‘Multiple sources’ say Lois Lerner’s hard drive has been “recycled”

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Lois Lerner

Lois Lerner

Wow:

Ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s crashed hard drive has been recycled, making it likely the lost emails of the lightening rod in the tea party targeting controversy will never be found, according to multiple sources.

“We’ve been informed that the hard drive has been thrown away,” Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, said in a brief hallway interview.

Two additional sources told POLITICO the same late Wednesday, citing IRS officials.

It may just be standard government procedure, but the revelation is significant because some lawmakers and observers thought there was a way that tech experts could revive Lerner’s emails after they were washed away in a computer crash in the summer of 2011. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), for example, subpoenaed her damaged hard drive earlier this week, when he asked for “all hard drives, external drives, thumb drives and computers” and “all electronic communication devices the IRS issued to Lois G. Lerner.”

“IT experts have weighed in and said yes — we can get those” emails, said Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) earlier Wednesday.

The latest news suggests such professionals may never get the chance to try again — and the IRS has even said its criminal investigators who specialize in rebuilding hard drives to recover hidden information from criminals were unable to restore the data back in 2011. But this is only likely to further enrage Republicans, who are fuming over the matter and suspect Washington officials drove the selective scrutiny.

All of this is so very convenient, isn’t it? House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa isn’t buying any of it:

Issa’s office issued a statement tonight saying, “If the IRS truly got rid of evidence in a way that violated the Federal Records Act and ensured the FBI never got a crack at recovering files from an official claiming a Fifth amendment protection against self-incrimination, this is proof their whole line about ‘losing’ e-mails in the targeting scandal was just one more attempted deception. Old and useless binders of information are still stored and maintained on federal agency shelves; official records, like the e-mails of a prominent official, don’t just disappear without a trace unless that was the intention.”

Absolutely.

Best Tweet response to this news I’ve seen so far:

BREAKING: the IRS has recycled the hard drive containing Lois Lerner’s emails and turned it into a presidential golf club. – @Gunservatively

You can choose to laugh, cry, mock, or scream at the depth of corruption on display here. For the moment, I choose mockery.

There will be hearings on this issue Friday and Monday where IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will testify. Stay tuned.

(Via Memeorandum)

#IRS email epidemic claims six more victims: truth, common sense hardest hit

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**Posted by Phineas

satire irwin corey

IRS IT expert

Boy, those mysterious computer crashes afflicting the IRS are something, eh? First it was just the computer of Lois Lerner, a central figure in the scandal involving IRS harassment of conservative groups. Potentially crucial emails gone, trashed, wiped out so thoroughly that even the resources of the IRS couldn’t recover them. (Try that excuse at your next audit.) Oops! No backups, either!  “Gee, Mr. Investigating Congressman and lawyers representing the people we harassed, we’re sorry. But, don’t worry! There’s not a smidgen of corruption here. Trust us.”

And now, we learn, it wasn’t just Lerner’s computer that crashed, but the PCs of six more figures close to the heart of the scandal. What a coincidence:

The IRS recently informed Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp and subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany that computer crashes resulted in additional lost e-mails, including from Nikole Flax, the chief of staff to former IRS commissioner Steven Miller, who was fired in the wake of the targeting scandal.

The revelation about Lerner’s e-mails rekindled the targeting scandal and today’s news has further inflamed Republicans. Camp and Boustany are now demanding a special prosecutor to investigate “every angle” of the events that led to Lois Lerner’s revelation in May 2013 that the agency had used inappropriate criteria to review the applications for tax exemption.

(…)

If Lerner is the central figure in the scandal — Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa said Monday evening he believes she was the senior-most official involved — Flax may be an important auxiliary figure. E-mails produced in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the group Judicial Watch show Flax giving the green light to Lerner’s request to meet with Department of Justice officials to explore the possibility of criminally prosecuting nonprofit groups — at the suggestion of Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse — for engaging in political activity after declaring on their application for nonprofit status that they had no plans to do so.

What kind of computers are these clowns using? 386s running Windows 3??

Nah, you can bet they’re using fairly recent hardware and software, which mean those emails exist. Not only are they required to maintain copies by statute, but, as a former IRS IT tech put it to PJMedia’s Brian Preston:

He says that the IRS uses Microsoft Outlook/Exchange systems, which are backed up using Symantec NetBackup.

He also says that “the IRS is the cash cow of the federal government. When they ask for funding for anything it was granted without discussion.”

