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This fed action in a word is plain stupid

July 18, 2011
Salem News

By tracking down and stopping waste and fraud in Pentagon contracts related to the war in Iraq, the government's Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has saved taxpayers more than $1.2 billion. But U.S. dollars will be spent to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure for many years to come - and crooked contractors won't have to worry about SIGIR for much longer. The agency is scheduled to be shut down in 18 months.

That schedule is, in a word, stupid. It may allow hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of dollars in American money to be wasted in Iraq.

Congress should revise the timetable to keep SIGIR on the job as long as its services are needed.


Curbs on contributions to political candidates or to promote them indirectly can threaten Americans' First Amendment rights. And, as we have pointed out, so-called "campaign finance reform" often leaves loopholes so gigantic as to make the rules meaningless.

But rules are rules and they should be enforced fairly and transparently. That is why an Internal Revenue Service decision is somewhat troubling.

IRS officials have announced they are dropping an investigation of five donors to nonprofit groups that have funded political advertising. The investigation had been intended to determine whether the donors should have paid federal gift taxes on their contributions.

The IRS refused to identify the five donors - or the groups to which they contributed. Why not name the organizations?

Withholding their identities should raise eyebrows. Have the groups supported both conservative and liberal causes, both Democrat and Republican candidates? Or are the organizations and their donors all promoters of one ideology, whatever it may be?

Not disclosing the groups' identities raises the possibility the IRS action is politically motivated. To guard against that accusation, the names should be disclosed.



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