews revealed doubts about significant elements of the account. The fraternity issued a statement rebutting the story, and Rolling Stone apologized for a lapse in judgment and backed away from its article on the case.
Jackie, a U-Va. junior, said she was ambushed and raped by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi house during a date party in 2012, allegations that tore through the campus and pushed the elite public school into the center of a national discussion about how universities handle sex-assault claims. Shocking for its gruesome details, the account described Jackie enduring three hours of successive rapes, an ordeal that left her blood-spattered and emotionally devastated.
The U-Va. fraternity where the attack was alleged to have occurred has said it has been working with police and has concluded that the allegations are untrue. Among other things, the fraternity said there was no event at the house the night the attack was alleged to have happened.
A group of Jackie’s close friends, who are advocates at U-Va. for sex-assault awareness, said they believe that something traumatic happened to her, but they also have come to doubt her account. A student who came to Jackie’s aid the night of the alleged attack said in an interview late Friday night that she did not appear physically injured at the time but was visibly shaken and told him and two other friends that she had been at a fraternity party and had been forced to have oral sex with a group of men. They offered to get her help and she said she just wanted to return to her dorm, said the student, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
The friends said that details of the attack have changed over time and that they have not been able to verify key points in recent days. For example, an alleged attacker that Jackie identified to them for the first time this week — a junior in 2012 who worked with her as a university lifeguard — was actually the name of a student who belongs to a different fraternity, and no one by that name has been a member of Phi Kappa Psi.
Reached by phone, that man, a U-Va. graduate, said Friday that he worked at the Aquatic and Fitness Center and was familiar with Jackie’s name. But he added that he never met Jackie in person and never took her out on a date. He also said he was not a member of Phi Kappa Psi.
Jackie, who spoke to The Washington Post several times during the past week, stood by her account, offering a similar version and details.
“I never asked for this” attention, she said in an interview. “What bothers me is that so many people act like it didn’t happen. It’s my life. I have had to live with the fact that it happened — every day for the last two years.”
A lawyer who is representing Jackie said Friday that she and her client are declining to comment beyond her interviews. The Post generally does not identify victims of sexual assault without their permission, and The Post is identifying Jackie by her real nickname at her request.
The prominent fraternity — which has been vilified, vandalized and ultimately suspended on campus since Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s Rolling Stone article went online last month — said in its statement Friday that its “initial doubts as to the accuracy of the article have only been strengthened as alumni and undergraduate members have delved deeper.”
Phi Kappa Psi said it did not host “a date function or social event” during the weekend of Sept. 28, 2012, when Jackie alleges that she was invited to a date party, lured into an upstairs room and then ambushed and gang-raped by seven men who were “rushing” the fraternity.
The fraternity also said it has reviewed the roster of employees at the university’s Aquatic and Fitness Center for 2012 and found that it does not include a member of the fraternity — a detail Jackie provided in her account to Rolling Stone and in interviews with The Post — and that no member of the house matches the description detailed in the Rolling Stone account. The statement also said that the house does not have pledges during the fall semester.
“Moreover, no ritualized sexual assault is part of our pledging or initiating process,” the fraternity said. “This notion is vile, and we vehemently refute this claim.”
U-Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan said Friday that the developments will not alter the university’s focus on “one of the most difficult and critical issues facing higher education today: sexual violence on college campuses.”
“The University remains first and foremost concerned with the care and support of our students and, especially, any survivor of sexual assault,”Sullivan said in a statement. “Our students, their safety, and their well-being, remain our top priority.”
Sullivan vowed to continue taking a “hard look” at the school’s practices, policies and procedures.
Capt. Gary Pleasants of the Charlottesville police said detectives are looking into the allegations at the request of the university, but he would not comment on the status of that investigation. “Our purpose is to find the truth in any matter, and that’s what we are looking for here,” Pleasants said. “These articles do not change our focus moving forward.”
Rolling Stone’s editors apologized to readers for discrepancies in the story,issuing a statement and posting it on their Web site. Will Dana, Rolling Stone’s managing editor, said there is fresh doubt about the article.
“In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced,” he said in the statement.
The Post interviewed Jackie several times during the past week and has worked to corroborate her version of events, contacting dozens of current and former members of the fraternity, the fraternity’s faculty adviser, Jackie’s friends and former roommates, and others on campus.
Speaking for the first time since the details of her alleged sexual assault were published in Rolling Stone, the 20-year-old student told The Post that she is not wavering from her version of events. In lengthy in-person interviews, Jackie recounted an attack very similar to the one she presented in the magazine: She had gone on a date with a member of the house, went to a party there and ended up in a room where she was brutally attacked — seven men raping her in succession, with two others watching.
