Computer Experts Doubt IRS Lost Trove of Lerner Emails

Monday, 16 Jun 2014 02:44 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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The Internal Revenue Service's claim that it lost a horde of former administrator Lois Lerner's emails on the targeting of conservative groups has been questioned by computer experts.

Norman Cillo, a former program manager at Microsoft, told The Blaze: "I don't know of any email administrator who doesn't have at least three ways of getting that mail back. It's either on the disks or it's on a tape backup someplace on an archive server."

Bruce Webster, an IT expert with 30 years of experience, said, according to National Review, "It would take a catastrophic mechanical failure for Lerner's drive to suffer actual physical damage, but in any case, the FBI should be able to recover something. And the FBI and the Justice Department know it."

And National Review's John Fund pointed out that John Koskinen, the new IRS commissioner, even told Congress in March that all the emails of IRS employees are "stored in servers."

The agency's own manual specifies that it "provides for backup and recovery of records to protect against information loss or corruption," said Fund.

After months of delays in reacting to congressional inquiries about the targeting, the IRS told Congress on Friday that it could not locate many of Lerner's emails for two years prior to 2011 because her computer crashed that summer.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp said in a statement that the missing emails mean that "we are conveniently left to believe that Lois Lerner acted alone" in the IRS scandal.

Lerner headed the IRS division that processed applications for tax-exempt status. The agency was found in May 2013 to have improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status by tea party, religious, and other conservative groups. The screening generally involved unusual delays and detailed requests for information.

Fund noted that the missing emails are vital to the congressional investigation because they cover the time frame involving 16 of the 26 nonredacted events surrounding the targeting set out in a report by the IRS inspector general. These 16 instances referred to "email" as the source for information related to the targeting.

"If there is an ongoing cover-up of the IRS scandal, it's obvious why some folks would be desperate to continue it," Fund said. "Now we have the 'IRS server ate the emails' excuse.

"Normally, an independent prosecutor would be appointed to get to the bottom of all this. But don't expect such a move from Attorney General Eric Holder. When he was the No. 2 official at Justice during President Clinton's second term, he was instrumental in blocking the appointment of any new special prosecutors for various Clinton scandals."

Fund also pointed out that in 2012, the House, including 17 Democrats, voted to hold Holder in contempt for ignoring a subpoena for documents in the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal.

Last month, the House voted to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify twice about the agency's singling out of conservative groups.

Now conservatives are outraged at the missing emails, with one critic likening it to the infamous 18-minute gap in a tape of President Richard Nixon's conversations during the Watergate scandal.

"They're such liars. Unbelievable," said Washington attorney Cleta Mitchell, who is representing several groups in a federal lawsuit over the targeting in their applications for tax-exempt status. "This is outrageous. They're lying. It's ridiculous. I just don't believe them."


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