June 17, 2014

The Dog Ate Lois Lerner’s Homework

The IRS claims Lerner’s emails from 2009 to 2011 have vanished.

The latest twist in the investigation of former IRS official Lois Lerner and the IRS’s persecution of tax-exempt Tea Party groups took another troubling turn Friday when the agency claimed Lerner’s emails went missing. We’re supposed to believe a mysterious computer crash wiped out the vast majority of Lerner’s emails covering the period in question – January 2009 to April 2011 – while not affecting stored communications for any other time frame, or for any other member of her division, or in the agency as a whole. The odds of such a misfortune taking place without the aid of corrupt individuals looking to obstruct justice are virtually impossible.

Remember when Richard Nixon’s secretary, Rose Mary Woods, accidently deleted 18 minutes of Oval Office tapes related to the Watergate scandal? Nobody believe that was accidental, either. And as Fox News analyst Charles Krauthammer reminds us, “[T]he second article of impeachment for Richard Nixon was the abuse of the IRS to pursue political enemies. This is a high crime. This is not a triviality.”

IT professionals repeat the mantra “email is forever.” That’s particularly the case in any large organization like a corporation or a government agency. Norman Cillo, a former program manager for Microsoft, told The Blaze that government email servers have built-in redundancies, and there is always more than one server in operation. Each server has swappable disk drives that can be removed if they fail, and all email servers use tape backups that can be referred to if the server and the disk drives crash all at once.

Even if Lerner’s own computer crashed, it would have no effect on the emails she has sent or received because the emails would be stored on the server, not on her computer. The loss could be more widespread than at first thought, the Associated Press reports: “On Tuesday, two key lawmakers said the IRS has also lost emails from six additional IRS workers whose computers crashed. Among them was Nikole Flax, who was chief of staff to Lerner’s boss, then-deputy commissioner Steven Miller. … Investigators from the House Ways and Means Committee interviewed IRS technicians Monday. The technicians said they first realized that Lerner’s emails were lost in February or March – months before they informed congressional investigators.”

Darrell Issa, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman and head of the IRS tax-exempt investigation, was incredulous. “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?” No wonder the announcement was buried in an unrelated letter from the IRS to two senators.

The loss of Lerner’s emails further complicates an investigation already stymied by lack of cooperation from the IRS and foot dragging by the Justice Department. Attorney General Eric Holder has done nothing to move the investigation forward, and under questioning from the House committee, acting deputy U.S. AG David O'Neil admitted having no idea how many prosecutors were working on the case. Now the case moves along a tangent, because investigators have to deal with “missing” emails.

This new level of the investigation should focus on the procedures the IRS uses to secure its data. What was the timeline for the supposed crash, its discovery, and the handling of the data that was lost? Who is in charge of the servers and the data recovery? Why did the required redundancies fail to restore lost data?

This is textbook obfuscation by the IRS, and by the Obama White House in general. The media sycophants who run interference for the president are quick to point out that rogue elements in the IRS are responsible, not Obama. When we look at the long list of this administration’s scandals, according to this logic, we are left to assume rogue elements exist in the IRS, the ATF, the State Department, the NSA, Veterans Affairs, the EPA, the Justice Department and so on. With so many corrupt individuals in all these executive-level agencies, at what point does Obama ultimately become responsible? Or when does he admit maybe big government isn’t always the answer?

Andrew McCarthy of National Review points out presidential accountability was a very specific element written into the Constitution. One leader of the executive branch, a president, rather than a committee, is vested with a lot of power. “The president is responsible for all the officials and agencies delegated to wield the power the Constitution vests only in him,” McCarthy writes. Our president seems to think he remains above responsibility and, even more laughably, above reproach.

In his 2009 Arizona State University commencement address, Obama noted that the university had denied him an honorary degree and “joked” that “President [Michael] Crowe and the Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS.” His joke is less funny than ever.

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