Alex Pinkleton, a close friend of Jackie’s who survived a rape and an attempted rape during her first two years on campus, said in an interview that she has had numerous conversations with Jackie in recent days and now feels misled.
“One of my biggest fears with these inconsistencies emerging is that people will be unwilling to believe survivors in the future,” Pinkleton said. “However, we need to remember that the majority of survivors who come forward are telling the truth.”
Pinkleton said she is concerned that sexual assault awareness advocacy groups will suffer because of the conflicting details of the Rolling Stone allegations.
“While the details of this one case may have been misreported, this does not erase the somber truth this article brought to light: Rape is far more prevalent than we realize, and it is often misunderstood and mishandled by peers, institutions and society at large,” Pinkleton said. “We in the advocacy community at U-Va. will continue the work of making this issue accessible to our peers, guiding the conversation and our community into a place where sexual assaults are rare, where reporting processes are clear and adjudication is fair and compassionate.”
The fraternity’s statement came two weeks after Rolling Stone ran a lengthy article about what it characterized as a culture of sex assault at the flagship state university, using Jackie’s story to illustrate how brazen such attacks can be and how indifferent the university is to them.
The article, published in the Dec. 4 issue of the pop culture magazine, led to headlines around the world and rekindled college campuses’ discussions about sexual assault, sending U-Va.’s administration scrambling to respond. The article spawned protests and vandalism, and the university quickly suspended all Greek system activities until the beginning of next semester and put out a call for zero tolerance of sexual assault.
The Rolling Stone allegations shook the campus at a tumultuous moment, as the university was still mourning the death of U-Va. sophomore Hannah Graham. Her body was found five weeks after she disappeared in Charlottesville. Jackie’s story empowered many women to speak publicly about attacks on them, but it also immediately raised questions about the decisions Jackie made that evening — not going to a hospital or reporting the alleged crime to police or the school — while some expressed doubt about her story altogether.
Although Jackie shared elements of her story at a Take Back the Night event at the university, she told The Post that she had not intended for it to reach a wider audience until the Rolling Stone writer contacted her.
“If she had not come to me, I probably would not have gone public about my rape,” said Jackie, adding that she had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and is taking antidepressants.
Earlier this week and for the first time, Jackie revealed to friends the full name of her alleged main attacker. After looking into that person’s background, the group that had been among her closest supporters quickly began to raise suspicions about her account. The friends determined that the student Jackie had named was not a member of Phi Kappa Psi and that other details about his background did not match information Jackie had disclosed earlier about the attacker she knew.
A student identified as “Andy” in the Rolling Stone article said in an interview with The Post Friday night that Jackie did call him and two other friends for help a few weeks into the fall semester in 2012. He said Jackie said that “something bad happened” and that he ran to meet her on campus, about a mile from the school’s fraternities.
The student, who said he never spoke to a Rolling Stone reporter, said Jackie seemed “really upset, really shaken up” but disputed other details of that article’s account. Rolling Stone said that the three friends found Jackie in a “bloody dress,” with the Phi Kappa Psi house looming in the background, and that they debated “the social price of reporting Jackie’s rape” before advising against seeking help. He said none of that is accurate.
“Andy” said Jackie said she had been at a fraternity party and had been forced to perform oral sex on a group of men, but he does not remember her identifying a specific house. He said he did not notice any injuries or blood but said the group offered to get her help. She, instead, wanted to return to her dorm, and he and the friends spent the night with her to comfort her at her request.
“The perception that I’m gravitating toward is that something happened that night and it’s gotten lost in different iterations of the stories that have been told,” said the student who requested anonymity. “Is there a possibility nothing happened? Sure. I think the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.”
Emily Renda was a U-Va. senior when she met Jackie in the fall of 2013. In an interview, Renda said she immediately connected with Jackie as they discussed the bond they shared as rape survivors. Renda said she was raped her freshman year after attending a fraternity party.
Jackie told The Post that she wept as she spoke to Renda about her own sexual assault.
Renda said Thursday that Jackie initially told her she was attacked by five students at Phi Kappa Psi. Renda said she learned months later that Jackie had changed the number of attackers from five to seven.
“An advocate is not supposed to be an investigator, a judge or an adjudicator,” said Renda, a 2014 graduate who works for the university as a sexual violence awareness specialist. But as details emerge that cast doubt on Jackie’s account, Renda said, “I don’t even know what I believe at this point.”
“This feels like a betrayal of good advocacy if this is not true,” Renda said. “We teach people to believe the victims. We know there are false reports, but those are extraordinarily low.”
Renda said research shows that between 2 and 8 percent of rape allegations are fabricated or unfounded.
“The doubt cast on Jackie’s story has been feeding the myth that we have been combating for 40 years — that women lie about rape. And I feel that will put women at a disadvantage in coming forward,” Renda said.
