by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Lois Lerner’s lost emails from the critical period when the IRS was serving as a political arm of the Obama administration and targeting Tea Party and other conservative groups suggest by themselves a conspiracy to obstruct justice as well as being a violation of the Federal Records Act, which requires paper copies of such critical emails to be printed and stored just in case of computer problems.
This conspiracy to obstruct justice is further suggested by some Lerner emails that she and the Obama administration wished had been lost — especially one sent by Lerner to a Maria Hooke.
“I had a question today about OCS,” Lerner stated in the email. “I was cautioning folks about email, how we have had several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails — so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails.”
OCS is the IRS’ Office Communications Server, a form of online chat system that circumvents email.
When she learned that OCS messages were not set to automatically save, Lerner wrote, “Perfect.”
Clearly Lerner had a keen interest in keeping her communications from Congress and the American people.
Among the unanswered questions about this issue:
1. First, what happened to the IRS’ IT asset managers who seemingly vanished during this critical period? IAITAM , which runs the only worldwide certification program for IT asset managers, says its records show that at least three IRS IT asset managers were moved out of their positions at the time of the May 2013 inspector general’s report that detailed the agency’s targeting practices. What can they tell us?
2. The hard drives in question are federal property and cannot be destroyed or recycled without proper documentation. “Proper IT asset management requires clear proof and records of destruction when drives are wiped or destroyed,” notes IAITAM President and founder Barbara Rembiesa. Where are these records?
3. IAITAM asks if the drives were destroyed by an outside IT asset destruction unit, a not-unusual practice among federal agencies. If so, it adds an entire second layer of documentation of the destruction of these assets, including who approved it.