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IRS: The Dog also ate Lois Lerner’s Hard Drive

IRS: The Dog also ate Lois Lerner’s Hard Drive

The cover up is becoming almost as bad as the crime.

The plot seems to thicken every day now on the infamous “missing emails” from IRS manager Lois Lerner. So only did Lerner’s emails disappear in an alleged “computer crash,” but so did six other IRS officials at the center of the IRS targeting scandal. Now comes news that the IRS actually disposed of Lerner’s hard drive making any data retrieval that more difficult.

Ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s crashed hard drive has been recycled, making it likely the lost emails of the lightning rod in the tea party targeting controversy will never be found, according to multiple sources.

“We’ve been informed that the hard drive has been thrown away,” Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, said in a brief hallway interview.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa issued a terse statement following the POLITICO report Wednesday night:

“If the IRS truly got rid of evidence in a way that violated the Federal Records Act and ensured the FBI never got a crack at recovering files from an official claiming a Fifth amendment protection against self-incrimination , this is proof their whole line about ‘losing’ e-mails in the targeting scandal was just one more attempted deception. Old and useless binders of information are still stored and maintained on federal agency shelves; official records, like the e-mails of a prominent official, don’t just disappear without a trace unless that was the intention.”

Earlier this week, Issa subpoenaed the damaged hard drive hoping to retrieve the lost emails with assistance from tech experts. The news that the hard drive was disposed of will ramp up suspicions of an agency or White House cover-up to the IRS targeting scandal.

Issa tweeted further thoughts on Thursday afternoon.

The IRS told congressional investigators last Friday that Lerner’s emails from 2009 to 2011 were lost when her computer crashed.

The timing of the missing emails is critical because the IRS began targeting conservative and Tea Party groups in early 2010. Congressional investigators believe evidence from the “lost Lerner emails” may show a political directive to target conservatives — something the Obama Administration has denied from the start.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air notes that the national news media, eager to crucify President Nixon over an 18-minute recording gap, are barely attentive to this massive loss of evidence.

Forty years ago, aggressive media investigation into executive-branch abuse of power — including the use of the IRS against political opponents — forced the only resignation of a US President in history. Today, the media seems a lot more interested in whether an obvious abuse of power against an administration’s political opponents has a high Q-rating, or whether we should give the IRS even more resources after this scandal.

Maybe WikiLeaks could do the job that the Obama Administration seems unable to do.


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Isn’t there a solution – subpoena the keepers of the records, the administrators of the servers, demanding copies of their files.

Over the past week we’ve heard from IT pros galore that an individually crashed hard drive, even 6 of them, is an irrelevancy since all pre-crash data is routinely backed-up. Even the stories of the IRS’s data guys working on her hard drive, saying “we can’t recover anything,” really makes for bad acting b/c no one is going to spend lots of time trying to retrieve data from an iffy hard drive when all the data can be obtained readily from the back-ups. This is all for public consumption.

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to pfg. | June 19, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    To quote Larry Price: “Repeat after me: Emails are not stored on “Hard Drives”; they are stored on “servers”. If your computer crashes, you log onto another computer and access your e-mail. E-mail is not dependent on the workstation. […] [06/19] Video: Tea-Party Attorney: IRS Lying About Missing Lois Lerner Emails”

      Wrong. They ARE stored on hard drives. Which are often located IN A SERVER. Still ‘hard drives’.

      Backed up to other servers wiht hard drives, sometimes mag tape, sometimes both.

      Also printed on paper per IRS regulations.

      So, the IRS says :

      Lerner’s HD ‘crashed and was unrecoverable’

      6 other employess hard drives ‘crashed and were unrecoverable’

      The server HD’s ‘crashed and wer unrecoverable’

      The backup HD’s ‘crashed and were unrecoverable’

      The backup TAPES ‘crashed and were unrecoverable’

      The LEGALLY MANDATED PRINTOUTS ‘crashed and were unrecoverable’

      Yowsa again.

      Here is the problem. The IRS claimed that it was keeping 6 months of tapes of the email on its servers, but that the tapes were recycled before they were asked for, or something like that. But, what they were apparently archiving, to the best of my understanding, were the emails that had not been deleted, but remained on their servers, and, also some of the sent email. What they apparently were not doing, that most companies do, is journaling the email traffic, and then archiving the journals.

