A top IRS official in the division that reviews nonprofit groups will invoke the 5th Amendment and refuse to answer questions before a House committee investigating the agency’s improper screening of conservative nonprofit groups.
Lois Lerner, the head of the exempt organizations division of the IRS, won’t answer questions about what she knew about the improper screening — or why she didn’t disclose it to Congress, according to a letter from her defense lawyer, William W. Taylor III. Lerner was scheduled to appear before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
“She has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course,” said a letter by Taylor to committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Vista). The letter, sent Monday, was obtained Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times.
ABC News visited the IRS Determinations office in Cincinnati, OH, the office that determines eligibility for 501(c)(3) and (4) groups. It has become a security state.
On Thursday morning, after news that Miller was sacked, two ABC News journalists walked into the Peck Federal Building in Cincinnati looking for answers. The newsmen were screened at the door by security. They emptied their pockets as instructed, removed their belts, then went through the metal detectors.We wanted to ask who about made the decisions in the unit and when the profiling started. And whether those decision makers been identified yet.
But the answers – like the people involved – remained elusive.
As we traveled the public hallways of the building – watched over by security cameras – an armed uniformed police officer with the Federal Protective Service followed us. We were looking for a particular office—of someone who would not want to be seen talking to reporters–but chose to bypass it because of our official babysitter.
Asked why we were being escorted in a public building, the officer identified himself as Insp. Mike Finkelstein and said he was only trying to make sure that the newsmen were not a “nuisance.” He brushed aside further questions. The cop said a supervisor would call to explain.
One of the reporters wanted to know if the act of following the journalists was an effort intended to scare off any federal employee who might have considered speaking to the press. That’s sure what it looked like; and, even if that wasn’t the goal, it was the effect.
The supervisor never called to explain. After repeated calls to Washington to obtain an explanation, the Department of Homeland Security eventually called back to tell the ABC reporters that the security guard following them around was proper.
So, the reporters’ calls of inquiry about a Department of the Treasury office were eventually referred over to the Department of Homeland Security. For what?
Is this America anymore, or have we truly been fundamentally transformed into something else?
The Obama administration has no business rummaging through journalists’ phone records, perusing their e-mails and tracking their movements in an attempt to keep them from gathering news. This heavy-handed business isn’t chilling, it’s just plain cold.
It also may well be unconstitutional. In my reading, the First Amendment prohibition against “abridging the freedom . . . of the press” should rule out secretly obtaining two months’ worth of the personal and professional phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors, including calls to and from the main AP phone number at the House press gallery in the Capitol. Yet this is what the Justice Department did.
In both instances, prosecutors were trying to build criminal cases under the 1917 Espionage Act against federal employees suspected of leaking classified information. Before President Obama took office, the Espionage Act had been used to prosecute leakers a grand total of three times, including the 1971 case of Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. Obama’s Justice Department has used the act six times. And counting.
Robinson (to his credit) even acknowledges that Eviiiiil George Bush did nothing even remotely close to this, even though he would have had plenty of opportunities:
If this had been the view of prior administrations, surely Bob Woodward would be a lifer in some federal prison. The cell next door might be occupied by my Post colleague Dana Priest, who disclosed the CIA’s network of secret prisons. Or by the New York Times’ James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, who revealed the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping program.
A federal “shield” law protecting reportersfrom having to divulge their sources means nothing if it includes an exception for cases involving national security, as Obama favors. The president needs to understand that behavior commonly known as “whistleblowing” and “journalism” must not be construed as espionage.
I'm sure Robinson will cool down, and eventually get back on the Obama Administration bandwagon, but it is encouraging to see that some on the Left can see overreach from their own side from time to time.
I find comfort in seeing reporters that might otherwise have ideological differences with Fox, realizing what a disgrace this is:
“Rosen was not charged with any crime, but it is unprecedented for the government, in an official court document, to accuse a reporter of breaking the law for conducting the routine business of reporting on government secrets,” declared New Yorker reporter and CNN contributor Ryan Lizza.
In talking about Benghazi, the interviewer, Chris Wallace, is trying to extract a specific fact about the events, a fact that has not yet come out and that Pfeiffer might know. Pfeiffer blows out a tirade of truly irrelevant verbiage to distract us from the question asked, including the notion that the fact isn't important. Who cares where the physical body of Obama was as long as he was "in touch"? Well, some people would like to know, so tell us the fact and let us decide what use to make of it. To withhold the fact — on the ground that, in your opinion, we don't need it — is to make us think it would be damaging. We're likely to think Obama went golfing or something like that. Otherwise, why not just cough up the irrelevant fact? It must be relevant, we think, at least for political purposes, or Pfeiffer wouldn't strain so hard to suppress it. (He does claim at one point that he doesn't remember where Obama was.)