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Hullabaloo


Saturday, June 14, 2014

 
"Nixon was a piker"

by digby

Masochist that I am, I spent a few hours with Fox News last night and this morning just to get a flavor of what they're talking about in Bizarroworld. Needless to say, Obamacare is responsible for everything bad in the world including the chaos in Iraq (which means we need to start bombing immediately), Bowe Bergdahl should be strung up as a traitor and we're going broke so we need to cut taxes. But what caught my attention was the hysteria over the missing IRS emails, which turned each commentator into a frothing monster along the lines of Linda Blair in The Exorcist.

In case you haven't been keeping up on this Very Important Scandal:
Congressional investigators are fuming over revelations that the Internal Revenue Service has lost a trove of emails to and from a central figure in the agency's tea party controversy.

The IRS said Lois Lerner's computer crashed in 2011, wiping out an untold number of emails that were being sought by congressional investigators. The investigators want to see all of Lerner's emails from 2009 to 2013 as part of their probe into the way agents handled applications for tax-exempt status by tea party and other conservative groups.

Lerner headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. The IRS acknowledged last year that agents had improperly scrutinized applications by some conservative groups.

"Do they really expect the American people to believe that, after having withheld these emails for a year, they're just now realizing the most critical time period is missing?" said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight Committee. "If there wasn't nefarious conduct that went much higher than Lois Lerner in the IRS targeting scandal, why are they playing these games?"

Charles Krauthamer called Nixon a "piker" compared to this administration and virtually every right wing wag is bringing up the "18 minute gap" as the proper precedent showing that Obummer is far, far worse that Tricky Dick could ever hope to be.

But there's another precedent they might want to look at that's a little bit more recent and a little bit more relevant:

In response to a federal court order issued last week, the White House late last night refused to acknowledge any missing e-mails, instead stating that it “has undertaken an independent effort to determine whether there may be anomalies in Exchange e-mail counts” during the 2003-2005 period. A sworn statement by the Chief Information Officer of the White House Office of Administration filed with U.S. federal court just before midnight admitted the White House had recycled its e-mail back-up tapes before October 2003 and only began retaining the back-ups starting at that point.

“It strikes me as odd that they recognized a problem and changed their practice in 2003 to start saving the backups, but four-and-a-half years later they still have not yet figured out whether or what e-mails were deleted,” commented Meredith Fuchs, the Archive’s General Counsel. “It also is troubling that the problem may have started before October 2003, and they acknowledge that back-ups prior to that period were recycled and are gone.”

"Two years after a special prosecutor concluded that key e-mails were missing from the White House system administered by the Office of Administration, the White House astonishingly now admits it has no back-up tapes from before October 2003 and doesn't know if any e-mails are missing," said Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive.

The loss of White House e-mails first surfaced on January 23, 2006, when prosecutors in the Scooter Libby matter informed Mr. Libby’s defense counsel that they were unable to provide copies of e-mail records “because not all email records from the Office of the Vice President and the Executive Office of President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system.” The full scope of the problem was not appreciated until April 2007, when Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) issued a report stating that over 5 million e-mails were missing throughout the Executive Office of the President. At that time, White House spokesperson Dana Perino acknowledged the lost e-mails.

Dana Perino yesterday:

Yep. She did it.

Oh, and for all you folks who are just so sure the government will only use the vast stores of information it's collecting to protect the children from the foreign boogeymen, here's a little clue about what certain of our fine leaders think it might also be good for:
Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) responded to the news by asking the National Security Agency to turn over all the metadata it has collected on Lerner, in an effort to help find out more about who Lerner contacted.

“I have asked NSA Director Rogers to send me all metadata his agency has collected on Lois Lerner’s email accounts for the period which the House sought records,” said Stockman. “The metadata will establish who Lerner contacted and when, which helps investigators determine the extent of illegal activity by the IRS.”
Why not? It's just sitting there, amirite?

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