Justice Department, IRS scandals challenge Obama’s civil liberties credibility

by Scott Wilson, The Washington Post  |  published on May 15, 2013

President Obama, a former constitutional law lecturer who came to office pledging renewed respect for civil liberties, is today running an administration at odds with his résuméand preelection promises.

The Justice Department’s collection of journalists’ phone records and the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups have challenged Obama’s credibility as a champion of civil liberties — and as a president who would heal the country from damage done by his predecessor.

For any president, the most cutting political problems emerge when the administration shows signs of faltering in areas where it is supposed to excel. Obama asked to be measured by competence and his commitment to what he called foundational American values — two areas where rights advocates say he has not met the standards he set.

Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said, “The IRS selective enforcement and the surveillance of reporters show a willingness to compromise values in the Obama administration.” He called the practices “enormously troubling.”

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