‘Fake’ IRS scandal spawns real coverup

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from USAToday,

Lost email, hard-drive crashes, recycled computers, destroyed Blackberry no coincidence.

President Obama regularly claims that he oversees the most honest and transparent administration in history. But when it comes to Congressional investigators looking into the IRS scandal and other issues, it is funny how often the administration hits the delete button.

The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch revealed this week that IRS Deputy Assistant Chief Counsel Thomas Kane admitted that disgraced former official Lois Lerner’s government-issued Blackberry was “wiped clean” and “removed as scrap for disposal” in June 2012. This took place after Congress had opened an investigation into Lerner’s role in using the IRS to target conservative nonprofit groups.

For a scandal that is frequently derided as “fake,” it is amazing how often real evidence disappears. The disappearing act is so frequent, it is reasonable to wonder whether it is really a systematic attempt to destroy evidence of abuse of power.

Explanations regarding Lerner’s thousands of missing emails have always been hard to swallow. The initial story was that the records were accidentally lost when Lerner’s desktop computer crashed. But given the nature of networked and cloud computing, as well as government requirements for redundant email backup systems, this account never made sense.

It was also curious that the emails were only lost in the specific timeframe of the investigation, and that Lerner’s hard drive had hastily been destroyed. When more than a dozen other IRS officials whose emails were being sought suffered similar computer failures and hard drive recycling, and backup tapes were either missing, written-over or deleted.

This inadvertent, accidental destruction of evidence is so thorough that the House Armed Services Committee asked the Defense Department to scour the files of the NSA in hopes that maybe the emails would turn up there. Last month Federal Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered IRS officials to explain under oath what had been done to find the emails and to make clear why they were missing.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told Congress he had “moved heaven and Earth” trying to find the lost Lerner emails. But now comes word that the missing records may in fact exist, deep in a secretive government database established for continuity of operations in case of an attack or other disaster. However, a Justice Department attorney looking into the matter said that the files are “too hard” to retrieve, as though agents would be sorting through an endless “Raiders of the Lost Ark” -style warehouse.

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