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Other Views: IRS’s lost emails make for a troubling tale

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opinion Dickinson, 58602
The Dickinson Press
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Don’t look now, but the simmering scandal about the White House possibly using the Internal Revenue Service to target opposition groups is coming closer to a boil.

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And this week, more people than the usual partisan suspects are taking note.

They sense that the stakes suddenly have gotten higher — that the administration now has made some claims that, if unequivocally proven to be lies, could bring about something as serious as impeachment proceedings.

No, we’re not at that point yet — and we may never arrive, if the claims being made by the IRS hold up.

But those claims strain credibility, as even some Obama loyalists are starting to admit. The administration should make doubly sure that it fully cooperates with congressional investigators and makes sure that its statements are stone-cold accurate — if, in fact, it has nothing to hide.

“The Internal Revenue Service has lost more emails connected to the tea party investigation, congressional investigators said Tuesday,” The Associated Press reported.

“The IRS said last Friday it had lost an untold number of emails when Lois Lerner’s computer crashed in 2011. ... On Tuesday, two key lawmakers said the IRS has also lost emails from six additional IRS workers whose computers crashed.

Among them was Nikole Flax, who was chief of staff to Lerner’s boss, then-deputy commissioner Steven Miller.”

Lerner is the former IRS executive who refused to testify in front of a congressional committee, pleading the Fifth Amendment.

So: How likely is it that computer crashes on a number of individuals’ PCs just happened to devour emails that turn out to be at issue in a congressional investigation? How likely is it that recovery efforts — computer forensics is a powerful field, as lawyers and others who’ve sought disputed emails know — just happen to utterly and completely fail in each of these incidents?

How likely is it that all of these crashes, ruined hard drives and failed recovery efforts happened at the IRS — the agency that expects every corporate and individual taxpayer in the United States to keep seven years worth of records — over the likeliest period, and on the likeliest computers, to “disappear” emails that are the likeliest to contain incriminating information?

This is serious business, and Americans on the right and left and middle should start paying attention, if they haven’t been already. Expect calls for a special prosecutor to intensify, and expect some number of Democrats to start making them — because all of the crashes, claims and coincidences are starting to look too convenient to credit.

The Grand Forks Herald’s Editorial Board formed this opinion.

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