In July, Renda introduced Jackie to Erdely, the Rolling Stone writer who was on assignment to write about sexual violence on college campuses. Overwhelmed by sitting through interviews with the writer, Jackie said she asked Erdely to be taken out of the article. She said Erdely refused, and Jackie was told that the article would go forward regardless.
Jackie said she finally relented and agreed to participate on the condition that she be able to fact-check her parts in the story, which she said Erdely agreed to.
“I didn’t want the world to read about the worst three hours of my life, the thing I have nightmares about every night,” Jackie said.
In an e-mail message, Erdely said she was not immediately available Friday, and she and Rolling Stone did not return messages seeking comment.
In a series of tweets late Friday, Dana, Rolling Stone’s managing editor, said that he “can’t explain the discrepancies between Jackie’s account and the counter statements by Phi Psi” and that “the fact that there is a story that appears in Rolling Stone in which I don’t have complete confidence is deeply unsettling to me.”
Dana tweeted that the reporters and editors at Rolling Stone made a judgment to come to an agreement with Jackie not to contact her alleged attackers, a judgment that, he wrote, ended up being wrong. “That failure is on us — not on her,” he wrote.
Jackie told The Post that she felt validated that the article encouraged other female students to come forward saying that they, too, had been sexually assaulted in fraternity houses.
“Haven’t enough people come forward at this point?” she said. “How many people do you need to come forward saying they’ve been raped at a fraternity to make it real to you? They need to acknowledge it’s a problem. They need to address it instead of pointing fingers to take the blame off themselves.”
As classes resumed this week after Thanksgiving break, Jackie, whose family lives in Northern Virginia, returned to the campus where her story is still a daily topic of conversation. Although anonymous for now, she said she remains afraid that fellow students and fraternity members will somehow recognize her as the victim from the Rolling Stone article.
Jackie said she never wanted to go to U-Va. Graduating near the top of her high school class of 700, she had planned to attend Brown University. She dreamed of pursuing a career in medicine, like her childhood hero, Patch Adams.
“I wanted to help people,” Jackie said.
She said she was disappointed when her family told her that they could not afford the Ivy League tuition. She enrolled at U-Va. without ever visiting the school.
She said she performed well in course work includeding pre-med classes in psychology, chemistry and religious anthropology. She said she soon found a job as a lifeguard at a campus pool, where she said she met a charming junior who had dimples, blue eyes and dark, curly hair.
Jackie told The Post that the student later took her out for an extravagant dinner at the Boar’s Head before they attended a date function on Sept. 28, 2012, at his fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi. Jackie said her date appeared to have orchestrated the sexual assault by attempting to ply her with alcohol before escorting her into a darkened room upstairs. Jackie said she did not drink alcohol that night because she was taking migraine medication.
According to her account in Rolling Stone and in interviews, Jackie said she was thrown to a rug, breaking a low glass table in the process. She said she was cut on the back of her arm as a result but noted that her attack happened on a thick rug.
Jackie told The Post that the men pinned her down and then raped her, the trauma leaving her bleeding from between her legs.
“One of them said ‘Grab its [expletive] leg,’ ” she said, her lip quivering and tears streaming down her face. “ ‘Its.’ I’ll never forget that. I felt like nothing, like I wasn’t even human.”
Jackie said she didn’t go to a hospital or report the crime because she was new to campus and unaware of the resources available to her. She said the idea of recounting events to police terrified her. “I didn’t know what to do,” she said.
Jackie’s former roommate, Rachel Soltis, said she noticed emotional and physical changes to her friend during the fall semester of 2012, when they shared a suite.
“She was withdrawn, depressed and couldn’t wake up in the mornings,” said Soltis, who said that she was convinced that Jackie was sexually assaulted. Soltis said that Jackie didn’t tell her about the alleged sexual assault until January 2013. Soltis said she did not notice any apparent wounds on Jackie’s body at the time of the alleged assault.
The Post asked Jackie numerous times to reveal the full name of the two attackers she said she recognized. She declined, saying she didn’t want the perpetrator “to come back in my life.”
Jackie said numerous times that she did not expect that a police investigation would lead to any charges. She said she knew there was little, if any, forensic evidence that could prove the allegations two years afterward.
“I didn’t want a trial,” Jackie said. “I can’t imagine getting up on a defense stand having them tear me apart.”
Jackie said early in the week that she felt manipulated by the Rolling Stone reporter, adding that she “felt completely out of control over my own story.” In an in-person interview Thursday, Jackie said the Rolling Stone account of her attack was truthful, but she also acknowledged that some details in the article might not be accurate.
Jackie contradicted an earlier interview, saying Thursday that she did not know whether the attacker she knew actually was a member of Phi Kappa Psi.
“He never said he was in Phi Psi,” she said, while noting that she was positive that the date function and attack occurred at the fraternity house. “I know it was Phi Psi, because a year afterward, my friend pointed out the building to me and said that’s where it happened.”
Nick Anderson, Paul Farhi, Jennifer Jenkins and Julie Tate contributed to this report.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Want to Limit the Use of Police Force? Limit the State