      But, they also pointed out that a lot of employees (and I am one of those, but not with the IRS) move a lot of their email out of their inbox folder on the server, into local folders on their hard drive. And, that was what was potentially on Lerner’s hard drive – the email that she moved from the email server, and had stored in local files on her hard drive. Because whether or not there was a copy on the server at some point in the past was irrelevant, since those archive tapes had been recycled.

      Of course, it was suspicious enough that not only were they not journaling the email traffic, and they had recycled the server archive tapes (they now apparently just store them indefinitely), but her hard drive had crashed. And, then it turns out that they had discarded the hard drive (since much of the data on most crashed hard drives can be recovered), and 4 or 5 other hard drives had similarly crashed presumably containing incriminating, or at least interesting, emails.

        You know, even if all that was true, it’d expose the perpetrators responsible to civil and criminal penalties under multiple federal statutes and policies mandating proper record keeping, with a good number being contractors being paid big bucks to do this right.

        And I’ve never heard of recycling archive tapes after 6 months.

        That concept leves the obvious ‘out’ for any IRS employee who doesn’t want ANY given set of emails to be seen – copy them to your own HD, and implicitly delete them from server, and thus from all future backups.

        IOW, each employee can delete anything they want any time they want, just by copying to their own machine (which then can erase or destroy at will later) and it’s gone.


    Exiliado in reply to pfg. | June 20, 2014 at 9:04 am

    This is all for public consumption.

    And they obviously think the public is stupid.

How do you adequately describe these people anymore? Evil and incompetent are just not descriptive enough.

Water board her with urinal water until she produces the evidence.

Time to hire the Mafia and get good ‘ol fashioned justice. I’ve heard enough.

I read also that the other 6 employees ‘lost hard drives’ at the same time.

And also that the BACKUP hard drive ‘crashed and was unrecoverable’.


Where messages are stored depends on how the recipient is reading them. If reading them as webmail, via a browser, the messages stay on the ISP’s server. If reading them as old-fashioned e-mail, with a non-Web-based e-mail program, they are downloaded from the ISP before being read, and stored locally on the recipient’s hard drive. At least that’s how my e-mails are stored.


    Ragspierre in reply to tom swift. | June 19, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    Nope. Not pretending any expertise here, but I can read my emails (archives, too) from my lap-top.

    I DAMN sure can find them on my off-sight back-up. PLUS my portable hard-drive that mirrors my practice desk-top.

    And I’m just a simple country lawyer…

    pjm in reply to tom swift. | June 20, 2014 at 8:54 am

    No. The IRS does not use Comcast or whoever to run their email servers like you or I do. They run their own.

    And handle their own backups and archives of same.

    Including ‘losing’ them when convenient. From multiple places all at once (Lerner’s computer(s), the email server, the backup serves, the archive tapes, etc.

    And ‘losing’ them from 6 of her direct subordinates at the same time.

    And ‘losing’ only the specific ones of interest to this investigation in every case above.

    All at the same time.

    At all levels of (used to be) recoverablitiy.

    Then the dog that ate them choked on the last one, so you can’t question him either.

NC Mountain Girl | June 19, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Try using the IRS excuse when their agents ask for all intra and intercompany e-mails from two years ago on a Sec. 482 transfer pricing exam.

Hell, my Corruption Meter blew past “smidgen” and spiked at “Watergate Level.”

If those mail are seriously gone. They were not lost, they were DELETED. Today’s technology saves and backs up everything. Wasn’t Lois required by law to keep hard-copies of all her emails? Whatever. “Day 406” and still not accountability. Disgusting. They all suck including the GOP for tolerating more than a year of delays and obfuscation by IRS bureaucratic fascists.

On another site, a commenter claimed his company had been in the running for a new IRS contract dealing with the servers and computers. He says in the specs for the contract it was explained that emails were backed up not only on servers and local drives, but also at an off-site location which also had to be maintained as part of a contract.

If the emails are really gone, they were physically deleted.

Of course, it would explain the long delay in advising Congress of the “loss” if they had to track down all the emails sent outside of the agency and ensure they were “lost” too.