In the case of the prime contract and record retention, “The IRS IT projects were fully funded and never lacked for resources. To state ‘Backup tapes were reused after some short period’ is a complete joke. The IRS had thousands and thousands of tapes and ‘Virtual Tape Libraries’ (VTL or non-tape backups based on hard drive storage technologies). There was never a reason to reuse tapes.”

(…)

The former IRS IT worker adds that in his time on the prime contract, “I have worked for many federal agencies and the IRS had some of the best people.”

“This reason is why I scoff at the story being put out. Those folks would not have had such a short retention period for email unless they had it in writing from the highest levels. It would have made the local IT water cooler gossip if the IRS had screwed up and lost tons of email by accident.”

It is absolutely un-credible that these emails happened to all get irretrievably destroyed in some grand cosmic accident. The question is, then, what is in them that makes it worth telling such baldfaced lies to the nation and risking civil or criminal liability?

A House select investigating committee may be the only way we ever get the answer.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

WH says it’s “entirely reasonable” to believe Lerner’s computer crashed

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IRS

Aaaand they will oversee Obamacare as well. Frightening.

The lies keep stacking up, and this “explanation” pretty much takes the cake:

Explanations provided by the Internal Revenue Service for how it lost two years of former employee Lois Lerner’s emails are “entirely reasonable,” the White House said on Monday.

“You’ve never heard of a computer crashing before?” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters traveling with the president aboard Air Force One.

[…]

But the White House dismissed Republican complaints as conspiratorial.

“I think it’s entirely reasonable, because it’s the truth and it’s a fact, and speculation otherwise I think is indicative of the kinds of conspiracies that are propagated around this story.  And they’re propagated in a way that has left people with a very mistaken impression about what exactly occurred,” Earnest said.

[…]

“The far-fetched skepticism expressed by some Republican members of Congress I think is not at all surprising and not particularly believable,” Earnest added.

A reminder, again, of what one DOJ attorney told Power Line’s Scott Johnson about server back-ups:

I’m a DOJ lawyer, so you obviously cannot use my name or any identifying information. But the idea that a “hard drive crash” somehow destroyed all of Ms. Lerner’s intra-government email correspondence during the period in question [2009-2011] is laughable. Government email servers are backed up every night. So if she actually had a hard drive fail, her emails would be recoverable from the backup. If the backup was somehow also compromised, then we are talking about a conspiracy.

Well, it’s no secret that the President of the United States thinks skepticism of government is a bad thing (but only when he’s President), but at the same time apparently the White House thinks everyone should just swallow whole without question the “entirely reasonable” excuses they’re giving as to why two years worth of key IRS emails – you know, the emails that just happen to be the ones between top Democrats, the WH, Treasury, DOJ, etc – simply vanished.  I’m sorry, but when you’re government wants you to stop being skeptical – especially on the issue of phony “computer crashes”, and to stop questioning what they do, we have a serious problem – starting with the corruptocrat sitting in the Oval Office.

Furthermore, when not even most of the reliable in the mainstream media are buying your excuses, you know there’s a big problem not just with your story, but your credibility as well.  Mr. Earnest may be carrying on in the great tradition of Obama press secretaries infamously lying through their respective teeth (like Jay Carney and Robert Fibbs, er, Gibbs) but about the only people who believe him at this point are the Obama faithful who would declare his innocence even if  he were literally holding the smoking gun, and most of the commentators at MSNBC.  But I repeat myself.

Some excellent questions for the #IRS about Lois Lerner’s missing emails

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**Posted by Phineas

IRS data recovery techie in action

IRS data recovery techie in action

My blog-buddy ST has already covered the mysterious disappearance of former IRS employee Lois Lerner’s emails. I’m sure the Justice Department, per Congressman Camp’s suggestion, will get right to investigating how this could happen, in apparent violation  of standard IRS protocols. Attorney General Eric Holder, that unquestioned paragon of judicial integrity, will no doubt produce a report that lays bare the unvarnished truth.

