As congressional investigators ponder how a computer crash caused two years of Lois Lerner’s emails to disappear, investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson outlined several questions lawmakers should be asking the Internal Revenue Service.
During Lerner’s tenure at the IRS, tea party groups applying for tax-exempt status routinely were subjected to additional scrutiny and delays in their applications. The IRS informed Congress last week that it had lost an unknown number of emails from Lerner.
Now, as congressional Republicans call on the Department of Justice to open an investigation into the computer crash, Attkisson, a Daily Signal senior independent contributor, explained exactly what information investigators should seek regarding Lerner’s missing emails:
- 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.
In testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in March, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told lawmakers agency emails “get taken off and stored in servers.” Yet the IRS said Lerner’s correspondence, sent between January 2009 and April 2011, is irretrievable.
Congressional investigators are working to determine whether Lerner acted alone or on orders handed down by the White House. House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., said in a statement Friday the IRS’ loss of documents makes it more difficult for investigators to determine who, besides Lerner, was involved in the scandal.
Lerner testified twice on Capitol Hill about the targeting, but invoked the Fifth Amendment both times. In May, the House voted to hold her in contempt for refusing to cooperate with investigations.