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Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 440

IRS Logo 2House Ways & Means Committee Press Release, Lerner Hard Drive Was "Scratched"; IRS Ignored Advice to Use Outside Experts to Recover Data:

Despite early refusals to make available IT professionals who worked on Lois Lerner’s computer, Ways and Means Committee investigators have now learned from interviews that the hard drive of former IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner was “scratched,” but data was recoverable.   In fact, in-house professionals at the IRS recommended the Agency seek outside assistance in recovering the data.  That information conflicts with a July 18, 2014 court filing by the Agency, which stated the data on the hard drive was unrecoverable – including multiple years’ worth of missing emails.

“It is unbelievable that we cannot get a simple, straight answer from the IRS about this hard drive,” said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI).  “The Committee was told no data was recoverable and the physical drive was recycled and potentially shredded.  To now learn that the hard drive was only scratched, yet the IRS refused to utilize outside experts to recover the data, raises more questions about potential criminal wrong doing at the IRS.”

It is also unknown whether the scratch was accidental or deliberate, but former federal law enforcement and Department of Defense forensic experts consulted by the Committee say that most of the data on a scratched drive, such as Lerner’s, should have been recoverable.  However, in a declaration filed last Friday by the IRS, the agency said it tried but failed to recover the data, but is not sure what happened to the hard drive afterwards other than saying they believe it was recycled, which, according to the court filing means “shredded.”

Further complicating the situation, the Committee’s investigation has revealed evidence that this declaration may not be accurate.  A review of internal IRS IT tracking system documents revealed that Lerner’s computer was actually once described as “recovered.”  In a transcribed interview on July 18, IRS IT employees were unable to confirm the accuracy of the documents or the meaning of the entry “recovered.”

“It is these constant delays and late revelations that have forced this investigation to go on so long,” Camp added.  “If the IRS would just come clean and tell Congress and the American people what really happened, we could put an end to this.  Our investigators will not stop until we find the full truth.”

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Comments

Thanks again, professor, for this invaluable service.

Posted by: PawPaw | Jul 23, 2014 9:15:21 AM

FWIW: "Scratch" is old IBM-speak for "delete" or "erase"; it's possible that the use of that word was a deliberate attempt to confuse or mislead in a deniable manner.

Posted by: Fatwa Arbuckle | Jul 23, 2014 10:31:02 AM

Yes, thank you Prof. Caron.

I am waiting for "Anon" and the other defenders of the administration to chime in and tell us how there is not a smidgen of corruption here, and this is no more than GOP partisan attacks.

This is worse than Watergate. Far, far worse than Watergate. Because it is not just a corrupt administration sending signals from on high (or perhaps direct orders), but rather a fully corrupted and politicized agency that functions as an arm of 1 party.

If only we had an honest media to investigate!

Posted by: Todd | Jul 23, 2014 10:31:33 AM