The initial story from the IRS regarding the alleged targeting of conservative groups is a joke and has fallen apart. There is no way these actions go well beyond one or two low-level employees who acted on their own.
According to a report from the IRS Inspector General’s office, senior officials at the IRS knew about the targeting of conservative groups for over a year without doing anything about it. Every new revelation makes this whole caper seem more and more politically motivated regardless of what the Obama administration says, and the problem has come home to Indiana. The Indiana Tea Party was confirmed to be one of the groups to have problems with the IRS in this scandal. The group applied for tax-exempt status in 2011 and never heard anything until Feb. 2012 when they received a lengthy request for additional information.
In addition we also heard that the Justice Department had begun an investigation into the actions of the IRS. This would be the same Justice Department that performed warrantless searches on the phone records of several reporters at the Associated Press. If government officials don’t respect the laws of the United States and the provisions of the Constitution, who will?
Richard Nixon once told the American people the president was allowed to break the law in order to uphold the law. He wasn’t just talking about his administration. He was talking about what came before and what has come since. The attitude in Washington, especially among administration officials of both parties, appears to be that the law doesn’t apply to them.
And each succeeding administration in this century has attempted to increasingly hide knowledge about what it was (is) doing. Among other provisions the 1917 Espionage Act, at the urging of President Woodrow Wilson, attempted to silence critics of the government and legalize censorship of the press. The censorship provision was defeated by one vote, but much of the act remained.
One of the key provisions of the act deals with delivering information about ‘national defense’ to persons not ‘entitled to have it.’ Initially passed as an attempt to combat foreign spies, the act, unfortunately, has been applied more against government whistleblowers than spies. The Obama administration has charged more persons under the provisions of this act than the total charged by all the administrations that have come before, since Wilson.
Before this latest IRS scandal is through, look for this administration to move more strongly against the whistleblowers that brought this targeting to light than against those who performed it. Such, unfortunately, is the way of our government today.
In 1775, Ben Franklin told the Continental Congress, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserves neither liberty nor safety. Since at least September 11, 2001, the American people have stood passively by while the government has tramped all over our liberties in the name of protecting the American people.
Once an administration begins down the path of “protecting the American people”, past history tell us silencing its critics comes naturally. It certainly appears that the IRS targeting of conservative groups was an attempt to silence critics of the current administration.
I submit the most basic liberty in a democracy is the right to criticize government actions, officials and the like. Our Founding Fathers thought so even though succeeding administrations have not necessarily agreed.
Today we are not one bit safer from acts of terrorism than we were on September 10, 2001, but we have considerably less liberty of action. Think about it.
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