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IRS Lost Emails of 6 More Employees Under Investigation 465

phrackthat writes with an update to Friday's news that the IRS cannot locate two years worth of email from Lois Lerner, a central figure in the controversy surrounding the IRS's apparent targeting of Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny. Now, the IRS says there are another six workers for whom the agency cannot locate emails. As with Lerner, they attribute the unrecoverable emails to computer crashes. Among them was Nikole Flax, who was chief of staff to Lerner’s boss, then-deputy commissioner Steven Miller. Miller later became acting IRS commissioner, but was forced to resign last year after the agency acknowledged that agents had improperly scrutinized tea party and other conservative groups when they applied for tax-exempt status. Documents have shown some liberal groups were also flagged. ... Lerner’s computer crashed in the summer of 2011, depriving investigators of many of her prior emails. Flax’s computer crashed in December 2011, Camp and Boustany said. The IRS said Friday that technicians went to great lengths trying to recover data from Lerner’s computer in 2011. In emails provided by the IRS, technicians said they sent the computer to a forensic lab run by the agency’s criminal investigations unit. But to no avail.
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IRS Lost Emails of 6 More Employees Under Investigation

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @08:32PM (#47259247)

    If it's not corrupt, then at least massively inept.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @08:36PM (#47259275) Journal

    Yes, of course they do. And they do regular backups. This story only flies with people who are not knowledgeable about computers in a business environment. Apparently the IRS thought there were enough of those that the people crying bullshit could be made to seem like right wing loonies.

    But this isn't a right wing vs left wing issue -- whatever the current administration gets away with, will be fair game for the next administration, regardless of party.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @08:39PM (#47259285)

    > This is a massive conspiracy. The IRS is hopelessly corru

    Beware of confirmation bias. The question we should ask is how many people who are not "under investigation" have also had their emails lost. I bet it is most of them. This just sounds like typical big-organization incompetence.

    Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @08:45PM (#47259333) Homepage

    How does this get -1? I think I would like to hear from people who disagree with this perspective.

    I suspect the word "conspiracy" is the problem. A conspiracy has ALREADY been proven in this case. They already admitted to targeting specific people for additional scutiny and persecution. That is conspiracy. The point now is to find out how far up it goes.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @08:46PM (#47259349)

    > Yes, of course they do. And they do regular backups. This story only flies with people who are not knowledgeable about computers in a business environment.

    Actually, anyone who has handled email admin for a big business knows they have email "retention polices" [] where they explicitly delete all email older than X days (often just 90 days) except for what each user deliberately saves off. They do it to preemptively destroy evidence that might be used against them. But they never say that, they always have reasons that sound legitimate to the credulous, like lack of resources or being appropriate to the business culture, etc. They also routinely over-write or discard the backup-tapes as part of that retention policy because that would defeat the purpose if they didn't.

    I can totally believe that some chucklehead IT manager with experience in that sort of environment decided to implement the same polices for the IRS because it is an industry "best practice."

  • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by subanark ( 937286 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @08:55PM (#47259415)

    Government is also slow on the technology pickup. The university back home still only keeps emails up to 1 year on their servers (citing space issues) and tells teachers and staff to archive emails if they want them longer. Typically, email hasn't been a "must keep a record of this" on the list of documents you save. The only reason they still have the computers that crashed is probably due to a requirement that they be properly disposed of to avoid leaking out sensitive data, and they just didn't get around to disposing of them.

    Fine, sure 3 computers crashed, they were probably way out dated and many computer equipment isn't built to last. How many computers did they retrieve emails from? What percentage of these 3 is of the total?

  • by hawks5999 ( 588198 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @08:55PM (#47259417)
    Any suffieciently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @08:59PM (#47259453)

    . . . unfortunately, the receivers' disk have also crashed.

    It should be pretty obvious to everyone now. The IRS is not going help the investigation. If fact, they are obstructing it.

  • Some questions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RoccamOccam ( 953524 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @09:07PM (#47259495)

    Sorry to repeat myself, but this was a late post to the first incarnation of this story.

