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IRS Recycled Lerner Hard Drive 682

phrackthat (2602661) writes The Senate Finance Committee has been informed that the IRS recycled the hard drive of Lois Lerner, which will deprive investigators of the ability to forensically retrieve emails which were supposedly deleted or lost in a "crash." This news comes after the IRS revealed that it had lost the emails of Lois Lerner and six other employees who were being investigated regarding the targeting of conservative groups and donors.
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IRS Recycled Lerner Hard Drive

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  • by pastafazou ( 648001 ) on Thursday June 19, 2014 @08:59AM (#47270965)
    The politicization of the IRS should be the biggest scandal ever. How many other institutions are being used to pursue a political agenda instead of their true function?
  • by TaoPhoenix ( 980487 ) <> on Thursday June 19, 2014 @09:01AM (#47270985) Journal

    See this is where the news gets varying degrees of surreal.

    In 2014, you "recycled" a hard drive with important emails on it?! Really?!

    So then we're faced with that famous Dr. Who trick of whether the Media is accurately reporting an astoundingly senseless event, or if the Media got it wrong.

    Oh look, this time it's the IRS. What's with agencies magically losing data when it suits them? Snark aside and all that, why is it that only HIPAA medical records get taken remotely seriously at least with lip service? What possibly produces a result like "ho hum, let's recycle this person's hard drive and damn any data that happens to be there in the only copy with no backup?!"

  • Re:Fox News? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Thursday June 19, 2014 @09:13AM (#47271081)

    /. is really going downhill....

    The media in general is going down hill. As much as Foxnews shills for the republicans, this is probably the biggest story of the year, yet it's missing from nearly every other news organization in the country. [] [] [] [] [] []

    I checked every one of those and there's no mention of it.
    Obama could get IMPEACHED over this. This is turning into a Watergate level scandal.
    It could all be coincidental, but seriously? The IRS doesn't archive email? REALLY?

  • by SpzToid ( 869795 ) on Thursday June 19, 2014 @09:15AM (#47271093)

    Conspiracy theory, much? Really? This is the U.S. Federal Government we're discussing and the taxpayer is kind of a legacy concern of theirs. No one was considering preserving anything on that particular hard disk, and presumably another part of the government I.T. dept. was responsible for backing up the emails, (and another part of the government was responsible for a verifiable audit trail, ...and at some point the hard disk did what hard disks due in such circumstances), while yet another department merely wanted to re-use the %$#!@! hard disk.

    Because of the gravity of the situation, someone did track all that down and there you have it. ...p.s. This is Slashdot and it is full of admins just doing their job to pay their rent. I'm not saying the situation is Kosher, but just so long as we can all agree on what is exactly Kosher well then, fine; otherwise everything is anyone's guess.

    P.S. Whatever happened to G.W. Bush's Exchange server backups and recovery? That was a priority with a budget if I recall correctly. []

  • by slaker ( 53818 ) on Thursday June 19, 2014 @09:23AM (#47271171)

    An acquaintance of mine is a senior guy in Chicago's IRS office. He does large corporate audits, which means he's sitting across from guys in $2000 suits all day. The laptop he was carrying until late 2012 had a Windows 2000 license sticker on it and his "new" government-issued laptop is an HP that was manufactured in 2004. These guys really do make more with less and I have no trouble believing that the equipment Lerner was using was painfully obsolete and used until it died.

  • Re:Fox News? (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 19, 2014 @09:23AM (#47271173)
    I found a left-wing take on the missing emails.. []
  • by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Thursday June 19, 2014 @09:32AM (#47271259)

    Fox is acting like its big news, but really, anyone whos had to deal with government computer networks shouldnt be surprised by any of this.

    Government computers die all the time. Cause they suck. Old peices of trash. Horrible software bloat too, things required to run in background for security. And government IT's solution nearly always the same: Wipe it and reimage it, or "here, have a new(ish) computer. the emails arent even stored on the personal issued computer anyway, they're on the server. And those serves go down a LOT. The backups frequently dont work, or get lost; I cant tell you how many times I've lost stuff on the server drive. Plus employees all the time ignore protocols that get in the way of productivity ("must scan now" "must backup now" "dont turn off" are frequently met by "end task sucker, i got work to do"). Much like any large business.

    All in all: non-scandal

  • by Capt James McCarthy ( 860294 ) on Thursday June 19, 2014 @09:34AM (#47271285) Journal

    . Whatever happened to G.W. Bush's Exchange server backups and recovery? That was a priority with a budget if I recall correctly. []

    It truly baffles me to no end when people use the wrongs of the past to somehow justify the wrongs of today.

