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  • Originally published 07/28/2013

    Edward Snowden vs. Robert Seldon Lady

    This, then, is our world: a single megapower has, since September 2001, been in a financing and construction frenzy to create the first global surveillance state; its torturers run free; its kidnappers serve time at liberty in this country and are rescued if they venture abroad; and its whistleblowers -- those who would let the rest of us know what “our” government is doing in our name -- are pilloried.

  • Originally published 06/26/2013

    African-American history books were tossed by mistake, official says

    The emergency manager appointed to oversee the Highland Park School District’s finances denied Tuesday that a large collection of black history books, tapes, film strips and other materials were deliberately discarded into Dumpsters last week from the district’s high school library.Emergency manager Donald Weatherspoon, said workers on the second floor of the library mistakenly threw them out. He said the district was able to recover them in time.It’s unclear, though, how much was really recovered. Residents said they found about 1,000 pieces of material on their own Thursday evening....

  • Originally published 06/21/2013

    Audit finds sexual abuse was topic in 1930s

    A regional province of the Capuchin religious order that had fought allegations of sexual abuse for decades decided last year to open its files dating to the 19th century to three independent auditors, in what the order claimed to be a first in the long-running Roman Catholic Church abuse scandal in the United States.The auditors’ report, released on Tuesday, found that sexual abuse by friars in the St. Joseph Province of the Capuchin Order was discussed at meetings as far back as 1932, the first year for which minutes of meetings were available.After more than a dozen students at the province’s St. Lawrence Seminary in Wisconsin accused nine friars of abuse in 1992, it cost the province’s insurer nearly a million dollars — but 89 percent of that went to lawyers to defend the Capuchins and only 11 percent to victims for settlements and therapy, the report said....

  • Originally published 06/09/2013

    Beverly Gage: Somewhere, J. Edgar Hoover Is Smiling

    Beverly Gage, a Yale history professor, is the author of The Day Wall Street Exploded....There can be no question that COINTELPRO was more intrusive—if also more targeted—than today’s apparent efforts at mass technological surveillance by the National Security Agency. But there is at least one important distinction that makes today’s scandal far more disturbing. When the FBI launched COINTELPRO, it was acting alone, outside of the boundaries of established law. Today, what the NSA is doing appears to be legal—and nearly every branch of the government is complicit. Unlike Hoover’s activities, the NSA’s programs come to us with the seal of congressional and judicial approval. It didn’t take J. Edgar Hoover to engineer this scandal. We did it to ourselves....

  • Originally published 05/28/2013

    A Brief History of College Cheating Scandals

    Cheating and college sports go hand-in-hand. This is especially true in college football, with its extreme competitiveness and the potential to launch careers. Cheating scandals have embroiled most of the top colleges in the country for decades, and the cases run the gamut from cash payments to players, free (and illegal under NCAA rules) perks, academic fraud, financial aid fraud, and -- of course -- drugs, alcohol, and prostitutes. Here is a list of some of the most prominent and cringe-worthy scandals in the history of college sports:1) 1986: SMU gets the death penalty. In 1986, the ABC affiliate in Dallas revealed that the Southern Methodist University football program had been paying its players signing bonuses of up to $25,000. Further investigations by Dallas media unearthed apartments provided to players rent-free, and an NCAA investigation showed that thirteen players had been paid about $61,000 from a slush fund set up for that specific purpose. This practice had gone on for years, with the complicity of both coaches and top school officials.

  • Originally published 05/23/2013

    Jonathan Zimmerman: Politicizing the IRS is a Bipartisan Tradition

    Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University. He is the author of “Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory” (Yale University Press).Does the Internal Revenue Service scandal conjure “unpleasant echoes” of Richard Nixon?Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) of Tennessee said last week that it did. So did a host of other GOP critics, who linked the recent targeting of conservative groups by the IRS to Nixon’s use of the agency as a weapon against his “enemies list.”Liberals quickly replied that President Obama had pledged to root out political bias from the IRS, offering his full cooperation in the ongoing investigation. And whereas Nixon expressly ordered the IRS to harass his foes, there’s still no evidence that Mr. Obama himself even knew about the IRS practice until media outlets reported it.But both sides are ignoring the sordid politicization of the IRS before Richard Nixon, when Democrats – not Republicans – were in power. Despite what you may have heard, no single party owns an historical monopoly on IRS-related sleaze. And that’s precisely why we all need to be vigilant in guarding against it....

  • Originally published 05/23/2013

    Elizabeth Drew: Why Obama Is Not Nixon

    Elizabeth Drew is a regular contributor to The New York Review and the former Washington correspondent of The Atlantic and The New Yorker. She is the author of fourteen books.
 (March 2013)References to Watergate, impeachment, even Richard Nixon, are being tossed around these days as if they were analogous to the current so-called scandals. But the furors over the IRS, Benghazi, and the Justice Department’s sweeping investigation of the Associated Press, don’t begin to rise—or sink—to that level. The wise and pithy Matt Dowd, a former Republican operative, said recently, “We rush to scandal before we settle on stupidity.” Washington just loves scandals; they’re ever so much more exciting than the daily grind of legislation—if there is any—and the tit-for-tat between the president and the congressional Republicans over the budget was becoming tedious. Faux outrage is a specialty here.

  • Originally published 05/20/2013

    How Did the IRS Get Investigatory Authority, Anyway?

    Mobster Frank Costello testifying in front of the Kefauver Committee. Credit: Wiki Commons.The IRS "scandal" involving the “targeting” of conservative Tea Party groups is metastasizing. Congressional Republicans are seeking to open a broader investigation into the agency, with which, according to the New York Times, they "hope to ensare the White House."But an understanding of the true history of IRS scandals -- as documented in the mid-1970s Church Committee reports -- might better inform our understanding of this contemporary story.

  • Originally published 05/17/2013

    Victor Davis Hanson: Obama’s Second-Term Embarrassments

    Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His new book, The Savior Generals, will appear later this month from Bloomsbury Press....As the congressional hearings on Benghazi were taking place last week, we also learned that the IRS, administered by the Department of the Treasury, has been going after conservative groups in a politicized manner that we have not seen since Richard Nixon’s White House. There was no evidence that any of these conservative associations had taken thousands of dollars in improper tax deductions — in the manner of former Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner, the one-time overseer of the IRS.Instead, groups with suspiciously American names like “Patriot” or “Tea Party” prompted IRS partisans to scrutinize their tax information in a way that they would not have for the tax-exempt MoveOn.org or the Obama-affiliated Organizing for Action.

  • Originally published 10/14/2003

    High-level leaking, for reasons good and bad, has long been part of U.S. political reality

    ...Every administration since Woodrow Wilson's has lambasted leakers. And every president since Wilson has made discreet but routine use of the practice themselves -- personally, or through their minions, giving the press information on the sly when circumstances merited some truth, or untruth, become known.But the sometimes noble, sometimes ignoble, history of leaks goes back much further.George Washington grew infuriated with Alexander Hamilton for leaking information to the British during the Jay Treaty negotiations in the summer and fall of 1794. James Madison was exasperated when his secretary of state leaked documents to his enemies in the Federalist Party.During James K. Polk's administration, in 1848, John Nugent, a journalist for the New York Herald, published, based on a leak, the secret treaty ending the war with Mexico. When he refused to disclose his sources to Senate investigators, he was arrested and held for a month in a Capitol committee room, continuing to write his column at double his normal salary and going home at night with the sergeant at arms, who fed and housed him.

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