IRS scandal: America needs the truth

9/3/13
 
   < < Go Back
 
from CNN,
9/3/13:

America can handle the truth. Even if that truth could include a coverup at the powerful IRS.

The IRS mission statement pledges to “enforce the law with integrity and fairness to all.”

But public scrutiny has revealed details indicating a level of politicization totally at odds with that.

Look at the two eye-opening developments that have happened at the IRS since May: An acting IRS commissioner resigned, and another powerful IRS official refused to answer questions before Congress, pleading the Fifth Amendment.

Whatever is going on, there is only one way to proceed, and that is a professional and thorough investigation.

The original claim during IRS testimony — that the scandal was the result of a couple of “rogue IRS agents” in the agency’s Cincinnati field office — didn’t hold water.

It turned out that, according to frontline IRS agents in Cincinnati interviewed by House Oversight committee investigators, the Washington IRS office had played a key role in the handling of the tea party applications.

Retired IRS lawyer Carter Hull disclosed in testimony that IRS Counsel William Wilkins was one of his supervisors in the targeting of conservative groups. (The IRS has denied Wilkins’ involvement in the targeting of specific groups.)

Montana Democrat Sen. Max Baucus, the committee chairman, stated bluntly, “Targeting groups based on their political views is not only inappropriate, it is intolerable, unacceptable and cannot be allowed.”

Anyone who follows Washington scandals knows that investigations can take months, sometimes years.

Consider Watergate.

That story broke during the presidential campaign of 1972. The president’s press secretary dismissed it as a third-rate burglary. The investigation was slow because there was an active pushback from the Nixon administration and the people being investigated. The end finally came in August 1974, when President Nixon resigned.

Was there a coverup here, like there was in the Watergate scandal? I have no idea.

But it could easily be argued that there are a lot of signs pointing in that direction: Multiple investigations were cut off; document processing was delayed; a key official took the Fifth Amendment.

More From CNN: