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posted by n1 on Saturday June 14 2014, @11:52PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
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."

Related Stories

Congressman Asks NSA to Provide Metadata for 'Lost' IRS Emails 18 comments

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.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by The Mighty Buzzard on Sunday June 15 2014, @12:20AM

    That's about par for the course. As many laws as this administration has ignored, I'm surprised they didn't just call them classified and refuse to turn them over even to a court order.
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    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by edIII on Sunday June 15 2014, @01:13AM

      by edIII (791) on Sunday June 15 2014, @01:13AM (#55444)

      I don't know about "this administration". That sounds largely political and divisive to be quite honest. EVERY administration for the last 50 years or so has been corrupt to me. We argue about who they are corrupt the most towards.

      The most salient point you made is the LAW. Some laws are so strict that regulatory compliance is a product and service in it's own right.

      A plethora of 3rd party services, and directly supported Microsoft technologies, exist to maintain such regulatory compliance. It's black and white in their marketing materials. I could post links to Microsoft Exchange support pages for regulatory compliance, retention policies, etc., but there are so many.

      Using such a system it's IMPOSSIBLE to lose ANY emails at all, save catastrophic drive failure and poor disaster recovery plans. The very moment it hits the SMTP server on inbound and passes the filters to be routed towards a user, it's also split and routed towards the compliance product. The user lacks the ability to even inspect or directly/indirectly access compliance archives.

      The one I managed for 8 years stored compliance on separate drives with it's own backup. You never looked at any user accounts to deliver requested emails. You went to the compliance archives, exported every email serviced by the MTAs for the given date range, and then delivered a compressed file for the lawyers.

      Which was the whole value being proposed by the 3rd party vendor; Iron clad compliance whereby it can be reasonably stated that compliance was immutable WRT employees and executives, and nobody but IT could ever deliberately delete a single email.

      The IRS is either completely inept and stupid, or just corrupt and playing games.

      --
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      • (Score: 3, Informative) by The Mighty Buzzard on Sunday June 15 2014, @01:26AM

        Simply because this story and the acts in it were set in this administration and it really has been the least open, most oppressive to free speech administration since, and even moreso than, Nixon's. Over three times more whistleblower prosecutions than all other presidents combined. IRS getting used as the political beatin stick. Is the NSA too? Sure as shit would be if I were already using the IRS.

        Nuff said, yo. Divisive or not, that BO is the biggest hater of liberty to ever sit that chair is just a flat fact.

        --
        Dog: Woof
        Cat: Meow
        Sheep: We need common sense gun control
      • (Score: 2, Flamebait) by frojack on Sunday June 15 2014, @01:41AM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Sunday June 15 2014, @01:41AM (#55453) Journal

        I don't know about "this administration". That sounds largely political and divisive to be quite honest.

        Why is it any time someone says anything against this administration is is politically divisive?
        Why is that? What is wrong with you that you can't see that his administration is simply corrupt?
        And it is corrupt in ways that prior administrations wouldn't even think of.

        Does it not bother you in the least that they think you are so stupid you would eve believe this
        story about data loss? They are laughing their asses off at you and you worry about being politically divisive.
        Unbefuckinglievable!

         

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        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by edIII on Sunday June 15 2014, @02:29AM

          by edIII (791) on Sunday June 15 2014, @02:29AM (#55463)

          Why is it any time someone says anything against this administration is is politically divisive?

          It usually is intended to be so, especially when you say "this administration". What's the point of that at all? I firmly believe they have all been corrupt, so see no point in singling out any specific Democratic or Republican administration.

          One could just as easily say "government" and mean the same thing to me. In other words, to reference a single administration gives room to say the others were any better. Something I firmly believe is not true, and only introduces a bunch of emotional partisan noise to the rather important signal.

          Does it not bother you in the least that they think you are so stupid you would eve believe this
          story about data loss? They are laughing their asses off at you and you worry about being politically divisive.
          Unbefuckinglievable!

          That's why I say it's political divisive. You're writing out vitriolic statements without even reading my post completely, and that was due to my observation about complaining about Barrack Obama. If you noticed, the poster replied back *only* with comments about Barrack Obama and not my technical observations about how unfeasible the data loss really was. Mr. Obama has nothing to do with this, other than he's the current sitting President of the United States. It could have just as easily been Bush, or Hillary doing this. I'm openly acerbic about *all* administrations and political parties.

          I also wrote at length about just how many different technologies are available, and common, to deal with regulatory compliance. If that wasn't enough, I thought the bold and italicized statement at the bottom about ineptitude or corruption was pretty damn clear.

          My point about political divisiveness was spot-on, as you didn't even read my post.

