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If they don't write about it, it didn't happen?

By Randall H. Nunn
web posted January 30, 2006

The Bush administration's use of warrantless wiretaps in the war on terrorism has stirred the left into a frenzy, which the mainstream media tries to keep alive by fear mongering and partisan reporting. Portraying the Bush administration as an "imperial presidency" out of control, the media pretends to be the champion of our civil liberties, all the while ignoring real threats to our civil liberties that are much more dangerous. A prime example is the Barrett Report, which details abuses within the IRS and the Justice Department discovered in the course of an independent counsel investigation of former Clinton Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Henry Cisneros.

Many Democrats fought the release of the report of that investigation by the Independent Counsel, David Barrett, and were able to redact many details that the public has a right to know. Although the Barrett Report was ready for release in 2004, release of the report was blocked until January 19 of this year, in an attempt to avoid embarrassment to various government officials in the Clinton administration. Of course, the mainstream media aided in this attempted cover-up by treating the Barrett Report as if it didn't exist or was trivial.

How many millions of Americans come under the scrutiny of the IRS? And how many Americans are potential targets of wiretaps of telephone calls being made by suspected al-Qaida operatives from outside the country? The answer is obvious and it should make it crystal clear that the mainstream media's intention is to create a political issue in the case of the wiretaps while ignoring serious wrongdoing in government agencies that has impact on every American citizen who pays federal income taxes.

All of us should have an interest in full disclosure of a report by an independent counsel that reveals efforts by the IRS and the Justice Department, or certain officials in those agencies, to obstruct justice and harass private citizens.

The real threat to civil liberties in America today comes not from an "imperial presidency" but from an "imperial bureaucracy" that intrudes into our lives and resists oversight by our representatives in Congress when wrongdoing is alleged. If we had a press that shined the light of full and accurate reporting on government wrongdoing and abuse, the citizens of this country could use that knowledge at the ballot box. The press should be one of the protectors of our civil liberties by investigating reports of government wrongdoing such as revealed in the Barrett Report and exposing the details for all to see. By selectively reporting events based upon their liberal biases, newspapers and networks deprive their audiences of knowledge that would allow them to act as fully informed citizens and participate effectively in government. You can't "throw the rascals out" if you don't know they are, in fact, "rascals" and if you don't know who and where they are.

The Barrett investigation took 10 years to complete and cost $23 million of the taxpayers' money. The Barrett Report, according to reports from responsible commentators, details an organized attempt by the Clinton administration to shut down an IRS investigation into possible tax law violations by Secretary Cisneros. Apparently, Mr. Barrett in the course of the investigation uncovered IRS and Justice Department activity in the Clinton years that violated the civil liberties of private citizens.

The report "opened the internal workings of the IRS against private citizens for the first time" according to columnist Emmett Tyrrell. This would seem to attract the attention of the press, both because of the nature of what the IRS does and the enormous potential for infringement of the civil liberties of the ordinary person if abuse and corruption are allowed to flourish. Yet, very little has been written in the mainstream press about this report and even less about the "redaction" of 120 pages from the report that purportedly outlined illegal behavior by the IRS and Justice Department during the Clinton administration years.

Suppression of information detailing abuses and wrongdoing by government should never be tolerated in a free society. Whether that suppression is the result of legal processes or the "decision" by media moguls that it is not the type of news that fits their agenda, the result is the same—ignorance on the part of the general public that corrosive influences in their government bureaucracies threaten their civil liberties. Someone in Congress should have the courage to make these 120 pages that were withheld available to the public. We paid for the investigation and are entitled to the full report—not a "redacted" version that misleads the public as to the scope of the wrongdoing. When government itself is the abuser, the country needs to know about it.

Randall H. Nunn is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance. His can be read regularly on TheRealityCheck.org.

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