Snowden Asylum Irks Administration
Russia's decision to grant a temporary one-year asylum to NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden was described as “unfortunate” and “extremely disappointing” by Presidential Press Secretary Jay Carney.
Carney contrasted “Russia's uncooperative stance with FDR's extraordinarily accommodating attitude toward the repatriation of millions of unwilling refugees from the Soviet Union after World War II. FDR knew that these refugees didn't want to go back. Many faced torture, imprisonment in the Gulag, and execution. He could have balked for humanitarian reasons. But his personal sense of obligation to Stalin overrode his qualms.”
“Now with the roles reversed, Stalin's heirs won't even return one man to us,” Carney complained. “Where's their sense of honor? We tried to make it easy on them by promising not to torture or kill Snowden. It's as if they don't trust us. It's a slap in the face to the whole 'reset button' strategy initiated by this Administration.”
Gaining permission to remain in Russia is considered a major setback for the Obama Administration's efforts to settle accounts with Snowden. It is one of the few places where the Administration would likely be reluctant to exercise its option to order him taken out via a drone strike. However, Snowden's possible removal via covert extraction or assassination is an option that cannot be ruled out.
Congress Gains Exemption from Obamacare's Higher Costs
Under the Affordable Care Act, members of Congress and their staffs are slated to lose their gold-plated, Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and be forced to purchase coverage from one of the insurance exchanges established by the Act. The prospect of having to live under the same law as ordinary citizens has sparked widespread fear and continuous griping from these lawmakers and their aides.
President Obama has heard their pitiful cries and arranged for the Office of Personnel Management to issue a regulation that will have the taxpayers pick up any costs over-and-above what these beneficiaries were paying under the FEHBP. Acting OPM Director Elaine Kaplan explained that “the tasks of governing the country are stressful enough without adding concerns over spiraling heath insurance costs to their plate. Freed from this stress, the members of Congress will be able to more dispassionately do their jobs.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) praised the OPM decision saying “the clause mandating that members of Congress participate in the program escaped notice at the time we passed the legislation. This OPM ruling fixes that oversight and will enable us to meet the law's requirement that we enroll in the exchanges without having to face the kinds of increases in the cost of insurance that are being experienced elsewhere.”
In related news, employees at the IRS—chief enforcers of Obamacare—have also requested exemption from the law's provisions. IRS chief Daniel Werfel contends that “as federal employees we have a right to affordable health insurance. If we're forced to comply with the new law that won't be possible.”
CIA Agents Warned on Benghazi
It is now reported that there were numerous CIA operatives on the ground in Benghazi during last year's assault on the Consulate that killed Ambassador Stephens and three other Americans. Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) contends that some of these operatives want to testify, but have been intimidated into silence.
According to CNN reporter Drew Griffin, the Agency has implemented a full-court-press of monthly polygraph tests aimed at finding out if anyone has been talking to the media or Congress. Talkers reportedly have been threatened with termination or worse. Several have been reminded that their families' safety could be at risk.
While he would neither confirm nor deny the CNN report, CIA spokesman Dean Boyd emphasized the importance of controlling access to critical information. “The United States has many enemies who would love to know what our Agency is up to in various parts of the world,” Boyd pointed out. “Keeping these people from finding out is absolutely essential. We cannot afford to be unduly squeamish about whatever methods prove necessary to ensure that vital secrets are not disclosed to unauthorized persons.”
Government Secrecy Becoming Pathological?
Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin (D-Mich) rejected a request from ProPublica for a copy of a Defense Department document listing the countries the United States is currently at war with. “Who we are at war with is a matter for the Government, not the general public,” Levin maintained. “Under the Constitution, war-making powers are vested in Congress and the President. We will decide what role others will play if and when it becomes necessary to do so.”
Concealing this information from the general public isn't the only measure undertaken by the US Government. The US Army Brass has ordered all personnel to not read newspapers, access web sites, or view TV broadcasts that may reveal “secret” information.
“A crucial component of morale for US troops is the belief that America is the land of the free,” said Army Secretary John McHugh. “Certain reports in the media, like the ones indicating that the NSA is spying on ordinary citizens, tend to undermine morale. We can't prevent civilians from obtaining this information, but we can surely make every effort to dissuade our soldiers from getting it.”
McHugh acknowledged that “there isn't much we can do for military personnel posted outside of war zones. The opportunity to go off base when not on duty puts these individuals beyond our control. Thankfully, soldiers in the combat areas can be blocked from news that could breed doubts and disloyalty.”
Senator Labeled “Terrorist” by Pundit
During a recent broadcast, left-wing MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews labeled Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex) a “terrorist.”
“Is there any sane person who wouldn't find this man terrifying?” Matthews asked. “If he had his way he'd undo all the great work accomplished by President Obama. Obamacare would be gone! Taxes would be cut. Food stamps and disability payments would be curtailed forcing more people into the workforce. Progress toward social justice and equality would be pushed aside in a dangerous pursuit of economic growth.”
The proximate cause of Matthews' latest outburst seemed to be Senator Cruz's efforts to derail Obamacare by blocking its funding. “Denying the Government the money it needs is more of a threat to this country than anything al-Qaeda could do. So, if we lock up al-Qaeda terrorists in Gitmo or take them out with missile strikes what should the President be willing to do to counter this greater danger?”
In related news, Administration officials rebuffed objections to its award of military procurement contracts to al-Qaeda linked organizations because according to Army spokesman George Wright, to do so “would violate due process. Until these organizations have been found guilty in a court of law they cannot be barred from competing to supply material to our troops.”
Mayor Outlines Sexual Harassment Defense
This past week, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D) sketched out the tenor of his defense against charges of sexual harassment.
Filner insists that since the allegations all relate to actions taken in his official role as Mayor, the cost of his defense must be born by the City's taxpayers. “First of all, the citizens of San Diego put me in harm's way by electing me as their Mayor,” Filner argued. “Without that mantle of authority I wouldn't have been in position to harass these women. Second, all of the incidents took place while I was 'on-the-clock' performing my assigned duties as Mayor.”
Without explicitly admitting that he fondled, groped, kissed or otherwise inappropriately made contact with any of his accusers, Filner's lawyer asserted that he can't be held responsible because he was never enrolled in the anti-harassment training routinely provided to other City employees.
“These City employees who are complaining against my client all had the advantage of participating in anti-sexual harassment classes,” said Harvey Berger, Fliner's attorney. “Bob never had this training, so how could he be expected to know that his preferred methods of human interaction might violate the rules?”
Berger contends that “the real guilty party is the City itself” and that “Filner is also a victim of its negligence and is entitled to compensation for mental anguish and loss of reputation.”
Lewinsky Tape Vindicates Clinton
A newly discovered tape of a phone call from Monica Lewinsky to President Clinton is said to vindicate the contention that the former President was “the innocent victim of a sexual predator.”
On the tape the then 19-year-old White House intern can be heard offering to take her clothes off and hoping the President will “do what I want.”
“We said all along that Lewinsky was a stalker,” former First Lady Hillary Clinton said. “The emergence of this tape proves we were right. A youthful seductress lured an older man with a legendary reputation for kindness toward younger people into an inappropriate relationship. The nation owes us an apology.”
In related news, candidate for Comptroller of New York, Eliot Spitzer, asserted that Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner's latest sexting escapade disqualifies him. “A real man doesn't send pictures of his privates over the phone,” Spitzer scoffed. “That's what teenagers do. Voters want their public officials to be mature and substantial. If Weiner had gone to a prostitute or had an affair I think voters would respect that and have more confidence in him.”