News that Sens. Byron Dorgan, John Kerry and Richard Durbin are trying to deep-six an investigation into Bill Clinton’s abuse of the Internal Revenue Service to go after his “enemies” hit home with me.
In 1996, my news organization at the time, the Western Journalism Center, was audited by the IRS. 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?”
In between, I personally exposed in the pages of the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere the systematic effort of the Bill Clinton White House to use the IRS as an attack dog against its adversaries – the Heritage Foundation, Concerned Women for America, Paula Jones, the National Rifle Association, Oliver North’s organization and dozens and dozens of other individuals and organizations that crossed the administration or threatened to do so.
The list is a virtual who’s who of Clinton “enemies.”
Yes, he had his enemies list – and I’m proud to say I was near the top.
My colleagues in the news business 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 this monumental political abuse of the IRS. But few have the courage to criticize the IRS – out loud any way.
And now an attempt at the ultimate cover-up is under way.
Dorgan, Kerry and Durbin are trying not only to kill an independent counsel investigation that nailed Clinton’s buddy Henry Cisneros, but they are trying to ensure a report is never released and that all evidence gathered be destroyed.
Now I don’t ever expect to see justice in this case. But cover-ups don’t get much more blatant than this.
I don’t expect to see Bill Clinton or the IRS officials involved in his caper to be punished. But I would like to discourage future administrations from abusing power and targeting other victims.
Dorgan, Kerry and Durbin are trying to ensure there is no chance that one of the biggest political scandals in American history – the blatant use of the government’s most feared agency to target political adversaries – is ever fully explored or fully acknowledged.
This is no longer about Henry Cisneros. His case is closed. The Democrats are now trying to send in the cleaners to make sure no one ever discovers the truth about some of the most dastardly deeds of the Clinton administration – about the real crimes and misdemeanors of that White House.
Maybe, just maybe, their sneak attack will backfire.
Had they let well enough alone, it’s doubtful more than a few Americans would even remember the way Clinton abused his power with the IRS. Now, maybe the attempt at a whitewash by Dorgan, Kerry and Durbin will serve to shine a spotlight on one of the most insidious of many criminal escapades of Bill and Hillary.