"I want him dead! I want his family, dead!" -Robert DeNiro, as Al Capone, The Untouchables
OK, it's not that bad. But it is a type of thuggery we're witnessing in the Senate. Here's the story, broken by the LA Times:
WASHINGTON — The chairman of a Senate committee that oversees environmental issues has directed two national organizations that oppose President Bush's major clean-air initiative to turn over their financial and tax records to the Senate.
Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), who heads the Environment and Public Works Committee, asked for the documents 10 days after a representative of the two groups criticized Bush's "Clear Skies" proposal before a Senate subcommittee. Inhofe is the leading sponsor of the administration bill, which is deadlocked in his panel.
Now why would Sen. Inhofe do that? Maybe to intimidate regulators and experts that criticize Administration policies? This is not the first time that tactic has been tried; if anything, it's standard operating procedure. Here's a WaPo article from a few months ago about the IRS investigating the NAACP, specifically because its chair Julian Bond "made statements in opposition of the Presidency."
But this latest charge is a little different. This is an intimidation tactic against two nonpartisan organizations: the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators, which represents 48 state air pollution control agencies, and the Assn. of Local Air Pollution Control Officials, which represents more than 165 local agencies. They are experts in the environmental arena, and they were asked for their opinion of the "Clear Skies" initiative, which fails to protect air quality or punish polluters, in their opinion. The guy who testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, John Paul, is a Republican from Ohio who voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004. No matter. If you don't blindly support this President in every policy, top to bottom, big or small, you will be harrassed, you will be criticized, you will be destroyed.
Inhofe's committee chairman claims that they merely want to see where these organizations get their money. Then he said something VERRRRY interesting:
"It has nothing to do with 'Clear Skies,' " he said. "If we wanted to intimidate them, we would have done it before they testified, not after."
Sounds like they know how to intimidate.
This is so nakedly transparent it's not even funny. You'll remember that Sen. Inhofe was the man who said, in reaction to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, "I'm outraged at the outrage." These guys are shameless power grabbers, and they'll stop at nothing to ram their wrongheaded policies through, and turn dissenters into enemies of the state.