President Barack Obama is expected to address policies on al Qaeda, drones and Guantanamo Bay in a speech this week, following a storm of criticism of his administration on several fronts.
An anonymous White House official told Reuters that the president will touch on al Qaeda’s continuing presence as a threat to the U.S., and will review his policy with respect to drones and detention of terrorist suspects in a speech Thursday at the National Defense University in Washington.
“He will review the state of the threats we face, particularly as al Qaeda's core has weakened but new dangers have emerged," the official said, according to Reuters.
The speech could be a chance for the president to regain control of the Washington debate. Obama has been on the defensive of late, with a number of potential scandals brewing. His Justice Department has been severely criticized for seizing many phone records of the Associated Press as part of a leak investigation. And the Internal Revenue Service has come under serious fire, accused of a pattern of targeting conservative tea party-affiliated groups applying for tax-exempt status.
The administration isn’t waiting for an investigation to determine the legality of the IRS’ actions to condemn them.
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“I can’t speak to the law here. The law is irrelevant,” White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said on “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” on ABC News. “The activity was outrageous and inexcusable, and it was stopped and it needs to be fixed to ensure it never happens again.”
Pfeiffer, who made the rounds on all the big Sunday-morning news shows, also told “Fox News Sunday” that the president had no knowledge of the incidents, or the investigation, until it was reported in the press.
Republicans have called the IRS scandal just the most recent example of a culture of intimidation at the White House.
“Look, people have no trust that their government is being impartial,” Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said on "Fox News Sunday." “This is arrogance of power, abuse of power, to the nth degree, and we’re going to get to the bottom of this.”
Plus, controversy surrounding the Sept. 11, 2013, attack in Benghazi, Libya, that claimed the lives of four Americans is still dogging the president. Republicans have accused the State Department and administration officials of downplaying the link between terrorist groups and the Benghazi attack shortly after the incident to minimize the effect on the upcoming presidential election.
"This is a business where you have to tell the truth, and that did not happen," veteran journalist Bob Woodward said on “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “This is not Watergate, but there are some people in the administration who have acted as though they want to be Nixonian."
Last week, the White House released 100 pages of emails pertaining to the talking points hashed out shortly after the attack. CBS News and other media outlets have noted that quotes from the actual emails differed from supposed quotes leaked earlier by Republicans.
“Frankly, I think that many of the Republicans who had been talking about this, now that they’ve seen the emails, owe Ambassador Rice an apology for the things they’ve said about her in the wake of the attack,” Pfeiffer said on “This Week,” referring to Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the U.N.