And while we’re waiting for a certain hot spot to freeze over, independent investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson has some suggested questions for the IRS about Ms. Lerner’s computers and those vanishing emails:

  • Please provide a timeline of the crash and documentation covering when it was first discovered and by whom; when, how and by whom it was learned that materials were lost; the official documentation reporting the crash and federal data loss; documentation reflecting all attempts to recover the materials; and the remediation records documenting the fix. This material should include the names of all officials and technicians involved, as well as all internal communications about the matter.
  • Please provide all documents and emails that refer to the crash from the time that it happened through the IRS’ disclosure to Congress Friday that it had occurred.
  • Please provide the documents that show the computer crash and lost data were appropriately reported to the required entities including any contractor servicing the IRS. If the incident was not reported, please explain why.
  • Please provide a list summarizing what other data was irretrievably lost in the computer crash. If the loss involved any personal data, was the loss disclosed to those impacted? If not, why?
  • Please provide documentation reflecting any security analyses done to assess the impact of the crash and lost materials. If such analyses were not performed, why not?
  • Please provide documentation showing the steps taken to recover the material, and the names of all technicians who attempted the recovery.
  • Please explain why redundancies required for federal systems were either not used or were not effective in restoring the lost materials, and provide documentation showing how this shortfall has been remediated.
  • Please provide any documents reflecting an investigation into how the crash resulted in the irretrievable loss of federal data and what factors were found to be responsible for the existence of this situation.
  • I would also ask for those who discovered and reported the crash to testify under oath, as well as any officials who reported the materials as having been irretrievably lost.

Also read Attkisson’s earlier report on the missing emails.

Since AG Holder will no doubt be busy with his own line of inquiry (1), I offer my own suggestion: these would be excellent questions to include as part of the investigations by a House Select Committee formed to examine the entire IRS scandal. We already have one for Benghazi; why not another? I’d say it’s more than warranted.

How about it, Mr. Speaker?

PS: Lest anyone harbor any smidgen of doubt that the IRS is lying on this matter, consider this observation from Tax Politix (h/t Rick Moran):

Again, the IRS claims it only “has Lerner emails to and from other IRS employees during this time frame…it cannot produce emails written only to or from Lerner and outside agencies or groups, such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.” The ability for an inbox to lose certain emails during the time frame — but not others — is incredible.

To answer an old question, we at least now know how stupid they think we are.

Footnote:
(1) Stonewalling takes time, you know.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

The IRS says it has lost *two years* worth of Lerner emails. Seriously.

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Lois Lerner

You can run, Ms. Lerner, but you cannot hide.

Unbelievable. Literally unbelievable:

he Internal Revenue Service claims to have lost two-years worth of emails between former IRS official Lois Lerner, who resigned under pressure for her role in the IRS targeting scandal, and outside agencies and groups.

House Ways and Means Committee chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.) announced Friday that the IRS informed the committee it lost the emails, which the committee was seeking as part of its investigation into the targeting scandal, due to a computer crash in 2011.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the IRS said it went to “unprecedented efforts” to reconstruct Lerner’s emails, including searching emails of other officials, resulting in an additional 24,000 emails being provided to lawmakers.

But because of the crash, the IRS said it cannot produce emails between Lerner and the White House, Treasury Department, Justice Department, FEC, or other Democrat offices.

“The IRS has made unprecedented efforts in connection with this effort, producing more than 750,000 pages of documents to help complete the investigations,” the agency said in a statement. “In total, the IRS’s efforts to respond to Congress have involved more than 250 IRS employees working more than 120,000 hours at a direct cost of nearly $10 million.”

In a statement, Camp called the disclosure—more than a year into the committee’s investigation—“completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS’ response to congressional inquiries.”

Camp also called for an investigation by the Department of Justice and the IRS Inspector General.

Scott Johnson at Power Line shares an intriguing email a Department of Justice lawyer sent to him in response to the ridiculous claims that the email loss was the result of a “computer crash”:

I’m a DOJ lawyer, so you obviously cannot use my name or any identifying information. But the idea that a “hard drive crash” somehow destroyed all of Ms. Lerner’s intra-government email correspondence during the period in question [2009-2011] is laughable. Government email servers are backed up every night. So if she actually had a hard drive fail, her emails would be recoverable from the backup. If the backup was somehow also compromised, then we are talking about a conspiracy.

Yes, friends, I do believe we have a genuine conspiracy to hide the truth on our hands.  In the “most open, transparent administration evah …”  The various investigations into what happened just got a lot tougher but nevertheless need to continue to be relentless until they get to the bottom of not just the wrongdoing behind the wrongful targeting of Tea Party groups – but the cover-up as well.

Read much more here.

