from the inconvenient-data-is-impossible-to-retrieve dept.
Lois Lerner, former director of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division, is a key figure in the IRS's controversy over the tax-exempt status by tea party and other conservative groups. Now CBS News reports that the IRS has told congressional investigators that the IRS cannot locate many of Lois Lerner's emails prior to 2011 because her computer crashed that year. "Isn't it convenient for the Obama Administration that the IRS now says it has suddenly realized it lost Lois Lerner's emails requested by Congress and promised by Commissioner John Koskinen?" says House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa. "Do they really expect the American people to believe that, after having withheld these emails for a year, they're just now realizing the most critical time period is missing?
According to a veteran IT professional, the IRS' claim that the agency lost two years' worth of former IRS official Lois Lerner's emails is "simply not feasible." Norman Cillo, an Army veteran who worked in intelligence and a former program manager at Microsoft, says it is very difficult to lose emails for good because Microsoft Exchange used by the government for their email servers have built-in exchange mail database redundancy and all servers use some form of RAID technology and tape backup. Cillo says it's possible the IRS is telling the truth 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. 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."
Per ArsTechnica, Representative Steve Stockman (R-TX) has sent a formal letter to the National Security Agency asking it to hand over "all its metadata" on the e-mail accounts of a former division director at the Internal Revenue Service. "Your prompt cooperation in this matter will be greatly appreciated and will help establish how IRS and other personnel violated rights protected by the First Amendment," Stockman wrote on Friday. The request came hours after the IRS told a congressional committee that it had "lost" all of the former IRS Exempt Organizations division director's e-mails between January 2009 and April 2011.
The IRS blames a "computer glitch" for erasing the emails which could have implicated Agency employees in illegal activity. "The metadata will establish who Lerner contacted and when, which helps investigators determine the extent of illegal activity by the IRS," says Stockman.
Hugh Pickens also notes that this is a case where one government agency accused of misconduct is asked to "assist" another government agency accused of misconduct.