Why Do You Say It Might Suggest a "Relatively Innocent" Start of the Probe?
Great catch on that single word -- "other Tea Party groups" -- that everyone else missed.
But why would you say this is a relatively benign start of the targeting? Bear in mind that upon the very first media mention of a Tea Party group applying for a 501(c)(4) status, the IRS had already determined there was a "problem" which needed further probing so that its "scope" could be determined.
I don't see this as innocent at all -- what I see is that the first time a Tea Party group applies for the same status as is had by a thousand liberal groups, they're targeted, and the IRS immediately springs into action to determine the "scope" of the "problem."
BTW: This would also jibe with officials' statements as to why this initial incident was redacted -- they have said that it would be routine to redact information about specific taxpayers. If this first entry concerned a specific application, then it would fit that criterion for redaction.
This continues bothering me, and I've written about it at my blog.
I think the assumption you're making is "If the idea comes from outside the IRS, then that lessens the culpability of the IRS."
I don't agree with that. Obviously, as a partisan myself, I could get a bad idea from outside myself, but if I execute that idea, I own that action. "Someone else thought of this criminal conduct" does not absolve me.
Further, I don't really agree the idea came from outside the Obama Administration, or the general body of the liberal political class, at all. Quoting from my blog:
The fact that NPR reported on it hardly means that no political actors then picked up the ball. In fact, I'd bet good money someone in the Administration or in Congress sent an Action Demand to the IRS, clipping the NPR article as "proof" of the allegations leveled.
This is the way it works in the Media-Government complex. The Democrats give marching orders sotto voce to the media, and the media shouts the marching orders back to the Democrats.
It's a two-step manner of "laundering" the marching orders.
Political actors planting stories in the press in order to then justify their intention from the start -- "Look what the media is saying!" (unmentioned: I planted the story so that the media would say this) -- is very well-known tactic.
It happens, literally, 100 times a day in Washington.
Suffice to say I don't think any liberal would call it "relatively benign" if Bush's IRS had gone after liberal organizations after picking up a tip from Breitbart, Fox, or the Daily Caller.
By the way, let me compliment you: I think you're almost certainly right on this and have scooped everyone. I think your informed speculation today will turn out to be tomorrow's confirmed truth.
Except for that unfortunate bit about "relatively benign," of course.