Obama promises action on trio of controversies

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama confronted a trio of controversies Thursday, pledging to work with Congress to ensure the IRS doesn’t abuse its power, urging legislators to provide more money to strengthen security at U.S. diplomatic outposts and promising to seek “a balance” between national security and a need to protect freedom of the press.

“I think we’re going to be able to fix it,” Obama said, speaking in particular of the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups for special scrutiny. He vowed to make sure the agency is “doing its job scrupulously and without even a hint of bias.”

Trying to steer clear of Republican criticism of the administration’s response to the terror attacks that killed four Americans last year in Benghazi, Libya, the president called on Congress to work with the White House to provide more money to strengthen U.S. diplomatic missions’ security.

“We need to come together and truly honor the sacrifice of those four courageous Americans and better secure our diplomatic posts around the world,” Obama said. “That’s how we learn the lessons of Benghazi. That’s how we keep faith with the men and women who we send overseas to represent America.”

Obama also was asked about the government’s seizure of telephone records of reporters and editors of The Associated Press in an investigation of news leaks. The president said he would not comment on that specific case but said that “leaks related to national security can put people at risk.” At the same time, he said, the government has an obligation to be open. He said the challenge was to find an appropriate balance between secrecy and the right to know.

Obama said he makes no apologies for trying to protect classified information, but he also said the AP case shows the importance of striking a proper balance between safeguarding classified information and ensuring freedom of the press.

“That’s a worthy conversation to have,” he said.

Obama said it was a good time to take another look at proposed legislation to protect journalists from having to reveal information, including the identity of sources who have been promised confidentiality. The bill contains exceptions in instances of national security.

Noting the presence of U.S. troops and intelligence officers in risky situations around the world, Obama said, “Part of my job is to make sure that we’re protecting what they do while still accommodating for the need for the public to be informed and to be able to hold my office accountable.”

The president is trying to shake off a growing perception that he has been passive in responding to a series of developments that threaten to derail his second-term agenda and ensnarl his White House in GOP-led congressional investigations.

Hoping to regain momentum, already this week Obama has released a trove of documents related to the Benghazi terror attacks amid pressure from Republicans, asked Congress to revive action on the shield law, and forced the resignation of the top IRS official. The president is expected to nominate a new acting IRS commissioner this week to replace Steven Miller, who resigned Wednesday.

The president spoke at a rainy Rose Garden news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

More in Local News

Spikes put end to ride from Seattle to Everett in stolen car

Two men were taken into custody at the bottom of Marine View Drive off I-5.

Two more suspects identified in shooting death of casino winner

The two, who have ties to Everett, Mount Vernon and Bellingham, remain at large.

Water to be shut off for some homes, districts next week

The pipe closing will affect mainly the Snohomish and Monroe areas.

Section of W. Marine View Drive will be closed Saturday

A footbridge is being torn down between Everett Ave. and the Naval Station entrance.

Faith Calendar for Feb. 24 to March 10, 2018

EVENTS Purim banquet: Chabad Jewish Center of Snohomish County holds a “Purim… Continue reading

Everett council defers decision on methadone clinic zoning

Councilmembers asked to see more information on potential options in the weeks ahead.

Front Porch

A main strip of Everett’s waterfront… Continue reading

House passes ban on bump-fire stocks

If the Senate approves, Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign it into law.

Man charged with rape, manslaughter of teen dying from overdose

Brian Roberto Varela’s arraignment is scheduled for Monday.

Most Read