IRS Lost E-Mails

Photo courtesy Luke Jones, Flickr, April 15, 2010

Last Friday, the IRS told House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R, MI) that they had lost two years of Lois Lerner e-mails between January 2009 – April 2011 because her computer crashed and ate them. The Committee announcement can be found here:

The IRS is lying, and lying in a most transparent manner, as in a client-server environment, e-mails are always stored in a central location on a server. There are local copies on individual desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones, but they are always stored on an e-mail server. Additionally, that server is always backed up, usually on a daily basis, a weekly basis, a monthly and a yearly basis. Copies of weekly and higher backups are stored offsite for data retention / recovery purposes. In short, in a government system, e-mails are forever. In reality, for the rest of us that use commercial systems and services for our e-mail traffic, they are also forever, making them easy to subpoena and recover in court cases.

Here is a description of a standard Microsoft Exchange e-mail architecture in a client-server system:

The IRS like all government entities has strict rules for the use and retention of e-mails. These not only detail what can be written, transmitted and received, but how long the data should be stored. PowerLine Sunday had excerpts indicating the offsite storage and backups were to be on tape, usually indicating a mainframe environment of some sort. And if mainframes are good for one thing, they are good for 24/7 operations without data loss.

The PowerLine article can be found here:

One other thought on the use of e-mail by this regime is that a number of EPA officials have been caught using third party e-mail systems to do things they don’t want the public to find out (think Google’s Gmail). We don’t yet know about Lerner’s use of these systems, but should that be the case, they all retain e-mail traffic on central servers with complete backups. Additionally, the NSA has been slurping all e-mail traffic from these systems for over half a decade. There is no way on God’s Green Earth that these e-mails are not available.

Look at the enormity of this obstruction attempt by the EPA and contrast it with the tender mercies of the IRS if any one of us should give a similar “the dog ate my homework” response to a request for personal tax data and supporting documentation during an audit. The liens would be flying thick and fast and there would not be a single thing any of us could do about it.

There must be something really ugly in Lerner’s e-mail traffic, something the IRS, Holder’s (In)Justice Department and the WH are willing to do something this transparently foolish and Nixonian in an attempt to cover up. The tax system in this country only operates based on the voluntary actions of the citizenry. If the regime tax collectors no longer feel the need to follow the law and then to lie and cover it up afterwards, why should any of the rest of us be similarly constrained?