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Robert Bennett: Let's hope the 'missing emails' scandal will impact bureaucratic inertia

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  • red state pride Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 23, 2014 7:38 a.m.

    So Senators Cruz and Lee were out of line for "shutting down the government" because they were opposed to the never ending "omnibus" spending bills that the President insists Congress has to pass? Oh, those awful conservatives! It's Congress' own fault for essentially giving up their Constitutional prerogative to control how Federal money is appropriated.
    I have a better solution than Mr Bennett for dealing with the IRS though. It has to be eliminated. We know the IRS improperly targeted conservative groups. We know confidential tax information was released. We know that in 2008 98% of political donations by IRS employees went to Democrats. We know that the IRS is the most feared agency in America.
    Obviously the Federal Government needs a revenue collection agency but we have to start from scratch. The current IRS is obviously corrupt. We have to either have a flat tax or a fair tax and a new, and a much smaller and less intimidating revenue agency to replace the current IRS.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 23, 2014 8:48 a.m.

    Good commonsense piece. Which means it will be rejected in Washington.

    I'd also like to remind anyone that thinks this is a great Obama conspiracy of the 22 millions emails that went missing during the Bush administration.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 23, 2014 9:00 a.m.

    I long for justice for all Americans, even for those in service to the American people by being a part of government. If a person uses the Constitutional protection to refuse to testify against themselves, which would even include e-mails, they should not be treated as criminals.

    When a government official or other highly regarded person makes a charge against another, along with the words "I believe, I think, my opinion, I feel", or any other disclaimer in the Press or any other public media, it should be regarded as an actual charge of the crime and require all the protections granted by our Constitution.

    If such a person upon making criminal charges against another, fails to bring those charges in a court of law, he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for making false charges.

    I do not believe that freedom of speech and the Press was intended to allow people to lie and not be accountable.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    June 23, 2014 9:07 a.m.

    I have no doubt that if the IRS officials wanted to find those emails, they could do it in a New York Minute. The stonewalling of this and other investigations is amazing. All I can say is that the evidence must be really, really bad to warrant this blatant of a cover-up.

    The hard drive crash (if there really was one) is a convenient excuse to pretend that this means all those incriminating emails are "lost forever". If all the emails really are gone, then the only question is: Did those who destroyed them cover all their tracks? Each email has at least two copies (one at the sender's end, the other at the recipient's).

    Someone within the organization would be aware of the cover-up and could blow the whistle. It is very difficult to do anything electronically without leaving some kind of evidence behind. The truth will most likely eventually come out. The only question is: can that moment be delayed long enough for either the next election or for the voters to no longer care?

  • Vanceone Provo, UT
    June 23, 2014 9:17 a.m.

    Hey, for those questioning "mistake or deliberate:" Turns out that the IRS had a private company that they paid to back up emails, etc. Only weeks after Lois Lerner's emails "Disappeared" that contract was not renewed. Too bad the IRS hasn't volunteered the existence of their contract with this company.

    Oh, this company is run by an Obama campaign worker........., Sonasoft.

    Here's the link: here.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    June 23, 2014 9:41 a.m.

    Anyone who has been the target of litigation or a formal investigation knows that email is "discoverable", it can absolutely be used against you in an investigation or lawsuit.

    Bill Gates learned this lesson the hard way, and formulated a policy in Microsoft to specifically *not* back up email systems, and to have the "Empty Items" purged daily.

    In my organization we've been advised to never use email for any kind of sensitive information. Use the phone, use text messaging (for now), use smoke signals... if you use email and it is used against you, you're an idiot.

    For those conservatives who hammer the IRS as intentionally neglecting email backups, how do you explain Mitt Romney removing all the hard drives from systems as he was concluding his term as Massachusett's Governor? Technically, that was legal, there was no law against it.

    Maybe we need to pass a Constitutional Amendment that compels all levels of government to only use email for communications, and to back them up properly, with criminal charges resulting if they don't.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    June 23, 2014 10:02 a.m.

    I think Bob's onto something here. The Republicans expect government agencies to upgrade their IT practices at the same time they cut their budgets. Of course, some libertarians, like at least one commenter on this page, would rather see the federal government simply disappear--until, of course, they themselves are in need and are upset because government didn't take care of them. Oh the hypocrisy.

