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July 22, 2014

Ways & Means Committee: We've Learned From Interviews that Lois Lerner's Hard Drive Was "Scratched," But Internal IRS IT Experts Thought The Data Was Recoverable


Seems big:

Despite early refusals to make available IT professionals who worked on Lois Lernerís computer, Ways and Means Committee investigators have now learned from interviews that the hard drive of former IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner was "scratched," but data was recoverable. In fact, in-house professionals at the IRS recommended the Agency seek outside assistance in recovering the data. That information conflicts with a July 18, 2014 court filing by the Agency, which stated the data on the hard drive was unrecoverable -- including multiple years' worth of missing emails.

"It is unbelievable that we cannot get a simple, straight answer from the IRS about this hard drive," said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI). "The Committee was told no data was recoverable and the physical drive was recycled and potentially shredded. To now learn that the hard drive was only scratched, yet the IRS refused to utilize outside experts to recover the data, raises more questions about potential criminal wrong doing at the IRS."

Earlier the Washington Post collected six questions from IT professionals they'd like to ask about this "crashed" hard drive.

Here are a few of those:

1.) What happened to the IRSís IT asset managers who appear to have disappeared at a key juncture?


Ordering the destruction of a hard drive and documenting that process would be handled by trained, certified IT asset managers, according to IAITAM. But the group's records show that at least three IRS IT asset managers were shuffled out of their positions around the time of the May 2013 inspector general's report that detailed the agencyís targeting practices.

IAITAM said investigators need to "determine if these in-house IT asset managers were removed from the picture as the IRS email investigation heated up."

2.) Where is the documentation to prove that the IRS wiped or destroyed Lois Lernerís hard drive?

So far, we only have the word of IRS officials. IAITAM said its standards call for clear proof and records of destruction when drives are wiped or eliminated."ďUntil that documentation is provided, the hard drives should be considered lost, not destroyed," Rembiesa said.

3.) Were the drives destroyed by an outside vendor or firm? If so, by who, and can they verify the destruction?

Hiring a specialized firm to destroy IT assets is not unusual for federal agencies, according to IAITAM. If the IRS used this method to destroy Lernerís hard drive, there would be an additional layer of documentation to show that the action took place, the group said.


...

6.) Where are Lois Lernerís Blackberry e-mails?

IAITAM said investigators need to determine whether the IRSís Blackberry communications are secure and what is on the "enterprise server."

"It is difficult to imagine that none of the emails in question were done on a mobile basis," Rembiesa said. "If so, there may be a freestanding stream of email records that would not be impacted by the Lerner hard drive loss."

So now I have another question: How often is a hard drive found to have been physically scratched, and how often does this lead to a total, catastrophic full-disk lost of information?

Because it sure seems to me that a scratch would result in bad sectors -- parts of the disk which were no longer readable. But these bad sectors would be a tiny percentage of the whole drive.

Does the IRS not know this?

Have they never dealt with a "scratched" hard drive before?



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posted by Ace at 05:20 PM

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