Reporter Jane Mayer has a new book, Dark Money, which exposes the fossil fuel billionaire Koch brothers’ decades of radical efforts to subvert American democracy, and even experienced Koch watchers are learning new information. For instance, we are just now finding out that Charles and David paid two former law enforcement personnel to smear Mayer in 2010 after The New Yorker published her first big article about their role in the astroturfing of tea parties.

With or without real evidence, the point of the covert campaign was not to find genuine evidence of plagiarism, but rather a classic case of attacking the messenger.

“Their aim, according to a well-informed source, was to counteract The New Yorker’s story on the Koch brothers by undermining me,” wrote Mayer. “’Dirt, dirt, dirt’ is what the source later told me they were digging for in my life. ‘If they couldn’t find it, they’d create it.’”

As I keep saying, powerful surveillance and information tools in the hands of a government agency like the NSA, which struggles to maintain awareness of a big, fast-moving, and often dangerous, world, do not necessarily alarm me. But whereas Congress has a well-defined oversight role with the CIA, FBI, Pentagon, etc., who can protect us from billionaires when they decide that we are inconvenient to their plans for political and economic dominion?