Robert Bennett: Sticking to facts is effective criticism

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  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 18, 2013 9:06 p.m.

    "Okay. Do you want me to talk about the politicized decision that left two men to die on a rooftop, or would you prefer we talk about the lies told to the American people? We can go either way."

    Yes I do, since you seem to have knowledge beyond the rest of us. Please, tell me how having two people die furthered the Presidents agenda.

    Or we can discuss the "lies" as well. Please expand on how we Knew beyond a shadow of doubt this attack was terrors driven in those 24 hours after, and not the responsibility of the local militia, or loyalist to the former regime. Please show us this evidence that this was known beyond any doubt - despite similar events that happened concurrently in Tunisia and Egypt... that were not terrorist driven. I am sure you can point to testimony that confirms this.

    IT has been state department protocol for decades to not proclaim any event terrorist driven until there was confirmed evidence to that fact. Even the Boston bombings were not officially proclaimed as terrorist acts until photographic evidence was in... and this happened on American soil. Lets not confuse politics with facts.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 18, 2013 8:55 p.m.

    @two bits....

    I'll play that game if you want to go there....

    Libya - 4 US dead.... 9/11 - 2,996 dead not including hijackers..

    Ok, your turn.

    My point was not to castigate Bush.... though evidently some have very thin skins around here... but to point out that ALL administrations have had issues. We can go on. Iran Contra. Lebanon Marine base bombing, The failed rescues under Clinton... Watergate... the hearings on UnAmerican activity.... bay of pigs.... it goes on and on and on. There are plenty of R's and D's involved in this.

    So lets step back, take off the partisan glasses, and look at these events without a political agenda...

    I know... . its not going to happen. Party loyalty trumps all.... i get it.

    So ple

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    June 18, 2013 4:41 p.m.

    @UtahBlueDevil "so please expound on the abuse of power that happened in Benghazi."

    Okay. Do you want me to talk about the politicized decision that left two men to die on a rooftop, or would you prefer we talk about the lies told to the American people? We can go either way.

  • m.g. scott clearfield, UT
    June 18, 2013 8:42 a.m.

    Watergate was for a long time a "conspiracy theory" until it became fact based. The reason this, and any other Obama scandle won't go anywhere to get the high up people is because the law that allowed Congress to appoint a special prosecutor has expired. Now the only person in the country that can do that is Holder. Don't hold you breath. Nevertheless, I feel as an American more scared of this current administration and their real motives than I ever have in my life, including Watergate, or Iran-Contra times because I knew then that the Press would watch out for me. Not now.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    June 17, 2013 5:13 p.m.

    One reason to just stick to the facts is that you're never going to get people outside your own base to work with you. For instance, supporters of Obama who don't care for this NSA stuff and long opposed the Patriot Act and FISA expansions are not going to want to align themselves with people they think are drifting off the facts just to make partisan attacks for political gain rather than actually addressing the issue.

  • Wastintime Los Angeles, CA
    June 17, 2013 4:20 p.m.


    The difference between Clinton firings and Bush firings:

    Clinton fired attorneys serving under the previous administration-- as customary.

    Bush fired attorneys serving under previous administrations, appointed his own (as Clinton did) and THEN fired his own appointees--highly unusual, and unprecedented in that several had received high performance reviews.

    A subsequent report by the Justice Department Inspector General in October 2008 found that the process used to fire the first seven attorneys and two others dismissed around the same time was "arbitrary", "fundamentally flawed", and "raised doubts about the integrity of Department prosecution decisions". In July 2010, the Department of Justice prosecutors closed the two-year investigation without filing charges after determining that the firing was inappropriately political, but not criminal, saying "Evidence did not demonstrate that any prosecutable criminal offense was committed with regard to the removal of David Iglesias. The investigative team also determined that the evidence did not warrant expanding the scope of the investigation beyond the removal of Iglesias."

  • Unreconstructed Reb Chantilly, VA
    June 17, 2013 4:07 p.m.

    The legal standard established by the Supreme Court to interpret what constitutes an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment is whether a search's subject had a reasonable expectation of privacy. That is well-settled constitutional law. Bennett cites Smith v. Maryland because the Court held that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy where a telephone company keeps records of numbers dialed, and therefore no warrant is required.

    I invite anyone to show why the principle of Smith v. Maryland is inapplicable here. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy where information is shared with third parties (like internet providers). One might complain that the case's age makes it moot, but one can do the same with Marbury v. Madison. The holding has not been overturned and appears to be guiding here. To label Bennett's citation of the case as "the biggest mistake Americans can make" either disregards a large body of law established by the High Court under its constitutional powers, or displays a complete ignorance for how legal precedent works under our common law system.

