Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The IRS: No credibility at all, part 2

Yesterday, in my article The IRS: No Credibility At All, I said:

"The IRS expected the public to believe that the agency did not have a regular data backup plan in place, and that backup tapes of Lerner's hard drive did not exist. I find that impossible to believe."

and, speaking of all IRS email, not just Lerner's email:

"To suggest that the IRS did not have a backup policy for their mailserver is way, way beyond stupid. It's unbelievable. Inconceivable. Asinine."

It turns out that the mailserver backup tapes were safe in a storage building in West Virginia. Last July, a lawyer went to court to get hold of those tapes and look at them. The Department of Justice basically shut down that request. It took until mid-February this year to finally get the tapes. Everything I said in my previous article was true.

You know what's funny? Actually, it would be funny if it weren't so pathetic. The IRS treated everyone else like chumps - as if everyone else were stupid. But the IRS comes out of this looking ... well, looking stupid, idiotic, immoral, and any number of other adjectives you would use for a bunch of twelve-year-old boys who tried to start a fire on the gym floor, then cover it up and think they could get away with it. That is what the IRS, collectively, looks like right now.

Now I'll let somebody else do the talking. This is Patrick Howley, political reporter for The Daily Caller. The original article is at (I try not to copy entire articles like this, but they have a nasty habit of disappearing if I only post the links, and I don't want that to happen. I will remove the article and just write a summary of it if Patrick or the DC ask me to, but it's important enough that I'd rather leave the verbatim copy here.)

Here's the story about how the IRS and the DOJ tried to keep the backup tapes of Lois Lerner's emails from going public.

The Department of Justice blocked an attempt to force the Internal Revenue Service to search for Lois Lerner’s missing emails at off-site storage facilities, according to a lawyer pushing to obtain the emails.

The IRS never looked for Lerner’s backup email tapes at the West Virginia storage facility where they were being housed. Treasury deputy inspector general Timothy Camus told Congress that the IRS never asked IT professionals at the New Martinsville, W.V. storage site for the backup tapes. Camus only found the backup tape for Lerner’s missing 2011 emails about two weeks ago.

But the Obama administration knew that emails were stored at off-site facilities, and even shut down a legal request to send somebody to go look for them.

“We said in court that there are off-site servers where all IRS emails are stored,” lawyer Cleta Mitchell told The Daily Caller.

Mitchell represents the voter-ID group True the Vote in its lawsuit against the IRS over improper targeting. Shortly after it was revealed last summer that the IRS was missing Lerner’s emails, Mitchell petitioned U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton for an independent forensic examiner to be appointed to investigate the missing emails.

Mitchell referred to the IRS’ off-site storage facilities in West Virginia and Pittsburgh in court in July. But DOJ lawyers representing the IRS and the Treasury inspector general argued that Mitchell could not even discuss the existence of the storage facilities in her capacity as a lawyer.

“The Department of Justice lawyers objected to that and said I shouldn’t even be allowed to mention these off-site servers without sworn affidavits,” Mitchell told TheDC. “They meant that I was trying to testify to the judge without bringing in witnesses with sworn affidavits.”

Mitchell’s motion to get an independent forensic examiner was denied. The IRS’ internal investigation never headed to West Virginia, and the Treasury inspector general’s investigation managed to find a pertinent tape in West Virginia a mere two weeks before last Thursday’s House Oversight hearing. One of the IRS employees tasked with finding data on Lerner’s crashed hard drive was legally blind.

Mitchell’s statement about the off-site servers was clear as day, according to court transcripts obtained by TheDC.

“I’m advised that the IRS maintains servers that are in different states in different locations and that IRS employees are advised that their emails are never lost,” Mitchell said in court, according to the transcripts.

“That’s what I’ve been told as far as my emails here,” the court replied.

“And I have had individuals who worked with, for the IRS from all across the country who have communicated that to me,” Mitchell continued. “And they say — I hear from government employees, retired and active, who say what is being said is not possible. It is not plausible and it is contrary to what we are told as employees of the IRS.”

Mitchell requested “the opportunity to at least have some expert look at whether the perimeters of the investigation are complete and … will fully cover all of the potential ways or places in which this investigation should look or take into consideration.”

But the email tapes sat there in West Virginia, alone and unexamined.

DOJ did not return a request for comment for this report.

As TheDC reported, the IRS fired its email-storage contractor Sonasoft just weeks after Lerner’s email-deleting computer crash.

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