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July 13, 1998 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1998-07-13

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, July 13, 1998
Edited and managed by CHRIS FARAH DAVID WALLACE
students at the Tr Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor 4
University of Michigan
Unless otherwise noted uni d tileditoriais n 1 th ein nf l the
420 Maynard Street inaorin ,of rite Daiidioioal honisl a l orr thiet I leo rs and
Ann Arbor, Ml 48109 cartoons do noineessarili re/leemtie opiniot ofTie tn littan a)uilp

A s Ann Arbor police made several
arrests last week in conjunction
with the May 9 Ku Klux Klan rally, the
lawyer of several of those charged made
accusations that the police are conduct-
ing a witch hunt and using tactics remi-
niscent of police states. While those
accusations are probably little more than
rhetoric, the AAPD needs to conduct a
very thorough investigation that search-
es out wrongdoing done by all parties
involved so that the community can pre-
vent future problems and heal from the
latest rally and violence.
So far, nine people have been charged
with crimes related to the violence.
George B. Washington, a lawyer repre-
senting many of the accused, has assert-
ed that his clients acted according to
their Constitutional rights and are the
victims of a witch hunt and police state
The AAPD's methods do not appear
to be questionable. They are using
videotape, photographs and interviews

Preventative measures
AAPD must prevent future Klan rally violence

with witnesses to find suspects who may
have contributed to the violence that
erupted at the rally. Using photos and
films do not comprise unethical police-
work: it is the same as using surveillance
camera footage to identify a bank rob-
The AAPD must strive to identify
those who committed crimes at the rally
to prevent such actions from occurring
again. Physical violence is not an
acceptable form of protest, and such
actions bruise the city's reputation as
much as the Klan rally itself.
During its investigation, the AAPD
should avoid simply concentrating on
one particular group. The rally was a
failure on the part of everyone involved,
including the police. As it investigates,

the AAPD should run internal investiga-
tions to find ways that it could prevent
violence from occurring in the first
place. Bringing those to justice who
broke the law is an important part in pre-
venting future violence, but so too is
reviewing police procedures and strate-
gies to make sure everything was han-
dled correctly according to law enforce-
ment protocol.
Ann Arbor cannot simply allow the
problems of the Ku Klux Klan rally and
ensuing riot to go away now that things
have settled down. The actions of May 9
and at the rally two years ago make the
city appear to be a harbor for racism, a
community unfriendly toward free
speech and prone to violence. Residents
know that none of these classifications

are true, but the impression left by the
rally is enough to damage the communi-
ty. A strong investigation is necessary
for the city's welfare.
The feelings surrounding the Klan
rally are highly charged; those conduct-
ing the investigation must have a firm
commitment to making arrests only
when the evidence appears irrefutable.
Further charges of police wrongdoing
will only serve to incite more ill-will and
produce fuel for violent protesters
should the Klan return to Ann Arbor.
After two rallies in three years, it
appears that the Klan may return to Ann
Arbor at some future date. The actions
the AAPD takes now will affect the
events that may transpire should another
rally be held. The AAPD and the com-
munity at large must make clear that the
violence of the past two rallies is unac-
ceptable. By taking sound actions now, a
future Klan rally - or at least any
accompanying violence - can be dis-
suaded, and possibly prevented.

Making change
Congress reforms the Internal Revenue Service

Not so secret
Court rules Secret Service agents must testify

I n session last week, Congress over-
whelmingly passed legislation to
reform the Internal Revenue Service. The
IRS has long been in bad need of reform,
and last week's actions should work to cre-
ate a more efficient, friendly IRS while
expanding the rights of taxpayers.
The new legislation, which passed by
the enormous margins of 96-2 in the
Senate and a 402-8 vote last month in the
House, will dramatically change the way
the IRS operates. President Clinton will
sign the legislation into law.
For too many years, the IRS has been a
feared agency - and often with good
cause. Senate Finance Committee
Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. (R-
Delaware) held hearings last September
during which many individual cases of
IRS taxpayer abuse came to light. And just
this past Friday, the IRS admitted that it
improperly seized property in more than
one in four cases studied. One case even
involved the IRS trying to force a dying
man and his family from their home. The
IRS reneged when the man died, as an
officer suggested it would be "seen as neg-
ative to sell his widow & minor children's
home when he has not yet been buried."
An important new provision of the leg-
islation requires that the burden of proof in
many tax court cases lie with the IRS
instead of taxpayers. Such a change in phi-
losophy only makes sense in a country that
generally operates under the idea of inno-
cent until proven guilty. This should not be
taken as an invitation to perform more
prying audits, as Senator Daniel Patrick
Moynihan (D-New York) warned. It is
simply a declaration that when the IRS
accuses someone of impropriety, they
must be able to prove it in court.

