— Identity theft is not a joke to IRS
(The Norman, Okla., Transcript)
The movie “Identity Thief” was a Box Office hit last weekend. It’s a comedy about a man whose identity is stolen and the thief runs up big debts on his credit card.
It’s not a laughing matter, as the Internal Revenue Service’s acting commissioner reminded us in a recent interview. Steven Miller said the IRS recently conducted a national sweep that nabbed 389 identity theft suspects in 32 states, including Oklahoma. They opened more than 900 identity theft investigations in 2012.
“It’s one of the biggest challenges facing the IRS today,” Miller said. “In that fight, we are doing a much better job on all fronts, but we still have much to do.”
Indeed, they do. Most of us have stories or have heard stories from friends who have been the victim of identity thieves. Much of it is random, from thieves taking chances on numbers and passwords.
There are simple steps consumers can take to keep from becoming a victim. Shred receipts and statements. Lock up cards and don’t share passwords with anyone.
In this tax season, the IRS said it is cracking down on storefront operations that may be helping identity thieves cash refund checks that don’t belong to them. That’s a largely unregulated business.
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Security’s greater threat
(The Joplin, Mo., Globe)
There is no doubt that the 9/11 attacks changed America. While policies, including the Patriot Act, targeted assassinations and “enhanced interrogation techniques” (waterboarding), originated during the George W. Bush administration, candidate Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign rhetoric led many supporters to believe he would abandon or soften many of the policies.
On May 24, 2009, President Barack Obama delivered a national security speech at the National Archives in which he stated:
“We are indeed at war with al-Qaida. ... We do need to update our institutions … but we must do so with an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process; in checks and balances and accountability. The decisions that were made over the last eight years established an ad hoc legal approach … a framework that failed to rely on our legal traditions and time-tested institutions, and that failed to use our values as a compass.”
Commenting on “enhanced interrogation techniques” he added: “They undermine the rule of law.”
NBC reporter Michael Isikoff recently revealed a Department of Justice internal memo that outlined the legal basis the president has been using to justify drone strikes on American citizens. While space limits detailed discussion here, suffice it to say the authority as deemed is far more expanded and vague than that assumed by the Bush administration.
It redefines the word “imminent,” requires no evidence of a pending attack and concentrates power with the president alone. No submission of facts to a classified intelligence court, just a determination by an “informed, high-level official of the U.S. government,” and the president’s free to strike at will. No check, no balance, no worry. Thumb up you live, thumb down you die.
While the president must always have the authority to take what actions he deems necessary in the case of a true, imminent threat, that authority cannot be so vague, so “ad hoc” that it becomes unchecked and without balance.
For an even greater threat to the American ideal than any terrorist attack is a government that for the sake of expediency turns its back on the rule of law and ergo its own citizens.
Or, as Benjamin Franklin surmised more than 200 years ago:
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”