, Newburyport, MA

May 17, 2013

Government has really overreached this time

Bill Plante's North Shore
Newburyport Daily News

---- — Washington’s political dust-ups, being somewhat distant from our personal challenges, don’t make for restless nights for most of us.

Not so, however, will it be for those professionally linked to two ongoing matters, both of which are hampering President Barak Obama’s hopes for finishing his presidency as upbeat as it was at its beginning.

The one has to do with all that was involved, or not involved as it should have been, in the Benghazi deaths of our ambassador and three others.

The other, and far more politically important, has been the Internal Revenue Service’s focus on tea party groups’ fundraising, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s sweep of communication records of Associated Press reporters and editors.

Considering the arm’s length to which many hold government and its never-ending political struggles, small wonder the media reaction to this blind grabbing.

America’s “press,” when it comes to such issues as the one at hand, tests the depth and breadth of its guaranteed constitutional freedom.

The Associated Press is a News Service founded in 1846 by five newspapers.

Today, member newspapers here and throughout the world provide windows through which we witness what often appears to be a future on fast forward toward Armageddon.

Small wonder that the nation’s press is up in arms (arms in this instance being less than actual warfare).

The Reporters Committee on Freedom of the Press is foremost in its criticism of the government’s action, as is the Associated Press.

Well they might be, because of the government’s taking of some two months of reporters’ and editors’ phone records.

Newspaper reporters and editors need sources. In some instances — let us pause for the moment to remember Watergate — sources sometime need protection.

It isn’t lightly given because there can be unforeseen consequences.

Governments need sources as well, and they have unidentifiable legions of them the world around.

Considering what the Department of Justice is responsible for, outcomes will be internal by way of actions taken, but reportable because there are no other choices for this president.

But that will not be all because Congress is about to submit Attorney General Eric H. Holder to what is certain to be of major interest because there are Democrats who are as upset over what happened as there are Republicans.

One thing’s certain. Heads have to roll. All matters considered, what remains of President Obama’s legacy demands no less.


Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and staff columnist. His e-mail address is