    Sharyl Attkisson (investigative reporter formerly with CBS) has posted some questions [] that should be asked:

    • 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.
  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @09:17PM (#47259581)

    This is a massive conspiracy. The IRS is hopelessly corrupt. We need a special prosecutor and get people under oath. There needs to be a lot of jail time handed out, starting with the vile Lois Lerner.

    For everyone that wants to jump to protect Obama... keep in mind republicans are likely to win the next election, and they'll have the opportunity to use the IRS in the same way if this doesn't get fixed. I personally think they're all scum.

  • by Marrow ( 195242 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @09:33PM (#47259673)

    Thats the point

  • by zr ( 19885 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @09:40PM (#47259721)

    clever and funny but i'm afraid that type thinking creates a smokescreen for malice to hide behind. we don't want that.

    i think when it comes to government there's very constructive and healthy benefit to treating stupidity same as malice.

  • by Cryacin ( 657549 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @09:42PM (#47259729)
    Laws are an inconvenience for the Plebeians, not the IRS.
  • by e3m4n ( 947977 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @09:48PM (#47259757)

    using your position of power to use groups as your personal S.S. division of the political party to silence opposition is the heart of it. Not only did these groups get targeted and never approved, while other parties got rubber stamped without so much as a single question, but they also demanded a list of ALL donors so they could audit their personal taxes as well. This is tantamount to political harassment to prevent anyone from donating money in order to avoid said harassment. This is called EXTORTION UNDER THE COLOR OF AUTHORITY and its one of the most egregious crimes someone in authority can commit. Its no different than a cop showing up and saying that he saw you speeding the other day and you need to pay him to avoid going to jail for reckless driving. Its an absolute abuse of authority. As a libertarian I find any and all parties that practice this intimidation entirely revolting.

  • by e3m4n ( 947977 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @09:50PM (#47259765)

    such as "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" while under oath? The only consequence he suffered was disbarment.

  • by e3m4n ( 947977 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @09:52PM (#47259773)

    they love the 2 party system.. they both keep selling the bullshit that the other party is entirely evil and they are angels of god. They both suck and ironically are both evil civil right stealing assholes. Where are the outraged persons who hated bush stealing civil liberties with the patriot act? Where is there outrage over the last 6years? fucking hypocrites is what they are... its a shame they can stand to look at their pathetic asses in the mirror every morning.

  • Re:Some questions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RoccamOccam ( 953524 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:23PM (#47259909)
    Exactly. Now you see why she is a *former* CBS investigative reporter.
  • by hamburger lady ( 218108 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:25PM (#47259925)

    The IRS is hopelessly corrupt.

    because they did their due diligence when it came to applications for tax-exempt status, or because of the lost emails?

    if the former, why shouldn't the IRS scrutinize applications for a tax-exempt status which disallows political activity* where the applicant group has 'Tea Party' in its title and description? isn't the Tea Party pretty much by definition a political movement? they also scrutinized 'progressive' groups for the same reason (IIRC 'progressive' groups were the only ones denied status), but you don't hear people on capitol hill yelling about that.

    should 501(c)(3) status just be handed out without the application receiving any scrutiny at all? or should conservative groups get a pass and only 'progressive' groups get scrutinized? i honestly don't understand what's the actual scandal here.

    *substantive lobbying and campaigning IIRC.

  • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @11:28PM (#47260153) Journal

    You should read what the IRS Inspector General said []. It was overwhelmingly conservative/tea party groups that were affected, many delayed for so long they withdrew their application (closed down). It was quite secret (internal BOLO requests), it was unlawful (illegal information required before any action could be taken), and it was harmful (many groups folded because of the delay).

    At least, that's what the Inspector General said. But I'm sure they are biased against their bosses and shouldn't be trusted...

  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @11:37PM (#47260189) Journal

    I guess you stopped paying attention to this story quite a while ago, which is understandable. They only made that argument for a week or two. They have since admitted wrong-doing, first blaming it on a field office, but later documents showed to orders came from Washington. I don't recall the EXACT numbers offhand, but something like 342 conservative groups were targeted and 4 liberal groups ended up being sent over in the stack. It has now been shown conclusively that the order was to target conservative and libertarian groups. The question now is who gave the order. Nobody active in politics on the left brings up the few liberal groups who got mixed in the the conservatives and libertarians anymore - they know that's not just a losing argument, but one that makes them look like liars when the numbers are mentioned.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @11:39PM (#47260201)

    Corrupt or inept, either way they should never collect a government paycheck again, ever. Nor a pension check.

