Paranoia hits White House

Not since the dark days of Richard Nixon has the evidence of a paranoid administration sitting in the White House at the start of a second term been so much on display.

And the only defense is that senior administration officials, perhaps the president himself, are not in charge of what their staffs are doing.

Never since the Nixon administration has the press been under such visible attack from a sitting president, made all the more astonishing because of the number of people who believe the national press corps is a lapdog of Barack Obama.

A broad subpoena of phone records for more than 20 AP phone lines, including those in the House of Representatives for reporters and editors, was executed, covering April and May of 2012. The Justice Department won’t say what the target of its investigation is, but The Associated Press believes it to be the leak of a story about the CIA in Yemen foiling a bomb plot around the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death. The administration invoked national security as a reason not to publish the story, which the AP held until those concerns were addressed. Then the story was published and the administration cried foul and invoked national security concerns again.

Nothing in the year since has revealed just what printing the story that, in essence, said the CIA did its job and did it well, actually harmed. A statement from CIA Director John Brennan to a congressional investigation of the leak said the administration was to make its own announcement and was compelled to do so by the story, to tell the American people they were not in danger.

Chilling the workings of the constitutionally protected free press in the United States means citizens are kept from information about their government and its operations, information which sometimes is less than flattering about the officeholders but which protects the citizens from being run over by a power-happy government.

When combined with the revelation that the IRS is, as it has on and off during previous administrations both Democrat and Republican, targeting political opponents of the liberal agenda, the resulting picture is frightening.

So far, the administration has attempted to blunt the bad press of the past week by trying to deny senior officials at the IRS knew about the anti-conservative audits, and by keeping Attorney General Eric Holder mum on whether he signed off on the overly broad and perhaps unnecessary leak probe that went into the inner workings of the press corps.

It’s the same kind of defense being offered in the case of the security lapse in Benghazi, Libya, where the deflections are being issued to keep criticism away from Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state and potential 2016 presidential candidate.

If the lack of knowledge of the workings of their staffs and departments is true, then the senior leadership of the Obama administration is incompetent.

If the knowledge actually was there in all three instances, then heads must begin to roll, and not just those of minor functionaries and mid-level staffers.