Progressives refuse to see the connection between government and force. 

Billy Joe Shaver at 75

The honky-tonk hero still chases his dreams

December 4, 2014
MAN’S BEST FRIEND: Billy Joe Shaver and his faithful companion.
In the early 1970s country music experienced some severe growing pains. The watered-down cosmo-country unleashed by Chet Atkins had all but wiped out the real honky-tonkers, but a few brave souls refused to buckle to the man. Willie Nelson just up and left. He went back to Austin to create the outlaw country scene. Waylon Jennings demanded and got full creative control of his recordings, and from that, the work of Billy Joe Shaver emerged.
In 1973, Jennings recorded Honky Tonk Heroes, a collection of Shaver tunes (except for one cut) which, along with Nelson's Shotgun Willie and iconic Phases and Stages, marked the beginning of the outlaw era in modern country music. Shaver was right there in the midst of it all.
While taking his new tour van to the shop in Texas, Shaver recalls, "Waylon was a renegade. He was a friend, but he would get upset if you upped him. I had to threaten to fight him to get him to pay attention to the songs that ended up on Honky Tonk Heroes, and I got every cut except one. That one they added still disappoints me.
"Waylon was mad that Rolling Stone magazine said 'the hero of Honky Tonk Heroes is Billy Joe Shaver,'" Shaver says. "He never did another one of my songs after that."
Fast-forward 40 years, Waylon is dead, Willie is a global superstar, and Shaver is still plugging along with unbridled enthusiasm, reaching for the golden ring. He's had plenty of success along the way, but hasn't quite made the upper echelon of stardom that he so rightly deserves. In August he released Long in the Tooth, his first album of new material since 2007, and was recently doing gigs with longtime pal Nelson. Even with such good friends, for Shaver, finding a label wasn't easy. "We had a hard time finding a record deal for this one, I was waiting on some friends to come through and it just took too long. So we recorded it when we had a chance, and wrote most of the songs in the studio."
As usual, Shaver's lyrics are golden, deceptive in their simplicity, but full of incredible wisdom and truth. Joining in on the studio fun this time are a few well-known friends. "Leon Russell is an old friend, we did some shows together but never recorded until now," Shaver says. "And Tony Joe White, well, I like him, and he likes me."
Adding a guest vocal is the man himself, Nelson, who also recorded a couple of the new tunes for his last album. "Willie Nelson is the best there is — he's dangerous, and he keeps me honest," Shaver says. "He recorded my songs as the first two cuts on his record before I did, then he came over and sang on 'Hard to Be an Outlaw' with me for my record. I might have mentioned the title to him, and he said I better write it fast or he would."
The album is a mixed bag, a few rockers, some tongue-in-cheek odes to aging, and a couple of heartfelt ballads. It's fairly typical of Shaver's past work, including the period when he worked with his son, hotshot guitarist Eddy Shaver, who died from an overdose on New Year's Eve 2000.
"Eddy was such a good guitarist," Shaver recalls. "When we started playing together, he unplugged me. We had a hard time getting any labels in Nashville to sign us back in the late '80s and early '90s. They said we were too rock 'n' roll then."
In spite of his many trials, Shaver soldiers on with a mission. His profound faith has been his motivator, and he wears it proudly. "I've been through a lot, had some health issues that are now taken care of — knee replacements, pins in my shoulder, I need some more but it can wait," he says. "Jesus Christ keeps me going, he made us all No. 2. I have had to lean on him a lot, and he pulled me through a lot of stuff. It's in a lot of my songs. I don't do it on purpose, it just happens. I was born to be a songwriter, started writing when I was 8. God gave me a gift and I will keep doing it as long as I can."
For grizzled road warriors like Shaver and Nelson, age ain't nothing but a number. Shaver found his calling early on, and even at 75 he still works it like a teenager.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

