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.
Hugh Pickens adds:
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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...