Four days ago, in a Friday document dump, the IRS informed the Congress that Lois Lerner’s subpoenaed emails were “gone.” They had been destroyed by a computer glitch and the IRS IT folks couldn’t find them anywhere. They weren’t on her work computer, they weren’t on the email servers, and the archived tapes were recycled after six months to reuse the tapes and save taxpayer money. Apparently her internal emails were available and the IRS was able to find them by searching through other employees’ archives. Only the emails sent to external agencies were lost, and that would include emails sent to:
- The Department of Justice;
- The Federal Election Commission;
- The White House;
- Democratic members of Congress.
The revelation came in a paragraph near the bottom of the fourteenth page of a fifteen page letter sent to Congress by the IRS. The letter did not address why the IRS did not follow the standard policy for email security of both the Federal Government as a whole and the IRS in particular. They also didn’t address why they were just getting around to giving the Congress a heads-up, over a year after the subpoena was issued.
[House Committee on Ways and Means chairman Dave] Camp said of the revelation, “The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS’s response to Congressional inquiries. There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the Inspector General.”
Anybody with even a smidgen of technology knowledge knows that the IRS’s story has the odor of the contents of a week old catbox. Here’s what a former IRS IT specialist had to say about the situation.
First, he points to the United States Code for government record retention. That code, 44 U.S.C. Chapter 33, governs what a government record is and requires that agencies must notify the Archivist of any records that are destroyed and the reasons for destroying them. The code was put into place after Iran-Contra to keep government workers and contractors from deleting records.
Section § 3309 states that records “pertaining to claims and demands by or against the Government of the United States or to accounts in which the Government of the United States is concerned, either as debtor or creditor, may not be disposed of by the head of an agency under authorization granted under this chapter, until the claims, demands, and accounts have been settled and adjusted in the General Accounting Office, except upon the written approval of the Comptroller General of the United States.”
“These environments were required by federal regulations to be redundant and recoverable,” the former IRS IT worker says. “The recoverability requirements were put into place for exactly the reasons we see today.” Disposal of records outside the statutory standards requires permission in writing.
We wonder who gave permission – in writing – for that disposal?
This gets more interesting by the day, and the IRS mess could have real legs, along with the possibility of real criminal prosecution. That’s why the IRS and the Department of Justice will stonewall the Congress as long as possible.
If you want an idea of just how bad this mess is for the Obama administration, just listen to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT) questioning IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
The IRS Commissioner spends an eternity dissembling about complying with a duly issued subpoena and never answers the question. All he says is that delivering the emails, in redacted form, will take years to comply. Remember, this subpoena has been in place for over a year.
We wonder what the IRS would do to a taxpayer – and especially a taxpayer like the leaders of True the Vote – if they issued a subpoena and TTV told them it would take a couple of years to comply?
The President may well have bitten off more than he and his KeystoneKops can chew. Ordinary citizens actually take offense at the idea that the IRS might go after them for political reasons and even the commentators on CNN and MSNBC aren’t buying this one. We hope the House ratchets up the pressure dramatically over the summer, and we hope a Republican controlled Senate, as their first act of business in January joins with the House to form a select committee to take over, and press the investigation.