When Guns Walked: Sharyl Attkisson and John Dodson on Fast and Furious

By Elise Cooper
December 1, 2014

In her book Stonewalled, Sharyl Attkisson reminds readers of the Fast and Furious debacle: the issue of corruption, coverups, and government misdeeds. Early in the Obama Administration, ATF officials came up with a plan to secretly enlist the help of licensed gun dealers in Arizona and encouraged them to sell firearms to suspected traffickers for the Mexican drug cartels. Part of the plan was to allow these guns to be used in crimes that would lead to the arrest of major drug cartel figures. American Thinker interviewed journalist Sharyl Attkisson and John Dodson, the Fast and Furious whistleblower who helped to make this outrageous scheme public. 
Dodson joined the ATF nearly ten years ago after serving in the military and working for the sheriff’s office in Virginia. He felt, in the beginning of his career, that as an ATF agent he made a difference in people’s lives and took the oath of protection literally. Yet, all that changed after he was assigned to the Fast and Furious case. He could not believe his assignment and told American Thinker, “I asked my superiors, are you prepared to go to the funeral for a federal officer killed with one of these guns, and watch their widow hold the folded flag?”

Wanting to do the right thing, in January 2011 Dodson informed Senator Chuck Grassley’s office about the Fast and Furious operation. He then told his bosses at ATF what he said, and instead of being forthright, they drafted a letter in February denying ATF ever let guns walk, and did not sanction or knowingly allow the sale of assault weapons to straw purchasers. Sharyl Attkisson, in pursuing the story, was told by an Obama Administration official, “Every other outlet is ‘reasonable’ except you. Nobody else thinks there is a story. Just you. You’re the only one. Sharyl Attkisson is right and everybody else is wrong?” She directly commented, “There was a great deal of pushback, attempts to manipulate opinion by the Obama administration. According to my sources, other reporters were trying to publish stories on Fast and Furious, but their managers or editors apparently blocked it.”

Recently, Judicial Watch was able to force the Obama Administration to release documents from their FOIA lawsuit. Among the documents was the stunning, but not surprising, targeting of Sharyl. She noted, “"Is this how you envision your tax dollars being spent? Here it is in black and white: documents President Obama withheld under executive privilege showing his government taxpayer-paid press flacks targeting me for reporting on Fast and Furious and Obama flacks planting negative stories about their political enemies with friendly press."

In an email dated October 4, 2011, Attorney General Holder’s top press aide, Tracy Schmaler, called Attkisson “out of control.” Schmaler told White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz that he intended to call CBS news anchor Bob Schieffer to get the network to stop Attkisson. She told American Thinker, “’Out of control’ is a very telling phrase. It implies they think they should be able to ‘control’ the media. The outrage is: the email exchange shows they aren’t upset that Attorney General Eric Holder gave questionable testimony to Congress; they aren’t upset that their own internal documents contradict what Holder said, but they are upset at me for factually reporting it.”

In Stonewalled, Attkisson talks about what she refers to as “controversializing,” where a propaganda campaign is launched by surrogates and sympathizers in the media to divert from the damaging facts by focusing on the personality instead of the evidence. This is no more evident than with John Dodson. He told American Thinker, “My supervisors looked for ways to fire me and try to indict me on the accusation that I released classified information.  I owe thanks to Senator Grassley and Congressman Issa’s staff that kept me afloat and alive.  I do mean that figuratively and literally.  Just think of it, if they made me go away, the whole problem goes away.  I could see their game escalating.  I have been transferred, slandered, and ostracized. They had their journalist friends try to destroy my character and reputation, including leaking my internal personnel files.They tracked my vehicle, searched my computer and cell phones, and had surveillance over my family and myself. I knew about these, but what is really terrifying is what I don’t know about. I do fear that if something happened to me now there would not be an outcry.”

Because of his frustration with the coverage, Dodson wrote a book that came out a year ago entitled, The Unarmed Truth: My Fight to Blow the Whistle and Expose Fast and Furious. He was hoping to get the issue back in the public eye since there are still questions that remain. Mainly, where did this plan originate, who was ultimately responsible, and how was it allowed to progress and grow? Both he and Sharyl believe the DOJ is “stonewalling” the information requested by Congress. Specifically, that every time a gun from Fast and Furious is involved in a crime Congress is supposed to be told who used the gun, and what was the crime it was involved in. He warns, “Americans need to understand that no one knows the amount of guns sold. Fast and Furious involved only one group that came out of one field position, with 2400 guns sold. But there are other offices within Arizona and the Southwest that we do not know about that are under different case names. I think it is almost impossible to know how many people will have died from this operation since the gun recovered will only be from the latest crime. The previous crimes that the gun was associated with would never be known.”

