The IRS’s latest mishap revealed that mysteriously somehow, Lois Lerner, former IRS official, had 2 years worth of emails disappear into the great abyss to never be retrieved. Is this a mere coincidence or a sign of a systematic problem in our government?
In case you haven’t been following the IRS scandal, here’s a brief rundown of what happened.
According to Forbes contributor, Kelly Phillips Erb:
In 2010, IRS employees were asked to scrutinize tax exempt organizations based on politically-charged keywords, the so-called BOLO (“be on the lookout”) listings. The BOLO listings were either a lazy or targeted response (depending on who you talk to) to the significant uptick in tax exempt applications following the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310. The use of those BOLO lists would go on for about two years.
In response to complaints about the process, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) formally requested a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) inquiry which began in summer of 2012. Most of the focus on IRS and the TIGTA inquiry went largely unnoticed by the press and the public. However, in 2013, then acting Director of Exempt Organizations, Lois Lerner, admitted at an American Bar Association meeting that some organizations were targeted because of their titles or beliefs. Lerner would eventually be called before Congress in 2013 to talk about the specifics and would refuse to testify, pleading the Fifth Amendment: she was eventually voted in contempt of Congress.
Lerner pleaded the fifth therefore her emails were the only evidence of what actually happened. Mysteriously right before the hearing, lawmakers were informed that Lois Lerner’s emails had gone missing. However, the IRS had known about the missing emails for months.
During the most recent hearing, David Ferrireo, the head of the national archives, testified before Congress stating the IRS did not follow the law. By law the IRS and all federal agencies are supposed to immediately report any deleted records to the national archives. These emails have been known to be missing since 2011. Both Congress and the National Archives were left in the dark about this. Members of the GOP blasted IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for the lack of honesty and transparency.
But wait, haven’t we been taught that the Internet is forever? Surely, there must be a way to retrieve these emails even though her hard drive crashed.
It’s important to note how sending an email works. Emails are stored in mail client applications but they are also stored on the server. IT professionals have agreed that it’s possible to retrieve information from a crashed hard drive.
“Most big organizations that have hard drive failures for key important people in the organization, can send them to these places called clean rooms and they can reassemble the hard drive and fix all the issues out there. In most cases, you can recover,” said David Kennedy in an interview with Greta Van Susteren.
It is also possible to deliberately crash a hard drive, but in most cases the person is identifiable.
It depends on the sophistication of the person doing it. In most cases, you can actually identify if somebody was deliberately trying to tamper with the hard drive to crash it or remove evidence. For example, if I were to use one of these cleaner applications, you would intentionally — a forensic examiner like myself could actually go back and look at the type of information that’s on there and see that it was actually erased intentionally. Same thing if you had a hard drive crash. You can see the last time it was booted up. The difference between that and look if it was intentionally crashed or not.
Okay, so it’s possible to recover a crashed hard drive and it’s possible to see if someone deliberately crashed their hard drive. Shouldn’t IT professionals working for the federal government be the best of the best? Is there any bit of truth to what the IRS is claiming?
The Blaze interviewed, Norman Cillo, a former Microsoft manager.
“It’s possible the IRS is telling the truth about Lerner’s emails if the federal agency is “totally mismanaged and has the worst IT department ever.I don’t know of any email administrator that doesn’t have at least three ways of getting that mail back,” he explained. “It’s either on the disks or it’s on a TAPE backup someplace or in an archive server. There are at least three ways the government can get those emails.”
Cillo provided a total of six reasons why he believes it is highly unlikely a computer crash would permanently remove all traces of Lerner’s emails, all of which can be viewed here.
The IRS was able to recover 24,000 of the missing emails through other employee accounts. However, the damage is already done. The administration has failed the American people and all we’re are asking for is reasonable answers. Doesn’t it seem suspicious that the two years of pertinent emails just vanished like that? Poof! Unfortunately, without a transparent administration we may never get to the bottom of this. Next time the IRS comes knocking on your door for receipts and records regarding tax information, pull a Lois Lerner. Oh no! My hard drive crashed and I accidentally maliciously got rid of all my files.