Some Americans, myself included, were taken aback last week when former Obama administration adviser David Axelrod said, in a TV interview primping his new autobiography, that he was “proud of the fact that basically you’ve had an administration that has been in place for six years in which there hasn’t been a major scandal. I think that says a lot about the ethical strictures of this administration.”

In the face of such a claim, one does not know whether to laugh, or cry, or perhaps simply pound one’s head on one’s keyboard for a suitable length of time.

Let’s take him at his word, however, and concede that it is clearly impossible to list any “major” administration scandals over the past six years.

However, one could attempt to tot up a few small, insignificant, truly minor examples of untoward behavior.

Such as these cases, presented in no particular order:

• The Veterans Affairs Department was shown last year to have established fictitious “waiting lists” for former members of the U.S. military for whom it is legally and morally obligated to provide services. The lists were ginned up to conceal the VA’s abject failure to treat thousands of veterans within the time frames established by law.

At least 40 veterans have died while waiting on the real lists, and hundreds of others suffered worsened health conditions.

The former VA secretary lost his job over the issue, which has not yet been resolved, and to top it all off, his successor, Robert McDonald, admitted this week to having lied about his military service.

• A senior Internal Revenue Service official, Lois Lerner, who has now retired, repeatedly pleaded the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination when questioned by a congressional committee about her department’s discrimination against conservative groups seeking IRS recognition for their contributions.

Liberal groups’ applications for the same tax status were routinely approved without delay, despite IRS denials of any disparity.

And requests for relevant emails and other communications from Lerner and other officials have been denied repeatedly, with thousands said to have been illegally deleted by the IRS.

• The release last year of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from imprisonment by terrorists in Afghanistan was secured by trading five senior Taliban leaders for his freedom.

After President Barack Obama celebrated Bergdahl’s release in a Rose Garden photo-op attended by his parents, many former members of his unit said he was an unreliable soldier who may have deserted.

The Army reportedly completed its investigation into the circumstances of his 2009 capture months ago, but its findings have been kept secret. NBC News recently quoted anonymous “senior military sources” as saying the report recommends Bergdahl be court-martialed.

• Multiple administration sources, including President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Adviser Susan Rice, repeatedly blamed the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including our ambassador, on a mob outraged by a little-viewed anti-Islamic video. The video’s maker was even arrested and jailed for a full year.

Later, eyewitness reports revealed the attack was a well-planned assault using heavy weapons, including rockets and mortars, conducted by a regional al-Qaida affiliate.

• In 2009, the Department of Justice quadrupled the size of a low-volume Bush-era “gun-walking” operation into something called “Fast and Furious.”

The DOJ pressured U.S. firearms dealers near the Mexican border to sell a total of 2,100 firearms, including semi-automatic AR-15s and AK-47s, to “straw buyers” who transferred them to Mexican drug cartels.

The reported motive was to recover the guns in Mexico and link their owners to the cartels, but the guns had no tracking devices, and there is widespread suspicion another motivation could have been to smear U.S. dealers as the major source of the cartels’ arsenals.

Only about 700 of the guns have been recovered, with many linked to the murders of hundreds of Mexicans and one to the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

• Outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder remains the only attorney general ever cited for contempt of Congress, because he withheld tens of thousands of pages of documents sought by Congress regarding Fast and Furious. President Obama later protected them by claiming “executive privilege.”

• There’s more — like the hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to failed “green power” projects run by major Democratic contributors; the Secret Service being caught in multiple derelictions of duty involving prostitutes, as well as letting a man with a knife into the White House; the stimulus in all its trillion-dollar glory; the reports this week that Obama intends to let Iran gradually acquire nuclear weapons after all — but I’m out of room.

However, at least we can say this: If these are “minor” scandals, aren’t you really glad there aren’t any major ones?

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. Email at: [email protected].


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: