This year, June 19 will be the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta.
The chief significance of the document is that it established that nobody, not even the King, is above the law.
In England until then, and in all other kingdoms, the monarch was the law. One man (or woman) had total power over every other person in the realm. The monarch was the only free individual.
The Magna Carta also curbed the power of authorities throughout the land, bringing the first protection of individuals from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment – not all individuals, only the barons whose rebellion against King John had brought him to make concessions to them. In so doing, it paved the way for habeas corpus, which ensures early and open trial for everyone who is taken into custody, though it only became law centuries later in 1679.
The idea that people could live in an ordered society ruled not by a person but by the rule of law, had been conceived and put into practice by the ancient Greeks in their city-states, and in pre-imperial Rome, but had been lost to Europe through the long dark Christian centuries. It meant that peoples of different origins, from nations and tribes of varying customs and traditions, could live together as fellow citizens. It did not matter what country they came from, as long as they would obey the same laws. Or as it has often been put: ius not rus (law not land). It was an idea that made monarchs essentially redundant.
And it was the idea that underlay the creation of the Republic of the United States of America.
And continued to influence American constitutional law.
We quote the first paragraph of an essay by H. D. Hazeltine: The Influence of Magna Carta on American Constitutional Development (1917).
For seven [now eight] centuries Magna Carta has exerted a powerful influence upon constitutional and legal development. During the first four centuries after 1215 this influence was confined to England and the British Isles. With the growth of the British Empire during the last three hundred years, the principles of the Charter have spread to many of the political communities which have derived their constitutional and legal systems from England, and which have owed in the past, or which still owe, allegiance to the mother-country. The earliest, and perhaps the most important phase of this imperial history of Magna Carta is its effect upon the constitutions and laws of the American colonies and of the Federal Union that was established after their War of Independence.
The essay concludes:
The history of Magna Carta in America has a meaning far deeper than the influence of a single constitutional document; for Magna Carta typifies those ideals of law and government which have spread to America and to many other political communities that lie beyond the four seas encircling the island-realm itself. The world-wide diffusion of those ideals of liberty and justice deserves to be studied in its entirety, as a vast historical process which had its beginnings far back in the middle ages, and which has shaped and is still shaping in modern times the institutions of all the political commonwealths that owe their spiritual inheritance to England. The history of the Charter’s influence upon American constitutional development, as one phase of that vaster process, should be illuminating alike to subjects of the Crown and citizens of the Republic. Above all it teaches them that English political and legal ideals lie at the basis of much that is best in American institutions. Those ideals, jealously preserved and guarded by Americans throughout their whole history, still form the vital force in political thought and activity within the Union. As the Americans adapt their institutions to the ever-changing conditions of national and international life, those ideals of liberty and justice, founded upon the Great Charter, will continue to inspire and guide them. The Charter has a future as well as a past in the American commonwealth, for its spirit is inherent in the aspirations of the race.
We can interpret “the race” to mean “the human race” – even if that was not exactly what Mr. Hazeltine himself meant by it.
But are the ideals of liberty and justice still continuing to inspire and guide the people of the United States of America?
Tragically, there are now many reasons to doubt it. At present America has a leader, Barack Obama, who manifests no acceptance of the idea that the law is above him. An attorney general, Eric Holder, has blatantly refused to apply the law equally to people of different ethnicities. Individuals protected by the administration have acted in the interests of the ruling party (Lois Lerner of the IRS – see here and here) or in their own interest (Hillary Clinton – see here), arrogantly defying the law with impunity.
It would take much more than a great document now to restore the Union to the republic of its founders’ intentions.
We do not generally like news people hounding individuals. But when the person being hounded is Lois Lerner, who viciously hounded so many people when she worked for the IRS, we think there is justification for it.
How corrupt the executive branch of the US federal government has become under the rule of the Democratic Party! Or let’s say – since it’s unlikely that there was no corruption before that – how much more visible its corruption has become.
Taking only one of the scandals (all of them “phony” according to Obama), you can see the size of the rot in the childishly transparent attempt the Internal Revenue Service is making to cover up its abuse of power.
We quote from an IBD editorial:
An internationally accredited information-technology asset-management firm says the IRS has some explaining to do as our patience is taxed with tales of even more convenient computer crashes.
Private-sector organizations as vast as the Internal Revenue Service typically have redundancy built into their information technology systems, as secure record keeping is the key to managing their businesses and staying in business. Such records … are often required to be kept by law, and often by the IRS itself.
As we have noted, Lois Lerner’s lost emails from the critical period when the IRS was serving as a political arm of the Obama administration and targeting Tea Party and other conservative groups suggest by themselves a conspiracy to obstruct justice as well as being a violation of the Federal Records Act, which requires paper copies of such critical emails to be printed and stored just in case of computer problems.
This conspiracy to obstruct justice is further suggested by some Lerner emails that she and the Obama administration wished had been lost — especially one sent by Lerner to a Maria Hooke.
“I had a question today about OCS,” Lerner stated in the email. “I was cautioning folks about email, how we have had several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails — so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails.”
OCS is the IRS’s Office Communications Server, a form of online chat system that circumvents email.
When she learned that OCS messages were not set to automatically save, Lerner wrote, “Perfect.”
Clearly Lerner had a keen interest in keeping her communications from Congress and the American people.
Lerner’s hard drive allegedly crashed, which cannot be verified because her hard drive has since been destroyed and/or recycled. That questionable hard-drive direction came just 10 days after House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, the Republican from Michigan, first wrote a letter asking if the IRS was targeting nonprofit groups. …
On Monday, the International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers [IAITAM], which deals with such technical questions regarding computer hardware and record retention on a regular basis and which has reacted with the same incredulity as the rest of us, released a list of six basic questions the IRS needs to answer.
1. First, what happened to the IRS’s IT asset managers who seemingly vanished during this critical period? IAITAM , which runs the only worldwide certification program for IT asset managers, says its records show that at least three IRS IT asset managers were moved out of their positions at the time of the May 2013 inspector general’s report that detailed the agency’s targeting practices. What can they tell us?
2. The hard drives in question are federal property and cannot be destroyed or recycled without proper documentation. … Where are these records?
3. IAITAM asks if the drives were destroyed by an outside IT asset destruction unit, a not-unusual practice among federal agencies. If so, it adds an entire second layer of documentation of the destruction of these assets, including who approved it.
4. What are the IRS’ specific policies and procedures on document retention when hard drives are damaged or destroyed? In most large private-sector organizations, hard drives and computers are just not tossed in the dumpster or dropped off at the local recycling center until recovery of the lost data is assured.
5. What is the disaster recovery policy at the IRS, an agency responsible for our most sensitive tax information, particularly in light of its statistically implausible number of hard drive crashes?
6. Where are Lerner’s emails from her BlackBerry device and what is on the enterprise server? Some have even suggested Lerner may have off-loaded her emails to what is known as a USB flash drive and still has them in her possession, another federal offense.
The IRS is counting on the general public’s relative ignorance of computer technology to believe its smoke-and-mirror cover-up.
But in the age of the iPad and iPhone, even a child knows that something does not compute here.
Conspiracies seldom work, because conspirators betray them. This is a huge conspiracy. Surely sooner or later some of those who know about the plot, those shabbily-treated IT asset managers, or the ones who can’t keep a secret, or the ones with a conscience (if they exist), will spill the beans? Or the ones without a conscience but an ability to perceive and seize a golden opportunity, will sell what they know for a big bag of greenbacks? Hasn’t that idea occurred to any of them? They just might get enough to compensate them for losing their job.
Undoing what America was founded to be – a free nation ruled by law and not men – the present administration is becoming more and more arbitrary, arrogant, and despotic.
This is from an Investor’s Business Daily editorial:
The FBI says it won’t prosecute anyone at the IRS for its admitted targeting of the president’s political foes. This just as the agency claims the law is no longer its main mission. So it’s a political goon squad now.
According to a leak to the Wall Street Journal, the Federal Bureau of Investigation “didn’t find the kind of political bias or ‘enemy hunting’ that would amount to a violation of criminal law.” And so, nobody was likely to be prosecuted for the most blatant politicization of a federal agency within memory.
All the Bureau found was a “mismanaged” agency that enforced rules “it didn’t understand.” In other words, nothing to see here, move along.
That’s strange stuff for an agency whose most implicated regulator, Lois Lerner, invoked her Fifth Amendment rights against self incrimination in congressional testimony last year. That she came to congressional attention was only because of her calculated announcement that the IRS had in fact targeted Tea Party groups for special scrutiny — that’s right, admitted to breaking the law — in a preemptive attempt to paint her abuse of power as a customer service problem.
Her minions lied that it was only the work of low-level bureaucratic bumblers in Cincinnati. And after that sleazy string of favors that coincidentally benefited her president, she was permitted to retire on a full pension.
The reality is, the acts reeked of political targeting, the most illegal of acts, a corrupt use of government power, and a worthy target of checks and balances provided by the FBI in the name of law and order.
But for some reason, the FBI has neither interviewed the Tea Party activists targeted for intrusive scrutiny, nor has it noticed anything amiss in light of the White House’s rabid attacks on Tea Party activists. It hasn’t noticed the Tea Party’s demonstrable political strength in its large gatherings during the most intense period of its political targeting, nor noted the president’s record of “joking” about investigating political opponents.
And it hasn’t picked up the clue from the Center for Responsive Politics showing that IRS employees donated to Obama’s campaign by more than 2 to 1 over Tea Party-tied Republicans — let alone that the prosecutor chosen by the president to look into this case is a fat-cat donor to Obama.
If New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie can be criticized for a traffic jam, then the White House’s attacks on political opponents are in a league with what goes on in Venezuela. That the FBI won’t get involved in this and is willing to wreck its reputation for apolitical probity suggests this investigation is leading to a place the bureau would rather not go — namely, the White House.
It’s interesting to note that Rep. Darrell Issa of California announced Tuesday that a top FBI official suddenly won’t cooperate with the House Oversight Committee after meeting with a top Justice Department political appointee. Issa says the FBI is stonewalling. The FBI … was once was known for its squeaky clean image and willingness to enforce the law without fear or favor. Today, it’s slid so far into the Washington morass it no longer considers law enforcement its prime mission. About a week ago, it quite questionably declared its top mission “national security” — an abrogation of its congressionally mandated mission.
Can the public now trust the FBI or the IRS? …
If the FBI won’t enforce the law anymore, who will?
As was promised (see the post immediately below), yesterday Congress heard the IRS lawyer Carter Hull reveal that William Wilkins, head of the IRS chief counsel’s office, launched the policy of keeping Tea Party groups from acquiring tax-exempt status, and so keeping them from functioning.
What more of William Wilkins? He is an Obama appointee, and is known to have attended numerous meetings at the White House. He and Lois Lerner, head of the IRS office that deals with tax-exempt applications, worked the plot, the skulduggery, against the conservative Tea Party movement.
The Tea Party’s cause is chiefly fiscal responsibility. It is the most effective opposition to redistributive socialism in America, and would have been even more effective – perhaps to the extent of tipping the balance against Obama in the 2012 election – had it not been sabotaged by a government department.
Now we know: the campaign of sabotage by the IRS was started in Washington, D.C. and directed from Washington, D.C.
Peggy Noonan writes in the Wall Street Journal:
The IRS scandal was connected this week not just to the Washington office — that had been established — but to the office of the chief counsel.
That is a bombshell … And Democrats know it. Which is why they are so desperate to make the investigation go away. They know, as Republicans do, that the chief counsel of the IRS is one of only two Obama political appointees in the entire agency.
To quickly review why the new information, which came most succinctly in a nine-page congressional letter to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel, is big news:
When the scandal broke two months ago, in May, IRS leadership in Washington claimed the harassment of tea-party and other conservative groups requesting tax-exempt status was confined to the Cincinnati office, where a few rogue workers bungled the application process.
Lois Lerner, then the head of the exempt organizations unit in Washington, said “line people in Cincinnati” did work that was “not so fine.” They asked questions that “weren’t really necessary,” she claimed, and operated without “the appropriate level of sensitivity.” But the targeting was “not intentional.” Ousted acting commissioner Steven Miller also put it off on “people in Cincinnati.” They provided “horrible customer service.”
They were lying. And they really seemed to think they’d get away with their lies.
House investigators soon talked to workers in the Cincinnati office, who said everything they did came from Washington.
Elizabeth Hofacre, in charge of processing tea-party applications in Cincinnati, told investigators that her work was overseen and directed by a lawyer in the IRS Washington office named Carter Hull.
Now comes Mr. Hull’s testimony. And like Ms. Hofacre, he pointed his finger upward. Mr. Hull — a 48-year IRS veteran and an expert on tax exemption law — told investigators that tea-party applications under his review were sent upstairs within the Washington office, at the direction of Lois Lerner. …
Michael Seto, head of Mr. Hull’s unit, also spoke to investigators. He told them Lois Lerner made an unusual decision: Tea-party applications would undergo additional scrutiny — a multilayered review.
Mr. Hull told House investigators that at some point in the winter of 2010-11, Ms. Lerner’s senior adviser, whose name is withheld in the publicly released partial interview transcript, told him the applications would require further review:
Q: Did [the senior adviser to Ms. Lerner] indicate to you whether she agreed with your recommendations?
A: She did not say whether she agreed or not. She said it should go to chief counsel.
Q: The IRS chief counsel?
A: The IRS chief counsel.
The IRS chief counsel is named William Wilkins … one of only two Obama political appointees in the IRS.
What was the chief counsel’s office looking for? … The counsel’s office wanted, in the words of the congressional committees, “information about the applicants’ political activities leading up to the 2010 election.”
It’s almost as if … the conservative organizations in question were, during two major election cycles, deliberately held in a holding pattern.
Almost as if? They were “held in a holding pattern”.
So: What the IRS originally claimed was a rogue operation now reaches up not only to the Washington office, but into the office of the IRS chief counsel himself.
These findings were confirmed at the House Oversight Committee Hearings yesterday, and other “big things still got said”, as Peggy Noonan puts it.
Ms. Hofacre of the Cincinnati office testified that when she was given tea-party applications, she had to kick them upstairs. When she was given non-tea-party applications, they were sent on for normal treatment. Was she told to send liberal or progressive groups for special scrutiny? No, she did not scrutinize the applications of liberal or progressive groups. “I would send those to general inventory.” Who got extra scrutiny? “They were all tea-party and patriot cases.” …
Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican … [described] what he called “the evolution of the defense” since the scandal began. First, Ms. Lerner planted a question at a conference. Then she said the Cincinnati office did it — a narrative that was advanced by the president’s spokesman, Jay Carney. Then came the suggestion the IRS was too badly managed to pull off a sophisticated conspiracy. Then the charge that liberal groups were targeted too — “we did it against both ends of the political spectrum.”
But that was also untrue.
… [T]he inspector general of the IRS said no, it was conservative groups that were targeted. …
So there it is in all its shabbiness – this low dishonest administration.
The directive to the tyrannical Internal Revenue “Service” to make it hard for conservative and pro-Israel organizations to get the tax-exempt status they apply for, came down from the White House? From Tyranny Central? So we assumed. And so it now seems.
This is from PJ Media, by Ed Driscoll:
“Top IRS officials in Washington, D.C. planned and oversaw the agency’s improper targeting of conservative groups, according to the 72-year old retiring IRS lawyer who will testify Thursday before the House Oversight Committee,” the Daily Caller reports.
That’s today these revelations are promised us.
The Daily Caller goes on:
Retiring IRS lawyer Carter C. Hull implicated the IRS Chief Counsel’s office, headed by Obama appointee William J. Wilkins, and Lois Lerner, the embattled head of the IRS’ exempt organizations office, in the IRS targeting scandal and made clear that the targeting started in Washington, according to leaked interviews that Hull granted to the Oversight Committee in advance of Thursday’s hearing.
Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George will return to Republican chairman Darrell Issa’s committee Thursday along with two central characters in the IRS saga: Hull and Cincinnati-based IRS employee Elizabeth Hofacre, who previously gave Hull’s name to congressional investigators, fingering him as her Washington-based supervisor.
Hull is naming names.
“In April 2010, Mr. Hull was instructed to scrutinize certain Tea Party applications by one of his superiors in Washington. According to Mr. Hull, these applications were used as ‘test’ cases and assigned to him because of his expertise and because IRS leadership in Washington was ‘trying to find out how [the IRS] should approach these organizations, and how [the IRS] should handle them’ … According to Hull’s testimony, Ms. [Lois] Lerner … gave an atypical instruction that the Tea Party applications undergo special scrutiny that included an uncommon multi-layer review that involved a top advisor to Lerner as well as the Chief Counsel’s office,” according to Oversight Committee documents.
As Ace noted last week, “Lerner Embraces Theory That The Process Is The Punishment” — and does so quite publicly and cavalierly:
1 March, 2010 – IRS officials start targeting organizations with “tea party”, “patriot”, and “9-12;” in their names. …
17 November, 2011 – Lois Lerner, Director of Exempt Operations, tells Businessweek that receiving a thick questionnaire from the IRS is a “behavior changer.”
The “behavior”. In the eyes of this petty tyrant – a type of woman who in past times would have been a household termagant – a difference of opinion is “bad behavior”.
… Lois Lerner … embraces the notion that people can and should be punished and compelled into acting the way she prefers, not after Due Process has found them blameworthy, but before anyone even thinks to file charges.
She’s decided that the process itself can and should be a tool of state coercion. She doesn’t need a finding from a legal tribunal to impose burdens on freedoms and to compel what she considers “correct” behavior — she’ll serve as judge and jury herself, and impose the punishment of a “thick questionnaire” as a tool of “behavior change.” …
And just as a reminder, in 2009 President Obama “joked” about siccing the IRS on his enemies.
Lois Lerner, head of the Internal Revenue Service’s tax-exempt organizations office, told Congress last week that she had broken no laws and had done nothing wrong. Then she hastily “took the Fifth” – ie refused to say anything more or answer any questions so as not to incriminate herself, as the Fifth Amendment allows her to do.
