The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Stonewalling on Steroids

The Obama administration has perfected the art of stonewalling to a level that is truly impressive. Whether it's the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal, the Benghazi scandal, the AP reporter intimidation scandal, the IRS scandal or even the VA scandal, this administration reflexively stonewalls congressional requests for information. In the rare event that Obama's trained media hamsters request elucidation (often in a effort to help protect this president), the administration stonewalls some more.

But nothing can beat the latest efforts by Obama's IRS to cover up criminal wrongdoing that it appears, now leads to the White House. In a truly remarklable response to congressional requests for IRS division chief (think: 5th amendment) Lois Lerner's emails, the IRS has informed the Ways and Means committee that they have all been lost due to "a disk crash." Conveniently, the crash wiped out  emails between Lerner and outside sources (e.g., people in the White House) during the very time that IRS abuses occurred. A truly remarkable coincidence!

Sharyl Attkisson, one of the few main stream journalists that has any integrity left after five years of Obama, asks a few questions that must be pursued following the "disk crash" announcement. She writes:
In light of the disclosure, these are some of the logical requests that should be made of the IRS:
  • Please provide a timeline of the crash and documentation covering when it was first discovered and by whom; when, how and by whom it was learned that materials were lost; the official documentation reporting the crash and federal data loss; documentation reflecting all attempts to recover the materials; and the remediation records documenting the fix. This material should include the names of all officials and technicians involved, as well as all internal communications about the matter.
  • Please provide all documents and emails that refer to the crash from the time that it happened through the IRS’ disclosure to Congress Friday that it had occurred.
  • Please provide the documents that show the computer crash and lost data were appropriately reported to the required entities including any contractor servicing the IRS. If the incident was not reported, please explain why.
  • Please provide a list summarizing what other data was irretrievably lost in the computer crash. If the loss involved any personal data, was the loss disclosed to those impacted? If not, why?
  • Please provide documentation reflecting any security analyses done to assess the impact of the crash and lost materials. If such analyses were not performed, why not?
  • Please provide documentation showing the steps taken to recover the material, and the names of all technicians who attempted the recovery.
  • Please explain why redundancies required for federal systems were either not used or were not effective in restoring the lost materials, and provide documentation showing how this shortfall has been remediated.
  • Please provide any documents reflecting an investigation into how the crash resulted in the irretrievable loss of federal data and what factors were found to be responsible for the existence of this situation.
I would also ask for those who discovered and reported the crash to testify under oath, as well as any officials who reported the materials as having been irretrievably lost.
The IRS and the White House clearly know that this looks really, really bad and really, really suspicious. It makes Nixon's 18 minute gap look like child's play. It further supports the contention that the Obama administration is more corrupt, more mendacious, and more guilty of criminal wrong doing that even the Nixon administration.

The media has for the most part ignored the story (as the administration hoped they would). But as Nixon learned, even stonewalling on steroids will fail in the end. At this point, it's fair to conclude that the Lerner emails contained not a smoking gun, but a pallet of C-4, and that blatant lies and misdirection are the Obama's administration's only hope for survival.

UPDATE (6/16/14):

In an article quite aptly titled "The Dog at My E-mails", John Fund writes:
A growing number of computer professionals are stepping forward to say that none of this makes sense. Norman Cillo, a former program manager at Microsoft, told The Blaze: “I don’t know of any e-mail administrator [who] doesn’t have at least three ways of getting that mail back. It’s either on the disks or it’s on a TAPE backup someplace on an archive server.” Bruce Webster, an IT expert with 30 years of experience consulting with dozens of private companies, seconds this opinion: “It would take a catastrophic mechanical failure for Lerner’s drive to suffer actual physical damage, but in any case, the FBI should be able to recover something. And the FBI and the Justice Department know it.”

In March of this year, John Koskinen, the new IRS commissioner, testified before Congress that all the e-mails of IRS employees are “stored in servers.” The agency’s own manual specifies that it “provides for backup and recovery of records to protect against information loss or corruption.” The reason is simple. It is well known in legal and IT circles that failure to preserve e-mails can lead to a court ruling of “spoliation of evidence.” That means a judge or jury is then instructed to treat deletions as if they were deliberate destruction of incriminating evidence.
Nah ... couldn't be! The most transparent administration ever wouldn't be hiding incriminating evidence. Would it?

When the truth is known, and I certainly hope it will become known, people should go to jail. And some of those people currently work in the executive branch. The 'disk crash' fairy tale just about proves it.

UPDATE (6/16/14):

And this from Ron Fournier, another journalist (who generally sides with Democrats on issues of policy) who has maintained his integrity through the Obama era:
Six weeks after the scandal broke, I chastised House Republicans for cherry-picking evidence and jumping to conclusions. In the same column, I urged the president to be transparent: pave way for investigators to question witnesses under oath and subpoena the White House and his own reelection campaign for related emails and other documents.

If forced to guess, I would say that the IRS and its White House masters are guilty of gross incompetence, but not corruption. I based that only on my personal knowledge of—and respect for—Obama and his team. But I shouldn't have to guess. More importantly, most Americans don't have a professional relationship with Obama and his team. Many don't respect or trust government. They deserve what Obama promised nearly six weeks ago—accountability. They need a thorough investigation conducted by somebody other than demagogic Republicans and White House allies.

Somebody like … a special prosecutor. Those words are hard for me to type two decades after an innocent land deal I covered in Arkansas turned into the runaway Whitewater investigation.

Nothing has changed. The White House is stonewalling the IRS investigation. The most benign explanation is that Obama's team is politically expedient and arrogant, which makes them desperate to change the subject and convinced of their institutional innocence. That's bad enough. But without a fiercely independent investigation, we shouldn't assume the explanation is benign.
With Eric Holder heading the DoJ and the trained hamsters in the media avoiding the IRS scandal, it's almost inconceivable that a special prosecutor will be appointed. That's a shame.

UPDATE (6/18/14):

In a truly brazen effort to impede the IRS investigation, Obama's allies at the IRS have now announced that emails for six additional IRS employees who are under investigation have been "lost."

One can only hope that a few dedicated journalists will pursue this store as Obama's trained media hamsters turn away.

As an aside: I have to wonder how the IRS would respond if a taxpayer told them that financial records were "lost" and therefore an audit would have to be cancelled. You know the answer and so do I.