Investigation around missing IRS emails continues - WNEM TV 5

Investigation around missing IRS emails continues

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The mysterious disappearance of important IRS emails continues to baffle many observers of this situation. (Source: CNN) The mysterious disappearance of important IRS emails continues to baffle many observers of this situation. (Source: CNN)

WASHINGTON, DC (POOL/CNN) – Washington, DC lawmakers want the IRS to produce emails that could show the agency illegally targeted people tied to conservative political groups.

IRS officials say the emails are lost and cannot be retrieved.

Where does this begin? Start back in 2010, when IRS officials now admit that's when they were giving special scrutiny to requests from the tea party and other conservatives for tax exempt status, which was routinely granted to others.

By 2011, conservatives were complaining, especially about Lois Lerner, the boss in charge of that division.

Republican congressional investigators suspect she wrote emails about the matter, but she won't talk and the IRS says her hard drive crashed later that year, taking with it the only copies of an unknown number of messages. At least a half dozen other computers crashed as well?

Is this many computers crashing and all of their contents untraceable possible? Cyber-security expert Bryan Cunningham says "maybe."

"But it is very hard to believe that there would have been no recoverable data and it would have happened on so many different computers in the same investigation," Cunningham said.

Computers may stop functioning, some data may be lost, but those little electronic messages written on the surface have a stubborn way of hanging on.

"And even drives that have been burned, soaked in water, that have been damaged visually beyond all repair competent engineers can still recover meaningful amounts of data from them," Cunningham said.

So why not re-examine Lerner's drive now? It's too later – the IRS says it was destroyed. What about a back-up file? The IRS had one when it all happened, but it was a tape system that was erased every six months.

By 2012, the lost emails were gone, even though it took until this year for the IRS to tell Congress spurring even more suspicion.

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