US president Barack Obama looks to see if it has  stopped raining during a news conference this week with Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Rose Garden at the White House. Obama answered questions on the IRS Justice Department invesigation. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Richard Nixon made no bones about it. He told the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to look into thousands of political opponents and even had it (...)

US attorney General Eric Holder during a news conference at the justice department yesterday in Washington. Mr Holder announced he has ordered an investigation into whether criminal activity took place at the Internal Revenue Service. Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times

Not since the covert surveillance exposed during the Watergate scandal of the 1970s has such a rash of revelations about spying and seemingly p(...)