An Open Letter to the Internal Revenue Service

31 March 2008

Dear IRS,

As April 15th approaches, I once again find myself pondering the question of whether or not to financially support the usually immoral and frequently illegal activities of the United States government.

To start with, I know that a significant amount of tax money will be spent on the salaries and perks of 535 corporate toadies and lapdogs commonly referred to as the US Congress. These people spend their days working diligently to thwart the wishes of US citizens and taxpayers, yet they are still paid a total of $90, 698, 800 in salaries alone, not to mention the cost of their health plans, their retirement benefits and their numerous other perks. As Congress clearly works for corporate America and not for us, it would seem far more appropriate if corporate America picked up the tab for them, but such is not our system.

However, as much as I despise Congress, I am far more concerned with the fact that well over 50% of any funds I send you will be used in one way or another to support the US military machine. With so many critical needs in the world, social and environmental, this squandering of money on an apparatus designed solely to kill and destroy is profoundly obscene and immoral.

But, like most good Americans, I’m perfectly content to overlook a little obscenity and immorality as long as my comfortable lifestyle is not impacted. What does concern me is my potential legal liability, for not only are the activities of the US military profoundly obscene and immoral, but they are frequently illegal, and the occurrence of illegal activity is increasing. The US military is currently involved in two illegal wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan. These wars are violations of international law, and many of the tactics employed by the US military in these countries - targeting of civilian populations, targeting of civilian infrastructure, targeting of hospitals and ambulances, use of banned weapons, etc., etc. - are further violations. The US military has violated international law further by torturing prisoners at Guantanamo and numerous secret prisons. In the past year they have violated international law still further with illegal bombing raids on Somalia. Most recently, the US military provided logistical and tactical support for an illegal cross-border attack in Ecuador by the Colombian military. It is only a matter of time before some of these criminal activities of the US military end up in a case before the International Court of Justice in The Hague. When that happens, I do not want to be named as a co-conspirator.

Generally speaking, in US criminal law a person who bankrolls a crime is charged alongside the actual perpetrator of the crime. Additionally, according to Article 6 of the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal, an international treaty to which the US is a signatory, “Leaders, organizers, instigators and accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing crimes [crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity] are responsible for all acts performed by any persons in execution of such plan.” Now while I am not a lawyer, I take that to mean that I would also be guilty in the eyes of the court. After all, I’m paying for the war crimes. How much more of an accomplice can one be?

So, before I send you a check for my 2007 taxes I would like your help in assessing my legal liability. I would like from you some sort of accounting of the degree to which my tax dollars will be funding war crimes in the coming year. To be specific, can you tell me….

Given the tremendous number of variables involved, I understand that it is difficult to be precise in predicting such things, but I would appreciate it if you could provide me with your best estimate of the coming years’ war crimes. It would be a big help in trying to decide whether or not to send you my donation.


Paul Donahue