          --
          Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @02:30AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @02:30AM (#55464)

        Exactly. This administration is under attack constantly from old people who cannot stand to see a black man as president. Just a bunch of racists who want to destroy the country rather than get over their ignorance. All presidents do this kind of stuff. It's called winning the god damn election by popular vote, and you get to do what the fuck you want.

        Republican presidents have this kind of crap all the time. The last one stole two elections, invaded a soverign country without authorization from congress, and then caused the market to crash right at the end so his cronies could run off to the bank. The one before that had the Iran Contra scandal. Look it up. Nobody was forced to resign.

      • (Score: 2) by Pslytely Psycho on Sunday June 15 2014, @04:04AM

        by Pslytely Psycho (1218) on Sunday June 15 2014, @04:04AM (#55485)

        "The IRS is either completely inept and stupid, or just corrupt and playing games."

        Can't they be both?

        --
        Trump succeeds in making Nixon look respectable, Mission Accomplished!
      • (Score: 3) by davester666 on Sunday June 15 2014, @04:35AM

        by davester666 (155) on Sunday June 15 2014, @04:35AM (#55496)

        If you remember back to when GBjr first came into office, one of the first things they did was throw out the existing email system, installed Exchange servers, DISABLE any email backup on the server, then have a policy for each employee to manually export their email each week and copy the exported files to a server as their email retention policy.

        Completely legal, and guaranteed to lose emails.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 16 2014, @01:53AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 16 2014, @01:53AM (#55735)

          You forgot that they also used non-Government email (run by the Republican party) to conduct official business. And don't forget, interesting parts of that email system went missing as well. [wikipedia.org]

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @12:26AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @12:26AM (#55434)

    If they did lose them how can anyone trust their records in an audit and their IT department is pathetic? If it was intended, then we know there is some serious corruption.

    • (Score: 1) by broken on Sunday June 15 2014, @07:40PM

      by broken (4018) on Sunday June 15 2014, @07:40PM (#55657) Journal
      Lucky for them they're not required to have records when you get audited. That's all your responsibility.
  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @12:35AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @12:35AM (#55437)

    Everyone knows that backups are write-only.

    But seriously, sloppy information handling seems to be par for the course for nearly every organization, governmental or not. I would not be surprised to learn that the IRS took a cue from the corporate world and configured their email server to delete any message older than 90 days because those are "industry standard practices." The corps do it to avoid incriminating evidence turning up in the discovery phase of lawsuits, but they claim all kinds of other reasons (cost of storage, etc) and there are definitely dumbass sysadmins out there who believe it.

    • (Score: 1) by mrchew1982 on Sunday June 15 2014, @04:45AM

      by mrchew1982 (3565) on Sunday June 15 2014, @04:45AM (#55497)

      except in the case of the US Federal government they have a mandate for e-mail retention, so technically they have broken the law.

      http://www.archives.gov/about/laws/fed-agencies.html [archives.gov]

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @11:09AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @11:09AM (#55565)

        As you can see by reading that link, there is a ton of leeway in that statute.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by goody on Sunday June 15 2014, @01:12AM

    by goody (2135) on Sunday June 15 2014, @01:12AM (#55443)

    All the IRS needs to do is say they fired their backup administration staff years ago in order to reduce the size of government and the teahadist GOPers will go back to talking about Benghazi 24/7.

    • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Sunday June 15 2014, @01:38AM

      Tea party isn't GOP. It's mostly libertarian with a smattering of GOP loyalists. Don't want to believe me? Why then has nearly every instance of its influence been to the detriment of a GOP incumbent? Logic, yo, it will fuck up your world view.
      --
      Dog: Woof
      Cat: Meow
      Sheep: We need common sense gun control
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @02:02AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @02:02AM (#55460)

        > Don't want to believe me? Why then has nearly every instance of its influence been to the detriment of a GOP incumbent? Logic, yo, it will fuck up your world view.

        Winning primary elections does not prove that the new guys aren't part of the same party, it kind of says the opposite of that.

        • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Sunday June 15 2014, @02:17AM

          Err... only if you utterly fail to logic. That's like saying if a full on GOP conservative ran as a democrat without changing platform in the primary and won, he'd just be another democrat.
          --
          Dog: Woof
          Cat: Meow
          Sheep: We need common sense gun control
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @03:24AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @03:24AM (#55471)

            > That's like saying if a full on GOP conservative ran as a democrat without changing platform in the primary and won, he'd just be another democrat.

            Which would never happen because a "full on GOP conservative" wouldn't have a chance in a democratic primary.

            When you have to make up completely unrealistic analogies to support your beliefs that should give you pause.