  • by e3m4n ( 947977 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @11:44PM (#47260215)

    It's been well documented that several planning parenthood organizations and ACORN affiliates were rubber stamped without questions as to how many times a day they pray and who were their donors. Questions they actually asked of other groups. In fact they didn't receive a single question. The tea party should have set up fake planning parenthood companies to get automatic free passes.

    It's simply wrong regardless. Determining a non profit does not require questions about religious beliefs and/or submitting a detailed list of donors to then turn around and audit them also. This is the US version of the Schutzstaffel and not an accounting firm. There should not be a legal arm, not should they be purchasing hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammo. If someone is violating tax laws let the FBI handle it. It does not require the irs to be outfitted with hundreds of SWAT specialized divisions with tanks and body armor. Wake up before it's too late and you realize that you're a character in Animal Farm.

  • by dcollins117 ( 1267462 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @11:51PM (#47260253)

    It's quite a coincidence that all seven of the computers storing information that Congress is requesting all "crashed" and the emails were lost to seven computer "glitches". Just think of the odds. What an uncanny streak of misfortune. The emails just vanished and the investigation can't continue. Oh well.

    Just ignore the fact that the words "crashed" and "glitch" are not technical terms an IT professional would use and only serve to obfuscate rather than clarify how those emails might be retrieved. Those boxes with the blinky lights are just subject to the whims of fate, I reckon.

    I can't really fault the IRS for not handing over evidence that would at a minimum would put them out of their jobs and/or ideally behind prison bars. What surprises me is what bad liars they are.

  • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <> on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @11:59PM (#47260285) Homepage

    One progressive group was targeted, and some tea party groups suddenly got approval after the story about it broke into the news. And I do mean suddenly, as in all of them within a week of it breaking--after two years of waiting. If that doesn't scream corruption I don't know what does.

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @03:30AM (#47260813) Journal
    Criminal negligence, I don't see how anybody could argue anything else. hell I'm a little itty bitty shop owner in BF AR and when MY backup solution I give my customers, a combination of offsite, onsite, and cloud, is more robust than their IT dept came up with? I don't see how anybody could say its any less than criminal negligence.
  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:20AM (#47260909)

    Still haven't cited the relevant law which was broken, too.

    So if I shoot someone in cold blood and you can't point to the text in the law which makes murder a crime, then in your eyes, I didn't actually commit a crime? Here's a clue. Your demand is not only onerous, it is completely irrelevant. Something is illegal or not independent of whether another Slashdotter can point to the exact paragraph of law which makes the thing illegal.

    I've noticed that ever since it became popular to play scientist in the climate change debates, that demands for citations have gotten ridiculous.

  • by fractoid ( 1076465 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @06:37AM (#47261219) Homepage
    I don't think that qualifies as "lost", either, only "deliberately erased."

    From there, it's simple to see that either six months is as much as was legally required (in which case they followed the law) or it is not (in which case they broke the law).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @07:20AM (#47261369)

    It would not comply with corporate document preservation laws currently required of public companies. Once again, the government is not bound by the laws it creates. If it's good for the Goose, it SHOULD be good for the gander. One set of laws for the peons, a completely different set of rules for the rulers.

    Time for a change passed a century ago.

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @09:10AM (#47261821) Journal

    From Article II of the Nixon Articles of Impeachment:

    1. He has, acting personally and through his subordinates
    and agents, endeavoured to obtain from the Internal
    Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional
    rights of citizens, confidential information contained in
    income tax returns for purposed not authorized by law,
    and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of
    citizens, income tax audits or other income tax
    investigations to be intitiated or conducted in a
    discriminatory manner.

    And a few bullet points later, using the machinery of government to corrupt investigations.

    I knew this whole thing stunk when she plead the 5th -- either she had crimes to hide, or she was innocent and deciding "not to participate in their political game", said use of the 5th thus being a crime itself.

"If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong." -- Norm Schryer