Issa’s overreach already underway

ISSA’S OVERREACH ALREADY UNDERWAY…. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission was tasked with an unpleasant job: identify and explain the events that caused the global economic crash in 2008. Last week, the panel largely wrapped up its work, and blamed … just about everyone.

Wall Street banks and their widespread mismanagement shared responsibility in the final report with law federal regulators, credit rating agencies, the Clinton and Bush administrations, the Federal Reserve, and a motley crew of thousands.

But Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the grand inquisitor chairman of the House oversight committee, has a few questions of his own. The conservative Republican has decided the investigation needs an investigation, and according to the Financial Times, has demanded that the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission turn over its emails and related records to the committee for review.

Keep in mind, there have been no accusations of wrongdoing on the part of the commission; Issa says he just wants to look around and see what, if anything, he can turn up.

Paul Krugman explained the motivations behind a move like this one.

[W]hat this is really about is intimidation — in much the same way that investigations of climate scientists are about intimidation.

What the GOP wants is to make people afraid even to do research that produces conclusions they don’t like. And they don’t stop at trying to undermine the research — they go after the researchers personally. The goal is to create an environment in which analysts and academics are afraid to look into things like financial-industry malfeasance or climate change, for fear that some subcommittee will either dig up or invent dirt about their private lives.

McCarthy had nothing on these guys.

This is, by the way, the same Issa who, just three weeks on the job, announced that he wants his committee to have a running list of everyone who files Freedom of Information Act requests. If this makes you uncomfortable, you’re not alone — it “just seems sort of creepy that one person in the government could track who is looking into what and what kinds of questions they are asking,” said David Cuillier, a University of Arizona journalism professor and chairman of the Freedom of Information Committee at the Society of Professional Journalists. “It is an easy way to target people who he might think are up to no good.”

And for good measure, let’s also note that Issa last week compared his GOP predecessor — the melon-shooting Dan Burton of Indiana — to Abraham Lincoln.

It’s going to be a long two years.