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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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June 16, 2014 - 8:03 am
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Late in the day last Friday (the 13th, with a full moon), the Internal Revenue Service told congressional investigators that it had “lost” two years of Lois Lerner’s emails. Lerner is the IRS official at the center of the agency’s massive political targeting scandal. Lerner disclosed the scandal dishonestly, with a planted question in a conference call just ahead of an inspector general’s report that was imminent. Lerner then blamed the scandal on “rogue” agents in the IRS Cincinnati office. The scandal went all the way up to Washington, as Lerner knew at the time.

Lerner has since pleaded the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. In May, the House voted to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress. But she is not in jail, and was allowed to retire from the IRS with her pension intact. The House’s contempt charge has been referred to the Justice Department, but if the Obama administration was involved in the targeting, its Justice Department will not conduct a thorough investigation.

The “loss” of Lerner’s emails covers the period from January 2009 to April 2011 — the exact period when the IRS was targeting Tea Party and conservative groups opposed to President Barack Obama’s political agenda. The “lost” emails are emails between Lerner and agencies and people outside the IRS. They could provide evidence that she may have been working with other government entities and even the Obama White House. Obama’s own White House counsel, Robert Bauer, had called for the IRS to investigate Tea Party groups prior to joining the Obama administration officially. Several Democrats in Congress had also called for such investigations. If Lerner was working with them or communicating with them in any way, there were probably emails. But now, according to the IRS, a computer glitch has erased them from the face of the earth.

This isn’t likely, by the way. Government agencies use redundant systems to prevent crashes and to prevent data losses. Government agencies such as the FBI and military offices of special investigations have forensic computer experts who are capable of retrieving data thought to be deleted or lost. The NSA also likely has the capability of retrieving the “lost” Lerner emails. The IRS itself is an investigative agency with forensic computer experts. Were any of these experts or agencies called in to help the IRS with its “glitch”?

Reporter Sharyl Attkisson has some questions for the IRS along those lines…

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All Comments   (13)
All Comments   (13)
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Unless we are in some alternate universe where a person has the email client and email server on their local machine the only thing lost with her hard drive allegedly crashing would be a loss of her email client.
Her in and out emails should still reside on an email server, unless that is now being scrubbed during the latest stall tactics
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
They backup their data every single day, and in addition, they keep backups of the backups on other servers. That Lerner's hard drive "crashed" is immaterial. The emails still exist somewhere, that is, unless they've been PURPOSELY deleted. Even then, they could be recovered unless PURPOSELY over written by a program designed to remove all traces such as CC Cleaner. Or that Eric Holder took a hammer to the drives himself. Take your pick.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
What won't they do? This is a question that should be asked of every American - where will the stop with this lawlessness?

Hiding documentation, refusing to testify, issuing executive orders without constitutional basis, claiming powers denied them by the constitution. Jailing scape goats. Militarizing our police.

Playing defense against people like this is a losing game - and they know it so always keep us on defense.

It will only get worse.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ask the NSA for them.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
With a year to work on this little IT project, my guess is that those e-mails have disappeared off servers, archives, and backups, and the original records have been overwritten many times. Only very sophisticated data recovery techniques will be able to restore them.

Or maybe I've just become a cynic since 2008?
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Government agencies use redundant systems to prevent crashes and to prevent data losses."

And this certainly applies to the IRS. The notion that these emails were lost because "her computer crashed" is ludicrous. I know. I used to do computer support at the IRS.

The fact is that mail isn't stored on user computers but on central mail servers. When I left a few years ago they were using Outlook to access Exchange servers sited at New Carrolton, just outside DC. And those servers were regularly backed up. Even if Lerner's computer was put through a crusher she could go to another PC, login, and get access to her mail.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
So, the IRS would have kept backups of email the user hadn't saved for how many months or years? How much room was allocated to each user on the servers? I'm in the federal government and am constantly exceeding my email storage allocationd and have to delete or---- create .pst files. Which have to be stored on my local harddrive because there isn't enough room on the network drives.

Did the IRS allow/encourage/drive folks to create local .pst folders due to limitations on network storage?
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was a contractor to the federal government for about 8 years. I never had the problem of exceeding my email storage. I'm not disputing your story, just wondering if different agencies have different issues.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm sure different agencies have different policies/issues and have made different decisions on what they're willing to pay for in terms of storage.

The Navy upgraded from 50MB per user to 100MB per user in 2012 for example. Still pretty small compared to what most businesses do. I can only guess at what the standard network storage is allocated to an individual user.
http://www.doncio.navy.mil/ CHIPS/ArticleDetails.aspx?ID=4205
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Raymond, would you mind emailing me at bryanp -at - pjmedia - dot - com?
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
If the GOP is smart, it will immediately subpoena the person who announced it and subpoena the tech people who told that person the emails were lost. Then subpoena the people responsible for the emails being lost.

That will clear this out immediately.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think Sharyl is going to be waiting a long time for an answer from the IRS.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Don't worry, she'll have things to do while she waits.
Getting audited, for instance.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
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