Doom Awaits You, IRS

Why such uniformity of opinion on the matter? It might have something to do with the fact that no one believes the IRS accidentally lost their email records as the result of a cascading computer failure which the agency remedied by simply throwing the affected hardware away. When asked if they "believe the IRS that the emails were destroyed accidentally," or "they were destroyed deliberately," 76 percent of survey respondents said the latter. Only 11 percent of independents, 5 percent of Republicans, and 20 percent of Democrats managed to convince themselves that the IRS's story was possible, if not likely.
Past due, really. The man was right: a jury, even a jury of public opinion, has every right to conclude that the evidence destroyed was probably not good for the IRS.


DL Sly said...

What I wouldn't give to have the entire tax-paying country *lose* their taxes next year, using the excuse that their computer's crashed.
I can't help but wonder what the IRS would do under such circumstances?
Tis but a dream I have, among many.

Texan99 said...

From the Guardian,

Then came many Americans' favourite moment: the 'smoking-gun' tape of 23 June l972, which showed Nixon approving use of the CIA to block the FBI's probe into Watergate. It was all over. If there was a single phrase from those tapes that stuck in popular memory it was probably Nixon's imperishable cry: 'I don't give a shit about the lira' in response to the request of his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, that he spare a few moments from domestic scandal to ponder a crisis in the Italian economy. Nixon-haters loved the moment when the President (or 'P', as he was designated) suddenly remembered the tapes were rolling and announced in ringing tones, apropos of some criminal scheme he was hatching: 'But that would be wrong!'

I think there was a comedy routine about Nixon attempting to tape over the missing 18 minutes with a script that involved this phrase, and constantly drawing a blank:

"But that would be . . . that would be . . . . "

"'Wrong,' Mr. President. Try it again."

Like a cat covering up on linoleum. It's amazing, but public polls show that not even Democrats are buying the IRS line this time, though if it doesn't change their voting patterns I'm not sure what difference, at this point, it will make.

DL Sly said...

If you had only added, "But he is not a criminal." at the end of "...I'm not sure what difference, at this point, it will make." it would have been perfect!

Anonymous said...

I'm kinda disappointed that the IRS can't come up with a better excuse. Instead they keep repeating "but the dog ate my homework. Really! And my textbook, and the calculator. And my other homework, too. Honest." Why not try something like, "We made everyone change their passwords the the old DOD standard and no one can figure out how to get back in and find anything." Or "A a mutant version of wheat rust destroyed the server farm."


Tom said...

Doom? I suspect they'll get promotions and bonus pay.

E Hines said...

I'm kinda disappointed that the IRS can't come up with a better excuse.

I'm not disappointed, I'm insulted. The IRS--nor anyone else in this administration--didn't try to come up with a better excuse. Us poor, dumb, bitter gun and Bible clingers are just too dumb to be worth the effort. These folks are convinced we'll buy that excuse.

Eric Hines

Tom said...

Eric is right; it's insulting. But I don't think they care too much if we buy it. At this point, I think they only care about what can be proved in a court of law. Holder, Obama, and the mainstream media have their back, so all they need to do is ride it out.

Gringo said...

What are the odds of 7 specific IRS hard drives crashing?

The IRS Commissioner said: 90,000 employees; 2,000 hard drive crashes per year; “comparable to industry average of 4-5% hard drive failures per year”

OK … that gets us back to my original calculations:

What’s the likelihood that 7 specific IRS drives – those of the “persons of interest” – would crash in the same year?

Simple probability calculation: 4% (the failure rate) raised to the 7th power (since 7 specific people were involved)

… which works out to odds of about 1 in 6 billion.

Better chance one of us will get hit by lightning today

The seven hard drive failures were NOT statistically unrelated events, as the odds of their being unrelated were one in 6 billion.

And as others have pointed out, hard drive failures usually do not mean loss of data.

Texan99 said...

"hard drive failures usually do not mean loss of data"

Sure they do, if the crash is followed by a decision to dust off and nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

Grim said...

Yeah, it wasn't a had drive "failure." It was crashed properly!

Gringo said...

Sure they do, if the crash is followed by a decision to dust off and nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

I stand corrected.

Ymar Sakar said...

Better than standing being nuked.

Joseph W. said...

Gringo - I recommend the classic essay, Mathematics for Golfers. (The ending is apropos; but I recommend it mainly 'cause it's funny.)

DdR said...

I don't believe that the IRS expects anyone to "buy" their excuse. Not for one second. They are thumbing their noses at Congress & the American People - and EXPECT from the get-go to have no consequences of any merit.

MikeD said...

And as others have pointed out, hard drive failures usually do not mean loss of data.

As much as I do hate to give them any form of cover here, there IS some truth to the idea that a hard drive crash can indeed lead to data loss. I should know, this is the stuff I do for a living.

If your workplace uses Microsoft Exchange (or a similar system for email) your email is stored on the Exchange server, up to a predetermined limit. Ours is 200MB (which is less that you might think, especially once you start including attachments). Once it reaches that limit, the user either needs to delete some of those emails, or move them to what is call a "Large Personal Folder" or a .pst file. Those files CAN indeed be stored on a network drive or server, but there is no requirement to do so. In fact, Microsoft Outlook 2010 specifically does NOT like them to be anywhere but on your local hard drive. To the extent that it can cause crashes if you try to access these archived emails from a server rather than your local hard drive.

Right now, I have somewhere around 2GB of emails stored on my work computer's hard drive. That's 10 times the limit that I would be allowed to store on the Exchange server. If my hard drive were to crash right now, emails dating back to 2009 would be lost, probably forever. UNLESS I recovered them off the hard drive.

And this is where I think the real evidence of conspiracy to cover up the data is proven. Because I also happened to have worked for the No Such Agency back in my days of service with the Army. And I can tell you that the regulations for declassifying a hard drive are pretty extensive. It includes multiple reformats of the hard drive, degaussing of the hard drive, etching the surface of the physical disk with acid followed by smashing it to pieces. Why is all this required? Because anything less and it actually is not all that hard to forensically recover data from said hard drive.

So, for them to say that the disk crashed, might adequately explain why it would be difficult to bring back that data. But for them to then destroy the hard drive ("recycle" is a misnomer, you're not turning it into components to be used in other products the way plastic bottles are, shows malice aforethought when they knew the emails on the drive were under subpoena.

Texan99 said...

Email was central to my professional life as a lawyer. Some years ago it became uncommon to use paper at all. Obviously, I was constantly worried about an electronic trail for negotiations and so on, so I put a lot of effort into keeping my email files organized, archived, and backed up. That's what you do when you really care about your data. And I didn't even have a federal law requiring me to keep everything secure.

If you don't want a evidence trail, on the other hand, there's really no substitute for conducting all your negotiations in person in a dark corner of a parking garage. You don't chatter in cyberspace! I would never assume that I could erase an email trail from the face of the earth no matter what I did. Some clever person is, I hope, going to figure out a way to find those missing Lerner emails. There's no way their electronic existence was confined to a single hard-drive somewhere that the IRS could incinerate. If Lerner had been sending emails about plans for whistleblowing, I daresay the IRS wouldn't be acting so helpless.