Watcher’s Forum: Should Mitt Romney Release Additional Tax Returns Beyond The Last Two Years?

The Watcher’s Council

Welcome to the Watcher’s Forum, where every Monday the Council Members and our invited guests weigh in with short takes on one of the issues of the day.

In view of (or more likely, in sync with) a blitz of negative ads by the Obama Campaign, there has been a great deal of media frenzy for the likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney to release 12 year’s worth of taxes… and that call has been echoed by conservative pundits like Bill Kristol, George Will and the editors of the National Review. Up until now, Governor Romney has cited two years of current tax returns by former presidential candidates John McCain and John Kerry and has stood firm on releasing only two years of returns.

Should he reverse himself and release more?

The Independent Sentinel: If Romney releases his tax returns, the opposition will use them to demonize him no matter what they find – they’ll just make it up.

In the end, there will be no end and it will make Romney look weak. Romney needs to turn the tables and ask Obama to first release all his sought-after records, starting with information about why the publisher of his faux autobiography thought he was born in Kenya.

Bookworm Room: No. That simple. No.

Joshuapundit: I certainly like the idea of full disclosure. I personally suggest President Obama do what a leader does, and provide the example he wishes others to follow.

I’m particularly interested in President Obama releasing from executive privilege all the documents from Fast and Furious that Congress subpoenaed; releasing any and all documents pertaining to the Democrat primaries in Pennsylvania and Colorado where two Senate candidates publicly admitted they were offered quid pro quos by the White House not to primary incumbents (a felony under federal law); disclosing exactly why his campaign disabled the default VISA identification software on his campaign website, allowing campaign donations to be submitted under aliases and fake addresses; Full disclosure on exactly why Michelle Obama’s law license was revoked by the Illinois bar, and a statement by the president addressing what connection, if any, there was between his obtaining an earmark of over $1 million for University Of Chicago Hospital and the employment of Mrs Obama as ‘vice president of community relations’ at an exorbitant salary in what essentially was a no show job.

There are a number of other things I think the American people have a right to know about this most secretive and clandestine of presidents, but since President Obama is obviously not going to be ‘transparent’ about any of it, calls for Governor Romney to do so are hypocritical at best. It might also occur to you that the IRS is a federal agency under the president’s command, his people have almost certainly already seen Governor Romney’s returns and a whole slew of distorted and misleading negative ads are no doubt already in the pipeline.

Governor Romney has absolutely nothing to gain from providing the minions of the Obama Campaign and their media lackeys with fresh ammo to Palin-ize him. If he stands fast, Governor Romney’s taxes will just become another leftist talking point…and one that will likely be obscured by this president’s execrable record to all but True Believers.

David Gerstman, AKA Soccer Dad: My short answer is no. My long answer is “hell, no.”

Seriously, there are those who claim that transparency’s at stake and if Romney doesn’t release more returns than he is required to by law, it will be because he is hiding something.

I don’t buy it.

Though there are Republicans and even supporter of Gov. Romney who feel that he should release his returns, the main groups asking for the returns are Democrats and the media.It’s simple opportunism. The media has disqualified itself from being a fair or impartial arbiter of the political sphere.

One of the most disgraceful attacks on Sen. McCain during the 2008 campaign was a poorly sourced New York Times story suggesting that the Senator had an inappropriate relationship with a younger woman. The story was so shoddy it even earned a rare rebuke from the public editor.

I think that ignores the scarlet elephant in the room. A newspaper cannot begin a story about the all-but-certain Republican presidential nominee with the suggestion of an extramarital affair with an attractive lobbyist 31 years his junior and expect readers to focus on anything other than what most of them did. And if a newspaper is going to suggest an improper sexual affair, whether editors think that is the central point or not, it owes readers more proof than The Times was able to provide.

The editor who shepherded the story through to publication was Jill Abramson. Abramson didn’t back down after the rebuke and stood by the story. Last year the New York Times promoted Abramson to the position of executive editor following the retirement of Bill Keller. Abramson’s unapologetic role in a partisan hit piece did not disqualify her from assuming the top job at the paper. Clearly, non-partisanship is not a quality that is essential at the New York Times.