    So I guess we just say F' it and let our elected officials get away with whatever they want. Justice was overrated anyways.

  • by Joel Cahoon ( 2906501 ) on Thursday June 19, 2014 @09:51AM (#47271453)

    More people need to go to prison for "white collar" crimes. The brash disregard of the law has turned into an epidemic because everybody with an ounce of clout is let off the hook with a slap on the wrist.

    Who would go to prison though, the person who ordered the mail to be deleted, or the IT admin who received an order from above to do something that he thought shouldn't be done (just like nearly every other order he gets from management)?

    You seem to be implying that it would be unjust for the IT admin, who was "only" following orders, to suffer consequences for his illegal actions. I do not agree, but you have raised a crucial point; let's follow this course of thinking to its logical end.

    If the lowly peon isn't held accountable for his direct actions, then the next time management asks him to do something wrong or illegal, there's one less reason for him to refuse. If he refuses, he can be assured of repercussions from management, but experience has shown him that threat of legal consequences is low if he complies; the path of least resistance is clear.

    But, if you do hold him accountable for his direct actions, this has some interesting indirect effects, aside from the obvious direct consequences. The next time he or someone else is asked similarly to do something wrong or illegal, he's got to weigh the consequences on both sides. These concerns can be raised to the manager making the request as a reason (that would be less likely to result in repercussions for the IT admin) not to comply. Even if the threat of legal repercussions alone is not enough to deter the IT admin from complying with an illegal request, his moral or ethical views coupled with this threat may be enough to change his actions. The manager will have a harder time finding an IT admin to perform unlawful acts on his order. The threshold of reasons to even request such acts will be raised.

    Let's not forget that the primary reason laws exist is to shape societal behavior; punishing or "rehabilitating" individual deviance should come secondary, as means to this end. If laws are not enforced, in this particular case if we let people off too frequently for "just following orders," then the laws can never have their intended effect: to prevent this whole stupid fiasco from happening in the first place.

    That being said, let's not forget that overly broad interpretation and overzealous application of laws can result in witch-hunts which can be just as harmful, for reasons not entirely unrelated. Balance.

  • Re:Fox News? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Thursday June 19, 2014 @10:12AM (#47271695) Journal

    For those of us in IT, the excuses as to the failure to secure documentation, in the midst of a controversy is key. The fact that they are just NOW trotting this out as an excuse, rather than when the request was made, is highly suspicious. "Computer Crash" happens, but as we say in IT, if it doesn't exist in three places, it doesn't exist.

    THAT being said, if they are claiming, again, that it was incompetence and not nefariousness, all I can say is, this is exactly WHY government cannot run anything competently. Further, because we cannot expect reasonable competency in government, the role of government needs to be severely limited.

    And yet, we have people who think that government run healthcare is going to be a godsend. I wonder how many people dying from Government "ooops we made a mistake" people will take. Oh wait, that just happened with the VA.

    Any sufficient level of incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. The problem is, they should be treated the same, but aren't.

  • Re:whistling (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Thursday June 19, 2014 @10:27AM (#47271929)

    All of her emails were really stored in a local PST file, with no backup what-so-ever? And after that hard drive failed, with no backup, you then destroyed the drive?

    It's worse than that. The investigators also want to see the correspondence involving six other people whose activity could shed light on the matter. And what a surprise, those six other people also had storage failures, and their records have also been lost. Shocking, huh.

  • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Thursday June 19, 2014 @11:44AM (#47272899) Journal
    Great, so that's why the IRS Commissioner apologized []. Why he said what happened was wrong. Because they were just doing their job, nothing really was wrong, and nothing happened worth apologizing for...

    Look, the IRS ITSELF (via the Commissioner) and the Inspector General BOTH are on-record as claiming these actions happened, they should not of happened, and they are, at the very least, the result of gross incompetence. Your trying to spin it as "nothing was wrong" simply goes against the statements of all the actual players in the game. Even President Obama [] states that "the misconduct ... is inexcusable".

    But I'm glad to know you are much more knowledgeable about the IRS Scandal than the commissioner, the Senators, the Inspector General, the President, and all the other Government and political participants who have come out and plainly stated what happened was wrong.

  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Thursday June 19, 2014 @02:54PM (#47274969)
    It wasn't about the numbers being investigated, but the numbers being registered. Why are there 190 new conservative groups? When there are spikes that high in new registrations, doesn't that signal alerts? The "normal" rate is quite low. The fact that there were enough to get all "OMFG OVER 190!!!!!1!!!" about is proof enough to those that investigate fraud that something "interesting" was happening.

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard