Pun­ish­ing the Obama way

The pres­i­dent’s en­forcers are treat­ing or­di­nary Amer­i­cans like en­e­mies

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By David A. Keene

Al­though the rot has been vis­i­ble for some time, re­cent ac­tions by Pres­i­dent Obama’s Depart­ment of Jus­tice and di­rec­tor of na­tional in­tel­li­gence make it pos­si­ble to say defini­tively that the United States we once ex­tolled as a na­tion of laws and not of men no longer ex­ists. Our fed­eral laws are to­day be­ing ma­nip­u­lated by po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tives in ways that would have made those run­ning the old Da­ley ma­chine in the pres­i­dent’s home­town blush.

First, the Depart­ment of Jus­tice an­nounced that Lois Lerner and her merry lit­tle In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice crew that spent much of their time sit­ting on pa­per­work from con­ser­va­tive non­prof­its and the rest, pep­per­ing them with ques­tions no free gov­ern­ment should ask its cit­i­zens, hadn’t really done any­thing wrong and cer­tainly weren’t “tar­get­ing” con­ser­va­tives for po­lit­i­cal or ide­o­log­i­cal rea­sons. The an­nounce­ment could hardly sur­vive the gig­gle test, but meant Ms. Lerner will skate for us­ing the IRS to go af­ter Mr. Obama’s “en­e­mies” in ways that Congress in­cluded in the ar­ti­cles of im­peach­ment filed against for­mer Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon for merely suggest­ing in an ear­lier day.

Then just a few days ago, Mr. Obama’s di­rec­tor of na­tional in­tel­li­gence slapped down his own in­spec­tor gen­eral by an­nounc­ing that Hil­lary Clin­ton really hadn’t done any­thing wrong, ei­ther, in keep­ing her email ac­count on a pri­vate server. In both cases, the ac­tions of th­ese ap­pointees came af­ter the pres­i­dent said pub­licly that there is no “there” there in ei­ther case.

Mean­while, the FBI and Depart­ment of Jus­tice have been busily pur­su­ing cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tives or employees in an ef­fort to send peo­ple to prison just to make a point. Any­one who doubts the hor­ror of this need merely read Kurt Mix’s Wall Street Jour­nal ac­count of the po­lice raid on his home and sub­se­quent pros­e­cu­tion in the af­ter­math of the BP oil spill. His crime was that he was a BP em­ployee who had worked non­stop for days to stop the spill. The in­ves­ti­ga­tors were seek­ing not truth and jus­tice, but scalps on the wall and more Amer­i­cans be­hind bars.

They, like the team of pros­e­cu­tors un­leashed on Alaska’s late Sen. Ted Stevens, ig­nored the rules, re­fused to turn over ex­cul­pa­tory ev­i­dence, and went ahead hell-bent to send yet an­other in­no­cent to prison. Cases like th­ese are why for­mer Vir­ginia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ken Cuc­cinelli once said the real prob­lem is that too many pros­e­cu­tors and oth­ers in this coun­try forget that the term crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem in­cludes the word jus­tice.

Mr. Obama’s min­ions have pros­e­cuted an oil pro­ducer for in­ad­ver­tently al­low­ing a duck that landed in a waste pond to die while grant­ing so­lar and wind power pro­duc­ers the right to kill thou­sands of ducks, geese, ea­gles and en­dan­gered birds that get in their way, and they ar­gue for more and more crim­i­nal penal­ties to be im­posed on men and women who have un­wit­tingly vi­o­lated reg­u­la­tions they don’t even know ex­ist.

The va­garies of Mr. Obama’s laws and the will­ing­ness of his en­forcers to use those laws to pun­ish men and women who ir­ri­tate him and his agents, while ex­cus­ing the mis­deeds of his friends and fi­nan­cial supporters, has made busi­ness­men and women afraid to ex­pand their busi­nesses or take the fi­nan­cial risks so im­por­tant to a vi­brant and free econ­omy, while em­pow­er­ing crim­i­nals to ig­nore the rules of a civil so­ci­ety.

It isn’t just the hated 1 per­centers his en­forcers are af­ter, ei­ther. His Jus­tice Depart­ment is in­creas­ingly us­ing civil as­set for­fei­ture laws to con­fis­cate the sav­ings, op­er­at­ing cap­i­tal and property of small re­tail­ers and busi­ness own­ers who, for in­no­cent rea­son, can be ac­cused of vi­o­lat­ing the laws against making mul­ti­ple bank de­posits of un­der $10,000. Th­ese abuses ruin the lives of peo­ple who have never done any­thing wrong and are drawn into a trap in­tended to catch big-time drug deal­ers and then treated like mem­bers of a Mex­i­can drug car­tel by fed­eral of­fi­cials who know bet­ter but don’t care.

History makes clear that a free and pros­per­ous so­ci­ety de­pends on the rule of law to sur­vive. In this coun­try we are in­creas­ingly forced to re­fer to the sta­bil­ity pro­tected by the rule of law as some­thing that once ex­isted but, like the ea­gles fried by mod­ern so­lar col­lec­tors or shred­ded by en­ergy-pro­duc­ing wind­mills, may soon be but a his­toric mem­ory. David A. Keene is Opin­ion Ed­i­tor at The Wash­ing­ton Times.

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