WASHINGTON, August 28, 2014 — Two congressional committees have labored two years to get to the bottom of the IRS targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, but it is the government watchdog organization Judicial Watch that is doing the heavy lifting.
The IRS refusal to give Judicial Watch documents under the Freedom of Information Act has given the watchdogs standing before the D.C. Circuit Court to compel the Obama administration to become the “most transparent… in history.”
Last June, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told lawmakers that emails between Lois Lerner, who headed the IRS tax-exempt unit, and other federal agencies were lost forever. Computer hard drives, belonging to government officials of interest to congressional investigators, developed simultaneous “glitches” that rendered their computer data irretrievable. Oh, and the hard drives in question were destroyed by the IRS and scattered to the four winds.
Koskinen’s testimony prompted GOP Rep. Paul Ryan to say, “This is unbelievable, “Nobody believes you.”
A shaken Koskinen replied that during his long career in public service, “That’s the first time anyone’s said, ‘I don’t believe you.’”
Ryan helped the IRS commissioner to savor his career milestone, “I don’t believe you,” he re-emphasized.
Circuit Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered the IRS to submit sworn affidavits concerning “its efforts, if any, to recover missing Lois Lerner emails from alternative sources (i.e., Blackberry, iPhone, iPad)” and “provide information about IRS’s policy to degauss [erase] hard drives.”
According to the IRS’ Stephen Manning, Deputy Chief Information Officer Strategy and Modernization, the IRS provided Lois Lerner a Blackberry, which Manning said stored “email (both sent and received) that is also stored in the Microsoft Outlook mailbox of the assigned user… draft messages created on the Blackberry but not sent… would appear on the Blackberry only.”
What became of Lerner’s Blackberry, you ask?
Thomas J. Kane, Deputy Associate Chief Counsel for the IRS, said the device “was removed or wiped clean of any sensitive or proprietary information and removed as scrap for disposal in June 2012.” That date is important in that the Blackberry’s “disposal” occurred after Lerner became a person of interest to congressional oversight committees.
The IRS then added insult to its digital injury. According to Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, “Department of Justice attorneys for the Internal Revenue Service told Judicial Watch… that Lois Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe. The Obama administration attorneys said that this back-up system would be too onerous to search.”
Imagine for the moment that you are the object of an IRS audit. You explain to the agent that your stack of shoeboxes, filled with invoices and receipts, “would be too onerous to search.” Well, you get the point.
It’s highly unlikely the Department of Justice will issue criminal referrals resulting from the IRS targeting of Tea Party and conservative organizations for extra scrutiny. After all, one surviving email from Lois Lerner to Nikole Flax, then Chief of Staff to acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, said the “DOJ is feeling like it needs to respond [to the Tea Party], but want to talk to the right folks at IRS to see whether there are impediments from our side and what, if any damage this might do to IRS programs.”
The targeting idea, it seems, did not originate with Lerner but President Obama’s mafia consigliere, Attorney General Eric Holder. Lerner, however, wanted to increase the firepower of the government juggernaut by bringing in the Federal Election Commission. “There are several groups of folks from the FEC world that are pushing tax fraud prosecution for [Tea Party tax-exempt] c4s,” said Lerner.
Republican Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Alabama) issued a statement last February, “The IRS has shown that it cannot impartially and effectively carry out its mission… Until the administration has submitted to a thorough investigation and proven it has taken precautionary measures to prevent this from ever happening again, I will continue fighting to protect the American people from retribution as a result of their political beliefs.”
The predatory nature of the IRS can no more be reformed by legislative language than speaking sweet nothings can modify the temperament of voracious alligators; their natures are imbedded into the hard drives of their reptilian brain.
The only way to defang the IRS is to “degauss” the beast’s hard drive by instituting a simple flat tax, thus eliminating the need for the agency altogether.
It’s absurd to believe a red-eyed man-eater can change.