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Congressman Asks NSA To Provide Metadata For "Lost" IRS Emails 347

An anonymous reader writes in with news that the IRS lost email scandal is far from over. Representative Steve Stockman (R-TX) has sent a formal letter to the National Security Agency asking it to hand over "all its metadata" on the e-mail accounts of a former division director at the Internal Revenue Service. "Your prompt cooperation in this matter will be greatly appreciated and will help establish how IRS and other personnel violated rights protected by the First Amendment," Stockman wrote on Friday. The request came hours after the IRS told a congressional committee that it had "lost" all of the former IRS Exempt Organizations division director's e-mails between January 2009 and April 2011.
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Congressman Asks NSA To Provide Metadata For "Lost" IRS Emails

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  • by raydobbs ( 99133 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @06:28PM (#47249733) Homepage Journal

    That's going to be a long wait for a train that never comes - the NSA will simply not comply. Its a nice 'in your face' gesture though, real cute. Should get some political points during election time, I'm sure.

  • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @06:28PM (#47249735) Journal

    Bullshit. These people are just trying to avoid paying taxes. Kill this 501(c) bullshit now. Or are you going to try to tell me that would violates everybody's "rights"?

  • by fredprado ( 2569351 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @06:32PM (#47249761)
    It is very difficult not to reach this conclusion, unless you believe that the IRS just lost all relevant information by accident...
  • by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo ( 1000167 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @06:33PM (#47249775)
    I was under the impression that one of the requirements for being a non-profit was the agreement that you wouldn't be an actionable organization. Seems to me that most of the organizations, both conservative and liberal, were rightly under the microscope.
  • by Craig Cruden ( 3592465 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @06:36PM (#47249789)
    Earlier testimony by the IRS indicated that it would take years to fulfil the current request to get the emails from the email server. Now they are saying a workstation crashed so the emails were lost....... Time to start charging people with obstruction of congress/justice.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 16, 2014 @06:37PM (#47249797)

    You are advocating for the removal of charitable organizations? Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. This would cost society far more than it would ever save in tax revenue.

    Capcha is "patriot" lol

  • Re:Nice Synergy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gnu-sucks ( 561404 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @06:45PM (#47249865) Journal

    There's nothing "stupid" about naming a political party with a political name.

    It's a real scandal when the party in power can leverage tax exempt status, or any other "treatment" from the IRS. You can agree or disagree with the political opinions or positions of these parties, but you must never use political power to prevent another party from gaining traction.

    That's more than a scandal, it's pure simple corruption.

    You'll probably reply with something political now, such as that you don't like the tea party or Romney or something. Totally irrelevant, save it for a real political discussion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 16, 2014 @06:46PM (#47249875)

    For all their mouth-breathing bullshit, nobody should make the mistake of thinking that the GOP is stupid. This is a lose-lose for the President on its face: if the NSA doesn't come back with the data that it's asserted they have, then they're in cahoots with Obama; if they somehow do come back with it, then it proves the GOP right. Either way, they win. It's a slimy, empty, political victory, but a victory all the same.

  • Re:Nice Synergy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aeonym ( 1115135 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @06:50PM (#47249899)

    "Take a real scandal (NSA) and link it to a fake one (IRS)"

    Translation: "Take government malfeasance that I imagine affects me personally and link it government malfeasance that I don't think impacts me personally...yet"

    You (and so many others) fail to appreciate what's obvious to others of us: that while the NSA behavior is egregious, it's now out in the open, and you can take steps to protect yourself. And if you already assume the worst--that the NSA is scanning/saving *everything*, then that can't get any worse.

    But the extent of the IRS behavior *isn't* out in the open. It *can* get much worse. If there's *any* politically motivated behavior going on the the IRS, then that is tacit approval and groundwork for more. And you won't think it's a "fake" scandal in a decade when, left unchecked, you find yourself the subject of a tax audit because you donated to the political party not in power. They can put a lien on your house. They can garnish your wages. In terms of practically achievable damage to the average citizen's life, the IRS is far more dangerous. The power to tax is the power to destroy.

