Continued from page 1

“I wrote to the IRS three times last year after hearing concerns that conservative groups were being targeted,” said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the ranking Republican on the tax-writing Finance Committee. “In response to the first letter I sent with some of my colleagues, Steven Miller, the current acting IRS commissioner, responded that these groups weren’t being targeted.”

“Knowing what we know now, the IRS was at best being far from forth coming, or at worst, being deliberately dishonest with Congress,” Mr. Hatch said in a statement.

It’s not just Republicans who are outraged. Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat and chairman of the Finance Committee, said “These actions by the IRS are an outrageous abuse of power and a breach of the public’s trust. The IRS will now be the ones put under additional scrutiny.”

An armada of House and Senate committees are preparing hearings into the emerging scandal, including the House Ways and Means Committee, which has summoned IRS officials to testify Friday.

One of the questions that needs to be asked of these rogue IRS officials and their impertinent, nosy inquiries about our personal, political activities, is have they heard of the Bill of Rights?

Exactly what part of the First Amendment don’t they understand? It says very clearly in the U.S. Constitution that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

This also means that no government agency or federal official can subject law-abiding citizens to any interrogation about their political views, beliefs or associations

The government under Mr. Obama is now aggressively challenging those freedoms and even denying them. Most recently, the Justice Department has seized cellular, office and home telephone records of reporters and an editor at The Associated Press, the nation’s largest news-gathering service.

The administration wants to know its sources for a story the AP reported last year on a foiled al Qaeda plot. The AP’s president called the document seizure a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into news-gathering activities and operations “that the government has no conceivable right to know.”

When the government starts questioning our political associations, interferes in our right to organize and then challenges the freedom of the press, we no longer live in a truly free society.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.