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As the hard drive turns: Lois Lerner’s on again, off again, scratchy

As the hard drive turns: Lois Lerner’s on again, off again, scratchy

New information suggests Lois Lerner’s infamous hard drive may be recoverable after all

Lois Lerner has become the personification of the IRS targeting scandal.

Which brings us to her infamous hard drive crash. Recall that the new IRS Commissioner first told Congress that all of Lerner’s emails were recoverable and would be provided to investigating committees.

Sharyl Attkisson has a nice rundown of this explanation.

Friday’s revelation that the IRS “lost” Lois Lerner’s emails in a computer crash came ten months after Congress first requested them and seven months after they were first subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee. But what IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified about the emails at a hearing in March appears to be at odds with his agency’s newer reported claims that the emails are irretrievable.

Under questioning by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) on the House Oversight Committee, Koskinen said IRS emails “get taken off and stored in servers.” That was part of the reason, he said, it was so difficult to provide them in a timely fashion.

As of March, the IRS had reportedly given Congress more than 400,000 pages of documents: just not the ones at issue.

Then last month came the confounding news — delivered offhandedly by the IRS — that Lerner’s hard drive was crashed, destroyed and recycled… along with six other IRS officials at the center of the targeting scandal.

In the wake of two Federal judges putting pressure on the IRS, the tune seems to have changed once again. Lo and behold, the Lerner hard drive may be recoverable after all!

House investigators said Tuesday that the computer hard drive of ex-agency official Lois Lerner — a key figure in the IRS targeting scandal — was only “scratched,” not irreparably damaged, as Americans have been led to believe.

GOP-led Ways and Means Committee investigators, in their quest to recover missing Lerner emails, learned her hard drive was damaged but recoverable by talking to IRS information-technology experts, after the government originally refused to make them available, according to the committee.

“It is unbelievable that we cannot get a simple, straight answer from the IRS about this hard drive,” said committee Chairman Dave Camp.

The Michigan Republican said the new information also raises more questions about potential criminal wrongdoing at the IRS because the committee was told no data was recoverable and the physical hard drive was recycled and potentially shredded.

In addition, learning that the hard drive was only scratched also raises questions about why the IRS refused to use outside experts to recover the data.

With this new information in hand, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee went another round on the topic today and once again IRS Commissioner Koskinen brought his A-game of bureaucratic arrogance.

Later during today’s hearing, the House’s resident bulldog — U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) — went after Koskinen again since the Commissioner’s story has changed at least three times on the topic of Lerner’s emails.

Gowdy finished off Koskinen in response to a comment the Commissioner had made earlier in hearing about low morale at the IRS these days.

“Mr. Koskinen … here’s a piece of advice I would give. If the folks like Lois Lerner and others would have spent more time working on the backlog [of tax exemption applications], more time working on their caseload and less time targeting groups and less time trying to overturn Supreme Court decisions they didn’t agree with, maybe morale would be better and maybe their backlogs would be lessened.”

One gets the feeling that this story has a long way to go before we know the truth — if we ever do. The easiest way would be for the Justice Department to seriously investigate, put serious pressure on Lerner and her fellow IRS officials. But no one believes that’s going to happen.

The less we know the more it seems people have gone out of their way to make it so.

Next week there will be another round of House hearings and Fox News correspondent Doug McElway told Bret Baier on the Special Report program tonight that rumors are swirling that IRS information technology staffers are on the docket to testify.


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Gremlin1974 | July 23, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Does anyone else get the impression that if you asked these people to describe the difference between their own posteriors and a hole in the ground in under 5 seconds the most you would get is “uhhhhhh” and a stupid look?

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to Gremlin1974. | July 24, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Excuse me, but I find mentioning the IRS and “holes in the ground” together to be very insulting to
    “holes in the ground!”

    And that’s the “hole” truth!

Oregon Mike | July 23, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Gawd, I’d love to have Trey Gowdy as my Representative in Congress!

BannedbytheGuardian | July 23, 2014 at 9:02 pm

Lois began the death spiral of the mid length bob for women of a certain age . The Florida judge buried it jackboot style . It will take a gay celebrity to resurrect it .

Hilary has wrecked all options for the next age bracket .

Any serious 2016 Presidential contender ought to make sure his platform includes Trey Gowdy as Attorney General of the USA . . . (just imagine)

If the hard drive turns out to be actually recoverable, its only because the IRS figured out how to reproduce the emails without any incriminating material being included.

    Insufficiently Sensitive in reply to rokiloki. | July 23, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    They’ve had well over two years to scramble or rewrite or erase all those emails. It’s all too likely, and without some Deep Throat spilling the beans, it’s all too likely we’ll never learn.

