Along with news this week that several additional Internal Revenue Service employees with ties to Lois Lerner suffered computer crashes came another minor revelation from agency lawyer Thomas Kane, who told a Congressional panel that, just maybe, Lerner’s long-lost emails can still be retrieved.
On Monday, the House Oversight Committee released a portion of a transcript from testimony Kane had given last week, revealing that Kane suggested the possibility that tape drives used to archive IRS employees’ electronic data may still be intact, with her communications on them.
“I don’t know if there is a backup tape with information on it or there isn’t. I know that there’s an issue out there about it,” Kane told the Oversight Committee. “… It’s an issue that’s being looked at.”
As noncommittal as that sounds, what’s especially interesting is the fact that, if those drives are still out there — and if they still do contain Lerner’s emails — it’s because the IRS, once again, hasn’t been following its own protocols.
IRS policy calls for tape drives used for backup storage to be “recycled” every six months. That is, after a drive has successfully stored six months’ worth of information, that information can be erased and replaced with new backup data from the present. The emails relating to Lerner’s alleged computer crash date from some still-unknown time beginning in 2011 — when her computer supposedly went on the fritz.
Kane’s testimony that the drives (and with them, Lerner’s emails) may still be out there also contradicted IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s testimony before the Oversight Committee last month, when he averred that all the backup drives used to save data generated in the IRS Exempt Organizations Division had been recycled.
Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) pounced on that revelation, accusing the agency of sloppy management and suggesting Koskinen is still attempting to conceal the truth from House investigators.
“Finding out that IRS Commissioner Koskinen jumped the gun in reporting to Congress that the IRS ‘confirmed’ all backup tapes had been destroyed makes me even more suspicious of why he waited months to inform Congress about lost Lois Lerner emails,” Issa said following Kane’s testimony. “Commissioner Koskinen has repeatedly blamed the reporting delay on an effort to be sure what he said was correct. We now know that wasn’t the case.”