Saturday, November 20, 2004


I was lucky enough to watch the controversy over this unfold live on C-SPAN2 (yeah, I lead a full and exciting life). The staff of Sen. Conrad (D - N.D.) performed a heroic service by finding and revealing this Orwellian invasion of privacy. Sen. Durbin did a great job framing the story of this malfeasance:
Hereafter, notwithstanding any other provision of law governing the disclosure of income tax returns or return information, upon written request of the Chairman of the House or Senate Committee on Appropriations, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service shall allow agents designated by such Chairman access to Internal Revenue Service facilities and any tax returns or return information contained therein.
(emphasis added)

That "any" includes my tax returns and information -- as well as yours. And the provision also prohibits any civil or criminal penalties for any misuse of the information gathered from the IRS.

Josh Marshall:
The key is that the privacy rights provisions, and criminal and civil penalties that go with them, don't apply for the appropriations committees. *** The Republicans are acting like it was all an innocent mistake. And it seems clear that there are Republican senators who didn't know anytihng about it and are pissed. But clearly this was no accident, unless provisions have started to write themselves.
He also links to this AP story.

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