The media has abdicated any pretense of fairness. What they want is control. They want to dictate to us what are the important qualities of a candidate. They want to dictate to us how a candidate should behave. But most of all they want Democrats to be elected.

As McCain learned, no matter what Romney does he will never earn their love or even approval. The demand for Romney’s tax returns is just another hoop the media wants him to jump through before they pronounce his unfitness for the Presidency. He has nothing to gain by releasing more returns. Romney’s better off signaling his contempt for the media by refusing to play by their rules and not releasing any more returns.

The Noisy Room: Not just no, but hell no… When Barack Obama can release his college transcripts and real transparency is on both sides, then yes. Until then, do not give them the satisfaction of tearing Mitt’s life apart. Finances are not a qualification as far as I know for the Presidency.

On that note, as long as the left is demanding Mitt’s taxes, why won’t they release and fully disclose the information from Fast and Furious? It’s evidently directly connected to President Obama, so tit for tat. And on the subject of taxes, tell that to Nancy Pelosi, who when asked if all politicians should release their tax returns in response to this skewed demand, she said that maybe the media should have to release their tax returns as well. Nice threat there lady – watch it your thuggish Baltimore political machine roots are showing dear.

Mitt Romney has released the last two years of returns, he has nothing to hide. To paraphrase a quote out there, not only does Romney not have skeletons in his closet, he doesn’t even have a closet. Compare that to our current Marxist-in-Chief. Romney is a good, moral man and will make a good (and potentially great) president. I for one cannot wait for Romney’s brand of ‘change.’

Well, there you have it.

Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum. And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. It’s a weekly magazine of some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere and you won’t want to miss it.

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Is Huma Abedin the Next Van Jones?

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

Senator John McCain has become a left-wing media darling for defending Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin against truthful charges that she has family connections to the pro-terrorist Muslim Brotherhood. Andrew McCarthy notes there used to be a time when McCain was alarmed by the advance of the Muslim Brotherhood.

We commented on this new phase of McCain’s career when he showed up at a Washington event to praise and honor the Arab-funded Al-Jazeera, the voice of the Muslim Brotherhood.Ikhwanweb.com, the website of the Muslim Brotherhood, has labeled Al-Jazeera “the greatest Arab media organization.”

Almost as curious as McCain’s flip-flop on this critical national security issue is Republican House Speaker John Boehner saying, “I don’t know Huma. But from everything that I do know of her, she has a sterling character, and I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous.”

The “accusations” are questions about the kind of investigation that was made of her background. Boehner admits not knowing her but has already come to the conclusion that the “accusations,” which are questions, are somehow “dangerous.”

The issue here is the U.S. relationship with an organization that has spawned almost every major terrorist group in the Middle East and is taking control of Egypt and other nations.

Equally bizarre has been the rhetoric of Fox News contributor Edward Rollins, who used to work for Rep. Michele Bachmann, one of five members of Congress raising questions of the State Department Inspector General about Abedin. “I can assure Mrs. Bachmann, that Ms. Abedin has been thru every top clearance available and would never have been given her position with any questions of her loyalty to this country,” Rollins insists.

But Rollins cited no factual basis on which to make such a sweeping allegation. How does he, a former Republican official, know anything at all about the background investigations, if any, of top Democratic or Obama administration officials?

A question for Rollins, who has assumed the mantle of national security expert: Did Abedin get the same background investigation enjoyed by Van Jones before he lost his job at the White House? At the time that Jones was forced to resign, in response to damaging disclosures about his communist background, Rollins said Jones “did the right thing” by resigning because he had become an embarrassment to the White House. Abedin is quickly becoming another such embarrassment.

But while Jones was only in his job for six months, Abedin has been by Hillary’s side for many years, the last three as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Secretary of State.

The Jones case is instructive. There is no indication that the White House asked the FBI to investigate him or, if they did, that the background report uncovered anything having to do with his communist background. This would mean that the FBI did a lousy job of investigating Jones. On the other hand, there is the possibility that the FBI did uncover something sinister about Jones but the White House decided to ignore it, until the concern about him reached a fever pitch.

