IRS Trigger Men Tell All

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WASHINGTON: No matter how much the IRS scares you, it seems to scare its own employees even more. Proof of that came in day three of the Senate's taxman theater, as five long-time IRS agents testified from behind tall gray screens, their voices disguised by electronic warblers. All the cameras could see was the crescent of senators among them the thoughtful, blinking Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who let slip the only clue to a witness's identity when he said "sir." The tales of malfeasance flowed like wine: One witness had "been instructed by IRS management not to conduct audits of particular taxpayers who happen to be personal friends of someone in IRS management." Why so shy about coming forward? One agent claimed to be "painfully aware of the ability of the IRS to retaliate against employees who dare to speak out." Heard around Agency watercoolers Monday: "I was sick! Really!"