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The government's political audits

01.08.2002 | Source:

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Commentary from the WorldNetDaily site
You might think you live in America – land of the free, home of the brave. You might think you live in a country where, first and foremost, citizens have an absolute right to express their political opinions, expose government fraud, waste, abuse and corruption without fear of a knock on the door.

You might think you live in a nation that punishes abuse by government officials who exceed their authority under the Constitution by targeting citizens for political reasons, using all of the awesome power of the state to do it. If you think like that, you are really living in a dream world.

I know first hand about how government officials misuse their power to punish political enemies. I was a victim of it during the Clinton administration. In 1994, my non-profit news organization at the time, the Western Journalism Center, began investigating Clinton administration scandals. In 1996, the Internal Revenue Service came knocking on the door, explaining that this was no ordinary audit, this was a "political case" and the decision about our fate would be made "at the national level."

Later, representatives of the IRS told me, my employees, my accountant and my attorney that we were targeted because we were criticizing the president in an election year. Imagine that! The audacity! The temerity! Criticizing the president in an election year!

This first-hand experience, which nearly bankrupted my tiny news organization, caused me to take the offensive. We began investigating what I perceived as the biggest Clinton administration scandal of all – the targeting of political enemies with all the brute force the IRS could muster.

It turned out we were hardly alone. Virtually every Clinton administration adversary we contacted was also enduring an audit – or would soon. I exposed this horror in the pages of the Wall Street Journal in October 1996 – six years ago. Later, we sued the IRS and other Clinton administration officials. We filed Freedom of Information Act requests for documents. And, in the process of discovery, we found the smoking gun that showed the audit of our center began when the White House sent a letter of complaint about our activities to the IRS.

Nevertheless, six years later, no one has been punished. No recompense has been made to my organization. No official was fired. Few other media voices have even caught on to the scandal. Columnist Robert Novak is beginning to get it. This week he wrote about yet another smoking gun in the IRS political audit scandal. When my news organization challenged the IRS, we did it with the help of the public-interest legal-watchdog group Judicial Watch. Just weeks after Judicial Watch filed suit on our behalf, that group too found itself under audit.

Novak points out that Judicial Watch's audit, also, began with letters of complaint from the White House and prominent Democratic members of Congress. Here's where he goes wrong: "There is now evidence that the audit of at least one Clinton 'enemy' was triggered by the White House."

Actually, no. There is now evidence that the audit of at least two Clinton "enemies" were triggered by the House. In fact, it's stronger than that. In our case, a Treasury Department report concluded that our audit was triggered by the White House. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it.

In other words, this is no longer an allegation. I am not charging the Clinton administration with using the IRS as a political weapon against its enemies – real and imagined. I am relating facts to you – facts already conceded by his own administration. Yet, no one pays a price – except the gullible American who believes he still lives in a country governed by the rule of law.

It's important to remember that this kind of alleged abuse of the IRS was one of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon. As it turned out, Nixon resigned before he could be impeached. And we learned later that while Nixon attempted to pursue political enemies with the IRS, he never succeeded. His IRS commissioner told him to go jump in a lake. And that was the end of it. By not punishing the successful abuses of the Clinton administration, we encourage future abuses by future presidents of both parties. That's why this is a matter that should be of concern to every American – Republican, Democrat or independent like me.

My turn has come. You may be the next victim.

Joseph Farah WorldNetDaily

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