Today’s banana republic update comes to us from the exasperated watchdogs at Judicial Watch, which has a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit pending in the IRS targeting scandal. Some months ago, we learned that former Tax Exempt Organizations honcho Lois Lerner generates an intense bio-electric field that causes every hard drive that comes anywhere hear her to crash and lose all its data, something that never seems to happen to hard drives outside the government any more, but verily the Age of Obama is an age of wonders. Lerner’s mutant hard-drive crashing powers supposedly wiped out a ton of electronic correspondence relevant to the scandal.
When it was pointed out that every major business organization in the world has systems for backing up its data, and every agency of the federal government has rules requiring such backups, but somehow those procedures weren’t followed, all the backups got deleted too, yadda yadda yadda. The federal judge overseeing the Judicial Watch suit, District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan, keeps ordering the IRS to explain what steps they have taken to retrieve Lerner’s emails, but they keep resisting. They’ve thrown up a lot of static when Congress asked about those emails, too.
Judicial Watch lawyers reviewed the latest batch of IRS court filings and discovered a remarkable admission: they haven’t even tried looking for the missing emails yet.
Judicial Watch lawyers reviewed the IRS court filings and concluded that the agency “did not undertake any significant efforts to obtain the emails.”
IRS attorneys conceded that they had failed to search the agency’s servers for missing emails because they decided that “the servers would not result in the recovery of any information.” They admitted they had failed to search the agency’s disaster recovery tapes because they had “no reason to believe that the tapes are a potential source of recovering” the missing emails. And they conceded that they had not searched the government-wide back-up system because they had “no reason to believe such a system … even exists.”
The IRS admitted to Judge Sullivan that the agency failed to “submit declarations about any of the foregoing items because it had no reason to believe that they were sources from which to recover information lost as a result of Lerner’s hard drive failure.” [Emphasis added] Department of Justice attorneys for the IRS had previously told Judicial Watch that Lois Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe. The Obama administration attorneys said that this back-up system would be too onerous to search.
In the October federal court filing, the IRS does not deny that the government-wide back-up system exists, and acknowledges to the court that 760 other email “servers” have been discovered but had not been searched. The IRS also refuses to disclose the names of the IRS officials who may have information about the IRS scandal, citing unspecified threats. The IRS says it pulled documents about the scandal from various employees into a “Congressional database” and that it has only searched this one “database” for missing records. Incredibly, the IRS has not searched any of the IRS’s regular computer systems for any missing records and admits that it has only searched a “database” that it knows does not contain the missing records being sought by the court, Judicial Watch, and Congress.
It’s all part of the usual Obama Administration scandal management tactic: delay, delay, delay, while friendly media buries the scandal alive inside its Mausoleum of Old News, and ignored court orders become dusty museum curiosities. Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton expects them to keep playing this game until Obama is out of office: “The Obama IRS couldn’t care less about the federal court’s orders to provide full information about the ‘missing’ Lois Lerner emails. Instead, the IRS, with the help of a compromised Justice Department, has engaged in a series of transparently evasive distractions. The IRS would have Judicial Watch wait for years before we can ask questions about the cover-up that is going on now. The IRS thinks it can game a federal court, Congress, and the American people. Having delayed accountability for over two years, the Obama administration is prepared to stonewall on the IRS targeting of Obama’s ‘enemies list’ until after the 2016 presidential election. Judicial Watch’s lawsuit can continue to break through this obstruction of justice, especially if the court approves our effort to put select Obama officials under oath.”
We’ve gone from “there aren’t any backups” to “there are backups, but we couldn’t get any useful data out of the system” to “we didn’t even try.” What a travesty.