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Cal Thomas: Press for all the facts on IRS abuse, Benghazi

  • Tribune Media Services
  • Published Wednesday, May 15, 2013, at 12 a.m.

After what appears to be a cover-up in the Benghazi attack, the Washington Post obtained documents from an audit conducted by the Internal Revenue Service’s inspector general that indicate the agency targeted for special scrutiny conservative groups with “tea party” and “patriot” in their names, as well as “nonprofit groups that criticized the government and sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution.”

IRS official Lois Lerner described the targeting efforts as “absolutely inappropriate,” but said IRS actions were not driven by partisanship. How, then, would she explain why no groups with “progressive” in their titles were similarly targeted?

The Post’s editorial board wrote: “A bedrock principle of U.S. democracy is that the coercive powers of government are never used for partisan purpose.” The board called for a full accounting. I doubt we’ll get it. Take Benghazi.

ABC News first reported that the now-famous Benghazi “talking points” used by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice on five Sunday morning news shows were revised 12 times, deleting references to the al-Qaida-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia and CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months before the attack.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Rice’s initial claim – that the attack grew out of protests over a video that insulted Islam – was based on what was known to U.S. intelligence at the time. But as last week’s testimony by three whistle-blowers before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee revealed, much more was known at the time.

Contributing to cover-up suspicions is the administration’s stonewalling when asked to provide information on Benghazi. CNN sources acknowledge that “an e-mail discussion about talking points the Obama administration used to describe the deadly attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, show the White House and State Department were more involved than they first said.” The American people deserve the full story.

Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., has asked House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to name a select committee to investigate the Benghazi attack with full subpoena powers that could place witnesses under oath. Boehner should. Meanwhile, Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., chairman of the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, has demanded the IRS turn over all communications containing the words “conservative,” “patriot” or “tea party.” And the IRS should.

Democrats now accuse Republicans of partisanship, claiming their motive is to damage Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential prospects. If she has nothing to hide, transparency should enhance, not harm, her chances.

In 1972, Republican partisans initially accused Democrats of wanting to destroy President Nixon, but most were forced to acknowledge his culpability in Watergate once the facts became known. One of the articles of impeachment of Nixon concerned his misuse of the IRS to undermine political enemies.

Journalists should stop protecting President Obama and Clinton and do their jobs. Congressional Republicans should press for all the facts. That’s their job.

Cal Thomas, a columnist with Tribune Media Services, appears in Opinion on Wednesdays.

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