  • Shimlau SAINT GEORGE, UT
    June 23, 2014 10:27 a.m.

    I would hope that the IRS is trerated with as much courtesy and respect as they treat us. that would be NONE!

  • not here COLORADO SPRINGS, CO
    June 23, 2014 10:27 a.m.

    And why is there not all this upset when the Utah AG lost all his E-Mail and texts? Or is it, this nothing but about the party and the man that's in charge right now? P.s Oh and how about those on In your own Government saying that to much money has been spent and the investigation needed to stop? Were is your out rage over that? Please reply and looking forward to it.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    June 23, 2014 10:32 a.m.

    Hmmm --

    What makes us think we can trust Republicans to find a few missing e-mails in cyber space,

    when they couldn't even a single physical, tangible, extremely deadly Weapon of Mass Destruction before launching a full on invasion of a soverneign, foreign nation?

    GOP credibility is at an all time low...

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    June 23, 2014 10:34 a.m.

    The IRS is a creature of Congress. Congress made the tax law monstrously complex to administer but will not give the IRS the resources to keep IT systems updated. Congress is to blame, as Mr. Bennett should know.

  • GiuseppeG Murray, Utah
    June 23, 2014 10:46 a.m.

    What, they can't send a request in to NSA to get a copy?

  • Red San Antonia, TX
    June 23, 2014 10:54 a.m.

    The Government is being run by cunning men who aspire for power and riches. They are self indulgent and don't care.

    The fact that they exempt themselves from all the junk laws they pass is evidence of this.

    Someday they will all stand accountable.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    June 23, 2014 11:31 a.m.

    10CC: "Use the phone, use text messaging (for now), use smoke signals... if you use email and it is used against you, you're an idiot."

    Well, it appears that IRS officials and the Obama administration used email to do something very wrong. Apparently, they never thought anyone would have the power to actually force them to hand over the evidence. Once they figured out it could actually come to light, they had to think of any and every possible excuse about why they could not produce the emails.

    The excuses so far (hard drive crashes, recycled hard drives, server backups automatically purged) are only plausable to their supporters (many on this forum). Everyone else who has even an ounce of impartiality sees it for the ruse that it is.

    Roland and "not here":

    Other administrations (e.g. Nixon) tried similar deplorable things, but suggesting that the current situation is OK because others have done bad things is merely a deflection.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    June 23, 2014 12:32 p.m.

    If repubs hate the emails that went missing at the IRS then they must have really hated the emails that went missing at our very own AG's office.

    Why the double standard repubs?

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    June 23, 2014 12:47 p.m.

    "unless Congress starts providing the money and driving the change that will impact bureaucratic inertia and bring the government’s IT systems into the 21st century. That means passing appropriations bills that dictate specifics as well as the total, which is how things used to be done."

    This will not work. Just as Obama refused to enforce the Defense of Marriage act, because he disagreed with it; so he will refuse to make changes here. It is just too convenient to declare that a hard drive crashed when he would otherwise get caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

    Second item:

    The 5th amendment is there to prevent the government from abusing the people, not to protect government officials from the people. I propose limiting the 5th amendment. We should be able to force government officials to testify, under oath, with a polygraph attached. A democracy cannot survive if the people don't know what their government is doing to them.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 23, 2014 12:53 p.m.

    " that similar events will happen again unless Congress starts providing the money and driving the change that will impact bureaucratic inertia and bring the government’s IT systems into the 21st century."

    The problem isn't money - but organizational inertia is the problem. I am working with several DoD accounts right now on a modernization project, and the structural/political walls even within the branches themselves would make your head spin. There needs to be huge structural changes in government IT.. not just money. Money in my opinion is the least of the issues.

    " Apparently, they never thought anyone would have the power to actually force them to hand over the evidence." You know... I am a skeptic on this issue as well... but I do not believe for a second anyone thought someone could not request this data. They aren't that stupid, and most are career people who don't care which administration is in. I get that a server drive could have failed... I understand also sometimes backups are bad. I've seen it before. Timing though is the thing that makes this one hard to digest. Could have happened... just hard to understand systems this bad.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 23, 2014 1:01 p.m.