Dodson was “taken back by the fact that the banner was not taken up by everybody. Those in the media dismissed it because they were told to dismiss it. It became an exercise in futility. I went to Sharyl in March 2011 because everyone seemed to circle around that February letter, which was a lie. No official ever talked to me, or people handling the case, because all they were concerned with was giving a response to Congress. I knew something had to be done and fortunately Sharyl was around. ”

Attkisson regards John Dodson as a hero and understands that the plight of the whistleblower is very difficult. “No one can guarantee what the outcome of blowing the whistle will be. Those who disparaged John never offered an apology. Higher-ups never thanked him for risking his career to expose an ill-advised program responsible for contributing to murders on both sides of the border. He only received heartache. Even after the government admitted wrongdoing, when I called ATF for comment about his book, The Unarmed Truth, they clearly still viewed him as a mortal enemy for the simple act of telling the truth.”

Dodson hopes that the whistleblower laws will change because the current ones are useless. “The government can make your life hell without ever taking any dollars out of your paycheck. The laws do not protect this. ATF poisoned the well toward me and made me toxic so that my co-workers ignored me for the fear any association with me will be detrimental to their careers. I am radioactive and my life is upside down. It seems after you give out the information you are on your own.” He has a good point since criminals who inform are put in the Witness Protection Program with a new life and financial support, while whistleblowers become forgotten and are mistreated.

He also wished he received some support from the gun shop owners who assisted the ATF in this operation. Dodson is disappointed that not very many have spoken out publicly to substantiate what he said. Journalist Jack Cashill, the author of You Lie! -- The Evasions, Omissions, Fabrications, Frauds, and Outright Falsehoods of Barack Obama, feels that the gun storeowners “were in no position to blow the whistle on Fast and Furious or support people like John Dodson because they are dependent on the government and are so heavily regulated. The government is able to tie their hands and make their life a living hell like they did with John.”

Both Attkisson and Dodson question what happened to the good guys. Dodson wonders how the government gets away with protecting and standing by those individuals who headed up this program, essentially buying their silence, while Attkisson calls it the “Alice in Wonderland” effect. She commented, “Good is bad, bad is good. You tell the truth that is bad, but if you help in the cover-up that is rewarded. By and large very little happened to the wrongdoers, but people like John were marginalized.”

Had it not been for people like Sharyl Attkisson and John Dodson more guns might have been “walked,” with the end result of more people dying. Their books, Stonewalled and The Unarmed Truth, inform Americans about the malfeasance going on by the ATF and the DOJ regarding the illegal activities of Fast and Furious. Americans need to read these books to understand how there are still those who will step up and do the right thing regardless of the consequences.

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.

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A Bad Night in Libya: Sharyl Attkisson on the Benghazi Cover-up

By Elise Cooper
December 2, 2014

Stonewalled by Sharyl Attkisson is an account of an investigative reporter who wanted to follow the facts and refused to be intimidated by the Obama administration. She was one of the few mainstream journalists who tried to seek out the truth regarding what happened on that tragic day of September 11th, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya when four Americans were murdered by Islamic terrorists. American Thinker interviewed her about Benghazi.
It is stunning how this administration tried to push their narrative on reporters. In her book, Sharyl recounts how she was told that the president early on referred to the attack as terrorist-based. This quote shows that the White House viewed her as uncooperative in pushing their narrative, “I give up Sharyl…I’ll work with more reasonable folks...” Unfortunately, Candy Crowley seems to be one of those that did cooperate with the White House, considering her actions during the presidential debate. Sharyl speculates, “As I say in the book, it did make me wonder if Crowley, like me, had received an advance call from a White House official prompting her with the claim that the president had called Benghazi a terrorist attack the next day when, in fact, that was questionable.” Crowley obviously did not check the facts herself. Using the “substitution” technique Attkisson talks about in the book: would a journalist from Fox News who had jumped in defense of Romney be drummed out as a reporter?

Sharyl lays out the facts surrounding Hillary Clinton’s involvement in pushing the false narrative and the many differing statements. “Hillary Clinton appears to want to revise the facts on Benghazi in her book. Clinton begins her Benghazi discussion acknowledging ‘Americans were killed in a terrorist attack,’ the very thing that the administration had worked so hard not to say initially. Her contradictions in the book include discussions explaining why no rescue mission was launched and the supposed surprise nature of the attack, while at the same time she argues the U.S. was on alert and well prepared because of the anniversary of 9/11. She also claimed the Foreign Emergency Support Team was not deployed because the attack wouldn’t last long enough for them to arrive to help; yet, she also said she believed there would be more attacks in the region as there had been in Egypt. In the days after September 11, she didn’t attribute the attacks to terrorism but mistakenly blamed a YouTube video, and later said that was due to the confusion caused by the ‘fog of war.’ Yet documents we now have show officials concluded from the start that the terrorists were at fault and even told the Libyans that right away. Mrs. Clinton eventually testified before Congress asking, ‘what difference does it make?’ as to who was behind the attacks. My response: if it doesn’t make a difference, why did the administration work so hard to steer the public in the direction of the video rather than the truth?”