#Benghazi attackers used State Dept. phones the night of the attack

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**Posted by Phineas

American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

And we overheard them doing it. If anyone still believes Hillary’s story about blaming a YouTube video based on the best information they had at the time, that person is either dumber than a rock, or hoping for a job in a possible Hillary administration.

Via Bret Baier and James Rosen:

The terrorists who attacked the U.S. consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 used cell phones, seized from State Department personnel during the attacks, and U.S. spy agencies overheard them contacting more senior terrorist leaders to report on the success of the operation, multiple sources confirmed to Fox News.

The disclosure is important because it adds to the body of evidence establishing that senior U.S. officials in the Obama administration knew early on that Benghazi was a terrorist attack, and not a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islam video that had gone awry, as the administration claimed for several weeks after the attacks.

Eric Stahl, who recently retired as a major in the U.S. Air Force, served as commander and pilot of the C-17 aircraft that was used to transport the corpses of the four casualties from the Benghazi attacks – then-U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, information officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods – as well as the assault’s survivors from Tripoli to the safety of an American military base in Ramstein, Germany.

In an exclusive interview on Fox News’ “Special Report,” Stahl said members of a CIA-trained Global Response Staff who raced to the scene of the attacks were “confused” by the administration’s repeated implication of the video as a trigger for the attacks, because “they knew during the attack…who was doing the attacking.” Asked how, Stahl told anchor Bret Baier: “Right after they left the consulate in Benghazi and went to the [CIA] safehouse, they were getting reports that cell phones, consulate cell phones, were being used to make calls to the attackers’ higher ups.”

Funny, but the Accountability Review Board Secretary Clinton set up after the Benghazi massacre never interviewed Mr Stahl, nor, as far as I know, anyone else who might have knowledge of this. Odd oversight for them to make, isn’t it?

Remember, late on the night of the attack, right after a phone call with the president, Clinton released a statement blaming a video for the attack. She then swore before the caskets of the honored dead returning from Benghazi –and to the faces of their family members– that she would see that video maker brought to justice. She and her boss, the President of the United States, later still made a commercial for Pakistani TV denouncing the video. To this day, in her recently release memoirs, Hillary Clinton defends that claim as being based on the best intelligence we had available at the time.

And yet, if this story is true, we now know we had overheard the enemy calling their leaders and reporting a successful operation. Not a demonstration that got out of control, but an attack.

And, again, they knew that night.

This isn’t the first time we’ve had evidence that State and the White House knew that evening what was really happening, but this is explosive and, if it holds up, should destroy any remnant of Lady MacBeth’s credibility.

As I’ve said before, the only intended target for this deception could have been us. Not the enemy. In addition to getting the truth for its own sake, we the voters need to ask ourselves a question: Do we really want as president someone who not only and so casually lies to us, but to bereaved families?

I can’t wait for these hearings to get started.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

(Video) Barack Obama: evil, or stupid?

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**Posted by Phineas

Like the old IBM commercial for the NFL said, “You make the call!”

No matter what the scandal, Obama always seems not to know; he finds out about it in the morning news, like the rest of us. Fast and Furious, IRS-gate, the utter screw up of the Obamacare web site launch, you name it. His response is always an un-credible “I didn’t know.”

So, evil? Or stupid?

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Former CLT Mayor Pat Cannon (D) to plead guilty to federal corruption charge

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Patrick Cannon and Anthony Foxx

Then-Charlotte City Councilman- Patrick Cannon (l) and then-Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx (now Obama’s Transportation Secretary) in happier times. Image via PraiseCharlotte.com

Via The Charlotte Observer:

Patrick Cannon is expected to plead guilty Tuesday to a federal public corruption charge that carries up to a 20-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine.

According to court documents released to the public early Monday, Cannon will appear in federal court at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Cayer. At that time, he will plead to one count of honest services wire fraud, an umbrella charge commonly used in cases where public officials take kickbacks or bribes, documents say.

The charge basically means the 48-year-old Democrat used his mayoral and city council posts for illegal gain, depriving city residents of his “honest services” as their elected representative.

Cannon did not answer the door at his house Monday morning. Asked why his client had agreed to plead guilty rather than fight the charges in court, attorney James Ferguson said Monday morning that he could not comment.

Honest services fraud is one of the three corruption charges leveled against Cannon at his March 26 arrest. At the time, the U.S. Attorney’s Office accused him of accepting almost $50,000 in bribes. In exchange, Cannon promised to use his office to assist real estate deals pitched by undercover FBI agents posing as out-of-town investors.