            • (Score: 1) by The Mighty Buzzard on Sunday June 15 2014, @03:34AM

              Idiot, did you even take English? Analogies are by no means required to be realistic. It is implicit in their nature that they can be fictional and still serve their purpose.
              --
              Dog: Woof
              Cat: Meow
              Sheep: We need common sense gun control
              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @03:42AM

                by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @03:42AM (#55476)

                > Analogies are by no means required to be realistic. It is implicit in their nature that they can be fictional and still serve their purpose.

                I guess it really does take quite a bit of an independent streak and some world class critical thinking skills to break yourself out of the overwhelmingly Liberal echo chamber that is the online community.

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @09:15AM

                  by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @09:15AM (#55551)

                  That could be reality's well-known liberal bias showing through, so don't blame the online community for that.

      • (Score: 1) by goody on Sunday June 15 2014, @02:33AM

        by goody (2135) on Sunday June 15 2014, @02:33AM (#55465)

        You may be right, but they're certainly not Democrats, and GOP leaders and candidates embrace the tea party whenever convenient (i.e. it gets them votes or brownie points with far right wingers).

        • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Sunday June 15 2014, @03:23AM

          Nah, the GOP embrace them because they're scared of what will happen if they don't. The tea party aren't far right wingers, though they do have some of those who apparently got lost or didn't read up on what they were joining. They're mostly people who think the government should A) Follow the constitution, B) Don't spend what you can't afford, and C) Leave people the fuck alone. Those ideals are neither right nor left wing. They don't fit on that spectrum at all; that spectrum is one of corruption and oppression from either end to the other. They're a game breaker and I really hope they gain massively in power.

          --
          Dog: Woof
          Cat: Meow
          Sheep: We need common sense gun control
          • (Score: 1) by goody on Sunday June 15 2014, @05:42PM

            by goody (2135) on Sunday June 15 2014, @05:42PM (#55627)

            I think your view of the tea party is a bit idealistic. Regarding C above, they believe that except when it involves homosexuals, abortion, Democrats, or religion other than Christianity. They may have been a big tent "all sides are welcome" movement initially, but there's no doubt they are very right wing and are essentially the fringe element of the GOP -- those who think the GOP isn't conservative/harsh/pure enough. They're getting funded by PACs funded by the same people that are supporting the GOP. If they do gain massively in power, they can take their poisonous politics of fear, cynicism, and anger and take the states they are overrunning and secede for all I care.

            • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Sunday June 15 2014, @07:37PM

              You're looking at a loud, retarded minority and assuming they represent the majority. This is simply not the case though you'll hear nothing else from the media because they have a vested interest in the two party system and a third party would bring chaos to the power structure they shill for.
              --
              Dog: Woof
              Cat: Meow
              Sheep: We need common sense gun control
              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @08:54PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @08:54PM (#55676)

                > This is simply not the case though you'll hear nothing else from the media because they have a vested interest in the two party system and a third party would bring chaos to the power structure they shill for.

                Which is why the tea party runs candidates in republican primaries - the media makes them do it.

                • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Sunday June 15 2014, @09:20PM

                  There are no tea party candidates, only candidates endorsed and supported by them. This has not been limited to republicans either, though most have been. Now that we've got your wrongness out of the way we can discuss why very few democrats will ever be supported by the tea party if you like.
                  --
                  Dog: Woof
                  Cat: Meow
                  Sheep: We need common sense gun control
                  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @10:02PM

                    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @10:02PM (#55683)

                    > There are no tea party candidates,

                    A third party with no candidates. Logic! Winning! Circular!

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @03:54AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @03:54AM (#55480)

          You'll also find that the largest tea party groups have been headed by 'former' GOP politicians and insiders like Dick Armey, Matt Kibbe and Tim Phillips.

        • (Score: 2) by tathra on Sunday June 15 2014, @06:30AM

          by tathra (3367) on Sunday June 15 2014, @06:30AM (#55519)

          the GOP fully embraces the Tea Party because they're both fully funded by the Koch brothers, Murdoch, etc, and have similar goals (which is whatever their rich owners dictate).

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @11:43AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15 2014, @11:43AM (#55568)

      -1 troll.

  • (Score: 1) by dboz87 on Tuesday June 17 2014, @01:08PM

    by dboz87 (1285) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @01:08PM (#56348)

    I clicked on this summary hoping to find discussion of the likelihood of the emails actually being unrecoverable and if the IRS explanation is plausible. I should have known that all I would see is political rancor and bias on one side and heads stuck in the sand on the other. If I wanted that, I would go to Fox News and Huffington Post.