The big lie: The dog did not eat IRS emails, they are retrievable

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., June 18, 2014 — As early as November of last year, a CNN poll found that 53% of Americans believe Barack Obama is not honest or trustworthy.

An April Fox News poll found that 60% of American voters think he lies to the country on important matters some or most of the time. Small wonder then that when the White House deploys “the dog ate my homework” excuse to try to cover for the IRS, which isn’t releasing key Lois Lerner emails to Congress, people aren’t buying it.

Lerner’s computer hard drive crashed in early 2011.


READ ALSO: Lost Lois Lerner IRS emails a thinly-veiled dodge and cover



“Sometimes stuff just happens,” she wrote in an email to the technical staff.

Voi’la! Instant excuse for not turning over two years’ worth of emails.

The only problem is that it is inherently unbelievable. “I think it’s entirely reasonable. And it’s fact,” said the new White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest. “You’ve never heard of a computer crashing before?”

Clearly, he has no idea what email systems are like. At least he understands the importance of being earnest.

Let’s pretend for a moment that the hard drive crash really happened. That doesn’t seem like much of a stretch since emails between Lerner and the IT support staff have miraculously survived.

Let’s also pretend that the emails of 6 other IRS employees, including former Chief of Staff Nikole Flax, also weren’t reportedly lost in crashes or that the administration as a whole doesn’t have a record of foot-dragging when it comes to dealing with Congress.

In short, let’s give everyone involved the benefit of good intentions and a willingness to cooperate.

After all, sometimes the dog really does eat the homework.


READ ALSO: Watergate déjà vu : The IRS ‘loses’ two years of emails


Email is a critical form of communication in today’s world. It is the lifeblood of organizations and for that reason is considered a mission-critical application. IT staff know this.

It is so critical that government agencies are required to retain electronic records almost indefinitely. U.S. law (44 U.S.C. 33) requires that agencies notify the Archivist of the United States of any records that are destroyed and the reasons for destroying them.

All federal agencies publish regulations for the use of email: the IRS regulation is available online. It’s pretty clear: you get a 500MB mailbox—not huge by today’s standards, but terribly small either—and you can reduce the size of your mailbox by archiving old email.

To comply with retention requirements, federal regulations establish strict recoverability and redundancy requirements. Disposal of records outside these standards requires permission in writing.

In short, if emails were destroyed purposefully, someone has serious explaining to do.

Hard drives do crash. They are quite robust these days and crashes are rare; usually, 95% of drives will last three years—which is the average replacement cycle for desktop computers.

How unfortunate for Ms. Lerner and Ms. Flax to both experience crashes in 2011.

To maintain the reliability and availability of this critical resource, the IRS reportedly uses the Microsoft Exchange email server and Outlook email client on the desktop.

The record copy of your mailbox resides on the server, not the local computer.

The servers are backed up with Symantec NetBackup. Exchange operates with clustered servers for redundancy and usually stores email databases on large storage devices which are internally redundant. The backups, of which there are usually several, provide additional redundancy. In addition to all that, an email has both a sender and a receiver.


READ ALSO: IRS Scandal: When “I’m sorry” is just not good enough


While some of Ms. Lerner’s emails may have been lost, no doubt many exist in recipient mailboxes.

But that isn’t the end of the story.

When a hard drive crashes, it’s because the read/write arm touches a spinning disk inside the drive, making at least part of the disk unreadable and bringing the whole thing to a screeching halt. Some sectors will be destroyed but most will not be. Emails about the recovery attempts said none of the hard drive was recoverable—extremely unlikely.

It is more likely that forensic recovery of the data was not worth the effort because it existed elsewhere.

Another excuse offered by the IRS is that the backup data tapes were overwritten every six months. Nobody uses tape backup any more. And even if they did, it’s beside the point: backups are only meant to be temporary.

Long term storage is the archival copy.

For this excuse to be real, the dog would have had to eat every bit of the homework, which in the case of email exists in multiple file systems in multiple locations. The problem with email is not so much “losing” it as trying to get rid of it completely when you really want to.

“Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.” – Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of Four

Clearly, then, the simple fact that remains is that one accident that destroyed one copy of some emails on one client computer did not destroy everything completely.

The IRS is lying.

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  • Criticus Rex

    Josh Earnest hits the ground running.

    • Cruella DeVille

      He, (and the rest), need to hit the ground with a thud after the rope they were hanged with is cut.

      • Glenn Gallaher

        Do not cut the rope, leave the bodies as a reminder to the next group of criminals that think they will not get caught. Why do you think they had a hanging tree in the days of old, it was to discourage this type of behavior in government today. I say bring back the tree on capitol hill, and feed it all the criminals it can hold and leave the bodies as in the days of old as a reminder to those that think they are above the law and that the law does not apply to them. Let their dead bodies hang there for an eternity slather in pig fat as a reminder for the next generations of criminals to remember that they will be found out for the crimes they commit and hang for it. Save the bullet, save the space in jail, save the cost on the food, and hang them from the neck until dead. It is time the people are not longer treated with cruel and unusual punishment of having to support this type of criminal by putting them in jail. Send the money for a rope, and quit punishing the people for the behavior of the criminal. Cruel punishment is keeping the people paying for the crimes of those criminals, charging the people to keep the criminals alive. Charging the people a fee to feed the criminals. Charging the people to cloth the criminals. Take out the workout gym and put in a farm and make them grow their own food, make them grow cotton, and make them build their own shelter. Take away the tv and electricity. It is cruel to charge the people a fee so the criminals can have a/c and tv and sit all day and work out and not a care in the world.
        Bring back the hanging tree and screw you if it offends you, it means it is doing its job by reminding people what happens to real criminals. Place Obama at the top, and make sure that pig is covered in fat so that he will not serve in his heaven but go to his own private hell.

    • acmaurer

      I have to say, that really was laugh out loud funny!

  • Sami Hashmi

    I hate republicans

    • ElmerFudd

      Then you will probably also hate the fact that big government departments like the IRS regularly run compliance checks on their IT systems to ensure that they are functioning within the boundaries of the statutes regarding retention and disposition of electronic records.

    • redrick

      but republicans love you. don’t worry in 10 years you will come to the darkside as you huddle next to a fire in a trash can.

    • David Langley

      Just like I’ve always said, the Left owns intolerance. Why would you hate millions of people you never met, anyway?

    • Sammie Jo

      Why? Because they’re exposing a dem & IRS whopper?
      I hate idiots.

    • yepster

      I Hate Stupid, retarted, Left Loony DemonRATS. Especially one’s Named SAMI.

    • Glenn Gallaher

      Why do you hate people you have never met? What type of self loathing causes you to make a statement like that? Are you mentally stable? Are you insane? What is it that fuels your irrational hate for a group of people you have never meet? What in the would would cause you to say something so prejudice? Is that not like saying you hate blacks? What type of person are you that would say something like this? Are you a typical Democrat that hates because they can not figure out that there is more to life then just hate?

    • patriotdaddy

      and i hat moslems!!!

    • John Ferry

      Now if I were to say something like ” I hate Democrates ” you and the other leftists would be all up in arms demanding that I be prosecuted for being racist and narrow minded. but explain to me whay it is always the left that spews racist and discriminatory remarks? The left gets bent when they DEMAND special treatment and special considerations, but when the right ASKS for the same considerations, one would think that the entire universe imploded. So basically what you said by your remark is that All are created equal, but some (the left) are more equal than others. You think this is not the case. Read a story called Animal Farm. you will see that the entire system is based upon Democrat ideology and theology. I also find it curious that the left demands everyone to respect their views, but the left is the first to condemn views that differ from their own. Explain this to me

      • Chris

        How can you not hate BOTH parties. They both suck, both lie, steal and cheat the American people(and the rest of the world!)out of money and truth. THEY BOTH SUCK!……. ROYALLY! Start thinking outside the pain old boring box. There’s better ways.

    • gretchen uno

      But I thought your Party was the compassionate Party? What happened?

  • cookiebob

    Remember when Democrats used to brag about being so computer savy?

    Everyone in America has checked their email from a phone or Ipad or some other device. We have all used someone else’s lap top on vacation, or the one at the hotel to check our email… how did we do that? Did we hack our own home computer? No the computer itself is only the tool we use to access our email which kept on a server or whatever.

    Everyone knows that.

    So what is so incriminating about those emails that they are willing to lie so obviously about something everyone in America has personal experience enough to know is a lie?

  • Aaron Mason

    Hahahahaaaaaaaaaa. Lois Lerner has given the teabaggers a big SHlTBURGER to eat. I’m lovin’ it!

    • Sammie Jo

      Are you serious? She handed us a steak to drive through the dems heart! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA

      • Aaron Mason

        A steak huh? How was it cooked? It’d have to be pretty well done to be able to drive it through someone’s heart as though it were a stake. Go brush your tooth, fool.

        • Sammie Jo

          I purposely spelled it that way, in relation to the “shitburger” remark, too bad you’re too dense to get that.
          Go rinse your gums and sit on your porch, dolt!

    • Bryan V.

      You are delusional to think this hurts republicans. This only helps us.

      How backed into a corner and desperate must the IRS be to of had to use such an easily proven lie as an excuse?

      The bare minimum this admission does is proof of breaking federal laws and of legally punishable incompetence. All this did was dig the hole deeper.

    • David Langley

      Tyranny is funny…..’til it happens to you.

      • patriotdaddy

        i don’t think any 1 ever thought of tyranny as “funny” for any1…….

  • Daniel Dow

    Obvious it was a lie the second it came from that liars mouth.

  • techaddiction456

    This absolutely reeks of corruption. And the major media outlets are barely giving it any air-time. Speaks volumes…

  • Brian Murphy

    stupid lie to say that that computor was not working for two years for someone in high profile government job like IRS and Lois Lerner. You cannot trust liars, ever.

  • Jason Priestley

    It’s physically impossible to lose email data in a federal agency, especially one of the best funded and required to store data for a decade. The requirements and redundancy are beyond anything private companies do. Data is held in multiple locations- underground in many cases. It is literally impossible to destroy that data even with multiple nuclear strikes on their offices. There are FEMA, DHS, and Presidential HPSD Executive Orders to preserve this data.

    • Jed Gresham

      I agree completely… assuming its being done right. Not that I think it isn’t, just sayin that stranger things have happened. I still think this story is BS though. I actually think that they have more systems in place than they’re even talking about. Exchange likely has inherent redundancy. They probably have journaling enabled. They likely have an archiving tool aside from the backup product or something for ediscovery requests exactly like this… or maybe they dont… on purpose. THEN they have the backups which are likely replicated to multiple sites and/or put on tapes which are sent into a vault for long term retention. Oh, and yes, I’m sure SOMEONE involved still has pst files on their laptops (I doubt the IRS has fixed their pst problem yet).

      Yeah, this is a total lie. BUT it wouldn’t be the first time people in the government have lied or tried to cover up something. WMD’s come to mind… a slightly bigger, more impactful lie. At least this lie isn’t costing the world hundreds of thousands of lives. There’s that.

      … and it won’t be the last.

  • Al Eajance

    To thrive over the long term, we should make use of the customs and practices upon which the oaks of liberty and prosperity grew tall and strong in the first place.

  • Ama Zohn

    Although collectivists tend to claim that society has been “designed”, those of the liberty school understand that civilization has resulted from the decisions and actions of innumerable individuals over long periods of time.

  • Joe_in_Indiana

    Expertly explained, to the point. Submit to the prosecution!

  • Orej Eeenal

    Since progress depends upon discovery of the previously unknown, all we can truly understand about it are the principles which enable it.

  • Samuel Sung

    Since collectivist illusions are generally conjured up to exploit our emotions and attempt to justify plunder’s injustice, we have no reason to accept them as moral, legitimate, or just.

  • Henry Ko

    Of course, the pressures we all face could not be magically eliminated with a collectivist system in which authority’s orders replace liberty’s responsibility and choices.

  • Buro Cratz

    Unfettered worship of democracy can be dangerous because democracy is often confused with liberty, may be diametrically opposed to liberty, and is often exploited by those pursuing their own egotistical agenda.

  • Miss Terr

    Those who oppose the spontaneous nature of liberty and prosperity attempt to discredit cultural evolution because it conflicts with their fatally conceited confidence in mankind’s limited intellect.