    Don't like what's happening? Get standing before SCOTUS and convince it to reverse its prior holding.

  • Wastintime Los Angeles, CA
    June 17, 2013 3:53 p.m.

    The real IRS scandal is that we have conferred tax exempt status to organizations who engage in political activities using 49.9% of the funds donated to them.
    Career IRS employees--who've served under multiple administrations--were just going after low hanging fruit. The Tea Party was a well recognized political organization, so the IRS, attempting to look for the most obvious red flags, first focused on organizations named Tea Party. (The smarter organizations used less obvious political names).

    It's what the IRS does. For ex. certain types of tax returns, schedules and deductions can increase the likelihood you may be audited because they are areas tax cheats commonly use. R-Darrell Issa knew about the IRS audit by the Treasury Dept. before anybody in the Obama Administration. And tellingly, Issa won't release the full transcripts of independent interviews he conducted of IRS employees.

    Bennett is right on these issues. Despite many wasted hours/taxpayer dollars and numerous hearings Republicans have failed to prove their conspiracy theories and connect them to Pres.

  • WHAT NOW? Saint George, UT
    June 17, 2013 3:47 p.m.

    "...poison the political dialog...".

    Since the advent of Limbaugh and Gingrich, poisoned political dialog has become the rule.

    Others of the Republican, Democratic or Libertarian persuasion dabble in the art...

    However, Limbaugh and Gingrich clearly own the patent.

    And when the Republicans return to power, Democrats will forget what the Republicans have done to them?

    Last night on FOX, Greta asked a Republican Congressman from South Carolina if all the noise coming from the Republican Party was simply payback for what the Democrats did to the Democrats.

    The Republican Congressman responded in the affirmative.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 17, 2013 3:29 p.m.

    Speaking of "revisionist history". Did you forget Clinton firing 93 U.S. attorneys when he took office in 1993? And that Obama also replaced a batch of US Attorneys when he took office?

    Google "Obama to replace US Attorneys".
    or google "Clinton opens up about U.S. attorney firings"

    When asked about it in 2007, Hillary said, "That's a traditional prerogative of an incoming president," Clinton said in an interview with The Associated Press. She conceded that should she win the presidency in 2008, she likely would replace all of the U.S. attorneys appointed by President Bush. She said that's merely following traditions in which presidents appoint prosecutors of their own party".

    So lets get this straight... It's an evil conspiracy when Bush replaces 9. But no big deal when Clinton dismissed 93?

    I agree it's getting a little bit old when people accuse others of revisionist history and putting the President in the worst light possible... and then criticize Bush for dismissing 9 but totally leave out that the president before him dismissing 93 (because Bush was a Republican and Clinton was a Democrat). That sounds like the ultimate in revisionist history to me.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    June 17, 2013 3:16 p.m.

    "There are no facts. Only interpretations." -- Nietzsche

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 17, 2013 2:13 p.m.

    @Nate..... so please expound on the abuse of power that happened in Benghazi. I am dying to hear the enlightenment on that one. If failing to prevent a terrorist attack is grounds for gross incompetence, the line is long and deep before you get to Obama. Some of these other issues - particularly if the IRS was being as a political club.... that isn't very good. But then again, lets not forget Bush fired a bunch of season lawyers who had served under multiple administrations.... because they belonged to the other party.

    This revisionist history being created so that we can frame the present as the worst ever is getting us no where. It is getting a bit old.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 17, 2013 12:18 p.m.

    You acknowledge the 4th_Amendment. That's great that you even know what it is. And you even know the historical context. There may be hope for you yet.

    But then you say its "Reasonable" for the government to ask for all phone records for all citizens... How does that seem "Reasonable" to you? Do you also think it would be "Reasonable" for the government to search EVERY house in the United States?... because there COULD be evidence of terrorism in ANY house in the United States you know.

    You say "Too many people are getting into a tizzy because they forget that key word "unreasonable." Either that or they're just Obama haters"...

    Is it POSSIBLE that they remember the key word "unreasonable"... and just don't agree that requesting EVERY phone record (regardless of suspicion) is the definition of "reasonable" search?

    Is it POSSIBLE that people who don't agree with you are not "Obama Haters"?

    I think it is.

    It's the coolaid that tells you that anybody who disagrees with you (if you are an Obama apologist) is an "Obama Hater". You CAN acknowledge a problem... and NOT be an Obama Hater.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 17, 2013 11:55 a.m.

    Problem is... with most "Controversies" (especially the recent ones) part of the "Controversy" IS THE LACK of facts, and an air of secrecy about them.

