The natural response of Republicans of course is to blame the Obama administration for playing hard-ball politics against fierce political opponents, chiefly the Tea Party, that Obama must have blamed for sidetracking his legislative agenda, after large numbers of Tea Party conservatives won victories in the 2010 elections.
However, looking at the recent history of the use of the IRS, by the Bush and the Obama administrations, to help stop terrorist organizations from raising money, and the context of the IRS beginning its screening in early 2010 of Tea Party groups, the answer may be clearer.
In February, 2010, there was a terrorist attack on the IRS field office in Austin, Texas. While the attacker, Joseph Stack, was never proven to be a Tea Party member, many liberal outlets alleged that he might be, and conservative commentators, worried about Tea Party affiliation being linked to terrorist activity, claimed that a liberal conspiracy was afoot to smear all Tea Party groups as terrorist goon squads.
Stacks comments, in an online statement he wrote prior to his attack, included many lines that sounded very much like they came from Tea Party and right-wing websites. For example, complaining about his lifelong struggle with the Big Brother government, Stack expressed this wish:
“I can only hope that the numbers [of people willing to fight the government] quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less.”
Similar sentiments were and are being voiced in many Tea Party venues, and many Tea Party supporters and more extreme right-wing groups had positive things to say about Joseph Stack and his actions. Many considered Stack heroic.
No matter what Stack’s motives were, MSM outlets in early 2010 began asking different versions of a question: was Joseph Stack the first Tea Party terrorist?
While conservative sites rejected this question and attempted to paint Stack as a left-wing figure, this only served to illustrate that Stack’s statement expressed many of the frustrations of Americans across the political spectrum. But, since Stack decided to target the IRS, a particularly hated organization by conservatives, it is not difficult to see why the IRS may have decided to target Tea Party and similar groups for closer examination.
And why, you may ask, would the IRS be involved in such an effort?
Because in the new George Bush ordered inter-agency cooperation to thwart terrorist activities since 9/11, the IRS was part of the effort to stop terrorist organizations from obtaining funding. In 2007, members of Congress called for increased efforts on the part of the IRS to track and stop potential terrorist organizations. And the IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division said it had “an active program underway to acquire, test and implement” a large computer database to identify potential terrorist organizations and to stop them from receiving tax exemptions.
According to USA Today, “the IRS first began searching for Tea-Party-related groups in March, 2010,” a few weeks after Joseph Stack flew his plane into the Austin IRS building.
Is that just a coincidence?
And is it possible Barack Obama was really out of the loop until, as he said today—he learned about the IRS policy along with everybody else from watching new reports last Friday?