    How close is the Obama IRS to a criminal enterprise?

    Andy in reply to rokiloki. | July 25, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Don’t give up hope that some recalcitrant IT tech stuck these in a drawer to hang Lerner and crew out to dry later.

    Infighting in places like this can be an interesting thing.

    I would have done exactly that.

this saga is almost as good at the Australian AWU scandal.

The cover-up in both scandals make them equal with regard to the level of corruption involved. Both types of scandals appear to involve a person who is/was in the top political position in our respective countries. Fortunately for us Juliar Gillard is no longer Prime Minister.

The cover up by the IRS suggests that Barry Soetoro is somehow responsible.. but I actually believe that there are members of the Congress who have a greater role in the scandal.

Joining the dots, one can see the involvement of the Justice Department.. or does it, because it is only Lerner’s lawyer who has implied as much. This means that Eric Holder is involved… and by joining some more dots we begin to have the link to the White House and the Oval Office because corrupt Eric is a buddy of the dumb nut who is currently the occupant… (and he is making matters worse in the Ukraine, not better).

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Aussie. | July 23, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    No . The equivalent would be any such actions by the Australian Taxation Office linked to the party in power.

    The atmosphere is different ,given that Australian political parties would have to pry $5 from citizen’s cold dead hands before they donated .

      Nope. The ATO seems to behave itself even if most of them belong to the union.

      We do not have the same kind of laws and the ATO does not have the power to do what Lerner did.

      I was talking more about the people at the top of the tree and I was talking about the cover up. The cover-up is the true scandal and that includes the complicity of the LSM.

What really pisses me off is that John Koskinen, when you watch his obviously adversarial attitude to questions from our elected representatives, and then goes out into the hall and tries to tell Greta Van Susteren “My commitment is I want people to be comfortable that the IRS is simply the tax administrator, not a political organization, we’re not politically motivated, when they hear from us it has only to do with tax matters. It has nothing to do with their background, their organization or their political beliefs.”

    Insufficiently Sensitive in reply to betty. | July 23, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    John Koskinen is today’s reincarnation of the guy Shakespeare described in Hamlet: …That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain.

    He’s just too slick for words, and is yet more evidence of the IRS being a criminal conspiracy, and one of liars as well.

Insufficiently Sensitive | July 23, 2014 at 10:40 pm

rumors are swirling that IRS information technology staffers are on the docket to testify.

The guys that the IRS first ‘refused to make available? Was there ever better evidence of a coverup? Outside of those seven hard drives of seven involved IRS stooges which all ‘failed’ simultaneously, just when Congress had requested copies of their emails?

    Since they have to give detailed statements to two federal courts, UNDER OATH, which are due to be turned into the courts in a couple of weeks, Congress has their names. I expect some surprises in the statements and the possible testimony. Possible surprises: printouts of illegal orders given to them, threats of reprisal, transfers to overseas details, screaming and frothing by IRS lawyers, bizarre personnel actions, etc.

Obviously crimes were committed. Perjury, destruction of evidence and others have been committed so when are people going to be going to jail? Or s this all for show and nothing happens thus guaranteeing this will happen again.

This whole investigation drags on and on; I wish that Issa could speed it up a bit.

    Archer in reply to walls. | July 24, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    I wish he could pick up the pace a bit, too, but understand: he’s the Chairman of Committee on Gov’t Oversight & Reform, in addition to other Committees he’s on.

    But even if Chairman of Oversight were his only duty, he’s got:
    – Fast & Furious
    – Benghazi
    – VA
    – NSA spying
    – DoJ stealing AP reporters’ phone records
    and more, plus the IRS investigation. The man has his work cut out for him!

Bruce Hayden | July 24, 2014 at 12:42 am

I am not yet convinced that the recycling of the crashed hard drives was not just a typical bureaucratic screw up. They had policies in place to recycle the drives, since they likely contained confidential taxpayer information. No reason at that time to try to recover the drives, since the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing, etc.

I do find all the relevant disk drives crashing so close together to be highly suspicious. I would guess though that it was easy for Lerner, et al. to figure out what IRS SOP was for crashed drives, and then figure out what it would take to either crash their drives, or just make them look that way. I think it unlikely that all those drives actually crashed so close together, or, indeed, that her drive was scratched, unless she deliberately caused it to do so (my understand is that modern PC hard drives automatically retract their heads when not in use, etc., making scratching them somewhat unlikely, unless intentionally jostled during heavy disk operations).