    Look at the picture... this is the literal definition of "looking down your nose at people".

    She thinks she's above us, and shouldn't have to answer to the people (but she will fall on her sward for her party).

    IMO we need LESS people like this in Government... at ALL levels.

    More common people should run for office. And more ccmon people should be appointed to positions like this. Then they would feel responsible to the PEOPLE... not the party.

  • EisenhowerRepublican SLC, UT
    June 23, 2014 1:19 p.m.

    Bob Bennett ran for Senate in 1992 on a pledge to make the 1040 Form the size of a post card. How did that turn out?

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    June 23, 2014 1:31 p.m.

    If Richard Nixon had been backed by the 2014 Democratic caucus rather than the 1974 Republican caucus, he never would have had to resign. They would have closed ranks as tightly around Their Man as the current crew is closing ranks now.

    The disappearance of just those potentially incriminating e-mails, at just that time, is an extraordinary coincidence. Those require extraordinary evidence. Any person who does not want a special prosecutor is not a person for whom truth matters more than party.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    June 23, 2014 1:42 p.m.

    JoeCapitalist2:

    What is your explanation for Romney's removal of hard drives on his way out of office in Massachusetts?

    I can anticipate a couple of different responses:

    1. It is a clear violation of the general concept of transparency in government.

    2. It was not illegal, so therefore nothing was done wrong.

    If your answer is close to #2, this means you believe in the rule of law, which means you should advocate that we let the process play out, here.

    I'm in Utah, I have no idea if this was a carefully planned surgery of damaging information, ala Nixon.

    I *can* tell you as part of an organization that gets federal grants - for healthcare research - that the budget cutbacks enacted are not imaginary, and it's not preposterous to me that the types of breakdowns in technology and process may have occurred. I'm a IT Manager and I'm increasingly taking shortcuts I would never recommend.

    But if the money is short, you do the best you can. I'm sure the Whitehouse doesn't appreciate yet more fodder for eroding support from the public.

  • CAAZFR MESA, AZ
    June 23, 2014 2:31 p.m.

    The archaic computer systems in the Fed Govmt have caused problems in the VA that no one is willing to admit when they are so quick to want to blame a few staffers.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    June 23, 2014 2:39 p.m.

    10CC

    What did Romney's actions as governor have anything to do with this situation?

    Was Romney's administration suspected as using government resources to punish his enemies? Did he collude with tax authorities to audit or harass people he did not like? Was he under investigation for anything?

    Taking the drives with him does not mean he was trying to hide something from an investigative body. Maybe he still has those drives and could produce them in the event of a court order.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    June 23, 2014 3:55 p.m.

    JoeCapitalist2
    Orem, UT

    Maybe he still has those drives and could produce them in the event of a court order.

    2:39 p.m. June 23, 2014

    ===========

    Sure,
    Just like not producing his tax returns like his own Father George did and every other presidential candidate has done for the last 50 years helped cost him the Presidency.

    Nothing to hide...

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    June 23, 2014 4:15 p.m.

    Bush spent how many $Hundreds of Billions to create the largest super-computer and data system on the planet to spy on America's citizens,

    But somehow forgot to upgrade the e-mail computers at the IRS?

    Another reason why I will NEVER trust another Republican.

  • CAAZFR MESA, AZ
    June 23, 2014 5:26 p.m.

    The IRS is not the only Fed agency with an archaic IT system. Much of the aggression directed at a few Phoenix VA officials might just as well be directed at those who failed to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs had in place a decent IT system. VA officials, it seems, were forced to make do with the antiquated systems they had and look where that got us. If there is a problem in 42 VA offices around the country then it seems to me that there is a bit of scapegoating going on to dump 2 or 3 Phoenix VA officers as a quick fix to get the media and country to think the problem has been resolved. Someone needs to own up to the real systemic problems nation-wide, not just take it out on a few whipping boys/girls in Phoenix. But owning up to the real issue would not help anyone in the upcoming elections, would it? Business as usual in D.C.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    June 23, 2014 6:04 p.m.

    There are two "sides" of every email, the sender and the recipient. Is the government telling us that every recipient's computer had a crashed hard drive at the very instant that the IRS computer supposedly went down?

    Just how gullible does Obama think we are?

  • AT Elk River, MN
    June 23, 2014 6:22 p.m.

    Bob, let me get this straight. Ten days after a request for the emails, all the emails just from the requested time period disappear. You're using this for a call to spend more money on IT. I'd like to say I'm shocked, but sadly, I believe this truly is your world view: The only fix for bad government is more government.

    Want to know what would have occurred if there had been better "IT systems" in place. Whomever ordered the deletion would have just had to do a more thorough job (because you can be sure there already were several places where deletions had to happen). Oh, but wait, had that happened, surely a whistleblower would have come forth to shine light on the crime. Yeah, right. And be tormented or go to prison for the rest of their life... (Edmonds, Ellsburg, Whitacre, Manning, Snowden)

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 23, 2014 7:51 p.m.

    "There are two "sides" of every email, the sender and the recipient. Is the government telling us that every recipient's computer had a crashed hard drive at the very instant that the IRS computer supposedly went down?'

    Mike... there are lots of secure systems that do not allow you to make copies of emails on your local disk. This is common a common practice in many large organizations so that they can protect assets from walking out the door on a thumb drive.

    But yes, the "senders" who were outside of the IRS would still have their copies, but that would mean you knew who to ask for copies of those emails. An enormous task. If the transactions logs are gone too... almost an impossible task. Some of these emails if they were enter agency can be recovered, but likely the ones of interest are intra-agency. The problem Bennett is pointing out here is if short cuts were being made - i.e. number of backup copies being archived, then this is yet another issue, and a hinderance to transparency.

  • wjalden Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 23, 2014 8:59 p.m.

    "In America, the absence of honest passion is a distinguishing feature of both professional wrestling and politics." - Murray Kempton

    I'm sure if Bobby were still in the U.S. Senate we could count on him to sit there and do nothing about the IRS scandal, and to look reasonable and distinguished while doing it.

    He wouldn't want to find himself blacklisted by all the proper and fabulous Washington soirees, after all.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    June 23, 2014 11:20 p.m.

    Back in 2011 when her computer crashed, Lois Lerner sought help recovering the e-mails, saying some e-mails are "irreplaceable." But, she was informed in Aug. 2011 that they were unable to recover the e-mails, long before the IRS scandal broke in 2013.

    Since congressional leaders have called for the e-mail record, the IRS has spent time trying to retrieve/reconstruct e-mails by pulling them from other employee's accounts. They turned over 67,000 emails.

    BTW
    When 22 million of Bush e-mails went missing during the Valerie Plame incident, Darrell Issa was quick to attribute the loss of e-mails to IBM.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    June 24, 2014 7:48 a.m.

    1aggie: "...They turned over 67,000 emails."

    What do you want to bet that a big part of those emails turned over were ads for Viagra?

    This is a typical tactic by someone stonewalling an investigation. Turn over lots of unrelated documents while hiding all the smoking guns and then claim by the sheer volume of stuff that you are cooperating.

    I don't care if they turned over 67 million emails and 2 billion documents. If they are hiding all the relevent ones, they are not following the law.

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    June 24, 2014 9:55 a.m.

    We can only hope. Bureaucratic inertia is the flaw in governments from America to Zambia. The status quo is clearly unacceptable.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    June 24, 2014 12:39 p.m.

    real maverick,

    If you're ok with the missing IRS emails, why aren't you ok with the AG missing emails?

    Why the double standard?

    Why the hypocrisy?

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    June 24, 2014 9:04 p.m.

    One of Churchill's advisors noted that morally indefensible actions are usually politically inept. Mr. Obama and his minions should heed that advice.

  • dmcvey Los Angeles, CA
    June 25, 2014 9:22 a.m.

    Another fake scandal drummed up by Fox News. The fact is, all political non-profits should be (and are) open to scrutiny. Of the groups that were looked at only a few with "liberal" objectives were rejected for the status. Please stop crying victimization in these non-serious controversy. It just makes you look bad.

  • Herbert Gravy Salinas, CA
    June 25, 2014 4:22 p.m.

    Accepting the IRS's explanation of the hard drive crash(es) requires a "willful suspension of disbelief"!