Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by mattie_p on Tuesday June 17 2014, @11:01PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the watching-the-watchers dept.

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.

Related Stories

IRS Loses Emails in Tea Party Investigation 35 comments

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."

NSA Stores 80% of all Phone Calls 28 comments

At least 80 percent of all audio calls are gathered and stored by the NSA, whistleblower William Binney has revealed. The former code-breaker says the spy agency's ultimate aim is no less than total population control.

"At least 80 percent of fiber-optic cables globally go via the US", Binney said. "This is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in. At least 80 percent of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. The NSA lies about what it stores."

Binney has no evidence to substantiate his claims as he did not take any documents with him when he left the NSA. However, he insists the organization is untruthful about its intelligence gathering practices and their ultimate aim. He says that recent Supreme Court decisions have led him to believe the NSA won't stop until it has complete control over the population.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Horse With Stripes on Tuesday June 17 2014, @11:20PM

    by Horse With Stripes (577) on Tuesday June 17 2014, @11:20PM (#56689)

    Dear NSA,
    We seem to be missing some emails that we really, really want to help our friend find. Now, we're not saying that you have them ... but, if by chance you happened to see some of these missing emails under that rabbit in your magic NSA hat, well, we'd really appreciate it if you could be a mench and help us out. Of course, we'll be sure to help you if you ever need it, like say ... rather than restricting your powers we could cut you guys a little slack (we know you've been working really, really hard lately).

    Signed,
    Congress (aka your boss but we're not going to say that because we both know it really isn't true anymore).

    • (Score: 2) by forsythe on Wednesday June 18 2014, @01:10AM

      by forsythe (831) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @01:10AM (#56712)

      What? And here I was sure that it was a bitingly cynical act from a noble congressman on behalf of his constituents, placing the NSA between a rock (admitting that it spies on Congress) and a hard place (admitting that its data retention is no good, and thus what's the point)!

      Gosh, now you'll be telling me that Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was fiction!

      </sarcasm>, but to be serious, the above is a silver lining for those interested in finding weight support various, purely legalistic attempts to restore this whole ``privacy'' concept (putting aside the issue of practical feasibility, and just focusing on ``Can a law be passed without being absolutely gutted?''). I don't see any real way for this to resolve without one part of one branch of American government getting ticked off at another branch of American government.

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Horse With Stripes on Wednesday June 18 2014, @01:40AM

        by Horse With Stripes (577) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @01:40AM (#56719)

        We can only hope that the NSA doesn't say "Ooops, we don't have the emails. Our data retention isn't as good as Snowden claimed" when they really do have the emails and are unwilling to reveal the truth just to burn the lawbreakers over at the IRS at the stake.

        • (Score: 2) by forsythe on Wednesday June 18 2014, @02:09AM

          by forsythe (831) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @02:09AM (#56725)

          I wouldn't be surprised at that result at all, but I also wouldn't be surprised if that contradicted retention claims in internal/external documents. We'll see.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by davester666 on Wednesday June 18 2014, @03:25AM

      by davester666 (155) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @03:25AM (#56751)

      Here's the metadata we have...ooops, we accidentally included the content of the email...you are required to delete the content and never mention at it ever existed....and then we will come over and club you till you forget...

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17 2014, @11:26PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17 2014, @11:26PM (#56692)

    Do they mean Metadata, or 'metadata' that they actually store, aka the whole fuckin thing and the horse it rode in on?

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Darth Turbogeek on Wednesday June 18 2014, @12:05AM

    by Darth Turbogeek (1073) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @12:05AM (#56699)

    Sorry, that just does not pass the sniff test. I do know the whole IRS vs Tea Party has a lot more to it than Fox News is yelling about so I'm not inclined to be sypathetic to the teabaggers - but nooooope sorry, the IRS losing email? Oh come on, that is just outright bullshit - There is simply not a chance that they dont have an archive and backup system. I just can not believe they are claiming incompetence when they clearly will have sysadmins that know about this shit and have dealt with such situations in the past.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by lonestar on Wednesday June 18 2014, @03:18AM

      by lonestar (4437) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @03:18AM (#56748)

      'Teabaggers' ah?

      I guess the commies who have such a problem with smaller govt & balanced budgets would be the "douchebaggers." Yeah, sounds about right.

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by RaffArundel on Wednesday June 18 2014, @12:27PM

        by RaffArundel (3108) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @12:27PM (#56895) Homepage

        I generally reserve the term "Teabagger" for the Tea Party members who want evolution outlawed and gays "re-educated". They want small government UNLESS it is their particular moral cause - it's fine to regulate doctors until you can't get any medical procedure the party doesn't approve of. Climate change, is of course a myth to them, no matter what scientists say. In Texas, less reported was their stance against divorce, which apparently is a deviant as homosexuality. When confronted with the obvious hypocrisy, considering many of their members are divorced, we got the same answer we always get: "that's different". I am also growing tired of their obstructionist, no compromise, attitude - but that hasn't annoyed me to the point of "Teabagger".

        Just so we don't get into the "No True Scotsman" fallacy - these are party platforms being run in elections around the country right now.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18 2014, @04:15PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18 2014, @04:15PM (#57007)

          To the best of my knowledge, 'teabagging' was, until recently, slang for taking a man's testicles into one's mouth.

          Just sayin'.

        • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18 2014, @09:57PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18 2014, @09:57PM (#57154)

          I don't care about any of that dumb shit. You want to take a man's hairy balls into your mouth or ass, I guess that's your thing. Admittedly I find it disgusting, but it has no real affect on me personally.

          I think a lot of people view the broad philosophy of "the TEA party" as fairly libertarian without the anarchist flavor. But the TEA party label isn't patented and therefore not monolithic. Any group of people could start the "Anytown USA TEA Party," and use it to rally around any cause.