Jonathan Gruber’s quote, “the stupidity of American voters” comes to mind.  Kenneth R. Timmerman, the author of Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi goes a step further than Sharyl, arguing, “Hillary Clinton represents the arrogance of the left that believes they know better than individuals regarding what information they should have. Their intent is to sweep the facts under the rug, hoping Americans are not paying attention. They are being aided and abetted by the complicit media that has failed to do its job.”

What is still puzzling is that there was never much outcry regarding the killings even though an ambassador was murdered. Sharyl told American Thinker, “The release of information and facts happened slowly, like a drip/drip. The administration stretches out the release of damaging material so that by the time we get it, there is never that giant impact or ability to compare all of the contradictions at once.”  Jack Cashill, author of You Lie! The Evasions, Omissions, Fabrications, Frauds, and Outright Falsehoods of Barack Obama, agrees, but goes on to assert: “Except for readers on websites like American Thinker, the voters are more ignorant today than ever before because it is much easier to avoid the news.  When I was growing up there were only three stations so we were basically forced to watch.”

Sharyl feels that there are many questions, which still need to get answered: “What was the President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief, doing during the attack? What decisions did he make while Americans were under attack on foreign soil? Why is the White House withholding photos taken at the White House that night and surveillance videos taken in Benghazi that were once promised for release?” 

Former CIA Director, Michael Hayden, agrees that this administration has not been forthcoming and there are questions that still need to be answered. He noted to American Thinker, “Why did they stay way too long with the talking point, ‘this was caused by a video’ when there was mounting evidence that this was not a good explanation consistent with the facts.  Also, why did this administration put our ambassador in harm’s way?  He should never have been sent there given the intelligence on how dangerous it was without any adequate plans for safety. The blame goes pretty far around.”

Sharyl also points to her September article for the Daily Signal, where she wrote about a State Department official, Raymond Maxwell, accusing certain Hillary Clinton confidants about participating in an operation to withhold damaging documents instead of turning them over to the Accountability Review Board. This occurred after hours, on a weekend, in the State Department basement. If true, this incident is proof that Clinton gave misinformation, speculation, and flat-out deceived the American people.

Sharyl Attkisson, Jack Cashill, and Ken Timmerman show in their books how the president, and others in his administration, notably Hillary Clinton, conceived of a cover-up to support their false narrative that Al Qaeda was on the run and terrorism was no longer a major issue, even though the terrorists had other ideas -- as evidenced by the Benghazi murders.  As Attkisson wrote in her book, “If one compares the Obama administration’s first accounts of the Benghazi fiasco, the pages from a novel, if you will, to the facts that have trickled out since, the contrasts are stark.”

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.

Uncovering Obama’s IRS Enemies List

Posted By Matthew Vadum On December 4, 2014 @ 12:55 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 5 Comments

More proof has emerged that President Obama is using the IRS as a weapon against his perceived enemies as the administration abruptly canceled the release of 2,500 damning documents reportedly showing that the IRS illegally shared taxpayer files with the White House.

The existence of the documents is yet more proof that Obama maintains an extensive enemies’ list and that he treats the IRS as his personal plaything while he closely collaborates with senior IRS officials who have practically taken up residence with him in the White House. To Obama, the IRS is an instrument of political repression and taxpayer terror. Although it isn’t exactly breaking news that Obama is doing Machiavellian things with the IRS that the nearly-impeached President Nixon only fantasized about doing, hard documentary evidence of wrongdoing has been slow in coming.

The abortive document dump comes as former IRS mandarin Lois Lerner remains at liberty. Instead of becoming a long-term guest of the Bureau of Prisons, the unrepentant left-wing Democratic activist continues to live a life of luxury in Bethesda, Md., a fancy suburb of Washington, D.C. Despite the severity of her crimes, she doesn’t even have to wear a monitoring anklet. She hasn’t even been charged with breaking the law, an oversight that may be corrected by the incoming Republican-dominated Congress.

With Lerner taking the lead, Obama’s IRS targeted conservative “social welfare” nonprofits seeking tax-exempt status under section 501c4 of the Internal Revenue Code. Evidence establishes that hundreds of groups affiliated with the Tea Party movement were bullied and intimidated from engaging in constitutionally protected political activism. The IRS also subjected conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status to heightened scrutiny, harassment, and extended processing delays that may have hindered their activities during previous election cycles.

