In an op-ed in Saturday’s Wall St. Journal, Peggy Noonan wrote this about the Obama Administration’s political misuse of the IRS:
What does it mean when half the country—literally half the country—understands that the revenue-gathering arm of its federal government is politically corrupt, sees them as targets, and will shoot at them if they try to raise their heads? That is the kind of thing that can kill a country, letting half its citizens believe that they no longer have full political rights.
Noonan, of course, is writing about the discrimination in granting special tax status and audits of conservative groups like Tea Party organizations during the campaign for the 2012 presidential election.
But it is also true that the administration used the IRS to suppress American Zionist organizations who might be suspected of opposing its policy to force Israel out of Judea and Samaria.
No, I am not foolish enough to imagine that this issue, which only a tiny minority of Americans cares about, is as important to the nation as a whole as large-scale abuse of administrative power in order to influence a presidential election. But personally, it is very disturbing.
I am almost retired now, but my wife and I operated a small business. I can tell you that I feared no competitor or government entity as much as the IRS. I shivered every time we received an official communication from it. The IRS has its own rules, its own courts, its own enforcement system. The IRS can crush the small businessperson like a gnat if it wishes.
Many of my blog posts are highly critical of administration policy toward Israel, and in particular, of its obsessive drive to force Jews out of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, its acceptance of the myth of an oppressed Palestinian people, etc. In fact, I have made an avocation of criticizing the government on an issue that it has shown itself to be very, very sensitive about.
It’s depressing to consider that perhaps only my obscurity has protected me from harassment by the IRS!
But with automated technology making it possible to scan and analyze internet communications without human intervention, even obscurity may not be a safe haven. The same tools that allow Facebook and Google to pry into our attitudes about pizza and cosmetics can be employed by government agencies to search for everything from terrorists to political dissidents.
Today’s news indicates that, in principle, the administration has no scruples about using the enormous power of the IRS to deny political opponents their First Amendment rights. Apparently it is prepared to do so even for issues that are only marginally important to Americans.
What, other than limitations of cost and practicality — which technology is rapidly overcoming — prevents it from expanding its surveillance, and possible repression, even further?