[…]

According to the new document, Cannon is accused of soliciting and accepting a series of bribes from a Charlotte businessman, identified as “Businessman #1,” whose adult entertainment club was in the path of the Blue Line Extension through north Charlotte.

Welcome to the culture of corruption – Charlotte, NC style.  Perhaps Cannon’s new nickname should be “Strip Club Patrick.”

Read the Twitter reaction to reports of Cannon’s expected plea here.

Pelosi channels Whoopi Goldberg on the #VAscandal: It’s not really a scandal-scandal…

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**Posted by Phineas

Oh, brother.

While her minions race to the microphones to denounce VA Secretary Shinseki before the voters take out their wrath on them, House Minority Leader (1) Nancy Pelosi took the softball question lobbed to her by Vox’s Ezra Klein (2) and explained that, yes, the poor treatment of veterans was scandalous, but she wasn’t sure if it really was a “scandal:”

Gee, Nancy, it sure seems to me that VA administrators and employees manipulating federal records to hide the poor treatment of veterans and win themselves some bonuses amounts to a scandal. Maybe even a criminal matter. What else do you need? Oh, wait. I know.

An (R) after the president’s name.

via The Right Scoop

Footnote:
(1) And a person very much responsible for creating that minority. Thanks, Nancy!
(2) He who thinks the Constitution is too old to understand.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

West Virginia VA doctor: At least two waiting list patients committed suicide

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VA hospital

US Dept of Veterans Affairs

Appalling if true. This story keeps going from bad to worse:

A West Virginia doctor is coming forward with new allegations against the Department of Veterans Affairs, claiming that she too was told to put patients seeking treatment off for months on end — and that at least two of them committed suicide.

The claims add to the mounting controversy surrounding the VA, and allegations in several states that workers were concealing information about the long wait times veterans encountered. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki testified last week before Congress on the scandal, but so far has resisted calls for his resignation.

Dr. Margaret Moxness, who says she was employed at the Huntington VA Medical Center in Charleston, W.Va., from 2008 to 2010, told “Fox & Friends” on Monday that she was told to delay treatment even after she told supervisors they needed immediate care. She said at least two patients committed suicide while waiting for treatment between appointments.

“I was in a very tight-knit community,” Moxness said. “There was lots of extracurricular support: family, faith, vet centers. So we had help, but no thanks to the VA. …I mean, these men were eventually going to need more than a visit every 10 months.”

Moxness, a psychiatrist, says the VA administrators lost touch with patients and claims they were compassionless.

[…]

Moxness, who is currently writing a book on suicide, said her patients would be forced to wait  “months” for a second visit. She said that “means they’re partially treated, which means they’re worse off than no treatment at all.”

Moxness said when she complained to her supervisors that it was harmful to partially treat patients, they stopped talking to her.

“I was functionally silenced,” she said.

As the article goes on to note, many others in several cities around the country have stepped forward as well to note the excessive wait times at other VA facilities nationwide.

Citing this as a prime example of the serious downsides of government-run healthcare, John Fund writes in response:

If our government has any obligation to fulfill its many promises on health care, it should be first and foremost to the men and women who served in our armed forces. But the scandal over hidden waiting lists at a growing number of veterans’ hospitals (seven so far) — wherein dozens of veterans died while waiting months for vital treatment, and the VA covered up the lengthy wait times — should make everyone wonder whether we can place our trust in a government-managed health-care system. The Dayton Daily News reported on Sunday that its investigation of a database of claims paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs shows that the words “delay in treatment” were used 167 times. The VA paid out a total of $36.4 million to settle the claims. There could well be many more cases of “death by delay” at the VA that never came to light.

Are there lessons in the VA scandal for the rest of us if Obamacare survives and even expands?

You betcha. The first lesson is that as government expands taxpayer subsidies for health care, the demand will always outstrip supply.

[…]

The veterans’ hospital scandals now in the news in the United States show just how bad things can get when the pressure of patient demand and waiting lists affects bureaucratic behavior. As many as 40 veterans reportedly died at a Phoenix veterans’ facility because they couldn’t get the care they needed. VA administrators there and at other hospitals apparently covered it up by establishing secret waiting lists and falsifying reports.

No one is suggesting that such scandals are widespread in the general health-care system. But they should serve as a warning sign of what could happen as the pressure to ration, inherent in all government-managed health care, is applied to the general population.

Indeed.