News and Commentary

7 Times The Obama Administration Used Government To Target Its Political Opponents

The news that Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, requested the unmasking of various members of Donald Trump’s team is a massive story, as it shows that the Obama administration used the country’s intelligence personnel to target a political opponent.

Such behavior was not uncommon for the Obama administration; they frequently utilized the federal government against their political opponents whenever possible. Here are seven times they did so.

1. The Obama administration jailed the filmmaker of the video that they blamed the Benghazi terror attacks on. The filmmaker, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, produced a video called The Innocence of Muslims that ridiculed Mohammed; in 2012 the administration scapegoated the video as the root of the Benghazi terror attacks. It was an obvious lie, but the administration jailed Nakoula anyway for allegedly violating probation. Nakoula spent a year in prison and now lives in a homeless shelter.

2. Individuals were targeted by Obama’s IRS. The most noteworthy include:

  • Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson.
  • Frank VanderSloot, who donated to a Mitt Romney super PAC and co-chaired Romney’s campaign finance committee.
  • GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson.

These were all part of a larger scandal by the IRS.

3. The IRS suppressed conservative organizations. The Daily Wire has previously reported that Obama’s IRS “heavily scrutinized” conservative organizations “with invasive questions” when applying for a tax exemption, something that left-wing groups applying for such an exemption typically did not face, a chilling double standard. Additionally, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was audited as it was supporting pro-Israel candidates as well as “candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles.”

The next two come from a previous list:

4. Dinesh D’Souza was prosecuted for making a film critical of Obama. D’Souza’s blockbuster film 2016: Obama’s America clearly irked the Obama administration, as they called it “an insidious attempt to dishonestly smear the president.” Two years later, federal prosecutors secured a sentence of eight months in a confinement center and five years of probation for D’Souza reimbursing “straw donors for another $20,000 secretly coming from him” to help his friend run for the Senate, which is normally a crime that results in “a wrist slap such as a paltry fine,” according to former Maricopa County Elections Department attorney Rachel Alexander.

D’Souza isn’t the only one who has been prosecuted under the Obama administration for being critical of the president…

5. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) was prosecuted by the Obama administration after he criticized the president’s foreign policy. Menendez was openly critical of the administration’s policies toward Cuba and Iran in 2015. Soon after, the Department of Justice indicted him for “corruption and bribery,” prompting Harvard lawyer Alan Dershowitz to write:

“Is the prosecution part of a growing and dangerous trend toward criminalizing policy differences?” Dershowitz wondered in a blog post Friday. “Senator Menendez has challenged the Administration’s policy toward Cuba, expressed concerns over a nuclear deal being brokered with Iran, questioned why an agency would condone throwing good medicine in the garbage, and asked whether a foreign government or the private sector is better at port security. Senators should not have to fear that the Executive Branch will unleash prosecutors to go after politicians who are critical of the administration.”

Menendez has repeatedly tried to get federal courts to dismiss the charges, to no avail. Regardless if he’s guilty or not, the timing of Menendez’s indictment reeked of retaliation.

6. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of Congress were under surveillance by the Obama administration. The National Security Agency monitored Netanyahu, whom the Obama administration despised to the point where they intervened in Israel’s election to defeat him, as the Iran deal was being hammered out. In doing so, members of Congress were also monitored. In other words, the Obama administration was monitoring political opponents to the Iran deal, which seems to be what the administration was doing to the Trump team as well.

7. The Environmental Protection Agency waived fees for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for left-wing groups far more often than for conservative groups. The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Chris Horner told Fox News in 2013 that “liberal groups have their fees for documents waived about 90 percent of the time, in contrast with conservative groups that it claims are denied fee waivers about 90 percent of the time.”

Given these instances of political targeting by the Obama administration, it shouldn’t come as a shock that they seem to have monitored the Trump team.

Follow Aaron Bandler on Twitter.

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