The Congress to this day has never investigated how Van Jones got his job, although Obama aide Valerie Jarrett admitted at a national left-wing bloggers convention that “we”—presumably referring to herself and Obama—decided to pick him. What the Congress should be doing, in the wake of damaging disclosures about Abedin, is investigate how she got her job and what influence she is exercising at the State Department. That is exactly what Bachmann and others want to know.

Members of Congress take an oath to defend our country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The notion of “enemy” loses its significance if Obama officials can redefine the term and escape accountability for making deals with those who want to destroy us.

In general, the Congress needs to know who in the administration is getting a pass on what the FBI used to call its CARL test—examining a federal applicant’s character, associates, reputation and loyalty. Such a probe necessarily involves inquiring into one’s family members.

Obama himself escaped such scrutiny, by virtue of the fact that he won his office through an election. That is why his “vetting” by the media, at this late date, four years after he was elected, is still absolutely necessary. But escaping a federal background investigation should not be extended to other top administration personnel.

Rollins’ claim that he can somehow “assure” Bachmann of the results of an investigation into Abedin is an obvious falsehood. As a former campaign manager and now pundit, he has no such authority or expertise.

Making charges that are truly irresponsible and beyond the pale, Rollins went on to allege that Abedin is the victim of McCarthyism. This is a falsehood that shows how little Rollins knows about the Venona transcripts, which documented, in the words of historians John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, that the Soviets “had recruited spies in virtually every major American government agency of military or diplomatic importance,” and that 349 citizens, immigrants, and permanent residents of the United States “had had a covert relationship with Soviet intelligence agencies.” Senator Joe McCarthy, still one of the liberals’ favorite villains, only scratched the surface of the problem.

What the American people should be demanding from the media is an investigation of Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the U.S. Government at this time in history, as we see Egyptians demonstrating in the streets against the Obama/Hillary embrace of this dangerous organization. Egyptians also yelled “Monica, Monica,” at Hillary Clinton, something we do know a lot about.

Incredibly, The New York Times actually ridiculed the protesters for believing in a “conspiracy theory” that “originated with American conservatives!”

But the Obama Administration’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood is not a conspiracy but a fact.

In the case of the hapless Ed Rollins, it is clear he knows less about Abedin than he knew about Van Jones, which he admitted was nothing. But he makes news by bashing the presidential candidate who gave him a job. This makes the liberal media love him.

The damaging revelations about Abedin just keep coming. Walid Shoebat and Ben Barrack have written extensively about Abedin’s Muslim Brotherhood connections. And Shoebat, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, is preparing the release of a major report on this matter which will make people such as McCain, Rollins, and Boehner look even more foolish than they already are for jumping to conclusions about this important case.

Shoebat has already written in detail that McCain’s defense of the Hillary aide is “demonstrably false.” It doesn’t do any good to argue, as Rollins did, that McCain is “an American hero” and that he “stood on the floor of the Senate” to defend Abedin. For some curious reason, he has switched sides in the Middle East and has embarrassed himself in the process. To make matters worse, he endangers U.S. security.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, now taking off on a foreign trip that will include Israel, has no alternative but to distance himself from McCain’s wildly irresponsible and erroneous statements.

Abedin may go the way of Van Jones. Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy has just released a new report about the Islamist connections of Abedin’s mother, noting that the evidence indicates that Abedin has “deeply problematic foreign associations” that could, in violation of departmental guidelines, “create… a heightened risk of foreign exploitation, inducement, manipulation, pressure, or coercion.”

The growing controversy suggests the need for House Speaker John Boehner to do his job, rather than serve as an apologist for the Obama Administration. That means reinstating a House Internal Security Committee to get to the bottom of such matters.

If there is a legitimate controversy over how Abedin got her job and whether her family connections present a problem, the matter should be moved beyond the Inspectors General of State and other agencies, and put under the purview of a new House Committee on Internal Security. The congress hasn’t had a committee or subcommittee like this for decades because congressional liberals abolished them all on the grounds they were too “McCarthyite.”

Key questions deserving answers include: who, if anyone, investigated Abedin’s background, and were they made aware of the information about her Muslim Brotherhood connections?

We have a senior senator, the Speaker of the House and a top Republican former campaign official jumping to the defense of an aide to the Secretary of State who is a central figure in a U.S. administration embracing that organization. This is the real story, and it is a bipartisan scandal.

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected].