A monstrous bipartisan crime

By Joseph Farah

What would you do if you lived in a country where the government sent its most feared agency after you for criticizing the president or exposing his corruption?

What would you do if you lived in a country where, after you were victimized in this way, forced to defend yourself in a costly process for simply exercising your constitutional rights to express your views and cleared of any wrongdoing, the lawyer you hired to sue the government himself became a target of the same kind of recrimination?

If you live in the United States of America, you live in just that kind of country.

In 1996, my news organization at the time, the Western Journalism Center, was audited by the Internal Revenue Service. The rationale? We had dared to investigate and report on corruption by the president of the United States in an election year! That’s what the auditors themselves told us.

When the audit began, the IRS agent conducting the investigation told us it was “a political case” and the decision about our fate would be made at the national level.

Later, documents released by the Treasury Department confirmed that the audit began when the White House sent to the IRS a constituent letter addressed to President Clinton urging just such an investigation.

When the audit was closed and we filed suit against IRS and other government officials for violating our First Amendment-protected rights, our lawyers at Judicial Watch were immediately slapped with an audit.

They were told: “What do you expect when you sue the president?”

I’ll tell you what we expect: We expect that there would be at least a pretense at following the rule of law in America. We expect that such actions would be met with a national outcry by average Americans who still believe the government is supposed to be their servant, not their master. We expect civil libertarians across the political spectrum would rally to our side. We expect that news people would be alarmed that if a colleague could be treated this way, they would recognize their very livelihoods are at stake.

We also expected that when a new administration of a different political party came into office it would, at the very least, sweep out the men and women who presided over such a monstrous crime.

We expected too much.

Charles Rossotti, the IRS commissioner appointed by President Clinton halfway through this process, still presides at the most feared agency in the country.

News people have expressed little interest in this blatant political abuse of IRS – even against one of its own.

Civil libertarians have been quiet. In fact, the American Civil Liberties Union turned down the case before Judicial Watch accepted the challenge.

Americans themselves have been largely quiet, though most have never heard of the continuing political abuse of the IRS.

And we’re still waiting for justice – for the rule of law to kick in.

This is a story I have told many times and will continue to tell until justice is served.

It’s a story about bipartisan corruption. It’s a story about stifling free speech and the free press. It’s a story, so far, without a happy ending.

Just last week, the IRS agent who conducted the audit against Judicial Watch said in a sworn affidavit that her boss had told her when she was assigned the case that the organization had filed suit against the IRS. How’s that for a way to launch an independent, fair, unprejudiced investigation?

What can be done about this now?

I can think of only two things. For those who care enough to join me and Larry Klayman in this fight, you can support the Western Journalism Center, a non-profit no longer under my direction, and Judicial Watch with your tax-deductible contributions.

So, what do you say? Are you a fighter? Do you want to live in a country where it is unsafe to criticize your leaders? Do you want to live in a country where journalists know the full weight of government will be used to punish them for being watchdogs and whistleblowers? Do you want to live in a country where people are afraid of their government?

Join us in our fight for justice.

Earlier stories:

Judicial Watch fighting “criminal” IRS

The IRS First Amendment police

Journalist center sues IRS