Several other common sense provisions
should curb IRS abuses. For example,
divorced spouses will only be held respon-
sible for the amount of income they indi-
vidually earned for their former house-
holds. In the past, the IRS could go after
one spouse for the entire amount owed,
even if the other spouse was responsible
for the problem.
Taxpayers can now sue the government
for damages of up to S100,000 in cases of
IRS negligence. Taxpayers will also find it
easier to be compensated for court costs of
cases they win. And the IRS can no longer
require people to pay interest and penalties
when the IRS fails to notify them of a
problem within 18 months of filing.
One last important provision forbids
the IRS from seizing a taxpayer's home
without a court order. As the aforemen-
tioned improper seizure rate indicates, this
is an area that was in bad need of reform,
and this provision should help prevent
some improper seizures in the future.
Perhaps the most important message is
not a provision at all, but Congress' recogni-
tion that the IRS has not been performing
acceptably. This legislation, and the incredi-
ble bipartisan support for it, should speak to
every one of the 102,000 employees of the
agency. The American people, and the IRS
employees themselves, deserve a greater
measure of respect. The IRS needs to reform
its attitude to become less of an antagonist.
By nature, as the tax collectors for the
country, the IRS will never be a welcome
part of the lives of American citizens. But
it plays a necessary role, and with the new
changes and a reformist attitude within the
organization, it can increase its productiv-
ity while decreasing its intimidating image
and practices.

L ast Tuesday, an appeals court ruled that
Secret Service personnel must testify
in the ongoing Monica Lewinsky investiga-
tion. This decision conflicted with the
Secret Service's contention that it should
have a confidential relationship with the
President and that making agents testify
would damage the trust each president puts
in the Secret Service. Though absolute trust
is necessary between the President and his
protectors, the appeals court made the cor-
rect ruling - a ruling that should not jeop-
ardize the President's trust or the Secret
Service's ability to protect him.
The Secret Service's opposition to tes-
tifying is summed up in a declaration
made by Director of the United States
Secret Service Lewis C. Merletti. Merletti
says that "using Secret Service protective
personnel as witnesses concerning the
activities of a President will substantially
undermine, if not destroy, the relationship
of confidence and trust that must exist
between the Secret Service and a President
for the Secret Service to successfully ful-
fil (sic) its mission." He also said that
presidents may "push away the Service's
'protective envelope,' thereby making
them more vulnerable to assassination."
Agents refused to cooperate with
Kenneth Starr's investigation, citing a pro-
tective function privilege. A district court
did not recognize such a privilege, result-
ing in the appeal.
The three-judge federal appeals court
quoted in its decision Rule 501 of the
Federal Rules of Evidence. Rule 501 says
"the privilege of a witness, person, gov-
ernment, State, or political subdivision
thereof shall be governed by the principles
of the common law as they may be inter-
preted by the courts of the United States in

the light of reason and experience."
Exceptions are only made when required
by the Constitution or a Congressional act.
The court did not find the Secret Service's
argument persuasive enough to specify*
that they should be exempted.
This decision should not in any way
endanger the President. Though the Secret
Service reasons that making agents testify
could cause the President to distance him-
self from his protection, it misses the
underlying point that the President should
never distance himself from the Secret
Service in the first place. As the court stat-
ed in its decision, "the President has a cor-
relative duty to accept protection."
Furthermore, as the court recognized,
presidents face the greatest danger when
they are exposed in a crowd. At such
times, it is unlikely that a President would
commit a criminal act, and the Secret
Service should be in its closest proximity
to the President at these times. It is more
likely that a President would engage in
criminal activity in private, such as in the
White House, where no assassination
attempt has ever been perpetrated and pro*
tection is likely less intense anyway. With
the protective function privilege, the
Secret Service's proximity to the President
would logically not change.
The President is at heart a public servant.
He works for the American people, and
while certain special privileges come with
the position, the President should not be
allowed to commit a felonious act and then
be protected by the silence of his Secre
Service detail. The Secret Service is a part of
law enforcement, and agents have just as
great a duty to facilitate the discovery of
truth as any other branch of law enforce-

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