    You can stymie the NSA. You can't stymie the IRS.

  • by MrDoh! ( 71235 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @06:50PM (#47249903) Homepage Journal
    This is hilarious. If they CAN get the info, it makes everyone in government VERY nervous, if they can't get it, then the next thing this congressman should bring up is "why the heck are we funding the NSA if they don't actually seem to do anything?" Ok, the NSA's answer to that is "we do lots of stuff, but we can't tell you about it, it's secret".
  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @06:58PM (#47249969) Journal

    The laws appear to be vague such that somebody has to make a judgment call over what suspicious activity to inspect further. If anybody has an idea for making those judgements more objective and/or fair, please speak up.

    And it may require more staff and resources. You can't have good & fair auditing on the cheap; pony up the taxes or stop complaining when one low-level person has "too much power" to make such decisions.

    There is no free lunch.

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @07:02PM (#47249995)

    Use your fourth amendment violation to help us with this first amendment violation!

    Government records are not protected by the fourth amendment. Here is the amendment:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Corporations may be people, but government agencies are not.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @07:03PM (#47249999)

    If anybody has an idea for making those judgements more objective and/or fair, please speak up.

    Sure, apply existing law fairly and impartially.

    And it may require more staff and resources.

    Which wasn't a problem here. Favoritism is worse than no enforcement at all.

  • by JackieBrown ( 987087 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @07:06PM (#47250037)

    Amazing how you have made this into the GOP being slimy when the whole issue is due to the Democrat controlled IRS (during that time-period) losing all relevant emails from a large period of time. That is what is slimy here.

  • by jxander ( 2605655 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @07:11PM (#47250081)

    While this particular set of data isn't a(n alleged) violation of the 4th amendment, it was (allegedly) caught in the net of massive (alleged) 4th amendment violations

  • by Bing Tsher E ( 943915 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @07:14PM (#47250095) Journal

    A Special Prosecutor would have to be appointed by a member of 'The Most Transparent Administration.' That ain't gonna happen.

    We can hope for change, though.

  • by fredprado ( 2569351 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @07:19PM (#47250127)
    Oh they are all stored both in the server and in my own backups, but then again neither I not my company are a governmental entity who has the duty and the legal obligation to store and preserve this kind of information, what should I know.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 16, 2014 @07:25PM (#47250177)

    I happen to know for a fact that all of my email sent & received is backed up for 7 years, because those are the retention requirements imposed on my company by the federal government.

    So my emails from 2009 - 2011 are archived happily along with all of the other email from the 2nd half of 2007 through the present day. If a private corporation can be held to this level of competency (and it's really not THAT hard), why shouldn't the motherfucking IRS, which literally owns the fucking finances of the government?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 16, 2014 @07:35PM (#47250249)

    Both the democraps and the republicunts are wothless sleazebag traitors, both parties should be annihilated and every current member of our government arrested and tried for treason, with wartime penalties applied when they're convicted.

  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @07:44PM (#47250299)

    This sounds like the action of a Congressman trying to discredit the NSA. The NSA obviously is not going to respond to this - if they did, they'd be inundated with requests from every small-town prosecutor wanting some more evidence (ironically, some might even get warrants for it). That would be worse than what will happen instead, which is that an anti-NSA legislator gets a talking point about how the NSA isn't using its data and isn't cooperating with the rest of the government (namely Congress).

    Yes, it's just a political point being scored. But it's a point hopefully in our favor - or at the very least, one against our common enemy.

    The more I think about it, the more I think this is the best way to get the NSA shut down. The general public has no control over it; trying to get them angry about it is pointless. The only way the general public could shut it down is by a revolution, and we're too well-fed and content to do that. But Congress could shut it down, so let's find every way to get Congressmen upset about the NSA. I wonder what a FOIA request for some congressional metadata would do...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 16, 2014 @07:58PM (#47250381)

    These people are just trying to avoid paying taxes. Kill this 501(c) bullshit now.

