Mona Charen

The scandals plaguing this White House are so numerous now that it's possible to lose sight of the magnitude of the IRS story. The IRS has unparalleled power over citizens and unmatched access to confidential information. If the IRS can be corrupted and used as a weapon by the party in power against political opponents, it is difficult to imagine how the social trust essential to self-government can persist. A recent Pew poll showing growing polarization among Americans has elicited a great deal of commentary. Consider what the politicization of the IRS means in this context: If government is permitted to become a partisan cudgel, the effects could be dangerous for social peace.

Sharyl Attkisson, who was apparently too dogged for CBS News, has shown what members of the Fourth Estate should be asking. She posted eight questions for the agency on her blog, including: "Please provide all documents and emails that refer to the crash from the time that it happened through the IRS's disclosure to Congress Friday that it had occurred," and "Please provide the documents that show the computer crash and lost data were appropriately reported to the required entities including any contractor servicing the IRS. If the incident was not reported, please explain why."

John Hinderaker of the Power Line blog was blunt: "The Obama administration is lying, and lying in a remarkably transparent way." Hinderaker, a practicing attorney, uses discovery to retrieve emails on a regular basis. Emails are stored on a server. A crash of the user's hard drive would be irrelevant. "Further, emails are universally backed up in some other medium, often electronic tape, for long-term storage. Thus, even if an email server is destroyed, or all emails are deleted from a server after a specified length of time, the emails are still recoverable from back-up storage media." The IRS, along with all other government agencies, uses such a system.

Congress employed its constitutional subpoena power. If Hinderaker is correct, the administration has flouted the law again by fraudulently refusing to provide the subpoenaed materials. Can they get away with it? They have so far. Each new installment of lawlessness chips away at our right to call ourselves a nation of laws.


Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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