Thursday, June 19, 2014

Lois Lerner demonstrates how she backs-up her emails on a dictaphone borrowed from Kathleen Sebelius' website designer
They're openly sneering at us now. Late on Friday, the Internal Revenue Service revealed that two-and-a-quarter years of Lois Lerner's emails have been "lost". Yesterday the IRS told Congress that it is unable to produce the emails of six other officials involved in the targeting of conservative groups, among them Nicole Flax, the chief of staff to then IRS commissioner Steven Miller.

We now learn that the IRS only retains email on its server for six months. After that, the email exists only on the hard drive of the physical desktop computer of the employee in question. And therefore, if that hard drive crashes, those emails are lost forever.

By the way, do feel free to try that excuse if the IRS asks you to produce any document more than six months old. As I said way back when at the dawn of this investigation, everyone subject to the attentions of this agency should play by Lois Lerner Rules: oh, it'll take me years to produce all that stuff - even if I still have any of it.

Is it just the seven officials in whom Congress is interested whose computers crashed so catastrophically? That would seem statistically improbable. Or is this a more widespread problem and there are hundreds, thousands of IRS employees who've lost years of their emails? And, if that's the case, why has nobody suggested that that policy of only retaining emails on the server for six months needs to be changed, urgently? After all, the IRS isn't shy about telling the citizenry that their own data-retention policies are insufficient. Indeed, Cleta Mitchell (the lawyer representing certain of the targeted groups) says that one of her clients was penalized by the IRS for only retaining emails for a year - ie, twice as long as the IRS server retains them.

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