Armed escorts, intimidating reminder to IRS employees not to talk to press

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Political intimidation takes on many sizes and shapes in America, to include having armed federal officers following you as you work.

An ABC News report published on Monday, “Welcome to Cincinnati – Ground zero of the exploding IRS scandal,” begins with the not so surprising news that IRS employees in Cincinnati were hard to find as reporters “descended on the city.”

The report shares that some employees were even visited at home with little success.

The first staffer they encounter at the John Weld Peck Federal Building in downtown Cincinnati — a woman answering the buzzer — said she was not allowed to speak to anyone.

“A line that was repeated by agency personnel during the week,” ABC reporter Josh Margolin writes.

Naturally, IRS headquarters in Washington denied that a no-talk rule was official policy, ABC News reported.

“Our policy is that press inbounds (queries) are referred to the press office,” a spokesman said. “But people have First Amendment rights, they are entitled to speak.”

However, ABC News was told anonymously that security guards did remind employees of the official policy not to talk with the press, punctuated with the tag line “or risk losing our jobs.”

One can only imagine the “siege mentality” in effect in such a strong union environment. In fact, the article points out that a leader of the local union that represents IRS workers hung up on reporters.

The most disturbing aspect of the report may be that two ABC News journalists who went to the Cincinnati office were “followed” by an armed uniformed police officer with the Federal Protective Service while in the building.

In their own words:

We were looking for a particular office—of someone who would not want to be seen talking to reporters–but chose to bypass it because of our official babysitter.

Asked why we were being escorted in a public building, the officer identified himself as Insp. Mike Finkelstein and said he was only trying to make sure that the newsmen were not a “nuisance.” He brushed aside further questions. The cop said a supervisor would call to explain.

One of the reporters wanted to know if the act of following the journalists was an effort intended to scare off any federal employee who might have considered speaking to the press. That’s sure what it looked like; and, even if that wasn’t the goal, it was the effect.

Not surprisingly, Homeland Security states that “the inspector acted according to proper security procedures and that no improper conduct occurred.”

The ABC News report closes with what may be the first sign of hope in a long time that the media in this country is finally recognizing that a tyrant is a tyrant, regardless of whether or not he shares your political views:

Whether improper conduct occurred at the IRS—and who was responsible for targeting the president’s enemies, as some members of Congress have argued – will be subject to much more review.


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Tom Tillison


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