So she would have us believe that there was no corruption in her department under her authority. No crime was committed. None at all.
Yet this happened. It comes from Discover the Networks:
The Barack H. Obama Foundation (BHOF) was established in 2008 by Abon’go Malik Obama, the half-brother of U.S. President Barack Obama.
Abon’go, a Kenyan-born Muslim with twelve wives, created the foundation in memory of his (and President Obama’s) biological father, Barack H. Obama (1936-82) of Nyan’goma Kogelo village in Kenya.
Seeking to “provide people everywhere with resources to uplift their welfare and living standards,” BHOF claims to be “committed to a wide array of development and humanitarian projects which will help mitigate social shortcomings in areas of education and literacy, health and well-being, poverty, and … community infrastructure” — particularly as regards “basic needs such as water, electricity, shelter and sustenance.” The foundation’s guiding principle is “the inherent belief that no one can truly enjoy the riches he has reaped if his neighbor suffers.”
A noble sentiment. But how nobly has BHOF acted?
BHOF currently identifies its major project as the Siaya Community Self-Help Group, which focuses on helping impoverished residents of Siaya, Kenya to access clean drinking water, financial assistance, K-12 education, academic scholarships, medical care, leadership training, and guidance in small-business development. The foundation also claims to have funded the construction of a madrassa in Kenya. There is no concrete evidence, however, that BHOF has actually done any of these things.
Financial records indicate that from 2008-10, the foundation received grants and donations totaling $42,923 but awarded no grants at all.
Shared none of the riches it reaped with the impoverished residents of Siaya in Kenya? Nope. None at all.
On its website, BHOF asserts that its “future projects in Kenya and elsewhere around the globe” will focus on:
- Education development
- Child development and welfare
- Infrastructure development, to include water, electricity and sanitation
- Energy development, to include wind turbines, solar and power generation
- Health improvement through health clinics, vaccinations and disease prevention
- Humanitarian and natural disaster intervention and response
- Nutrition, to include food security, diet assurance, vitamin deliver [sic]
- HIV/AIDS, particularly child-affected transmissions and prevention
- Advocacy and Partnerships
- Life skills, training and modeling
BHOF’s website lists the foundation’s physical address as 107 S. West St. #401 in Alexandria, Virginia, a location that actually houses only a UPS store. “They probably just rent a mailbox here or receive mail here,” said one UPS employee there in May 2013.
Equally problematic is the address listed in BHOF’s IRS filings — 4201 Wilson Blvd., Suite 110-152 in Arlington, Virginia — which houses only a marketing center for a drug-and-alcohol treatment organization known as A Better Today Recovery Services. When questioned about BHOF in May 2013, not a single employee in A Better Today’s office had ever heard of the foundation.
From 2008-11, BHOF operated illegally as a nonprofit group and falsely claimed tax-exempt status —f or which it had not yet formally applied. The foundation finally submitted its 2010 application for nonprofit, tax-exempt status on May 23, 2011; seven days later, it submitted its filings for 2008 and 2009. Within just one month of these filings — on June 26, 2011 — Lois Lerner, the senior official who headed the IRS’s tax-exempt organizations office, signed paperwork granting tax-exempt status to BHOF.
This promptness represented a stark contrast to the experience of many conservative organizations that, beginning in 2010, had been intentionally forced (by Lerner’s office) to wait more than three years, in some cases, for approval. Moreover, Lerner broke with the norms of tax-exemption approval by making BHOF’s tax-exempt status retroactive to December 2008.
According to Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center: “The Obama Foundation raised money on its web page by falsely claiming to be a tax deductible. This bogus charity … had not even applied and yet subsequently got retroactive tax-deductible status.” Boehm described Abon’go Malik Obama’s attempt to raise money under the nonprofit banner as “common law fraud and potentially even federal mail fraud.”
The case of BHOF needs to be compared with the case described in our post Political persecution in America, May 21, 2013, which is about Catherine Engelbrecht having waited for three years – and waits still – for tax-exempt status to be granted by Lois Lerner’s office for two “non-profits” she founded. In that time she and her husband and their business and their farm have been investigated … and investigated … and investigated. The IRS required her to answer “hundreds and hundreds of questions”. Other government agencies were sent to inspect their manufacturing business, which was fined thousands of dollars for trivial “offenses” such as an employer wearing the wrong type of protective glasses.
Mrs Englebrecht is not related to President Obama, and the organizations she launched, King Street Patriots and True the Vote, are not planning ambitious projects round the world, or promising to re-distribute grants and donations to the poor in Africa. She declared them to be patriotic and against voter fraud. Not causes, we now know, scoring high marks on the approval chart of Obama’s IRS.