Lois Lerner’s emails — a former IRS IT specialist’s take

No objective lawyer who has been involved in “eDiscovery” — the discovery during litigation of emails and other electronic documents — will credit the Obama administration’s claim that, by accident, years of Lois Lerner’s emails were irretrievably lost. John explained why here.

Moreover, as Bryan Preston at PJ Media reports, a former IRS IT specialist is equally skeptical. The individual in question worked on the IRS’s contract with Computer Sciences Corporation to modernize the agency’s digital record-keeping system. He finds it difficult to believe that the IRS could have lost two years’ worth of Lois Lerner’s emails.

He notes first that U.S. law, specifically 44 U.S.C. Chapter 33, requires that agencies must notify the Archivist of any records that are destroyed and the reasons for destroying them. In addition, federal regulations establish strict recoverability and redundancy requirements. Disposal of records outside these standards requires permission in writing.

The IRS satisfies these requirements through Microsoft Outlook/Exchange systems, which are backed up using Symantec NetBackup. According to the IT specialist, IRS had some of the best people in the federal government charged with making sure these systems work as intended.

The IT specialist makes short work of IRS’s claim that backup tapes were reused after some short period. He says “the IRS had thousands and thousands of tapes and ‘Virtual Tape Libraries’ (VTL or non-tape backups based on hard drive storage technologies).” Thus, “there was never a reason to reuse tapes.” In any case, the U.S. government has been getting out of the tape backup regime for years.

The former IRS IT specialist concludes:

Those folks would not have had such a short retention period for email unless they had it in writing from the highest levels. It would have made the local IT water cooler gossip if the IRS had screwed up and lost tons of email by accident.

Many are comparing the Obama administration’s claim that Lerner’s emails are irretrievably lost due to inadvertence to the claim that Rosemary Woods accidentally deleted 18 minutes of White House taped recordings. If anything, Team Obama’s claim seems less plausible. At least Ms. Woods was able to stage a demonstration of how, conceivably, Team Nixon’s scenario could have occurred.

And while we’re on the subject of Nixon’s erasure of the 18 minutes, how does the New York Times’ non-stop coverage of that event compare with its coverage of the missing emails? The answer is there’s no comparison because, as Roger Kimball tells us, there was no coverage by the Times of the latter — at least not when the story broke.

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