But now the Obama administration, which barely acknowledges the historic electoral whooping it received last month, has placed the 2,500 documents that are apparently not related to Lerner’s escapades in limbo as it hides behind privacy laws that are supposed to protect taxpayers, as opposed to corrupt government officials.

The inspector general’s office for the U.S. Department of the Treasury is making the novel claim that privacy laws prevent the promised document release from taking place.

“All of the 2,043 pages of documents we have determined to be responsive were collected by the Secretary of the Treasury with respect to the determination of possible liability under Title 26 of the United States Code. These pages consist of return information protected by 26 U.S.C. § 6103 and may not be disclosed absent an express statutory exception,” the office indicated in a Dec. 1 letter.

The Treasury Department, which oversees the IRS, apparently hasn’t yet decided what to do with another 466 documents.

Dan Epstein, executive director of Cause of Action, was highly skeptical. Treasury is  using “sophisticated” lawyering to worm out of producing the documents.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew acknowledges he is examining “potential liability” that his underlings violated the law by providing taxpayer information to the White House. Treasury is either “stonewalling” Cause of Action, or Lew “is incompetent” for only now getting around to investigating possible lawbreaking on a two-year-old case.

Asked about the case Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest claimed he didn’t know about it. He said, apparently with a straight face, that the administration “very closely” follows rules shielding the IRS from political interference.

“I can tell you that, as a rule, that the Obama administration has been very rigorous in following all of the rules and regulations that govern proper communication between Treasury officials and White House officials and the Internal Revenue Service,” Earnest said.

Epstein says Earnest isn’t telling the truth. “We know for a fact that the IRS broke the law,” he said. “If there is any evidence that the White House requested (unauthorized taxpayer information), then people in the White House are going to be implicated,” he said.

The Treasury Department’s decision to stonewall just so happens to coincide with publication this week of a four-part series by the Washington Examiner about the benefits and pitfalls of the federal inspectors-general system. The series details several occasions in which inspector generals “provided cover for agency managers seeking to avoid more rigorous evaluations.”

It goes without saying that Obama has been using the IRS improperly since he was sworn in as president. That’s the Chicago way.

Ask Catherine Engelbrecht, leader of the Houston-based good government group True the Vote. Since getting involved in the fight for ballot box integrity she has been subjected to a slew of audits, surprise inspections, and all manner of bureaucratic harassment. Ask supporters of the Manassas, Va.-based Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty, whose tax-exempt charitable status was yanked by the IRS because it disseminated criticism of Democrats Hillary Clinton and John Kerry a decade ago.

Ask officials of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). Obama’s IRS has admitted it illegally provided the group’s confidential donor information to its left-wing arch-enemy, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which favors same-sex marriage. The IRS later agreed to settle a lawsuit by paying $50,000 in damages to NOM. The release of the tax filing, known as an IRS Form 990 was not the issue as such; in fact federal law requires 990s to be publicly disclosed.

But the IRS claimed one of its employees innocently neglected to redact the names and addresses of NOM’s donors before releasing the group’s amended 2008 Form 990 to an individual. The law requires groups like NOM to list top donors on Schedule B to the form. The information on Schedule B is supposed to be held in strictest confidence by the IRS. Unauthorized disclosure of confidential tax information is a felony that can lead to a five-year term of imprisonment, but Eric Holder’s Justice Department never got around to filing criminal charges in the case.

The egregious IRS leak allowed the HRC in February 2012 to post online NOM’s 2008 tax return and the names and contact information of NOM’s major donors, including Mitt Romney who became the Republican presidential nominee later that year. Making that normally confidential information public allowed progressive activists to harass and intimidate NOM’s donors, just as they had done in the wake of California’s Proposition 8 that affirmed traditional marriage in 2008. The most prominent victim of leftist venom was former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, who was forced out of his post because he dared to donate $1,000 to the “pro” traditional marriage side in the Prop 8 battle.

Left-wing activists call this kind of in-your-face harassment “accountability,” an Orwellian euphemism to be sure. Accountability actions focus on harassing and intimidating political enemies, disrupting their activities, and forcing them to waste resources dealing with activists’ provocations. It is a tactic of radical community organizers, open borders fanatics, and union goons. Taking a cue from Marxist theorist Herbert Marcuse, they want to shut down, humiliate, and silence those who fail to genuflect before their policy agenda.

Obama’s IRS is all about accountability, but not in the way that normal, patriotic Americans use the term.

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