    So how are you supposed to only rely on "Facts" when discussing secret surveillance program... or government collecting information about those in the media, or a program to use the IRS to hold down groups that don't support big government, or other controversies surrounding questioning big government? For good reason these programs need to be kept secret (or they don't work). So how are we to only stick to "Facts" when discussing controversies involving secrecy in our big government today?

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    June 17, 2013 10:21 a.m.

    Mr. Bennett demonstrates once again - his co-authorship of the Wyden-Bennett healthcare bill is by far the best example - why he is no longer in the Senate.

    His conservative mindset combined with a grownup’s perspective and pragmatism make him a pariah in a party that is increasingly made up of folks that resemble the menacing children in Lord of the Flies.

  • Instereo Eureka, UT
    June 17, 2013 9:57 a.m.

    Having just finished reading "The Republican Brain" Sen. Bennett seems to have gotten the message. Republicans need to quit believing the wrong made up stuff to justify their arguments and use correct facts to show their ideological differences. It only makes sense to those that think.

  • Michael-D Riverton, UT
    June 17, 2013 9:49 a.m.

    I am curious Bob,, just how do you know for certain that this is all that is going on at the NSA? Are you still being briefed?

    I find it difficult to swallow that your quotation of law from 1979 gives this administration the right to do as it pleases.. If Snowden's claims are false,,, our administration has nothing to worry about do they.... If his claims are correct,, the government has overstepped itself and violated the trust of the American public,, protected under the constitution and 4th amendment.

    With all of the scandal / reporting / hatred,, call it what you want.. it is difficult to determine what is a fact and what is fiction,, until someone tastes the pudding... So let us hear what Snowden has... then we can see what is fact or fiction.

    There are 2 sides to the story,,, then there is the truth...... these are the only facts that we should be considering..

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    June 17, 2013 9:36 a.m.

    The 4th Amendment protects against "unreasonable" searches. The question of what is reasonable is up to Congress and the courts. Doesn't seem unreasonable to me for the gov't to ask a phone company to share a record that a phone call was made. Too many people are getting into a tizzy because they forget that key word "unreasonable." Either that or they're just Obama haters.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    June 17, 2013 8:14 a.m.

    Let's stick to the facts. The 4th Amendment requires a warrant signed by a judge after the judge has seen probable cause before the government can search. The biggest mistake that Americans can make is letting Mr. Bennett or any other politician cite prior court cases as "proof" that the government can overlook the restrictions placed on searching by the 4th Amendment. NO court can legally ignore the Constitution when it rules on any case.

    Using a case where the court decided that recording names and addresses found on the outside of an envelope was "public" is much different than recording information about email or other electronic communication.

    Because I work in the computer field, I know that inspecting the contents of electronic communication is no more difficult than inspecting the headers. The government cannot guarantee that it is only looking at the header information.

    If the government thinks that we can trust it to NOT look at the the contents of that information, the government must think that we are all fools.

    All of us must demand that the government show us the warrant signed by a judge that allows it to look at our electronic communications.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    June 17, 2013 7:03 a.m.

    Let me be the first to tell you Senator that if the IRS situation, Benghazi situation, and the AP happenings had any scandalous validity the NSA "revelations" would only be fodder for the left. However, they don't so here come the Obama haters with one more fantasy to heap on the pile of desperation. Besides it beats the hard work of legislating. I understand that all the political talk shows have nice treats for their guests.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    June 17, 2013 6:56 a.m.

    Bailout Bob says, "The best way to be effective in criticizing it is to stay with the facts and away from challenges to its motives."


    At some point we have to come to grips with what the facts reveal about those motives.

    When the facts about Benghazi, IRS, AP, etc., reveal that the president misuses power, and lies routinely to the American people, we know that his motives aren't right. This calls for a course correction, even if it's only to stop following him blindly to where he wants to lead us.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 17, 2013 6:12 a.m.

    Well written....

    Criticize Obama and his administration all you want, it is part of the constitutional process that makes this country vibrant and free.... but stick to facts, not web based blogs nor schlock rating driven political radio shows.

    Every presidency will do things wrong - they are led by people who make mistakes and laps in judgement. We need to be diligently keep out politicians honest. But lets leave the hate driven political rhetoric out of the process.

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    June 17, 2013 5:48 a.m.

    Two great outtakes from the article:

    “Unsustainable conspiracy theories undermine the credibility of legitimate complaints.”


    “The [insert name of current president here] administration is currently handling its responsibilities badly enough that there is plenty to talk about without making things up. The best way to be effective in criticizing it is to stay with the facts and away from challenges to its motives.”

    Good advice for all sides, no matter who is president.