Obama administration officials spent much of Tuesday defending their secret acquisition of Associated Press phone records, all the while expressing their profound respect for the First Amendment.
We shudder to think what they'd have done if they had little regard for free speech protections.
Combined with disclosures that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups for scrutiny and ongoing revelations about the political shaping of the Benghazi terrorist attack narrative, it's been a disappointing week for the administration.
These incidents demonstrate a lack of transparency, a disregard for civil liberties and, quite frankly, a particularly unattractive brand of arrogance.
It's time for President Obama to acknowledge these failures individually and collectively and to cooperate with the various investigations that have been — or soon will be — launched to come up with answers.
The nation deserves as much from someone who campaigned against politics as usual.
News that the Justice Department obtained records for 20 separate work and personal phone lines used by AP reporters and editors is an outrageous impingement on news-gathering freedoms in an effort to hunt down the source of a government leak.
The Justice Department sought the records from 2012 in its investigation of a disclosure of classified information about an al-Qaeda plot.
This is not a situation in which the department had attempted to get the phone records in a fashion that gave the AP an opportunity to argue in court that press freedoms outweighed the government's interest in obtaining the information.
No, this was an unacceptable use of power to collect a trove of records that gave the government a broad window into the organization's news-gathering operations.
When you couple that with the IRS's loathsome efforts to target Tea Party-affiliated groups seeking tax-exempt status, it bespeaks a disregard for fundamental constitutional rights.
The White House maintains it was not privy to the phone record probe or IRS targeting activities until long after they had occurred. And while that may be the case, that does not relieve the president of responsibility for them.
But Obama appears to be in a state of denial, telling reporters Monday that "if in fact IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported" — which the IRS had already apologized for — it would be "outrageous."
We're well past the "if" stage, Mr. President.
The evolving narrative and disclosures about the attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, is indicative of a different transgression, but one no less reprehensible.
The lack of transparency, and shifting story line about who knew what and when they knew it, smells of political stagecraft. The administration was duty-bound to come clean about a tragedy in which four Americans lost their lives.
The president has called the continued examination of the situation a " sideshow." When coupled with the events surrounding actions of the Justice Department and the IRS, the "sideshow" is poised to become part of a main event that threatens the president's effectiveness moving forward.
These types of conduct brought down a president a generation ago. President Obama must take decisive action to stop the comparisons and the risk of suffering a similar fate.