Tuesday, May 14, 2013

IT'S A TRIFECTA ... More on Government Gone Bad ... IRS Chiefs Knew of Targeting and Now, in Addition to Benghazi and the IRS, the Government is Interfering with Freedom of the Press, too

Each day there's more evidence of things gone awry with our government's elitist, accusatory and partisan based attacks on the fundamental freedoms of We the People.

While it's hard to keep abreast of the fast developing details, the broader picture couldn't be clearer. Too many in government offices are elitist and power hungry individuals, and too many government officials believe that it's appropriate to utilize their government positions to aid and abet the partisan causes to which they personally subscribe.

That elitist and wrongheaded government knows best attitude and behavior simply has to change. It has no proper place, legally or morally, in governing the affairs of our nation of free people.

As U.S. citizens we are possessed with certain natural and inalienable human rights which are guaranteed to be protected by a Constitution which embodies as its essence the principles of broad basic human freedoms and a central government with limited powers.

The newest attack on the rights guaranteed to We the People concerns freedom of the press. Phone records of Journalists Seized by U.S. has the story:

"Federal investigators secretly seized two months of phone records for reporters and editors of The Associated Press in what the news organization said Monday was a “serious interference with A.P.’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news.”

The A.P. said that the Justice Department informed it on Friday that law enforcement officials had obtained the records for more than 20 telephone lines of its offices and journalists, including their home phones and cellphones. It said the records were seized without notice sometime this year. . . .      
In an angry letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Monday, Gary Pruitt, the president and chief executive of The A.P., called the seizure, a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into its news gathering activities.       
“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters,” he wrote. “These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the news gathering activities undertaken by The A.P. during a two-month period, provide a road map to A.P.’s news gathering operations, and disclose information about A.P.’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.”. . . 
Justice Department regulations call for subpoenas for journalists’ phone records to be undertaken as a last resort and narrowly focused, subject to the attorney general’s personal signoff. Under normal circumstances, the regulations call for notice and negotiations, giving the news organization a chance to challenge the subpoena in court.       
The Justice Department referred questions about the subpoena to a spokesman for Ronald C. Machen Jr., the United States attorney for the District of Columbia, who was assigned by Mr. Holder last June to lead one of two major leak investigations. Those inquiries came amid a Congressional uproar over several disclosures of national security information in the media.
“We must notify the media organization in advance unless doing so would pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation,” Mr. Machen’s spokesman, William Miller, said.
“Because we value the freedom of the press,” Mr. Miller added, “we are always careful and deliberative in seeking to strike the right balance between the public interest in the free flow of information and the public interest in the fair and effective administration of our criminal laws.”
But First Amendment experts and free press advocates portrayed the move as shocking in its breadth.
The Newspaper Association of America issued a statement saying: "Today we learned of the Justice Department’s  unprecedented wholesale seizure of confidential telephone records from the Associated Press. These actions shock the American conscience and violate the critical freedom of the press protected by the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”. . .       
"Jay Carney, a White House spokesman, said the White House was not involved in the subpoena. “Other than press reports, we have no knowledge of any attempt by the Justice Department to seek phone records of the A.P.,” he said, adding “we are not involved in decisions made in connection with criminal investigations.”...      

The A.P. said Monday that it first learned of the seizure of the records last Friday afternoon when its general counsel, Laura Malone, received a letter from Mr. Machen, the United States attorney. The letter to Mr. Holder said the seizure included “all such records for, among other phone lines, an A.P. general phone number in New York City as well as A.P. bureaus in New York City, Washington, D.C., Hartford, Connecticut, and at the House of Representatives.”       
The Associated Press is a nonprofit global news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members."
Now let's update the IRS harassment of the Tea Party and other conservative groups and the knowledge thereof by IRS chieftains who didn't notify Congress of the investigations. That story's update is Chiefs at IRS Knew of Targeting:
"President Barack Obama said Monday those responsible for any improper scrutiny of conservative groups' tax status would be held "fully accountable," hours before it emerged that the current and former heads of the Internal Revenue Service were informed last May that tea-party groups had been targeted.

During a news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, President Barack Obama responds to a question about the alleged IRS political targeting, saying if these allegations are true it is 'outrageous'.

The IRS said in a statement that acting Commissioner Steven Miller was first told by the agency staff on May 3, 2012, that some specific groups' applications for tax-exempt status were improperly selected for extra scrutiny based on their names.

But two top GOP lawmakers said Mr. Miller, who was named to the top IRS post in November, didn't disclose the problems in subsequent letters sent to them—even as they and other congressional Republicans had raised questions about IRS scrutiny of tea-party groups' applications for tax-exempt status. Mr. Miller couldn't be reached for comment on Monday.

Separately, investigators told congressional staffers Monday that Mr. Miller's predecessor, Commissioner Douglas Shulman, who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2008, was informed of the problems in May 2012, according to an aide. But Republicans say Mr. Shulman—who had previously testified that there was no IRS targeting—never told them of what he subsequently learned. Mr. Shulman couldn't be reached for comment Monday. . . .

"I wrote to the IRS three times last year after hearing concerns that conservative groups were being targeted," Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah), the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee said Monday. "Yet it didn't occur to anyone at the IRS to let us know that this targeting was in fact happening? Knowing what we know now, the IRS was at best being far from forthcoming, or at worst, being deliberately dishonest with Congress. These are the facts and the questions we need answered.". . .

It still isn't clear how the scrutiny of conservative groups got started. A timeline prepared by investigators for the inspector general's office suggests that it began in 2010. But the first entry in the timeline is redacted.

The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing Friday to look into the IRS allegations. Rep. Dave Camp (R., Mich.), chairman of the committee, and Rep. Sander Levin (D., Mich.), the ranking Democrat, said the only witnesses would be Mr. Miller and the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, J. Russell George.

"The American public expects the Internal Revenue Service to be apolitical in its enforcement of our tax laws," Mr. Camp said. "News that the agency admits it targeted American taxpayers based on politics is both astounding and appalling."

The Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, promised to investigate as well, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid termed the allegations "very troubling.". . .

IRS officials have maintained that the problem was localized among lower-level employees in the Cincinnati office, which oversees approvals of many tax-exempt organizations. They also have characterized the problem as a bureaucratic snafu that resulted from taking shortcuts. The agency said in a statement Friday that the special treatment didn't stem from "any political or partisan rationale."

But Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer representing a number of the conservative groups, said several of her clients received IRS letters early in 2012 that came from Washington, not Cincinnati. Two were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Both asked for additional information.

One asked 13 questions, including identities of all contributors of more than $2,000 for 2009-2011. It also asked for "copies of emails you distributed and indicate the key issue, date and target audience for each." Another asked about the group's planned lectures, classes and workshops; websites; rallies and exhibitions; lobbying; and voter education and registration efforts.

The IRS didn't respond to a request for comment. . . .

Republicans also are upset that Ms. Lerner learned of the activities in June of 2011, according to the investigative review, yet made no mention of them in lengthy correspondence with lawmakers during 2012.

Republicans also questioned why Mr. Obama said he only learned of the IRS conduct last Friday. Press secretary Jay Carney told reporters the White House Counsel's Office was told during the week of April 22 that the inspector general for tax administration was wrapping up an investigation of the issue."

Summing Up

This crap has to stop. America and Americans deserve better government than we're getting.

This country belongs to us. Not to those in government.

Let's start acting that way by demanding that those in government follow the rules and "serve" us rather than "spy" on us and our fellow Americans, regardless of our political views.

Thanks. Bob.

No comments:

Post a Comment