As to this IRS thing, this TOTALLY makes sense to me only because of the nature of the office itself. I'll explain:
- The IRS gathers financial and personal information from every person and group in the US. As a result, its employees have access to more information on any one of us than any other office does during the normal course of business. Sure, the CIA and FBI will gather info, but only if necessary, when a situation warrants. However, it is the job of the IRS to gather information and then analyze and store that information.
- The IRS has human employees, which means that ethical mistakes are bound to happen. From experience, I know that not everyone can be trusted with supposedly confidential information. I can totally see individuals looking into information they shouldn't on people they know, people they hear about, etc. They probably don't do anything with that information, but they've violated the ethical principle that an individual's personal information is the property of that individual. In short, there are people who work at the IRS that are perfectly willing to look deeper than they should into our personal information.
|Steve Miller, Head of IRS (for now)|
- In any operation, there are people who are go-getters, who go above and beyond the call of duty to provide a better service and make themselves more useful than the next guy. They may notice that they have access to potentially useful information, and then begin to track that information, in the case it may be useful to their superiors. In my experience, not every superior cares that such information is being tracked...but some do, and make a note of who was willing to put forth the effort. When a time comes for need of such services, the superior knows where to go. Summary: the IRS has people that are using other people's information as a means of career advancement.
- In a famous experiment by Stanley Milgram, it was shown that people have a strong tendency to obey their authority figures, even if they know what they are being told to do is morally, ethically, and legally wrong. Milgram and others postulated that their obedience had to do with fear (of retribution), blind trust (the authority must know what they are doing, right?), self-preservation (if I don't do this, my chances at getting a raise are slim) or detachment (just following orders, its the authority's fault for asking me). Summary: the employees of the IRS, including its supervisors, will most likely obey orders from the higher ups.
Here we have a purely natural thing in which information is easily available, and people are willing to track certain things with the data available, and obey their superiors' requests. This entire SYSTEM is set up for something like this to happen. The Obama admin is NOT the first administration to use the IRS to intimidate, acquire dirt on, or investigate political opponents. One of Nixon's impeachment articles referred to the use of the IRS to intimidate an opponent. Under President Clinton, conservative personalities like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck were audited often. I'm sure that under Bush, there was information being gathered on Code Pink and the like. The question becomes, how complicit was the White House in any of it?
I'm not so sure much at all, at least in the previous administrations (excepting, of course, Nixon). Its simple. In the Bible, there are two stories about how servants of King David are punished for doing things ON THEIR OWN that they thought would be appreciated by the King (one of them includes the killing of the King's son, Absolom, who was in open insurrection). During the reign of Henry II, four loyal knights murdered St. Thomas Beckett, assuming the king wanted him dead. It isn't without precedent, therefore, that eager-to-please IRS agents would begin such activities, assuming their political bosses in the White House at the least, would turn a blind eye. I'm quite certain that in every administration, there is someone within the IRS who thinks their doing The Boss a favor by starting an audit on a political opponent, or scrutinizing their returns a bit more closely.
To anyone paying attention, this current Administration has not been above intimidation to get what it wants. It should surprise no one, then, that when it became clear that the IRS would be willing to help out, the Administration was more than willing to use all of its resources.
As of this writing, I'm not convinced this was instigated by the White House, or the Treasury Dept. I think it entirely logical that, seeing as this sort of thing is most likely common within the IRS, some go-getter on the rise suggested this, and the Administration jumped on it. I could be wrong, though...