    The problem isn't that the Tea Party folks wanted to avoid paying taxes. The problem is that the IRS, which has vast powers so that it can extract tax revenue from the people, abused those powers for political ends. And what is worse, it abused those powers unequally, harassing one group while leaving another group alone.

    For 27 months, not one single Tea Party group was approved for 501(c) status, while dozens of liberal groups were approved. And since you will automatically call me a liar if I link Fox News, here's a USA Today story about this. []

    I view this as tampering with an election, and it is very much NOT OKAY. I'm pissed about this and you should be.

    Or are you going to try to tell me that would violates everybody's "rights"?

    Are you going to try to tell me that nobody's rights have been violated? Or is it just that you think it's okay to violate the rights of "Tea Party" groups since you don't approve of them?

    If you think it's okay to violate the rights of those with whom you disagree, just be honest about it and say so.

    If you think it's not okay for the IRS to abuse its powers for political ends, regardless of whom they were abusing, then wake up and start reading the news.

    I want to see dozens of people from the IRS fired, tried in court, and go to jail if convicted. But if I can't have that, then I will look forward to the day when some conservative President gets elected and the IRS starts doing this stuff to liberal groups. Perhaps then you will take it seriously.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 16, 2014 @08:10PM (#47250487)

    Pretty much this. It's also amazing how many people believe that ONLY the Tea Party groups were investigated (they weren't), or spout off with the "they should investigate unions too" crap (unions aren't this kind of organization and so such a thing would be meaningless).

    What this is all about is the Tea Party groups trying to keep their rich astrotuf donors secret, getting caught at it, and doing what conservatives do: accusing their enemies of doing what they themselves do. The louder the better, because like they learned during the Bush administration, a lie told loudly and often will be believed by a lot of people.

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @08:13PM (#47250513)

    Wrong. What we've been seeing lately is that they'll just tell you they don't have it. They'll confirm they don't have it. Especially if they do actually have it.

    They're on record lying to congress already. So they're not going to have any trouble looking you right in the eye and saying "nope"...

    Keep in mind, we're talking about investigating an IRS scandal in which the IRS is now claiming the requested emails were lost in a hard drive crash.

    They expect us to believe that the emails were only stored on an end user laptop and that there were no back ups and that the server retained no records... of official IRS email.

    Do you believe that? No one does. Even the people saying they believe it don't actually believe it... its just part of the political game going on right now.

    Apparently the IRS was taken over by some political factions that wanted to limit speech... and when they got caught at it the whole IRS is now trying to cover it up.

    None of which is being made easier by the white house which wants everyone to believe their shit doesn't stink... and the "justice" department which so far as I've seen has made a point of not investigating anything.

    I could respect the "neither confirm nor deny" line because it wasn't a lie. It was a refusal to answer. But they're not doing that anymore. They're just lying now. And they're not just doing it to casual requests for information. They're lying on court documents, lying in response to FOIA orders, and they're lying directly to congress.

    Which means they're lying to everyone we have access to... they could be lying to the president as well for all we know.

  • by fche ( 36607 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @08:20PM (#47250575)

    "It's a slimy, empty, political victory,"

    Remember what this was about - the IRS actively impeding a particular political organization. That's not an "empty" matter.

  • by Jaxim ( 858185 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @08:24PM (#47250623) Homepage

    I'm just telling you the reality of the situation. It's never going to happen where everyone plays fairly. Each side will find workarounds. Liberal groups like Unions and get around campaign finance laws.

    Eventually the Republicans/Tea Party Groups wizened up and started their own groups to get around tax exempt laws, but when they did so, the Liberals didn't like it. The Liberals tried to squash the conservatives in the courts, but were defeated by the Supreme Court, so the liberal senators and federal officials in the IRS and other federal agencies put pressure on conservative groups in order to minimize the conservatives' community organizing effectiveness. This is not right and it's hypocritical.