The IRS Commissioner is not helping his cause all that much. His latest excuse supposedly is that he can’t do anything until the (Holder protégé) IG completes their investigation. That is obvious procrastination, and, as pointed out, if a business actually did that, and used that excuse with the IRS, they would be laughed at.

    imfine in reply to Bruce Hayden. | July 24, 2014 at 6:19 am

    Actually nothing they have said makes any sense from a technical perspective. It’s pretty much absurd.

    rorschach256 in reply to Bruce Hayden. | July 24, 2014 at 8:25 am

    im guessing that Lerner and her crew all took thier laptops and dropped them down a stairwell or something in order that all their hard drives would “crash” at the bottom, with the expectation that their senority would shield them from questions about the sudden rash of broken laptops, while relying on IRS SOP to make sure to destroy evidence.

DINORightMarie | July 24, 2014 at 6:23 am

Given the gross incompetence, at best, of the IRS, I see no better solution than to close it down. Period. Flat tax for all, IMHO, would eliminate the need for such a huge, powerful bureaucracy.

This administration demonstrates, clearly, that the DoJ and the other massive, powerful bureaus, should NOT all be under the Executive branch. Holder is an Obama appointee (all AG’s are selected by the sitting POTUS). Holder reports to Obama, the POTUS. The IRS head, as well, is appointed by POTUS and reports directly to POTUS.

There is a natural, inborn tendency – out of loyalty, at least – that they would both do whatever their boss says and defy the “outsiders” trying to get to the truth – Congress. Put in deceitful, nefarious leftist ideologues, and….well, you see where that takes us.

Dismantle the bureaucracy, remove most of the power problems with the Executive Branch.

Now if only we can get Congress to do this! And take control of that “pen and phone” “do it on my own” unconstitutional power-grabbing guy at the top, via the impeachment process.

You would think they would straight up filter the emails they see giving congress rather than come up with elaborate and absurd excuses as to why they couldn’t recover the emails. This is probably the worst coverup I have ever seen. I think jail is the key to breaking this ring. When the imminent expectation of getting locked up by a federal judge rears it’s ugly head progress gets made. It’s most silly to see all these people fold so quickly.

    rorschach256 in reply to imfine. | July 24, 2014 at 8:32 am

    I suspect that Gowdy et al have a cache of SOME of the incriminating emails they haven’t revealed yet and they are waiting to see what the IRS coughs up in order to use that as a check to make sure they were given all of it. the IRS likely knows or suspects this, and not knowing which emails they have, they can’t afford to filter them without some kind of excuse. being able to claim that not all of the emails were recoverable gives them just such an excuse.

The bus is being warmed up to throw Lois under it. If she had a brain (which it appears she does not) she would take her immunity very quickly because the administration is stringing her along just waiting for the right moment to back up the bus over her!

    Matt_SE in reply to Merlin01. | July 24, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Consider all the personnel and careers that are at stake here, not to mention the power and electoral fortunes of the Democratic party, as well as the money.

    Lois Lerner has been told if she “squeals” that she will meet with an unfortunate accident. And just like the hard drives, who will be in a position to investigate the mysterious circumstances?

    So Lerner’s choice is, “jail time or death.” Which do you think she’ll take?

    Paul in reply to Merlin01. | July 24, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    She knows she has to try to stall until the end of Barry’s term and then hope she’s on the list of pardons. I have a feeling that list is going to be very, very long.

harleycowboy | July 24, 2014 at 11:11 am

Now that they’ve found out that the hard drive is recoverable they’ve concocted the story that they “discarded” it. If you can find Jimmy Hoffa, he’ll be holding a hard drive.

The damn hard drive is a red herring. Large corporate email systems are comprised of “mail clients” and “mail servers”. The hard drive in question is from Lerner’s personal computer which runs her copy of the “mail client.” The “mail client” sends messages through and receives messages from the “mail server” which is a big honking machine (or cluster of them) that has highly redundant disk configurations and is covered by corporate data backup and recovery policies.

You could go around the office and smash the hard drives in all the PCs and the desks and not lose email from the servers. You could go smash the servers and not lose the emails from the backup tapes of the servers.

Further, by law Lerner was required to keep paper copies of these emails. Where are those?

Further, the committee wants to see emails exchanged with certain other government offices, right? Then subpoena THEIR email records as each office has it’s own client/server setup as described above…the emails in question reside in those systems as well.

Email simply does not just “disappear”

Looking at K I think he realizes he is in deep shit and that Gowdy knows it. K also knows that Gowdy is not fcking around.

Have you ever seen the TED talk on Lie Spotting?

In the TED talk by the author, one tell was “distancing language”. K used that quite a bit early in his replies to Gowdy