The “lost” Lerner emails: Some questions for the IRS

House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp says that when the IRS informed Congress that a subset of Lois Lerner’s emails was “lost,” it suggested in the same letter that Congress end its investigation. Somehow, I don’t think it works that way.

The emails may be “lost,” but new investigatory channels are now open. For example, Sharyl Attkisson has formulated eight questions that should be asked of the IRS. They are but some of the questions a litigant claiming to have lost documents through a computer crash would be asked:

•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.

Attkisson adds that Congress should ask that those who discovered and reported the crash, and any officials who reported that the materials were irretrievably lost, testify under oath.

By asserting its claim of “lost” emails, the IRS has upped the ante on Congress. Let’s hope that Congress is up to playing for these stakes.