    So one way to solve this is to revoke tax exempt status to any group that is political which would include Unions, Media Matters, MoveOn.Org - as well as Tea Party and conservative groups. However, as I stated before, that's never going to happen in this political environment.

    So another solution is to allow tax exempt groups to say what ever they want politically. Why should the federal government be able to squash a group's 1st amendment rights? Heck, let's abolish the IRS and make April 15th just another day of the year. Let's get rid of the income tax and just have use/sales tax: i.e. Fair Tax. The IRS is way too powerful.

    But of course, that's never going to happen either, but we can only dream.

  • by krashnburn200 ( 1031132 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @08:28PM (#47250657)
    No Secrets Anywhere else

    The e is silent
  • by cascadingstylesheet ( 140919 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @09:01PM (#47250945)

    Amazing how you have made this into the GOP being slimy when the whole issue is due to the Democrat controlled IRS (during that time-period) losing all relevant emails from a large period of time. That is what is slimy here.

    But, but ... the GOP is always slimy, all the cool kids say so. Because, er, it just is, you know.

  • Re:Nice Synergy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PapayaSF ( 721268 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @09:14PM (#47251009) Journal

    Take a real scandal (NSA) and link it to a fake one (IRS)

    Can we please stop referring to this as a "fake scandal"? It's real.

    1. - Hundreds of conservative groups were targeted
    2. - Applications were delayed for months and years
    3. - Absurd, intrusive, unusual questions were asked: for membership lists, readings lists, the content of prayers (WTF?)
    4. - 100% of the 501(c)(4) groups audited by IRS were conservative
    5. - The IRS audited 10% of all Tea Party donors from the lists provided to the agency
    6. - Meanwhile, Obama's campaign org OfA smoothly became a 501(c)(4), and still runs his Twitter feed. No partisan politics there!
    7. - Obama's skeezy half-brother had his "charity" fast-tracked to 501(c)(3) status, despite years of illegal fundraising, and had those illegal actions approved retroactively.
    8. - And all along, administration officials lied repeatedly: it was a rogue activity of a few people in Cincinnati, etc., and most recently, Congressional testimony that the IRS has all of the emails.

    Richard Nixon could only dream of using the IRS like this. By now, only the willfully blind can consider this a "fake" scandal.

  • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @12:45AM (#47251955) Homepage
    well lets see... the IRS admitted it did wrong, so its not a witch hunt by any means.

    anyone who knows anything about government systems knows about retention laws. If somehow all her emails were on a single device, with no backups, someone needs to be held accountable for that. To make it even worse

    as for the NSA why not use this issue to bring to light some more NSA BS??? we get info regardless of their response. I commend this congressman for thinking outside the box
  • by PapayaSF ( 721268 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @01:27AM (#47252085) Journal

    It's amazing how many people think that the IRS was seeking to prevent the Tea Party from getting tax exempt status; that was never the issue, their tax exempt status was never in doubt. The issue was they were applying for 501(c)(4) status which is reserved for social welfare groups like civic leagues and volunteer fire departments. Social welfare groups are allowed to engage in political activity but it cannot be their primary activity. Wondering why the Tea Party wanted that 501(c)(4) designation? Such groups do not have to reveal who is donating money to them. There has been a large run up in the number of groups applying for the 501(c)(4) designation.

    Nonsense. What section of the code should they have applied for? 501(3)(c)s have strict limits on participation in politics. 501(c)(5) and 501(c)(6) are even worse fits.

    If Obama's campaign organization can become a 501(c)(4) and now serve has a propaganda and lobbying arm for Democrats, including running the Presidential Twitter feed, how is it that groups that want to educate people about the Constitution are somehow too political? Or you seriously going to argue that Organizing For America qualifies, but hundreds of Tea Party groups do not? Give it up, dude. This is a genuine scandal of Nixonian proportions.

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller