A whole bunch of email was lost when Lois Lerner's hard disk crashed and burned in 2011, and Fox News wants to make it into the new Rose Mary Woods erased tape scandal. So does Peggy Noonan, but she's lost in a Reagan reverie she can't shake off, it seems.
However, Fox has no such problem. Not only are they convinced that this is a nefarious plot by Lois Lerner and the IRS to predict into the future that they would be investigated, but they've managed to determine that email is not the same as computer files. Therefore, the claim in her 2011 email that she lost files on her hard drive somehow magically exempts email. Don't try and understand it. It's intended for an audience that is clueless about computers and email communications.
However, they're working hard to make it into a Rose Mary Woods moment.
At first blush, it seems like they might even have a point. That is, until you read the incredibly ancient email and IT guidelines applicable to the IRS.
The IRS said Friday that technicians went to great lengths trying to recover data from Lerner’s computer in 2011. In emails provided by the IRS, technicians said they sent the computer to a forensic lab run by the agency’s criminal investigations unit. But to no avail.
The IRS was able to generate 24,000 Lerner emails from the 2009 to 2011 period because Lerner had copied in other IRS employees. Overall, the IRS said it is producing a total of 67,000 emails to and from Lerner, covering the period from 2009 to 2013.
The IRS said Friday more than 250 IRS employees have been working to assist congressional investigations, spending nearly $10 million to produce more than 750,000 documents.
Here's how there came to be no backup:
Prior to the eruption of the IRS controversy last spring, the IRS had a policy of backing up the data on its email server (which runs Microsoft Outlook) every day. It kept a backup of the records for six months on digital tape, according to a letter sent from the IRS to Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). After six months, the IRS would reuse those tapes for newer backups. So when Congressional committees began requesting emails from the agency, its records only went back to late 2012.
Why, you might ask, was the IRS forced to operate on the cheap, adopting IT procedures most major corporations got rid of 15 years ago? Because their funding has been drastically cut, to the tune of nearly $1 billion since 2010.
More taxpayers, more demand, less money. And who was responsible for those budget cuts? We all know the answer to that one.
At one point in this clip Cleta Mitchell claims archiving six months of data is a violation of federal law. But that's not what the IRS was doing. They were archiving everything, and recycling the oldest tapes after they had been held for at least six months, which is the minimum retention time prescribed under federal regulations.
If they really wanted these emails, they could get the hard copies of them, because IRS employees are required to print out and file hard copies of email under archiving guidelines in the regulations. All communications related to this project are in hard copy form somewhere, and certainly could be produced in place of the electronic form.
Once again we have a non-scandal ginned up by Faux News and Cleta Mitchell, who is the Queen of the TeaBircher Non-Profits. Excuse me while I yawn.