GOP Leader Warns Attack On Free Speech
WASHINGTON - The Senate Republican leader, who last year accused the Obama administration of Nixon-style dirty tricks, says the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups is part of a broader government assault on free speech.
Seizing on the spate of controversies besetting the White House, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says the American people are recognizing a pattern that encompasses government agencies, the administration and its allies in Congress, left-wing groups and public-employee unions and their coordinated attack on First Amendment rights.
"As serious as the IRS scandal is, what we’re dealing with here is larger than the actions of one agency or any group of employees," McConnell, who is up for re-election next year, said in remarks prepared for delivery Friday to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. "This administration has institutionalized the practice of pitting bureaucrats against the very people they’re supposed to be serving, and it needs to stop."
Speaking to the same organization last year, McConnell accused the administration and President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign of leaking tax information and maintaining an enemies list in a chilling style reminiscent of President Richard Nixon, the Republican who resigned in 1974 amid the Watergate scandal. McConnell’s criticism was largely dismissed as election-year hyperbole.
In the first six months of Obama’s second term, the administration has been buffeted by criticism over the IRS affair, which has resulted in resignations and departures from the agency; government surveillance of phone and Internet records; its handling of last year’s terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four Americans; and the Justice Department’s seizure of phone records of journalists at The Associated Press and, in another case, reading the emails of Fox News reporter James Rosen.