Though it has had scant attention from the mainstream media, a bipartisan effort to squelch an independent counsel’s final report on Clinton-era abuse of the Internal Revenue Service and Justice Department has gotten the attention of Web activists and commentators, causing a growing call for the release of the document that is said to including damning evidence against the 42nd president and his administration.

Over 10 years ago, independent counsel David Barrett was charged with investigating former Clinton Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros in relation to his lying to the FBI about tax fraud he committed trying to cover up payments to a mistress. Though Cisneros pleaded guilty in 1999, Barrett, in the course of his probe, found evidence of wrongdoing within the IRS and Justice Department in relation to the Cisneros fraud.

Reportedly, Clinton team members tried to interfere with Barrett’s investigation, which has cost $21 million, including conducting surveillance of his office.

An IRS whistleblower told Barrett, a Republican, of a cover-up surrounding the Cisneros matter.

Writes columnist Robert Novak: “The informant said a regional IRS official had formulated a new rule enabling him to transfer an investigation of Cisneros to Washington to be buried by the Justice Department. Barrett’s investigators found Lee Radek, head of Justice’s public integrity office, determined to protect President Bill Clinton.”

Columnist Emmett Tyrrell, who has called for the release of the entire Barrett report, writes:

“When Barrett completed his report the Clintons’ lawyers, led by that legendary Clinton pettifogger, David Kendall, tried to kill off the report either by gutting it with redactions or by getting it buried altogether. Kendall entered some 140 motions pursuant to this goal. The report has been ready for publication since August 2004, but Kendall’s nuisance tactics have worked, and now what do we hear from the Clintonistas? They complain that Barrett has cost too much and taken too long. As they are themselves are the reason for much of the cost and delay, advocates of good government should be up in arms. This stratagem has been used too frequently by the Clintonistas to smear an officer of the court.”

Tyrrell slams “several crafty Democrats” and “a few dubious Republicans” in Congress for blocking release of the report.

While Barrett is said to want the entire report released with minor redactions – as is typical for independent counsel reports –Democrats, led by Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, have blocked it. Dorgan and fellow Democrats Sens. Richard Durbin and John Kerry tried to include an amendment to kill the report in an Iraq-war appropriations bill, but the move was blocked by Republicans. Later, Dorgan was successful in including an amendment to block 120 pages of the report – those listing Clinton administration transgressions – in another appropriations bill, which was signed into law last month.

Explains Tyrrell: “Amazingly key Republicans in these negotiations agreed [to the amendment], Sen. Kit Bond and Rep. Joe Knollenberg. As things stand now, the expurgated report will appear and the public will be none the wiser as to how the IRS and Justice Department can be used to obstruct justice and harass private citizens.”

Novak says Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, will still try to force the release of the report.

“Chuck Grassley is a stubborn Iowa farmer who often drives the White House and Republican leaders to distraction,” wrote Novak in a recent column. “He has said that if the Barrett report finally emerges as a mutilated remnant in order to protect the IRS, he will press for legislation to change that. It may be the last hope for the truth to emerge.”

Columnist and talk-show host Tony Snow sees the report figuring into Hillary Clinton’s likely run for the presidency.

“By all accounts, the 400-page Barrett report is a bombshell, capable possibly of wiping out Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential prospects,” writes Snow. “At the very least, it would bring to public attention a scandal that would make the Valerie Plame affair vanish into comical insignificance.”

Some Web activists see an old-fashioned leak as the solution. Writes a participant on FreeRepublic.com, where several comments recently have been posted: “They should just leak [the report] to the public. It seems to work for the New York Times and they never face any consequences.”


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