          I don't believe my stance on things like gay marriage is hypocritical. I say keep government out of the marriage business altogether. From a legal perspective, a secular marriage is a contract like any other. We should be able to will our property or hospital visitation rights to anyone of our choosing who meets the mental capacity for entering contracts.

          You know what is hypocritical though? People who want to have us pay for their healthcare, daycare, medicare, bus fare, food stamps, rent/mortgage, education, birth control, internet access, booze and cigarettes.... then tell us it's none of our damn business what they do, if not outright BLAME everyone else for their failures.

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Phoenix666 on Wednesday June 18 2014, @12:59AM

    by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday June 18 2014, @12:59AM (#56708) Journal

    And we're about to get another load of BS about how the NSA doesn't actually have the metadata for those emails even though we know they spy on everything on planet Earth. It's not just that they want to have their cake and eat it too, but every other quantum state between those two poles as well. How long now before we burn DC to the ground? Just askin', because I need to arrange for somebody to feed my fish.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by tathra on Wednesday June 18 2014, @02:50AM

    by tathra (3367) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @02:50AM (#56738)

    this IRS nonsense is just another made-up "scandal" trying to make Obama look bad (he does that well enough on his own).

    progressive groups were being 'targeted' too (i cant link to the NYT article cuz its paywalled, so go here [washingtonpost.com]), and of course now all the people involving in perpetrating this "scandal" are backtracking on their initial claims.

    i dont really feel like digging around for a source (there's too many extremely partisan sites to dig through in order to find the facts on a non-biased source), but apparently the Tea Party groups were applying for a specific type of non-profit status which requires they be promoting civil welfare or something, and lets be honest, the Koch brothers and their money have no interest in anybody's welfare but their own, so the IRS was really just doing their job, but regardless, if there was any 'targeting' going on, it was universal, which means nobody was being targeted in the first place.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Nygmus on Wednesday June 18 2014, @03:45PM

      by Nygmus (3310) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @03:45PM (#56993)

      The groups in question were applying for 501(c)(4) status, or Social Welfare Organization status.

      Social Welfare organizations are *not* supposed to be purely political; there is a set limit on how much of their activity can be devoted to political purposes. However, many organizations (primarily, of late, conservative/Tea Party-affiliated organizations) have been seeking this designation and doing their best to keep it, thanks to the highly-questionable designation that *lobbying* could be considered a social welfare activity for purposes of exemption. They're also allowed to make political contributions as long as that's not their "primary activity."

      What is the point? It's not tax exemption, not at all.

      501(c)(4)s don't have to disclose their donors.

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Max Hyre on Wednesday June 18 2014, @04:59PM

        by Max Hyre (3427) <{maxhyre} {at} {yahoo.com}> on Wednesday June 18 2014, @04:59PM (#57024)
        [N.B.: 501(c)(4) organizations are tax-exempt.]

        The Law

        Take a look at the IRS's own docs [irs.gov] on the subject, specifically the sections titled The Statute and Social Welfare Organizations > Introduction

        The law says 501(c)(4) organizations are to be operated ``exclusively for the promotion of social welfare'' (civic leagues or organizations) or ``are devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes'' (local associations of employees).

        Neither is allowed to engage in political activities, if you believe ``exclusive'' means ``nothing but''.

        Thus the law requires the IRS to investigate 501(c)(4) applicants for political activity, and if it finds any, to reject the application. Similarly, if an extant 501(c)(4) is found to be engaged in politics, its exemption must be revoked.

        The Regulation

        However, we find on the next page:

        Reg. 1. 501(c)(4)-1(a)(2)(i) provides that:

        [A]n organization is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare if it is primarily engaged in promoting in some way the common good and general welfare of the community.

        WTF? `Exclusively` means `primarily`?

        And there's the scandal: the IRS is not following the law, and 501(c)(4) organizations shouldn't be engaging in any politics. Bang! PACs are dead.

        • (Score: 1) by Nygmus on Thursday June 19 2014, @05:27PM

          by Nygmus (3310) on Thursday June 19 2014, @05:27PM (#57510)

          Current interpretation allows lobbying for social issues to be considered as "social welfare." I think it's bullshit, but it's legal bullshit. They're allowed to engage in political activity as long as the majority of their activity is "social welfare," but the interpretation of lobbying as "social welfare" causes part of the issue.

          Yes, they are tax exempt, but that's not the reason the status is so hotly contested. Much more important is the ability to screen their donors, because it means that someone can pour money into a 501(c)(4) to support an issue without anyone being able to tell where the cash came from.

      • (Score: 2) by tathra on Wednesday June 18 2014, @05:34PM

        by tathra (3367) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @05:34PM (#57040)

        i dont know much of anything about the specific non-profits, however there's this line on wikipedia:

        The 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) categories are for politically active nonprofit organizations, which have become increasingly important since the 2004 federal elections.
        501(c)(4) — Civic Leagues, Social Welfare Organizations, and Local Associations of Employees

        further down, we have

        An organization is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare if it is primarily engaged in promoting the common good and general welfare of the people of the community.

        anybody applying for this status absolutely should be under extra scrutiny. and thats exactly what happened. there was no "targeting" because it was not only conservative groups that got that extra scrutiny, it was everyone, which is as it should be.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by joshuajon on Wednesday June 18 2014, @02:22PM

    by joshuajon (807) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @02:22PM (#56946)

    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.

    I didn't RTFA, but it actually looks like it's a case where one government agency accused of misconduct is asked to provide evidence AGAINST another agency accused of misconduct. Then again, are there any government agencies that aren't "accused" of misconduct?