10.05.2015 0

Weaponization of government is the new normal

By Rick ManningChaffetz

What is the world coming to?

The Secret Service, perhaps the most trusted law enforcement arm in the federal government, has been caught leaking information in an attempt to damage U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

It seems that Chaffetz upset some of the Secret Service’s hierarchy by criticizing the complete breakdown of White House security as evidenced by a couple of major breaches.

To refresh everyone’s memory, below is an excerpt from a commentary I wrote that was published in The Hill a little more than a year ago:

“Some clown was able to jump the White House fence, run across 100 yards of lawn and enter the front door of the building. You read that correctly, he actually made it into the White House itself.

“Fortunately, the president and family were not in the residence, but what the heck is going on over there?

“Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson urged that no one jump to conclusions about this failure of the highest order, but there is no jump to make. The Secret Service has clearly been told to hold fire on any invader.

“How else does anyone explain that the most heavily armed residence in our nation was invaded by a Karate Kid wannabe?”

Rather than put a high priority on fixing the glaring problems at the agency, apparently someone decided it would be a good idea to engage in an opposition research campaign against one of their harshest critics, current Government Reform and Oversight Chairman Chaffetz. They then decided to leak information they uncovered to the media in an attempt to embarrass and silence the chairman.

Perhaps the agency is taking the Secret Service’s initials just a little too seriously.

Now, the Washington Post is reporting that the head of the Secret Service has recanted previous assertions, and now admits to knowing that, “unflattering, private information about a congressman was circulating among agency staff members before it was leaked to the news media.”

According to the report dozens of Secret Service officials were aware of the Chaffetz information, as it circulated around the rumor mill, including now, agency director Joseph Clancy.

The most troubling aspect of this whole episode is that everyone involved knew that opening a sealed file was illegal, yet apparently the only person in the agency who didn’t peak at it was the Clousseau-like director Clancy.

At what point did it become okay and acceptable for civil servants to wantonly violate private citizen’s rights without even a hint of conscience?

Was it when Lois Lerner led her IRS assault against private groups and citizens, which included targeting not only tea party groups, but also their financial supporters.

Or perhaps it was when OSHA went after the business of one of the tea party targets who refused to back down?

Was it the seeming administration-wide decision to stonewall Congress and the media through either outright denying of Freedom of Information Act requests or delaying responses for so long as to make them meaningless in many cases?

Or did it pre-date Obama as evidenced by the overturned conviction of then-Senator Ted Stevens by a rogue U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia which cost Stevens his election in 2008.  The conviction was vacated when it was determined after the damage was done, that the prosecution failed to provide the defense exculpatory evidence which would have cost them the case.

The truth is that there has always been concern that the federal bureaucracy could be used for political purposes.  The Hatch Act was passed into law to protect civil servants from undo political influence.  Unfortunately, in Obama’s America, it appears that it is the elected officials and political opponents who need to fear the bureaucrats. The most amazing part is that with all the abuse of power scandals, the public itself has become inured and there is little palpable outrage over the Secret Service targeting a Congressman politically.

Out of all of the Obama legacies, it is this weaponization of government that is likely to have a lasting, negative effect now that the genie has been let out of the bottle and it has become normalized. Very few things could be more of a threat to freedom, yet somehow this scary transformation has flown somewhat under the radar screen for an unsuspecting American public.

The author is president of Americans for Limited Government.

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